Circle Hypnotherapy

find balance

Stronger than you think


I’ve just been watching something on the T.V that has got me muttering at the screen. This is not unusual; I mutter at the T.V and radio a lot. 

It was someone expressing how pleased they were with themselves for having done something that they were afraid of. It was met with a cold and dismissive ‘’and?’’. All the pride they had in themselves evaporated, their achievement discarded and ridiculed. 


It brought to mind a situation that I had experienced myself. I had not long started my Hypnotherapy training and practicing self-hypnosis. This is strongly promoted as we teach you how to implement this great life skill. 

I needed to have an operation, let’s just say it came under the Gynaecology Department. This operation is normally completed in the NHS under general anaesthetic but due to some complications and the Consultant being interested in me enough to know I was training to be a hypnotherapist the alternative of sedation was offered. We discussed what the level of actual pain was likely to be encountered. I decided I was going to do it without sedation I was going pure self-hypnosis! (With the backup of sedation if I started howling).


This meant I had to be on top of my ability to use self-hypnosis, I needed to focus solely on one aspect that would allow me effectively to tune out everything else that was going on in the operating theatre and my body.  I Did it!

Yes, I know it wasn’t on the level of a woman having C-Section completed under hypnosis in Iran recently, but I did it.  I was so impressed with myself.  Impressed with my skill at self-hypnosis, I had proven something to myself. I could control my thoughts, I could stop that fear rushing me and smothering me, and what was really interesting being connected to all those machines was how I could control my heart rate. This was amazing! Like WOW!! 


I’m not going to lie before this I would be known as an out and out coward at most things medical by family and friends. It was always cancer, I was always, going to die, whatever it was it was going to bad! But this created a whole new me! I could challenge and question my thoughts, just because I thought it didn’t make it true. 


Then one day when discussing self-hypnosis, and having the opinion that that it can be useful I recounted this experience and was roundly met with that cold dismissive ‘’and?’’ ‘’it’s not exactly a big operation!’’ I was stung, so I said why do the NHS spend money doing it that way then if it isn’t needed or it doesn’t hurt?  I defended myself but still  in my head I was thinking ‘’oh I thought it was brilliant, that I was brilliant, and you’ve just swept it away as nothing , maybe it wasn’t so spectacular after all ? ’’. I suspect my face looked like the actors on the T.V. 


Now, what is different is that before I would have been a bit crushed by the comments. But now driving home all those new skills reared their heads, the muttering began in earnest. Oh no you don’t, you’re not taking that from me! That is mine, I’m proud of that, I achieved something big for me, and I claim it. What you think about this isn’t important.  In truth there were also a lot of swear words, actually loads of them. 


After I had reminded myself how good it felt to achieve this, their indifference and scathing left me. Their thoughts and opinions meant nothing to me. I knew what I had achieved. 

But did you notice the ‘’wobble’’ in all this positivity? Its there.   ‘’oh I thought it was brilliant, that I was brilliant, maybe it wasn’t so spectacular after all  ? ’’. That doubt, that start of the destruction of something good that I had achieved, self-critical dialog creeping in. 


Recognising this is one of the keys to maintaining and developing a positive self-esteem. Recognising the ‘’wobble’’, the negative internal chatter, in therapy speak – the automatic thoughts. Those thoughts were ready to come in and put me down, to take away from me and my success. 


You may have seen or have been given forms to fill in in the past where there are columns that you fill in, this is generally within the CBT therapeutic approach.  A nice easy one is shown in David Burns’, book ‘’Feeling Good- the new mood therapy’’ a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Stanford University.


In it he outlines a method of writing down the recognised ‘wobble’ or Automatic Thought and in the other two columns, Cognitive Distortion (see the following 10 examples) and finally Rational Response (disputing the automatic thought-  ‘’oh no you don’t , you’re not taking this from me ’’ ) . You can start recognising what type of thoughts you’re having with this list. 



All or nothing thinking- if you don’t do it perfectly, there’s no point in doing it, thought. I ate a biscuit, so the diet is ruined, I’ll eat the whole packet then.  Common with performance, getting a pass grade but it’s not an A grade so it’s not good enough- feeling of failure. Can lead to feelings of hopelessness, depression. Words like I’m failing, I give up! 


Over generalisation. Ill never get a good job! This always happens to me! Taking one bad experience and applying it to everything, so it invades everything, the words always and never feature highly in this thinking. 


Black and white thinking. Do you only see the negative? Do you think the people you work with are stupid? I’m the only one that ever makes sure everything is done before leaving. No one ever does their job properly, I hate this job, it’s a rubbish job, there’s a right way and a wrong way! this leads to feelings of anger, anxiety, mistreatment, and victimisation.


Mind reading. The boss just glared at me! They don’t like me! they’re going to put me up for redundancy. Wow! You just applied a whole load of meaning to one look without knowing the facts. Maybe the boss was thinking about the Dr’s appointment they need to get to but they’re running late? The point is you don’t know. Your thoughts can make you feel insecure, anxious, and upset.


Catastrophising. I’ve already provided an example of this ‘’ its cancer, it’s going to be bad! Always assuming the worst possible outcome it’s ‘what if thinking’. Assuming its fact. It creates fear and prevents action. 


Emotional reasoning. Thinking that your feelings accurately reflect reality. A common one is if you feel uncomfortable in social situations, so you think’’ it’s me, I’m awkward, I don’t know how to talk to people, everyone else is having a great time’’. This increases feelings of anxiety and increases the likelihood of acting awkwardly. So, it takes any emotion you’re feeling and makes it bigger. 


Labelling. Taking a behaviour and turning it into a label. Imagine that you made a mistake, and then your internal critic starts applying the ‘wobble’ – you’re useless, you’re a failure ! You can apply this to others, imagine the first encounter with a child that seems to be having nonstop tantrums, that’s a naughty child, devil child! they’ve got no control they’re bad parents. Labelling creates hopelessness, because if identity is applied by those labels how can change happen? But these do not have to keep us stuck, you aren’t what you feel or do, and we all have the chance to change and grow. 


Mental filtering.  Only seeing one side of the situation, you might know a person and you only ever see the bad in them, never the good, or  you might only see the negative in your own life, or you ignore the positive things you’ve achieved and only focus on the mistakes or minimise the achievements that you have made. This can make you feel like a bad person, or push you towards being defensive, highlighting your own skills and achievements and putting down others. 


Personalisation. Thinking everything that happens is to do with you. You might blame yourself for things that you have no control over.’ I wasn’t invited to the wedding because they don’t like me’. Not taking onboard they have limited space and were expected to invite all their family members. You, me or anyone else know why people why people act like they do in any particular moment. Why imagine its anything to do with you? It can leave you with feelings of guilt, overwhelmed, burdened, anxiety and depressed. 


Unreal ideal. The plague of social media has added to this considerably.  If you spend all your time comparing yourself to others, then it can lead you to think that others or their lives are perfect, and you are not in comparison. People tend not to put up photographs of themselves with a totally relaxed belly, or cluttered dirty kitchen worktops. Comparing yourself to others can lead you to believe that you’re not good enough, leaving you feeling shame, discouragement, or an imposter.  


Here’s the really important part that you can try yourself, start to listen out for the critic or that ‘wobble’ in your thoughts. I’m not suggesting that you have to write them down, please do if you can do, because this will help you, just start to notice them. And then challenge them. 


 Just check that what you’re thinking is based on actual fact, is there any evidence to support that thought? Id like to add that it is very rare  that anyone is ‘’always’’ anything, happy, angry, sad, brilliant, we slide along a scale of all these things on a daily basis, so be kind to yourself and others and accept that is all part of being human. Most people are trying to do their best. 



And finally, if you have faced anything that you were worried about, or scared of, praise yourself. Really praise yourself, when you think about it tell yourself’’ Well done, I did that!  I was dreading it, but I did it anyway ‘’. 


This is not bragging; all of this is going on inside your head. No one can hear this except you.  


Claim it, the same as passing a big exam. Really praise yourself, pull up all those feelings of how pleased and proud you are of yourself, smile at how well you’ve done and at the height of recalling this or at the time you did it if you can, give yourself a pat on the back, or somewhere else on your body, or press your thumb into the centre of your palm,  this will help anchor how pleased and proud you are with yourself.


By this I mean when you want to recall this feeling you can by patting yourself on the back etc again it will help recall and create those feelings. Useful for the next thing you might be worried about. 


If people dismiss your achievements, remind yourself that this was an achievement as far as you were concerned, it may also be best to spend time with more supportive, uplifting people if possible and know the thoughts and opinions of others do not take away from who you are and what you have achieved. 


Each time you face things that scare you it shows you that you are stronger and so much more than you thought, so hold your head up, look in a mirror, look yourself in the eye and smile. You did it!”  You are the main voice in your head, you can either be the biggest cheerleader or the loudest critic. 


How you see yourself, your self-esteem is an important part of having a resilience to challenges that you face in life, and having an awareness of all the things you have done well can help you balance out the times that you might make a mistake or feel that you have fallen short of what you hoped for. 


There are numerous studies that support this and so it is important to recognise things that you do, that you are proud of as these will work better for you rather than allowing your self esteem to be damaged by either your own  sneaky negative thoughts or those of others. 


And let’s be honest a head up, look the world in the eye, confident walk never hurt anyone only ever made them more appealing. 




What you focus on grows. 



Sadie x



psychol Sci Public Interest. 2003 May;4(1):1-44. doi: 10.1111/1529-1006.01431. Epub 2003 May 1. Roy F Baumeister 1Jennifer D Campbell 2Joachim I Krueger 3Kathleen D Vohs 4



© 2024 by Sadie Jones,  Circle Hypnotherapy

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