Mobile phones are amazing devices – they bring the world to our fingertips. And social media is great for keeping up with what our friends and colleagues are up to. But we’ve all seen situations where the phone has meant lost human interaction; a couple sitting across from each other in a restaurant, barely exchanging a word or a glance as they stare at their phones. A parent ignoring the arm tug from a toddler as their need for attention goes unmet while daddy checks the football scores or mummy scrolls through her Facebook feed.
Attention is a fundamental need for humans. We are social creatures and thrive on being noticed. And the need for attention starts on day one. No other creature on earth is born as helpless as a human baby. An elephant can walk before its first meal, a gazelle can run with the herd the day after it’s born. We’re born “unfinished” for a very good reason. Evolution has meant that humans need to be born at the stage we are, because our heads would be simply too large otherwise. So it’s vital we get the full attention of those who will look after us, or we simply die.
Those early vulnerability circuits are still there when we’re adults. Whenever we feel ignored, stress hormones such as cortisol surge through our system. When we get attention, “happy” chemicals like serotonin flow. This applies to other primates too. Researchers have found that chimpanzees will actually exchange food for the chance to look at photos of the alpha male in their group.
To a certain extent, social media interaction can act as a substitute to direct human interaction. We all feel a little better when our post is “liked” or shared. But there can be a downside. For example, internet trolls do what they do because any kind of attention, even negative, is better than being ignored.
And does an electronic “thumbs up” really fill you with the same sense of joy and wellbeing as a good natter with an old friend? I think we know the answer to that.
The human brain is an incredible thing. Billions upon billions of connections are made within it, creating pathways that determine how we react to life. In fact, it has been estimated that the number of neural connections in each brain exceeds the number of atoms in the universe!
Neuroplasticity is the phenomenon whereby connections die off and new ones are made. It is neuroplasticity that allows us to make lasting change so that we deal with life in a much more positive manner.
Easy eh? Let’s get to it…
Except it isn’t so easy. The control centre of our brain, the part that decides how we respond to situations, is known as the amygdala and it is biased towards maintaining the status quo. It tends to encourage repeated behaviour patterns, which explains why we get caught up in unhelpful habits. Creating new pathways in the brain takes a lot of energy – it can be likened to hacking your way through the jungle as opposed to walking a well-worn path. There is a strong evolutionary drive to conserve energy, as our ancestors didn’t know when their next meal might arrive.
But that doesn’t mean change can’t happen. The human brain has evolved beyond being a simple survival machine. We now have the capacity to think and to imagine, and we can decide that we want our lives to be better. Given a little determination, we can use the power of neuroplasticity to rewire our brains and move to a more optimistic, positive mindset. And once we’ve hacked through the jungle, that path becomes easier to follow.
We can start today, by taking one small step in the direction we want to go. And once that first step is taken, the next step can reveal itself.
Make today Day One.
We speak of our future as having goals and dreams, but when that future becomes our today, how many goals and dreams are realised?
“One day…” we tell ourselves, while one day turns into many days, weeks, months, years, without that dream or goal realised.
The today we are present in is different.
Today we have a choice. We can make a change. If it’s important we will find a way, if not we will find an excuse. WE decide.
Today, stand firm and take a step forward. Mark the calendar with DAY ONE because the truth of the matter is, ONE DAY may never come…
When conflicts arise in a relationship, it’s easy to blame our partner. But the real culprit might be stress.
According to the American Institute of Stress, more than a quarter of people surveyed in 2014 felt alienated from a friend or family member because of stress, and over half had fought with people close to them. Relationships are worse off when people are under stress. The more stressed a person is, the less satisfied they are with their close relationships.
And if both partners are stressed—as is so often the case when modern couples juggle work schedules and parenthood—this is even more likely to happen. In a 2015 study, stressed partners received less support when their partner was also stressed. This study showed that, compared to when they were calm, stressed men and women provided less support to each other: fewer hugs, kind words, and empathic responses.
So what can be done?
We might decide to keep stress to ourselves, shielding our partner from our problems and grumpiness. We try to stay positive and “leave work at work,” to avoid bringing negativity home. But that is a mistake. It’s extremely difficult to keep our emotions under wraps like this, and can be detrimental to our wellbeing. It also means we’re missing the chance to make our partner feel better by letting them help. In a study by UoC, women either squeezed a stress ball or held their partner’s arm as he received an electric shock. The ones who faced their loved one’s stress head-on, offering comfort instead of focusing on themselves, experienced less neural activity in the stress centre of the brain and more activity in the brain’s caregiving and reward systems—and they felt more connected.
The answer may be as simple as asking for help when we need it. Studies have shown that stressed wives got more support from their spouses not just because husbands offered it more but also because wives asked for it more.
So don’t be afraid to send up the distress signal. And, if you’re on the receiving end, heed it. Coping with stress together helps our close relationships survive and thrive.
There are a lot of misconceptions about hypnotherapy out there, and this can mean that some people may be wary of considering it as an option to improve their life. The image of hypnosis is often that of people up on stage, eating onions or barking like a dog. All good fun, but as far removed from hypnotherapy as you can imagine. Everyone on that stage has volunteered, and have decided for themselves to participate fully in the show. Hypnotherapy, on the other hand, is a process of self-improvement, not entertainment.
However, there can be a fear that somehow the hypnotherapist will be able to control your mind… but we can’t, nor would we want to do so. What we do instead is provide plenty of positive suggestions while the client is in trance, enabling therapeutic change to happen via the subconscious mind. And there’s nothing scary about trance. We all go into trance at least twice every day; just before falling asleep at night, and upon waking up every morning. Most people easily enter a form of trance when being totally absorbed in a good TV show, getting lost in a good book or while driving. It’s that feeling you get when you focus on one thing, and the rest of the world fades away.
There is often a belief that hypnotherapy is “mumbo jumbo”, but there is a wealth of scientific research behind its effectiveness. Psychologists such as Freud and Jung used it, and more recently Dr. Milton Erikson and others have moved the field forward. A recent study at Stanford University identified the neural changes associated with hypnosis, and hypnosis has been used medically to perform operations without general anaesthetic. The Pain Clinic at Liege University Hospital in Belgium has performed over 9000 operations in this way, demonstrating how powerful a tool it can be.
We often hear people say something like “Well, you wouldn’t be able to hypnotize me!” Again, this is based on the misconception that hypnosis is something the therapist imposes on the client. Hypnotherapy is not a battle for control. If you’re capable of breathing a little slower, and relaxing a little bit while lying down, then the therapy works. You don’t have to “go under”. And we’re all susceptible to suggestion – that’s why the advertising industry exists! It is important here to emphasise that any suggestion that the client does not feel is in their best interests will be rejected.
Here at ONE LIFE, we have seen clients make amazing progress in dealing with their issues and creating a more positive life for themselves with hypnotherapy. You can read about some of our success stories in the testimonials on this website.
And we never use pocket watches!
The human brain is amazing and allows us to imagine – this is something unique to humans. Thanks to this amazing ability we have produced great works of literature, art and music. We have changed the face of the planet with our roads and buildings. Everything man made was born from someone’s imagination.
The incredible fact is that what we imagine can physically alter the wiring in our brains. An experiment by neuroscientist Alvaro Pascual-Leone demonstrated this beautifully. He took a number of Harvard students and asked them to perform one of two activities. One group was asked to practice a simple five fingered piano movement for five days on a piano. The second group was asked to practice the same movement for the same amount of time. However, this group was asked to imagine playing the piece but with their hands held still.
The brains of the participants were scanned after every two hour practice session using transcranial-magnetic-simulation (TMS) which allows scientists to produce pictures of brain activity. These scans showed that the stretch of motor cortex which controls the finger movements for the piano activity grew significantly for the group playing the piano. What was remarkable was that those who only imagined moving their fingers showed very similar growth in motor cortex.
Essentially, your brain can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality. This is a double-edged sword. When we worry about things that might happen or we mull over things we wished we’d done differently in the past, the brain treats these worries as real events and reacts with feelings of stress and anxiety. On the flipside, mentally rehearsing an activity such as swinging a golf club well can improve sporting performance. It has even been shown that positive visualization has improved the recovery time of stroke patients.
At ONE LIFE, we help people harness the power of their imagination to achieve their goals. Imagine that, eh?
Recent research has shown that sports performance can be improved with hypnotherapy. For example, a recent study has shown that hypnosis improved the ability of basketball players to produce 3-point shots, and increased their sense of confidence and calmness.
This shouldn’t be too surprising. It has been recognised for some time that mental attitude has a huge influence on sporting performance. Much of the success of the British cycling team has been attributed to the work of sports psychiatrist Dr. Steve Peters. Successful participants are able to control negative thoughts and doubts so they can produce their best performance. Being able to do this can be the difference between success and failure.
Hypnotherapy can help by replicating that feeling of being “in the zone” where the entire focus is on the sporting activity and the rest of the world fades away. Additionally, the mind can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality, and so repeatedly visualising success can vastly improve sporting performance.
At ONE LIFE, we can help every level of sportsperson improve their game, whether a weekend golfer or a professional athlete. We discuss the client’s targets for their chosen sport and help them achieve those targets by increasing their ability to control negative thinking, improving their confidence and self-belief, and teaching them to use deep relaxation and concentration to maintain composure and imagine success.
If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.
Link to basketball study: