Popular Questions I’ve Been Asked

How do you overcome your biggest fear?

1) Explore your reasons behind the fear and challenge them 2) Learn some relaxation techniques which you can practice and use when confronting the fear 3) Expose yourself to the fear a little at a time, to allow yourself to adjust 4) Keep persisting – it will work!

(Since it is quite challenging, it is often helpful to go through these steps with a counsellor. A counsellor can teach you how to relax, help you come up with ways to challenge negative thoughts, and help you feel safer as you face your phobia. Always seek professional help if your phobia is interfering with your daily life or causing you significant distress.)

Do you believe in giving someone a second chance?

Posted on June 30, 2011 by Kevin Humphrys

It would be lovely to be able to be anecdotal and suggest we ALL deserve a second chance. But what about the violent partner, or the emotionally abusive friend? Of course we are all very capable of some wrong-doing, but a generally good exercise which can help you decide whether to give someone a second chance is to ask yourself; how much did they hurt me? And is the possibility of a healthy relationship with them worth the risk of them doing their misdemeanour again? If it is, or if it isn’t then you have your answer!

(Remember to take account of others around you who are affected by your decision, particularly children. If you feel the relationship is worth saving but you are unable to make it work alone consider seeing a couple’s counsellor. A counsellor can help by mediating, teaching you to communicate in a more meaningful way and helping you see things from each other’s point of view. Always seek appropriate professional help immediately if you feel pressured or in danger.)

 

 

 

 

Sussex Centre for Individual Growth – Counselling, Massage, Hypnotherapy, Natural Facial Enhancement  and other Holistic Therapies in Sussex, including Brighton, Lancing, Worthing, Hove, Uckfield, Forest Row and others – WWW.SCIG.CO.UK

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Are we just plain UNLUCKY?!

Just recently I’ve been feeling as though I have had my fair share of bad luck, and I wondered whether I am alone in this or whether this feeling is shared by the vast majority out there from time to time.

First, let me tell you about my bad luck experience over the last few weeks. On top of the usual expense of Christmas, just a few days before my microwave broke down. Then two days later my washing machine does likewise. On the same day my laptop stops working (wouldn’t even start up!).

And finally, this morning I received a Police fine for doing 40mph in a 30mph zone. I remember this particular occasion well, because it was one of those mobile manned cameras in a van. I was on a dual carriageway on the coast road, and when I spotted the van I double checked my speed and although was not aware of the speed limit as I hadn’t seen a sign since I had pulled onto this stretch of road, I was sure it would be around 50mph – or 40mph at least. Evidently I was wrong. Some years ago, as a younger driver, I had enough fines and close calls that I ensure these days I make the effort to stay within the speed limit. Obviously to no avail on this occasion, because I still have a £60 fine and 3 points on my otherwise clean licence to look forward to.

Do you feel as though you have received more than your fair share of bad luck? Do you feel as though you are experiencing one set of bad circumstances after another?

Luck implies that we had no influence over the events that have befallen us. This being the case, my long-winded example above about the expected fine and pounds does not actually qualify. If I had been more aware, then I could have avoided the outcome.

So, are we just plain unlucky?

To find out, we need to remove those we count amongst our recent unlucky examples, which we have had an influence on – like my traffic offence. If there was something you could have done to avoid it, then remove it from the equation.

Next, make a list of what you have in comparison to other people. By this, I don’t mean possessions like Sky TV, or bigger, better cars. These things are truly of no importance. If you have a home, write it on your list. Do you have the use of a car? Then write it down. Do you have clothes, food, warmth, a phone, clean water, a relationship, security? If you can answer yes to 7 of these, then you are more wealthy, and LUCKIER than 70% of the rest of the world. If you are able to go to a restaurant, cinema or bowling; or drive to where you want to go, then you are more free, and LUCKIER than 80% of the rest of the world.

Next, make a list of the areas where you feel unlucky and write the reasons behind the events. If you can’t find work, maybe some training could help. If you keep losing relationships, maybe some counselling or asking a close friend or relative to help you discover the reason may help.

We must avoid making every undesirable outcome into a bad luck event.  Remove those things we had influence over, like my speeding offence, then we must assess the reasons for our bad luck and change those things that we can to minimise the chances of them ever happening again.

I believe every person has bad things happen to them; “The rain falls on the good and bad alike”. So it’s just a case of how we let ourselves see these events. When my microwave and washing machine broke down, I was very lucky to have someone collect them both from my home for free, saving me a tough job of taking them to the recycling centre. I was also lucky, because the timing meant I was able to take full advantage of the January sales.

I realise things could have been worse; my washing machine could have flooded my kitchen, my microwave could have exploded, or my laptop could have lost some important work. Realising that things could always be worse warrants an ultimately positive result from a bad experience.

Now, it comes clear that when things are going well, we are in good health with no imminent seemingly insurmountable problems we are experiencing good luck – we are lucky. If we look for lucky events in our day-to-day lives we will see them in very normal everyday occurrences. In time we will make positive, optimistic assumptions about things and if we’re wrong it won’t matter. Being wrong or experiencing bad luck won’t affect us beyond the actual event (we will stop making things worse).

So are we just plain UNLUCKY? No! In fact – we’re very lucky!

Be lucky!

 

 

 

Counselling, Massage, Hypnotherapy and other Holistic Therapies in Sussex, including Brighton, Lancing, Worthing, Hove, Uckfield, Forest Row and others – go to www.scig.co.uk 

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Is One Solution EVER Enough?!

Many of us have been aware through TV, websites and even movies, of the Mayan prophecy about the world ending in 2012. Well, thanks to an apparent error in converting the Mayan calendar, this has been postponed.

However, the Mayans do have a disturbing message for us still. They tell us why, despite our best efforts, we are unable to solve our personal or societal problems.

There are as many theories attempting to explain why the Mayans’ astoundingly advanced civilisation suddenly collapsed between 750 and 850, as there are theories for the world’s end. These theories suggest that it may be due to drought, disease or war, but there is one unusual theory that suggests the possibility that Mayans had reached their “cognitive threshold”. This theory suggests that they had created a society so complex that it surpassed their brains’ capacity to understand it, which in turn meant they were no longer able to think up credible solutions to their problems.

Due to evolutions slow progress, our evolved cognitive capacity today is very much the same as it was in 850, but our society is vastly more complex. The human brain takes millions of years to evolve a new ability, while humankind are constantly generating huge changes in society and producing vast amounts of information. So when it comes to us thinking up credible solutions to our current problem; what’s the solution to global warming, worldwide financial crises, or terrorism? The answer may simple be beyond us.

The intricacy of even everyday challenges – how to stay healthy, how to be happy in relationships or work – can seem just as  equally overwhelming, even if, in principle, we have the practical abilities to solve them.

A complex problem by definition means that no one chosen solution will work; there are many more wrong solutions that right ones. The problem with attempting just one solution is that they lull us into a false sense of security, a belief that we are dealing with the problem. An example of this is to suggest that continuing to work you are helping towards a resolution of the financial crises, or by using ‘bags for life’ you are doing your bit for global warming, or because you keep an eye out for suspicious packages on the tube you are contributing to the fight against terrorism.

In fact, the only cogent way forward may be trying all solution ideas and theories at the same time, knowing that the majority are bound to fail.

Should climate change be on the agenda at the level of politics, lifestyle or technology? Should someone suffering from chronic lack of energy combat this by sleeping more, eating better or seeing a doctor? The answer would be all of these!

We can take our lead from venture capitalists who, despite all the odds being stacked against them make a fortune. The vast majority of the businesses they invest will fail, but they know that a few will thrive – even if they have no idea at the outset which ones this will be.

So, for complicated challenges, trying just one resolution and becoming distraught when it doesn’t live up to unrealistic expectations is absurd, as a solitary solution is most likely to fail. The mentality we need is not the hyped up positive-thinking approach that failure is inconceivable, but rather that failures are inevitable, but with enough solutions in our armoury we are also bound to succeed!

Best wishes,

 

 

Counselling, Massage, Hypnotherapy and other Holistic Therapies in Sussex, including Brighton, Lancing, Worthing, Hove, Uckfield, Forest Row and others – go to www.scig.co.uk 

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INSTANT-HAPPINESS (is that possible?)

How would you respond if I told you that you can be truly happy, right here and now, regardless of who you are, where you are and what you are doing?

Yes, you that’s right – you can be happy here and now no matter what.

I realise that this sort of approach can sound a bit foolish at first, but the reason for that is that most of us have been raised to believe that you first need to meet a hundred conditions before allowing yourself to be happy.

Many people believe that they need to work really hard in life and achieve everything that is expected of them before they allow themselves the right to be happy. But you must be aware that no one ever lives to see that day.

Why?

Because happiness is the path, not the destination!

We have been taught to see happiness as destination, not the path. But happiness is the path, not the destination. If you are not happy while you are travelling through life, reaching a certain destination (attaining goals) will not give you what you wanted to experience before you embarked on the journey in the first place.

Happiness is the path, not the destination. Remember this well and keep it in mind at all times.

One of the reasons why many people don’t understand what we’ve just said is that they don’t understand what happiness really is. Many people confuse happiness with pleasure, but happiness and pleasure are two different things. You can be completely dissatisfied, and yet happy at the same time. Pleasure brings brief moments of satisfaction, while happiness is a lasting thing. Pleasure is always connected with fulfilling a certain desire, whereas the presence of happiness in our life has nothing to do with any desire we might have.

Keep this in mind because it’s a most fundamental approach towards life. The way you experience 99% of the things you do in life will depend on the way you think of the relationship between happiness and pleasure.

I’m one of the most dissatisfied people because no matter what I achieve, my sense of pleasure never lasts more than three days. However, at the same time I am truly happy and I live filled with the sense of enthusiasm, joy, and inner peace. I clearly feel the sense and purpose of my life. I know that there is an endless source of joy and peace inside me, and I am aware that outward circumstances per se have nothing to do with that. Outward circumstances can have an effect on my life only if I allow them to have an effect.

In my past I had been allowing outward circumstances to determine the quality of my life too much. My work life, colleagues, money worries, other people’s opinion of me and things like that played a great role in the way I felt.

I realised that if this continued I would never be happy – I needed to change the way I thought about life. I spent a long time thinking and searching for the right approach to happiness, until I realised that happiness is a state in which I am either in or not in. There is nothing in between. I am either travelling through life a happy man, or I am travelling through life an unhappy man with an occasional glimpse of relief and pleasure brought to me by the fact that I fulfilled a certain goal. I have to admit that meditation has been of great help to me, as I have mentioned in my previous blogs I would recommend it to all those who wish to become conscious of what true happiness really is.

Throwing away all concepts about the nature of happiness that I used to hold on to until then over night was no easy task for me, but as time went by it became increasingly easy for me to embrace the idea that happiness is something that was already inside me and available to me at all times. It became increasingly easy to embrace the idea that happiness is nothing other than a question of my consciousness about what happiness is and the decision to be happy, right here right now.

Being happy is a matter of your personal decision. Make the decision. Become happy here and now. Do not wait for any conditions to be met first, because you are the one creating them, whether you are aware of them or not. Become happy and conditions for happiness will be created around you. Do not take my word for it – try it for yourself. Give yourself a break and discard the myth of happiness being like a castle that is being built gradually, and that it takes a long time to become happy.

Rest assured that, when it comes to happiness, the factor of time becomes totally relative. Being happy or not is a matter of our understanding of what happiness truly is, which is followed by our decision and choice.

Even though all this sounds very simple, it does not mean that it is easily applicable. Our minds tend to constantly return to the old habits and ways of thinking, and as soon as we make the decision to be happy, our minds keep finding the arguments to convince us that we are wrong and that we are wasting our precious time. It often points to current situations in our life whose existence should pull us away from the idea that we should become happy and tries to convince us to leave the times of happiness for a situation when the circumstances are more suitable.

Let us now get back to the title of this article: Instant happiness – is that possible?

The correct answer is: not only is it possible, but it is the only way! You are either happy, or you are not happy. There is no transitional phase.

Make an instant decision… and have a happy journey.

Wishing you happiness,

 

 

Counselling, Massage, Hypnotherapy and other Holistic Therapies in Sussex, including Brighton, Lancing, Worthing, Hove, Uckfield, Forest Row and others – go to www.scig.co.uk 

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The Meaning of Music

I enjoy music. I always have. I have such a varied taste in music that there is very few genres that I am unable to appreciate through several songs. I listen to all the latest music and my children, my daughter especially, is constantly surprised that I am already listening to music that she has only just heard herself or maybe has not yet heard at all. I’m not sure whether to be chuffed or insulted that this is such a shocker for her, but I do neither and just accept that this is the way things are now. I am just no longer young.

A greater tell-tale sign that I am no longer young actually comes from this very music. I can remember when the pop music in the charts would speak to me as an individual – even more than this, I felt that it could have been literally written for my personal circumstances. Throughout my teenage years, the many and varied songs in the charts spoke to me and held my feelings as though the singer was sharing the feeling for my crush, my hurt or my anxiety. No-one else could understand except this song writer.

I no longer have this relationship with chart music. It seems that song writing is perhaps easier for the less complicated problems in life. To write a song about feelings of attraction or nights out partying which can be enjoyed by teenagers all over the country sipping from their cans of cheap cider in their local park, seems fairly straight forward. However, there are not many song writers willing to take on the task of singing songs about the struggles we endeavour in the following years; babies, divorces, partners feeling distant, etc.

These days we do not grow older with grace and I am no exception, but as a late 37 year old I feel I am just no longer young. The types of music enjoyed by those of us who are no longer young is still the vibrant or cheesy tunes we hear in the charts, but it is not this music that will speak to our hearts or that reflects our situations any more; this only comes from seasoned writers of some discernment and particular talent.

I listened recently to the song by Tracey Thorn, “Oh, The Divorces!” The words tell of our experiences of seeing friend’s marriages break apart for various reasons, often the relationships we least expect are those we see suffer this terrible fate. It tells of handing over children at the park swings (my own experience of handing over children at the service station being shared by many due to distances). This speaks to us who are no longer young of a reality which we all live in today, that the chart music does not.

Another great piece of song writing comes from Richard Hawley, “For Your Lover, Give Some Time”. This hears the heart felt cries of someone in a relationship asking for some time to be devoted to their love, their relationship. As is often felt in the latter years of relationships, when the honeymoon period is not only over but well and truly forgotten, love can become distant due to a lack of attention or a partner’s focus being taken elsewhere. This song will tug at the heart strings of anyone who has felt these feelings.

If you have not heard these songs and you a thirty or forty something, then I urge you to give them a listen. I would be interested to hear anybody else’s recommended listening to those of us who are no longer young.

Music can make us realise that we are not alone in the agony or hurt we feel, but that these feelings have been felt by others all over the world; that there is a dawn and a new day. We must work through these feelings to become ever stronger, braver and wiser for the future. Our experiences, after all, are what shape the person we are and will be, so we must not shy away from them but embrace them for what they teach us about life and ourselves.

 

 

Counselling, Massage, Hypnotherapy and other Holistic Therapies in Sussex, including Brighton, Lancing, Worthing, Hove, Uckfield, Forest Row and others – go to www.scig.co.uk 

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Meditation (part 2)

In this piece on meditation I wanted to encourage you further to meditate by discussing how it can help us in our lives.

It isn’t as easy as producing a list of how it can help us as individuals because we all react differently to the stimulus that is meditation. Something that works for one person may not work for another – this can be said for everything of course even medication.

However, there are certain effects that it seems are universal. It helps reduce stress,  increase your energy, improve your mental awareness and improve self perception (self-esteem etc). The benefits are endless and I am sure we will touch on this again in the future.

However, I wanted to mention one benefit that might not immediately spring to mind. I discovered it when I read this story about a pilot study of 10 kids aged between 11 and 13 who were diagnosed with ADHD. They were taking medication but still having issues at both school and home, so they were taught meditation techniques. Both teachers and students reported significant improvement in the kids’ symptoms.

The kids were taught ‘Transcendental Meditation’ or TM. This is the simplest of meditation techniques where you sit quietly for 10 or 15 minutes, silently repeating a mantra. One of the most popular mantras in the world is to repeat in one’s mind the sounds ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’. This doesn’t directly translate as it has a lot of meaning behind each sound/word, but roughly means ‘Hail the Jewel in the Lotus’. For those interested in the meaning further I have put a deeper explanation at the bottom of this blog.  By practising this technique it relaxes and calms you both mentally and physically, and some research has shown that is has promoted real physical changes to the nervous system.

This practice is no doubt exceptionally hard for children, especially those suffering from these kinds of conditions, but it is a wonderful step forward – teaching these children a simple technique that, while not curing their ADHD, can at least put them in charge of managing their symptoms in a beneficial way. Researchers are now looking at whether or not Meditation can reduce or eliminate the need for medication which would indeed be a joyful development.

With hope and love,

A full exposition of the ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ by the Dalai Lama can be found here, but a brief excerpt is below:

Thus the six syllables, om mani padme hum, mean that in dependence on the practice of a path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha.

Counselling, Massage, Hypnotherapy and other Holistic Therapies in Sussex, including Brighton, Lancing, Worthing, Hove, Uckfield, Forest Row and others – go to www.scig.co.uk 

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21st Century Enlightenment

Recently, Matthew Taylor (former Downing Street policy adviser to Tony Blair) had a bold vision for progress that was published in the Royal Society of Arts pamphlet. Matthew Taylor’s essay is now the strapline for the RSA, calling for a new “revolution of the mind”.

The difference with this Enlightenment is that it doesn’t come from the 2,500 year old teachings of the Buddha, or from modern masters of Buddhism, but rather from empirical studies in the fields of neuroscience and psychology.

These studies are making it increasingly clear that the millennia old path to Enlightenment through a higher awareness is right after all. It states that accessing our higher consciousness can free us from the bounds of our emotions, and make us more empathic and compassionate.

The article by Ed Halliwell in the Guardian commented on this as a new chance for Enlightenment, possibly without the turn-off attachment of an organised religion such as Buddhism. And while he recognised that traditionalists (those who like to hold true to original teachings I suppose) would not appreciate the watering down of the Buddha’s teachings, surely they would withstand a little stretching in the attempts to forge new paths to Enlightenment.

Whilst I welcome any new recognition of the authenticity of our search for higher awareness on our path to Enlightenment, it worries me not a little, that this could lead to a humanistic approach to Enlightenment. This kind of approach would be far more than just a little stretching, it would rather be missing the point.

We practice meditation to experience the higher consciousness, that part of us which is not of this world. We endeavour to be able to see past the façade of this world and reach that moment when our minds are at home, at peace, content to be still and the reality of what we are is laid before us.

We must hope and pray then, that all those whose endeavours originate from empirical humanistic data, may still be open to their inner selves and experience Enlightenment.

Compassionately yours,

 

 

Counselling, Massage, Hypnotherapy and other Holistic Therapies in Sussex, including Brighton, Lancing, Worthing, Hove, Uckfield, Forest Row and others – go to www.scig.co.uk 

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