Turning Bad Habits into Good Ones

September 5th, 2009

Turning Bad Habits into Good Ones
Do you find yourself doing things and then wishing you hadn’t or wondering why you did them because you don’t feel good afterwards? I’m thinking here of over-eating, over-drinking, over-spending or anything in fact that you do to excess?
“How did they start in the first place and why are they so hard to get rid of?” is a question I hear almost daily in my hypnotherapy practices in Berkshire in Reading and Wokingham.
The answer is usually found in the past. Let’s take drinking too much as an example. This is a problem many people are facing more and more at the moment and if you ask them they will often say they do it because it helps them feel more relaxed and is a form of escapism from the stresses and worries of their lives.
At some point in the past they will probably have taken a drink after a particularly stressful day and found that they enjoyed the effect, so immediately a link was set up in their brain associating the relaxed feeling with the drink. Next time they feel a bit of pressure, they have another drink and very quickly a habit has formed.
These habits then become lodged in the subconscious and are usually left unchecked until the habit starts to create problems – perhaps the drinking is becoming excessive, health is suffering or relationships are being threatened. This is the point at which people tend to seek help in hypnotherapy.
The good news is that habits are simply learned behaviour. You weren’t born with this behaviour pattern, so you with help you can un-learn it and replace it with a healthier and better habit. The first step is to recognise where you are struggling in your life. Self-awareness is the key to success. Notice when you want to have the drink, what’s going on, where are you, who are you with? Be honest because pretending things are better than they really are will not help you break the pattern.
Next, using your imagination and self-knowledge think of other, healthier ways in which you could feel de-stressed and relaxed and which you know you would want to do. Then visualise yourself behaving in this new way and pay attention to how you feel. Have a clear image in your head of how you look, how you’re acting and play this ‘video’ every day in your imagination. This will help instruct your subconscious to act differently next time you’re stressed and as this ‘habit’ becomes stronger, the old, unhealthy one will start to fade.

To help it fade faster and to make the new habit even stronger a session of hypnotherapy will set you up for success.

Sharon Juden is a Hypnotherapist in Berkshire as well as a Career and Life Coach.

Stressed? Try Hypnotherapy in Crowthorne, Berkshire

July 11th, 2009

Stressed? Try Hypnotherapy in Crowthorne, Berkshire

Stress manifests itself in a variety of ways, many of which are not immediately recognisable as stress.  In my hypnotherapy practice in Crowthorne I’ve seen a rising number of people coming with all sorts of issues ranging from sleeplessness, teeth grinding, over drinking to a general feeling of being inadequate and unable to cope with the pressure they’re under.

The problem with the lives we lead nowadays is that we’re constantly expected to produce more and faster, respond quicker if not immediately and be accessible practically 24 hours a day.  This leaves little room for relaxation, hobbies, fun or simply ‘being’.  Our technology has moved forward but we haven’t.  Our bodies are still the same as they were hundreds of years ago.  The fight/flight response we used to experience when faced with danger still occurs only this time there isn’t a sabre-toothed tiger to run away from.  In fact, many times there’s nothing to run away from because we can’t escape the daily situation, so the adrenaline is pumping through our system and has no release.  It’s little wonder more and more of us are finding our bodies are suffering and complaining.

The first step towards resolving the problem is recognising what your stress symptoms are.  They won’t be the same for everyone because some people are better able to cope with large amounts of stress than others are.  The symptoms will generally fall into three categories:
1. Emotional
Eg Irritability, increased worrying, being overly critical

2. Physical
Eg Increased heart rate, sweaty palms, skin rashes, weight gain/loss

3. Behavioural
Eg Increased alcohol intake, sleep problems, over-eating

Once you recognise your stress symptoms, notice when they happen.  What is going on in your life to bring them about?  Is there a particular person who knows exactly how to wind you up?  Are you regularly getting into debt and feeling stressed about that?  Are you being asked to do too much and feel you can’t say ‘no’?  Stress generally comes about because we feel we have no choice.  We feel pulled along in a direction we’re powerless to stop.

The truth however is that we do have a choice.  Even if we can’t change who we live with or where we work for the moment, we can always change what we think about the situation.  We can choose to perceive it differently.

As mentioned earlier, some people are better able to handle pressure than others.  Are they special or gifted?  Not usually.  It all comes down to how they interpret the situation, how they perceive it.  For them there are no problems – only issues to deal with.  So if you regularly feel stressed, notice what you’re telling yourself when you’re in that situation – eg  ‘I can’t cope, I’ve got too much to do,  I never have enough money’ etc and notice how that simply makes you feel worse.

Our subconscious mind is very literal.  It doesn’t know the difference between fact and fiction and it believes what it is regularly told.  So if you’re constantly feeding yourself negative thoughts, your subconscious will go about creating them – just like programming a computer.  You tell yourself you’re not enjoying work and can’t do anything properly because there’s not enough time and you will continue to create that reality for yourself.

It sounds bleak, but the good news is that if we can create negativity and pressure for ourselves by the way we think, we can also uncreate that.  We can create a more positive, forward-looking attitude that offers solutions for a calmer future by changing our thoughts.

Using hypnotherapy where you’re relaxed and more susceptible to new suggestions, I build up an image of how you will be, what you will be feeling and thinking in this new calm state of mind using your own words.  You absorb these new ideas and images and come away from the session feeling much more relaxed and positive.  Over the next few days you will notice subtle, gentle changes in your thinking and approach as your subconscious begins to create this new reality for you.  The more you choose the positive suggestions over the negative ones, the more they become embedded and so develop into your new behaviour and thought patterns.

A new, healthy habit has now been created to replace the old, destructive one and from this mindset you’re better able to deal with challenges as they come along in a calmer, more focused way.

If you’re regularly feeling stressed try hypnotherapy to help you relax and put a new perspective on things.

Sharon Juden is a Hypnotherapist in Berkshire as well as a Career and Life Coach.

‘No More Excuses!’

April 3rd, 2009

“It’s not the right time.
I’m too old / too young.
I don’t have the necessary qualifications yet.
I wouldn’t be able to do it properly.”

Do any of these excuses sound familiar?  And if they do, how do they affect you, your life, your career?
Are you moving forward confidently, happy with the progress you’re making in all areas of your life, or are you feeling frustrated and confined because you’re not able to take that jump and do what you really do want to be doing? Read the rest of this entry »

Appreciating What I Have

April 2nd, 2009

What makes you happy?
A new car, big house, bigger pay packet, lots of holidays?
But is this true happiness?  Or is it just surface satisfaction giving momentary illusions of happiness?

Ask anyone who seems intrinsically happy, no matter what is going on in their lives, and you could be sure that somewhere in their answer is the fact that they are grateful for and appreciate everything they have – even if they don’t have the apparent trappings of wealth.

Appreciation not only helps us feel good, but it really does contribute to a sense of happiness.

Take a moment to think of all the things you have today that you can be grateful for and notice how you feel.

Don’t you feel better than you did a minute ago?  You see, it really does work!

There is a popular belief at the moment that where your attention goes, there your energy flows and so you create more of the same (the Law of Attraction).  So, if you concentrate on all the good things in your life, your focus will be positive and you will draw more positive experiences to you.  Think about this on a practical level.  If you appreciate your partner, treat them in a positive way, they’re going to respond equally positively by doing even more to make you happy because it also makes them feel good about themselves.

Isn’t that a situation we’d all like in our lives?
Well, guess what?  We can all have it.  It’s simply a matter of choice.  We can choose to appreciate or we can choose to complain:

‘A person who sets his or her mind on the dark side of life,
who lives over and over the misfortunes and disappointments
of the past, prays for similar misfortunes and disappointments
in the future.  If you will see nothing but ill luck in the future, you
are praying for such ill luck and will surely get it”.
Prentice Mulford (1834 -1891)

Isn’t that a sad way to be and yet so many of us are actually doing this without realising it.  We replay past grievances over and over, we expect bad things to happen, arguing that if we’re prepared for the worst and it doesn’t happen, we’ll be alright.  Yet all this does is rob us of feeling happy and content with each precious moment of our lives.

Read the following story (I’m not sure where it came from) and think about how you could now ‘choose’ instead to be happy and to show appreciation for even the smallest, most seemingly insignificant things in your life today:

The 92 year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock  with her hair fashionably coiffed and makeup perfectly applied  even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today.

Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.

After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready.  As she manoeuvred her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window.

“I love it!” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight year old having just been presented with a new puppy.
“Mrs Jones, you haven’t seen the room, just wait.”
“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied.  “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time.  Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged … it’s how I arrange my mind.
I already decided to love it.  It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up.  I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.
Each day is a gift and as long as my eyes open, I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life.
Old age is like a bank account: you withdraw from what you’ve put in.
So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories”.

Happiness is not a by-product of the circumstances or belongings in our lives.  Happiness is a state of mind we choose to have by appreciating what we’ve got.

Rather than waiting until old age makes us more appreciative of what we have now and what we have had in the past, try the exercise below and see if you can change the way you think so that you end up being more grateful for what you have and create more of the positive in your life.

Coaching Clinic – Exercise

“You create your own universe as you go along”
Winston Churchill

1. Each evening take a few moments to write down at least 5 things you can be grateful for that happened that day and 5 things you appreciate in your life in general.  Eg I found a parking space straight away!
Having the freedom to drive myself where I want to go when I want.
2. Instead of wanting to control your life to the ‘n’th’ degree, make a conscious decision to relax more and appreciate life’s gentle flow.  Recognise those aspects of your life over which you have no control (eg the cost of petrol going up) and concentrate instead on developing a grateful attitude towards them. They’re going to be there whether you like it or not, so make it easy by finding the positive in each situation.  I admit this is a tricky one but perhaps one approach for the petrol scenario could be “because I don’t want to pay huge petrol bills each week I’ve now decided to walk more where possible and that way I get exercise without having to go to the gym”.
3. Think now about those things you can control.  What is it about them that you appreciate and like?  Eg I can control the food I eat and I choose to eat only healthy things so I feel and look better.

4. Is there someone you have been meaning to thank or show your appreciation to?  Decide to do it.  Write them a letter or phone them up.  Not only will you feel good, but you can bet they’ll feel even better!

I appreciate you reading this and wish you a happy week as you look at your world through grateful eyes!

By Sharon Juden, Life Coach and Hypnotherapist in Berkshire

Where’s My Enthusiasm?

March 31st, 2009

Enthusiasm makes the difference!

How many times have you heard that? And how many times have you thought to yourself, “yeah right! That’s fine when everything’s going right. How can I be enthusiastic with all the problems I have to face?”

Nowadays more and more people seem dissatisfied with their lives despite having the highest living standards since records began. They’re disillusioned with their jobs and re-evaluating what they really want from life. People are leaving high paid city jobs to seek careers which would add purpose to their lives – often at great financial expense. The enthusiasm they once possessed has disappeared.

What’s going on?

A couple of thoughts spring to mind.

(1) We expect our external circumstances to provide the passion and excitement for life we want.

Enthusiasm is one of the most important, basic elements in successful living. We look for it in great jobs, beautiful homes, exciting relationships. We think ‘when I get that next promotion I’ll be enthusiastic about my future again’. But is that what happens? Of course not! It just puts us on that never-ending treadmill of wanting to acquire more and more things in that elusive hope of finding happiness.

When happiness doesn’t happen we become cynical, frustrated and very unenthusiastic about life.

But how can we be enthusiastic when we’re lacking enthusiasm? We need to look for the answer inside ourselves.

Practice the “as if” principle. It’s a very powerful methodology working at the subconscious level. Since our subconscious doesn’t differentiate between fact and fiction, if we act enthusiastically on a regular basis, the more we will become what we are acting.

Of course this takes some discipline and determination but isn’t it worth the effort? Think enthusiasm, act out enthusiasm, talk enthusiasm and you will become enthusiastic.

Enthusiasm brings out your potential. People are drawn to you, you feel alive and passionate. In this frame of mind positive experiences are magnetically attracted to you. Find your enthusiasm and all the other necessary qualities for success are activated eg. successful goal setting, persistence, determination, ability to work in a focussed, organised manner. In short, when you’re enthusiastic about anything it is so much easier and more fun to do.

(2) We have lost our sense of purpose

Abraham Maslow created the pyramid of personal fulfilment over fifty years ago and at the top of this pyramid is a sense of purpose. As I mentioned earlier, more and more people are leaving high paid jobs to go into careers like teaching and nursing because they feel they want to give something back to society and give some purpose to their existence.

If you don’t know what your life’s purpose could be, think about the following questions but do them now rather than waiting until you’re completely drained, lethargic and even depressed:

· What do you want most out of life?

· What are you good at?

· What can you contribute?

Focus on the answers to these questions and notice how you feel. Do you sense enthusiasm rising? You should do if you’ve been totally honest with yourself. These don’t have to be major, life-changing answers. Small, simple

ideas will be enough to start you on the right road.

· Eg I want to motivate people to achieve their potential

· I’m good at communicating and being supportive

· I can hold weekly team-building sessions with my staff

When you shift your focus from what you don’t have in your life, or from what’s not going according to plan, to what you already do have to be grateful for and what you can do to bring back more purpose to your life, you rekindle your enthusiasm, that treadmill disappears and you see new, exciting challenges where once there was just tedium.

For more exercises to regain your enthusiasm, try out the ones below and remember that the more enthusiasm you feel, the more you generate in your life:

‘An object at rest tends to stay at rest. An object in motion

tends to stay in motion.’

Sir Isaac Newton

Coaching Clinic – Exercise

  1. Think about hobbies/sports you loved doing and perhaps have stopped due to time, lethargy, money. Could you pick one up again or start a new one?

  1. Think back to times when you felt fully alive and passionate.

What were you doing?

Who were you with?

Where were you?

From the answers, what elements could you bring back into your own life today?

Maybe your memory is one of being a young child, completely absorbed in the make-believe story you had created. Could the lesson be to focus more on the moment at hand and less on the future or the past? To give your full attention to what you’re doing?

  1. Employ the ‘as if’ principle. Act as if you had enthusiasm and it will develop in your mind.

  1. Think of all the passionate, enthusiastic people you admire, read their biographies (if they’re famous) or spend more time with them (if they’re not!) Enthusiasm is contagious. Theirs will rub off on you.

  1. Practice being enthusiastic about simple things – a beautiful day, the smile on someone’s face, getting through your in-tray!

Enthusiasm for the simple things will add up to a general attitude of enthusiasm and this will grow and grow with continual practice.

Rather than admiring and secretly envying enthusiastic people from a distance, become one yourself!

For those of you who already are naturally enthusiastic, what’s your secret?

By Sharon Juden, Life Coach and Hypnotherapist in Berkshire

The Power of Your Mind

March 31st, 2009

The Power of Your Mind

“If you doubt you can accomplish something, then you can’t accomplish it. You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.”
Rosalynn Carter
Former American First Lady

Have you ever noticed how some things are so easy and effortless to do whilst others seem, quite frankly, almost impossible?! Why is that?
Perhaps you feel you have better skills for some things than others, or perhaps you think you have more experience in some areas than others?
But then does that mean you can’t succeed at new ventures, big challenges or just leaving the comfort of your daily routine?
Of course not – BUT you can only do these things if you believe you can. It’s all a question of attitude.
We create our own reality which can be very exciting. It can also be quite a sobering thought as we think back to opportunities we gave up or risks we were too afraid to take. We didn’t believe we had the resources or strength to succeed so we didn’t even try.
Isn’t that sad?
Before any more opportunities pass you by, think back to all the successes you’ve had, all the things you’ve achieved – even small things – and recognise that you are far more resourceful and have much more inner strength than you have given yourself credit for.
With this more positive self-belief, choose something you have wanted to accomplish for a while and trust that you can and will make it happen. Then if you feel you need support and some guidance to keep you on track, have a hypnotherapy session to reinforce all the good feelings and to replace negative, limiting beliefs with powerful, positive ones that help you move forward.
You can if you think you can!

By Sharon Juden, Life Coach and Hypnotherapist in Berkshire

Beliefs and Values

March 31st, 2009

“ Who are you? (when you’re not trying to please people or be who you think you should be)
“ What do you stand for?  (what is important to you)
“ List all the values you believe run your life and are important to you
“ List the beliefs you hold about yourself

Difference between beliefs and values.   A value is something you cherish and hold dear.  Is important to you and determines your decisions.  A belief often creates the value:
I believe hard work is the only way to make money.
Value = hard work/effort/struggle
However beliefs are not always correct, yet they still determine our decisions and our subsequent actions.

“ What beliefs and values did you learn from your parents or influential adults (good and bad)?   Belief: Eg I’m clever/I’m not as bright as my brothers and sisters
Value:  academic achievement

“ Challenge those beliefs.  Are they really true and are they really important to you?

“ Where will they lead you if you continue to hold onto them?

“ Are there any beliefs and values you want to get rid of, any that are holding you back?  (eg man in secure job wanting adventure)

“ Any you have adopted without questioning them?

“ Question them now.  Do you truly believe or value that?  Is it helping or hindering you?

Values (should) determine your priorities.  They’re the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out as you would want it to.
When you feel frustration in any area of your life, notice if a value is unmet or is being broken.  The chances are that this is the cause of the problem.

When the things you do and the way you behave match your values, your life is generally good.  The opposite is also true, so it is very important to make a conscious effort to determine what those values are and to constantly re-assess them.  As your definition of success changes, so do your values.  Always revisit them if you start to feel unbalanced.

Exercise
1. Divide your life into segments:-
(i) career/self-development  for those retired or not in a job
(ii) money/finance
(iii) relationships (personal/family)
(iv) relationships (friends)
(v) relationships (work)
(vi) health and fitness
(vii) environment  where live
(viii) any other you can think of

2. Which values do you have in each?  (obviously some will overlap with others.  Just do couple initially)
3. Are they all being met in each segment?
4. Where they are not being met, how do you feel? (eg frustrated, angry, lethargic, giving up?)
5. What needs to happen in order to get that value met again?  (list all ideas as they come to mind and choose one activity to focus on)
If you’re having difficulty determining your values in any particular area, take that area and think of three outcomes you passionately want to achieve, have, become or do.  These can be large or small, the only rule is you must feel you really want them.

a. Write those 3 outcomes at the bottom of a page in 3 separate boxes
b. Choose any of the outcomes to start with, then imagine you have already achieved this particular goal.  Time travel to that time in future when you are enjoying this fully.
Ask yourself:  ‘Now that I have this fully and completely, what does it give, or allow me to experience?  What does this allow me to do or be?’

c. Write your answer directly above your outcome.
d. Repeat the process with this new outcome, imagining you have it fully and completely.  Ask yourself the same questions.
e. Keep writing your answers above until you can’t chunk any higher.
f. Then repeat process with the other 2 outcomes.
g. Once you have these 3 lists, you’ll notice your higher values.  You may also notice certain patterns.
h. Take some of the key words and values and -
- write letter as though from a close family member to be read out at your funeral
- letter from close friend – what impact did you have on them?
- letter from work colleague.  How did you positively affect those you worked with?

Now go back to the top four questions and adapt or amend your answers if necessary.
Go out and live them!
If you didn’t need to change them, you know yourself well!

By Sharon Juden, Life Coach and Hypnotherapist in Berkshire

Hypnotherapy and Losing Weight

March 30th, 2009
Is it time you took back control over your body?

Billy Connolly reportedly said that the answer to being overweight is to eat less and move more.
That’s all well and good, but we know that there’s often much more to it than that!

For a start there’s those cravings – for chocolate, crisps, biscuits etc etc.  And they just won’t go away.
Then there’s times when we feel really stressed or down and eating is the best way we know to make ourselves feel better.

All of this means that with the best will in the world and with as much determination as we can muster, we often face a losing battle when it comes to losing weight.

Will power and determination can only take you so far.  If, on a sub-conscious level, your thoughts and behaviours are programmed to seek comfort or solace in food, then those old habits will keep coming back until they’re replaced with new, healthy ones.

Hypnotherapy can do this easily and effortlessly.  Here’s what one client had to say about the results she experienced:

“For the first time in my life I am eating and thinking of food
in terms of a ‘normal’ person.  In three weeks I have lost 6 lbs, and  have lost all the cravings I used to have.  If I had known it was
this easy I would have done it years ago!”

By Sharon Juden, Life Coach and Hypnotherapist in Berkshire

True life story – Helping you think about your life

March 29th, 2009

By Robert Frische – Bracknell News

AS a reporter, I’m trained to approach interviews with a healthy amount of scepticism, and it was no different when I was offered a life-coaching session.

Life-coaching started in America as help for athletes, who realised they could achieve more if they clearly defined their goals and removed any mental obstacles.

Sharon Juden MA (Hons) is an accredited life coach and holistic therapist and she offers life-coaching sessions from
the Natural Health Consultancy in Crowthorne.

Her reassuring and calming manner (combined with some extremely comfortable armchairs) set me at ease immediately and before I knew it I was spilling out my hopes and fears.

“We start by defining your values,” Sharon told me in her lilting Irish accent. “A lot of people end up feeling frustrated and unsatisfied with their lives.

“This is often because they don’t know what their values are, and they end up living with the values of other people, typically their parents.”
Sharon explained that when it comes to working out what my values are, it’s important not to think too much (which comes as a huge relief) and just go with my gut instinct.

So, even though I know it’s probably irresponsible to put having fun as my number one value, it goes right up there at the top of the list, just nudging out freedom and having good relationships with friends and family.

But it also turned out to be an analytical business this life-coaching, and I was soon attempting to answer a Cartesian Quadrant.
The easiest way to explain this is that it’s a set of questions which engage different sides of the brain. The right side of the brain is the creative side, while the left is more logical.

So in order to employ the logical side, and mine rarely gets any exercise, the questions were phrased in a way that made me think twice.

Example: – “What do you NOT have in your life at the moment that you are happy with?” Hmmm…I put debt and ill health for this one, once I had worked out what the question was asking.

The next phase was The Wheel of Life. This involves giving aspects of your life, such as your relationships and lifestyle, a mark out of 10.
If they are not a 10, then you work out what it is that you can do to reach the magic number. It sounds simple, but what this really does is help you to actually think about your life and focus on what you can do to make it better, rather than just taking the easy option of drifting along.

Rather than spoil any more of Sharon’s techniques, I wholeheartedly recommend paying her a visit at the consultancy in 188 Dukes Ride, Crowthorne.

By Sharon Juden, Life Coach and Hypnotherapist in Berkshire