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So What is PERMA?

PERMA has become one of most widely used models of wellbeing. The name is an acronym for the basic framework.

               Positive Emotions

Positive Engagement

Positive Relationships

Positive Meaning

Positive Accomplishments.

 

Those who have these elements in their lives are more fulfilled, healthier and happier. This is my personal version of the PERMA model. The basic framework leaves plenty of flexibility to suit each individual’s needs.

 

Positive Emotions – comprising three sets of emotions. Firstly, the pleasures: rapture, ecstasy, warmth, comfort, pleasantness. The pleasures can be externally stimulated, can often be bought, tend to require little effort. They typically experience diminished returns and their pleasures are short lived. Secondly, gratification: that feeling of time stopping, being totally absorbed in an activity as we effortlessly lose our self-consciousness. Finally, purpose: belonging to and serving something we value and perceive to be bigger than ourselves – often involves creating a legacy.

Positive Engagementflow, being in the zone, being totally absorbed in doing something you value for its own sake.

Positive Relationships – We’re social animals: the quality – not necessarily the quantity – of our relationships is hugely influential on our wellbeing. In particular, the relationship we have with ourselves.

Positive Meaning – belonging to, and / or serving a cause bigger than our-selves which we, personally, value.

Positive Accomplishments – those outcomes we cherish, that we’re proud of having achieved, that are meaningful to us, that we are motivated to achieve.

 

 

 

 

This framework can be used to develop a bespoke personal development program for any individual. PERMA, combined with the solution focused approach and the transformative abilities of hypnosis is ideally suited to sustaining your long-term wellbeing.

PERMA is attributed to Martin Seligman, here he introduces the basic model. I have a transcript of this video, available on request.

Ask yourself: Which of the key points in this article will I immediately apply to improve my life…change my circumstances…and make a difference somewhere…to someone?

 

Self-Esteem V’s Self-Worth

Self-Esteem: is about the actions we take in the outside world, how we portray ourselves and how we compare ourselves to others (invariably negatively), how we think others perceive us. It is externally focused.

Self-Worth: by contrast is internally focused. It is the value we place on ourselves. It comes from living authentically, living the life that is right for us – consistent with our identity, values and beliefs – all those things that are inside us: living out own lives and being our best selves.

Without self-worth, we will never have self-esteem. Once we know our authentic selves, our actions become consistent with our identity. We no longer get caught up with chasing and running away from the perceptions of others.

 

 

So, shift your focus away from self-esteem. Focus on you – your values, beliefs and your identity to live your authentic, best, life: develop your self-worth and self-esteem will follow.

 

Ask yourself: what key piece of information have I taken from this note that I’m going to make work for me today?

Going With The Flow?

Most of us have experienced it.

That feeling of being totally absorbed in the moment. So immersed in what we’re doing that we’re not aware of time passing or what’s going on around us. In fact, we’re almost completely unaware of anything.

This is Flow – being ‘in the zone’.

Mostly, flow happens spontaneously. However, the conditions for encouraging flow are known:
• You know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other.
• You get immediate feedback.
• You know that what you need to do is possible to do even though difficult.
• Sense of time disappears.
• You forget yourself.
• You feel part of something larger
• What you are doing becomes worth doing for its own sake.

 

The pioneering researcher in this area is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced cheeks-sent-my-high) and in this video he introduces flow as only he can. I have  a transcript of this video that I’d be happy to pass on – you can reach me on the contact page.

 

 

 

In the PERMA model, flow maps over most closely to positive engagement. Now, while Martin Seligman is the name everyone associates with the PERMA model and Positive Psychology (a name even its ‘inventors’ do not like!) more generally, Mihaly was one of the small group who met in that first week of 1998 to agree the substance of this new field of psychology: to use what we know to help people live their best lives.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy combines the best of this new understanding with the Solution Focused approach and the transformative capability of trance to best support you in building and sustaining your own best life.

Ask yourself: How will I take action immediately in creating the best life I can?

Visualisation

Hi – and a warm welcome to those who have recently followed this page. In continuing to build this place of useful learning, I’m going to share some short excerpts from the excellent ‘How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body’ by David R. Hamilton, PhD. I’ve become increasingly fascinated with this area since a number of my clients have reported ‘collateral’ benefits e.g. less aches and pains, reduced alcohol consumption and just ‘feeling better’. I can highly recommend David’s book.

At the outset, we need to be clear on two things. Firstly, the plural of anecdote is not evidence. One person’s experience won’t necessarily map over to another’s. However, the evidence does suggest the emergence of common themes – that regular trance / meditation can provide health and wellbeing benefits. Secondly, complimentary approaches are intended to be deployed in addition to any medical care being received: not as an alternative.

From David’s book:

‘’Six Visualisation Pathways

1. A person’s practice impacts their immune system.
Visualisation seems to impact the immune system, and in a selective way. People visualising their immune cells multiplying or their immune system destroying invading pathogens or cancer cells tend to have increased immune function. Thus, visualisation of the immune system might assist in the healing and recovery of a large number of medical conditions. In addition, whether a person visualises the action of the immune system or not, if there’s a positive effect on health, it may be that the immune system has been stimulated in some way as a direct or indirect consequence of the visualisation.

2. Direct effects via the nervous system.

When a person repeatedly visualises something, it creates physical changes in the brain through neuroplasticity. For rehabilitation from a stroke or improving performance at a sport, this is accompanied by a physical change in the body, particularly in the region that a person’s attention is focused upon, but also on other systems of the body that are relevant to the change.

In effect, there’s a cumulative effect of a person’s consistent focus, just as muscles grow cumulatively stronger as we exercise them. It’s likely that this will increase blood flow to an area visualised, which will carry nutrients, growth factors and immune cells to the area as required.

3. Direct effects via neuropeptides.

Just as feelings of stress produce stress hormones, so some mental and emotional states produce different hormones, or neuropeptides. Neuropeptides are substances that play roles in the body as well as in the brain, hence neuropeptides.

As an example, love, kindness, affection, compassion and emotional warmth produce oxytocin, a neuropeptide that, as well as acting in the brain, also has physical effects throughout the body. Oxytocin receptors are found in multiple locations throughout the body, including the heart and arteries. Using these, oxytocin impact the arteries, lowering blood pressure, as well as having roles in wound healing. It also impacts the gut and plays a role in digestion.

A person whose visualisations are characterised by these warm, positive emotions is likely to produce oxytocin and thus have beneficial effects throughout these systems. Other mental and emotional states may produce neuropeptides that bring about other specific beneficial effects in the body.

 

 

4. A person feels empowered rather than hopeless.

It’s all too easy to feel hopeless when you’re sick or injured, especially if the illness or injury is physically or emotionally debilitating. I often hear people say that understanding the mind-body connection gives them a sense of empowerment: that using their mind is something they can do to assist in the process of moving towards wellness.

It may be that a sense of empowerment produces an as-yet-unidentified healing effect. At the very least, it can reduce stress and give birth to hope. Furthermore, a reduction in stress helps the immune system work more optimally.

5. The impact of positive belief.

Expectation and belief have direct physical effects. Although sometimes dismissed as something that only affects symptoms of illness, research into the placebo effect is revealing that the effects of expectation or belief are much broader the we first realised.

Belied creates chemical changes in the brain and throughout the body, impacting on many more systems that we initially thought. It may be that some of these effects have a direct bearing on the course of a person’s condition, accelerating the move towards wellness.

6. The focusing of a person’s willpower.

I done think we should ever underestimate the power of a person’s will to live. Will to live is a determination to survive and is often characterised by hope of a positive expectation of the future.

Will to live can impact a person in many ways, not just in their psychological state. But it can reduce stress and fear, and may also stimulate a person to make necessary, sometimes subtle, but significant changes required for their health. Visualisation can impact on a person’s will to live by aiding their focus on health.

Overall, common to all these pathways is repetition: I believe that repetition of a visualisation process refines brain circuits. In other words, repetition causes neuroplasticity. I believe that at some point, given that in some ways the brain doesn’t distinguish real from imaginary, the brain will ‘wire in’ a picture of wellness. In time, perhaps the brain circuits of this imagined wellness become more dominant than those related to the presence of illness.’’

 

Ask Yourself: Which of the key points in this excerpt will I immediately apply to improve my life…change my circumstances…and make a difference somewhere…to someone? What is going on in my life…that has gone on too long…and what will I do about it…now?

Are you an Introvert with Anxiety?

”Anxiety causes a nagging thought that something terrible is going to happen. Being an introvert means you prefer calm situations and environments that aren’t stimulating. To be an introvert with anxiety means that you deal with both of those things at once.”

 

 

 

”Introversion means that you prefer calm environments without too much stimulation. Not every introvert experiences anxiety, and you don’t have to be an introvert to struggle with it. Many introverts deal with anxiety, though, so it is common to be an introvert with anxiety.”

 

Are you an Introvert with Anxiety?

 

Being an introvert with anxiety can be hard. Thankfully there is help at hand. Many find Solution Focused Hypnotherapy to be highly effective in helping with anxiety and getting back on top of things again.

 

Ask yourself: What have I learned from this article that I will adopt today as my own? What is the one thing that has grabbed me, and what will I do about it NOW?

Tired of being tired?

”Anxiety exhaustion can be like nothing we’ve ever experienced. Our head is foggy; our thoughts never quite finishing themselves. Searching for an answer to a question, or trying to remember how to do something we do daily, like making a cup of tea, can feel like mentally wading through treacle. Our eyes sting and keep trying to close. We might have a piercing headache. Every single one of our muscles ache, including muscles we didn’t even know we had. Having an understanding of the things that might be contributing to our tiredness can help us to be a little kinder to ourselves. Our tiredness isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s our body’s natural response to long-standing anxiety.”

Anxiety: Why We’re So Exhausted | The Blurt Foundation (blurtitout.org)

”With anxiety, it can sometimes take a little bit of trial and error to find the things that work for us – because we’re all different, we all have different triggers and respond to the world around us in different ways.”

Ask yourself: Which of the key points in this article will I immediately apply to improve my life…change my circumstances…and make a difference somewhere…to someone? What is going on in my life…that has gone on too long…and what will I do about it…now?

 

Your direction: away from what you don’t want or towards what you do want?

‘’Your amygdala acts as your brain’s threat radar and alarm. It was a very useful thing to have when our ancestors hunted for food – or were hunted for food. When the amygdala sounds the alarm, your body responds with an almost instantaneous sequence of hormonal and physiological changes preparing you to fight or flee….

When this happens, your amygdala hijacks your brain, and most of your physical and mental resources get allocated to making sure you survive. Your thinking, rational brain shuts down. Even though you no longer run into hungry tigers on a regular basis, your amygdala activates today when you run into an angry partner, unhappy boss, or rude driver…

Studies reveal that emotional arousal during an event influences the strength of the memory for that event. The greater the emotional meaning you give something, the better your retention of that event turns out to be. Unfortunately, we usually have the most emotional responses to negative or fearful happenings.

When your amygdala is running the show, you end up going through life trying to avoid what it remembers as ‘’Bad’’ instead of making conscious choices to live the life you want and taking steps towards happiness and fulfilment.

 

 

This a fear-based existence where life becomes a marathon obstacle course of trying to avoid instead of trying to achieve. Trying to avoid pain. Trying to avoid loneliness. Trying to avoid failure. A person can focus on and exert so much energy avoiding what they don’t want that what they do want becomes secondary with pitiful little progress made in that direction.”

 

Is your amygdala hijacking your brain?

 

This article is closely aligned with the basic principles of Solution Focused Hypnotherapy Many find this highly effective in getting back on top of things by that best part of us stepping in to take control.

Ask yourself: What have I learned here that I will immediately apply to improve my life…change my circumstances…and make a difference somewhere…to someone? What is going on in my life…that has gone on too long…and what will I do about it…now?

Anxiety & Positive Thinking

‘’It’s okay to be sad for a while. It’s okay to show your emotions. Positive thinking doesn’t entail burying your head in the sand and ignoring the negative situations in your life. As a human being, you are bound to encounter both good and bad circumstances in your life. Positive thinking, allows you to accept the unpleasant situations in your life and approach them more productively and positively.”

”Your outlook and attitude on yourself and your life highly determine how you manage anxiety and your mental well-being. Teaching yourself how to think and reason positively will help you handle stressful situations in the best possible ways.”

 

Positive Thinking & Anxiety

 

What have I learned from this article that I will adopt today as my own? What is the one thing that has grabbed me today, and what will I do about it NOW?

 

A day in the life.

This gives an example of the type of questions that commonly get asked about hypnotherapy on social media. I’ve copied over the original post and my response:

Hypnosis after breakup. Is it working? I have questions.

I was recently broken up with after 4 years. I’ve been severely anxious and depressed (diagnosed with GAD and social anxiety) lately. A few weeks ago, I saw a psychic/life coach/hypnotherapist. She did hypnosis on me and recorded it and said to listen to it every day for 30 days. The things she says are like “You will let go of people who do not serve a purpose in your life anymore. You will be filled with confidence. etc”. So I have a few questions:

1. Is this legit? Can this actually help?
2. I haven’t cut contact with my ex. Is this limiting the ability for the hypnosis to truly work?
3. I know I need to truly let the suggestions take hold of me. But what if I don’t truly believe my ex doesn’t serve a purpose in my life? I don’t want to let go.
4. She told me if I miss a day of hypnosis I have to start over. I’m on day 12. I missed day 11. Is this true?
5. Do you know of any hypnosis videos to help me?

My Response:

My comments will echo some of the others from accredited hypnotherapy practitioners:

Anxiety and depression are the most common reason for my clients asking to see me – almost all are experiencing anxiety, or one of its myriad manifestations (psychological, behavioural, physical or a combination of these). Many are pleasantly surprised at their progress and enjoy the forward looking – Solution Focused – approach.

I am writing from the UK and am aware there of very different regulations between the UK and the USA (and indeed between states within the USA). In the UK ‘hypnotist’ is not a reserved term so, essentially, anyone can call themselves a hypnotherapist. This makes it difficult both for prospective clients and accredited practitioners. As a prospective client looking for the optimal therapist for you one key check can cut through an awful lot of bull: check their professional indemnity insurance. As a general rule, insurers have a good understanding of the areas they cover – they know which qualifications, training schools and accreditations are – and are not – worth the paper they are written on. While a therapist having PII will not, in itself, guarantee that you have found the best therapist for you, it will give you a level of assurance. If a therapist does not have PII – you really do need to understand why not. On a related issue this also serves as a good ‘acid test’ for assessing the real value of the myriad of training courses out there. If you’re considering a particular course, ask an insurance broker if they would insure you on its strength.

Depending on any individual client’s needs, there could well be a high degree of overlap between hypnotherapy and life coaching so I don’t see anything surprising there. Their ‘psychic’ claims are, bluntly, concerning. The main purpose of hypnotherapy is to help you identify your chosen future (which could be anywhere on the spectrum between specific and general) and identify how you can use your (and develop further) capabilities to achieve that desired state. I don’t see how any psychic ability would be of benefit to you in your situation – unless you’re happy to pay someone to tell you what they think you want to hear.

Genuine hypno’s do not ‘do hypnosis on people’: when working hypnotically (half of the time my clients spend with me is not – formally – in hypnosis). Hypno’s create and hold the ‘space’ in which the client can ‘do the work’ – if, and as, they choose. It would be highly unusual – and questionable – for a hypno to make a suggestion of their own volition I.E. to think they know what is best for you. At best this is arrogant and could be entirely counter-productive. You are the expert of you!

Giving clients downloads, and be-spoking them for each client is very common – especially as we now have the means to make good quality productions on our laptops. I do encourage my clients to listen to my downloads – preferably on a daily basis. The difference between clients who do this and those who don’t is very easy to see. I can get the ethos of the message ‘every day for 30 days’ to encourage a good habit formation. Missing a day is unlikely to be a problem. The concept of ‘starting over’ after missing a day is simply BS.

The use of ‘you will’ looks poor. Preferable would be something more like ‘I AM using my unique set of skills….and abilities…and wisdom….to achieve X’ and better still would be to have you develop your own image / representation of what success means to you: this can then be used to get you up to speed with some form of the SWISH pattern which you can make your own with your own self-hypno practice.

Letting go of ‘stuff’ from the past is a very common thing to do. Some do this in a very direct way (Karl Smith exemplifies this and has plenty of videos on you-tube of him doing so). Personally, I tend to take a more metaphoric approach: neither is better or worse than the other – the issue is what is best for you. NB – you will only let go of what you are good and ready to let go of.

Your questions:

Is this legit? – hypnosis, for many, proves transformative in their personal development.

Is this practitioner legit? – that’s not for other genuine hypno’s to say as the full facts aren’t available.

A therapist could have the conversation with you about your future relationship – or otherwise – with your ex. The extent of the benefits is largely down to your ‘threshold’, motivation, clarity of outcomes and expectations. Hypnosis is not a magic wand. It is a highly valuable skill which can accrue significant benefits. A fundamental issue here is to use your time with a hypno to become adept at your own self-hypno practice. This paves the way to your own long-term practice and hypno becoming a routine element of your personal wellbeing.

Pre-prepared recordings are entirely hit or miss – and there is little correlation between cost and quality. The issue here is to be clear about what you are trying to achieve and realistic about what you are going to get for free.

Happy to pick up on any of the issues here.

Are you experiencing loneliness?

Loneliness – that feeling of isolation from the people, community and the institutions we need to make our society work.

The gold standard for measuring loneliness is the UCLA Loneliness Scale. It only takes a few minutes to complete: just note your answer for each statement and add your scores together.

Take the test

Never Rarely Sometimes Often
1. How often do you feel that you are ‘in tune’ with the people around you? 4 3 2 1
2. How often do you feel that you lack companionship? 1 2 3 4
3. How often do you feel that there is no-one you can turn to? 1 2 3 4
4. How often do you feel alone 1 2 3 4
5. How often do you feel part of a group of friends? 4 3 2 1
6. How often do you feel that you have a lot in common with the people around you? 4 3 2 1
7. How often do you feel that you are no longer close to anyone? 1 2 3 4
8. How often do you feel that your interests and ideas are not shared by those around you? 1 2 3 4
9. How often do you feel outgoing and friendly? 4 3 2 1
10. How often do you feel close to people? 4 3 2 1
11. How often do you feel left out. 1 2 3 4
12. How often do you feel that your relationships with others are not meaningful? 1 2 3 4
13. How often do you feel that no one really knows you well? 1 2 3 4
14. How often do you feel isolated from others? 1 2 3 4
15. How often do you feel you can find companionship when you want it? 4 3 2 1
16. How often do you feel that there are people who really understand you? 4 3 2 1
17. How often do you feel shy? 1 2 3 4
18. How often do you feel that people are around you but not with you? 1 2 3 4
19. How often do you feel that there are people you can talk to? 4 3 2 1
20. How often do you feel that there are people you can turn to? 4 3 2 1

 

If you scored over 43, you would be considered lonely.

 

 

You may want to run through this again using a wider definition of loneliness: thinking about not only your relationships with friends, family, work colleagues and neighbours but also your relationships with your employer, politicians and the state. How does this change your score?

This can be a useful reflection as loneliness is not only feeling lacking of company or interactions. It is about feeling unsupported and un-cared for by our fellow citizens, employers, community, institutions and government. It’s not just about lacking those human connections but feeling economically and politically excluded as well.

The impact of Loneliness

The chemical response to loneliness is essentially the same as the ‘fight / flight’ response. It is this stress response that fuels some of the most insidious health effects of loneliness. So, when we are talking about loneliness, we are not just talking about lonely minds but lonely bodies.

Now, we experience stress responses frequently, but typically once the threat is over, we return to our base level of responsiveness. However, when lonely, neither the stress response, nor the reset happens as it should. When lonely, cholesterol levels rise faster, blood pressure rises faster and cortisol levels rise faster. Further, the amygdala – the ‘fight / flight / freeze part of the brain – keeps a danger signal for longer than it would do otherwise. This will be familiar territory for those whom have worked with the brain model I use.

So, what now?

This needn’t be all doom and gloom. In terms of increasing our overall happiness, developing an active, gratifying, social life – especially when engaging with others in activities meaningful to us – is the single most effective thing we can do.

Ask Yourself: What bridges will you build in your life that will help others, by building meaningful connections?