Life coaching

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Piece by inner-peace

This blog post is not just an attempt to be deep, appear insightful or in some way stand up for what is “right”. It is really to acknowledge and recognise the amount of suffering and ill will that is being felt in my adopted hometown of Barcelona (and indeed around the world) . I have wanted to comment from a personal perspective but really have needed a week to collect mybarcelona_referendum_hypnosis_anxiety_emotions thoughts. This is not a political statement. This is a human statement.

This weekend I found myself seeing the horrifying images of police officers attacking their fellow defenceless unarmed citizens. Whatever your position on the referendum, I know that to be able to do this one has to be coerced into doing so or truly believe in what you are doing.

Coincidentally and quite fortunately I also found myself in a retreat being facilitated by three friends of mine who are very skilled at pointing to what lies behind the human experience. Phillipe Bartu, Juan José Quesada and Jacquie Forde teach an understanding that has recently made a great shift in my personal life and as I too begin to share it also, my friends and clients.

Through exercises, deep enquiry and learning how to be present we examined our own thoughts, beliefs and experience in a way that most people never get the chance to do. While the madness of the referendum violence (October 1st,2017) was going on, we found ourselves in a wonderful peaceful space and it is that space I want to point to.

One of the exercises we did was deep listening exercise where we listened to another person talk about a random topic that was important to them. This was do in a particular way: we did not listen to answer, comment or in anyway give advice. We listened to be present and mindful with our own moment-to-moment experience of ourselves.

One thing became absolutely clear was that I’m not the great listener I think I am. I’ve gotten infinitely better over the last few years of working with clients, but I still found my attention going to my opinions, imagination, conjecture and wandering… this is from a person that thinks that somewhere, somehow that he’s a pretty conscious guy.

It also became clear that the basic intention to listen without judgement created a space where we both felt free to speak freely and a sense of freedom to explore our own thinking that normally is not present in everyday conversation. And then something dawned on me, something so simple that I miss it time and time again. This person in front of me is having their own personal experience of me, through their thinking and their perspective…just as I am having my own experience of them. And if that is true then everybody in the room is in the same boat: having a personal experience of their lives moment by moment through their thinking about whatever is in front of them. This was taught on one of my very first Neuro-Linguistic Practitioner training as “everyone has their map of the world”. I thought that was a deep thought and a really good idea to keep in mind when communicating with others, but when you experience it for yourself, time and time again it becomes a knowing a Truth, that you cannot “un-see”.

So what does this have to do with the situation here in Barcelona? Well it is more about the human situation/condition than anything else.

There is one thing that I know deep down inside but sometimes it is important to refresh it every now and again. As living beings We ALL want to be happy. We all want to be free from suffering, either physically or emotionally.

It is all too easy to lose this understanding when we get caught up in negative emotions like fear, resentment, or ill will. It is so easy to be swayed and manipulated by forces seemingly outside of us to barcelona_referendum_spain_anxiety_hypnosis_emotionsact on these emotions when we don’t realise the source: our own thinking. Whether these be political forces or economic, it really doesn’t matter… when we believe that our wellbeing, our piece of mind, stability comes from outside of us in the form of perfect circumstances we will act on the outside to change that. We do this without ever having the presence of mind to stop, and observe whether these actions will really help our circumstances or make them worse.

One thing I now for sure is that it is a miserable person that turns to violence to change their outer world. Sad. But they wont realise it until they do and that has nothing to do with you. So whether it is the political situation of the many objectively terrible circumstances many find themselves living all over this planet, I ask you to remain SOBER. This is an acronym for a useful technique from Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy

Stop. Observe. Breathe. Expand your awareness. React mindfully.

This is so simple and really worth doing in times of emotional difficulty. Try it, practice and notice the difference it makes in your life.

By | 2017-10-16T11:01:41+00:00 October 12th, 2017|Life coaching|0 Comments

Changing your Inner blueprint, changing your life

hypnosis_barcelona_quitsmoking_nlp_coaching_hypnotherapy_therapyI am often asked to define what I do as a change worker. I generally answer something like ¨I help people make positive and lasting changes in their behaviour using advanced hypnotherapy¨.

Even though it is becoming much more mainstream these days with so many more people working wih hypnotherapists, NLP practitioners and coaches of various sorts to help them change unwanted behaviour patterns, to some people the concept of rapid and instant change in their behaviour is extremely alien (especially if they have been in traditional talk therapy). The idea that someone can guide them through processes that can rapidly change even longstanding habit patterns is sometimes met with credulity.

How does this work? Well I generally get two types of clients:

  • People with ¨acute¨ problems: that is problems that are taking up the majority of their mental and physical resources at the moment. These are commonly things like getting over a relationship breakup, non-chronic physical pain issues, exam stress or being able to focus on tasks at work. Pretty straightforward stuff actually.
  • The other type of client is one with certain patterns of behaviour that stem from, what I call ¨blueprint¨ issues. These are negative ways of acting in the world have been learned and programmed at the deepest level of their minds. Non-conscious strategies for dealing with life that are hurting them and those around them, but they are not actively aware of except when they surface.

For example people that are afraid of commitment in relationships often have problems committing to other things in their life. They enthusiastically start new projects or goals and soon ¨lose steam¨, opting instead to move on to the next new thing. They have big highs in life and search for new experiences, but then find it difficult to stay rooted in any situation for long enough to have a significant positive effect on their lives. Long-term job opportunities become annoyances and these people often self-sabotage with passive aggressive type behaviour, destroying professional relationships, but seemingly creating an opportunity to start the whole process again.

Some have deeply ingrained beliefs about money and wealth that stop them from being able to hold on to and grow their personal finances. Ideas such as ¨money is the root of evil¨ or perhaps that ¨money is dirty¨ form the basis of their unconscious beliefs systems and identity around wealth. A lack of genuine self-esteem (a blueprint issue around self value) might lead to believe that to feel wealthy, they have to spend money.

This is an unconscious ¨projection¨ that they have of wealthy people coming from their inner blueprint of what a wealthy person looks like. Their ego desires to appear as the happy, successful person because it gets a little boost, which feels good in the moment, but even though they might be making good money in their careers, these people find themselves spending even more than they earn on frivolous items at expense of their long-term security. This is certainly not the kind of behaviour that truly wealthy people have, by the way. Negative emotional states created by a lack of true self-esteem result in a closet full of clothes that they never wear and credit card bills that they cannot begin to pay.

Many of the deepest blueprints (such as for relationships and survival) are learned in the formative years of our lives and it’s safe to say that we all have them. We learn patterns unconsciously from our parents, peers and society in general and you can be sure that on some level it’s a good thing that we pick up on how certain things work. The unconscious mind wants to generalise experiences so we can enjoy our lives consciously and we go on ¨autopilot¨ so we don’t have to think about every single thing.

How do you identify if you have a ¨blueprint¨ issue?

Do you find yourself acting in ways that you might describe as ¨out of character¨? When you find yourself in stressful situations, do you behave in ways the others might describe as very inappropriate? Do you distract or numb yourself with alcohol, food, work or social media? Do you exhibit passive aggressive behavior in work or relationships’?

There are many ways these can show up and the problem is that they are not conscious. We do them totally unconsciously! Also when the problem behavior seems to go away and we go on autopilot again, it´s highly likely that the behaviour pattern will show up again in a new (and sometimes more destructive) way. When these come back, they often come back with force because you are not meeting these needs at the level at which they are created.

These are very difficult to change without going deep into the structures that hold them up. This is why traditional talk therapies take so long; it’s like trying to work on the engine of your car without even opening the hood!

Fortunately with hypnosis one can work directly with the level of mind that these patterns are created. The part of the mind that is beyond the conscious sense of ¨me ¨ that is experiencing your life and even beyond the cognitions just below the surface of your awareness (the many thoughts that create your experience of life). Working with a skilled hypnotherapist, you can get to those structures that come before everything else, and change your deeply held beliefs and identity around specific issues. The positive changes in behaviour naturally occur when you change your inner blueprint and these ¨feed forward¨ into your life, generalizing and becoming your new normal way of being in the world.

When you realise that you can affect profound change at this level, achieving long lasting change becomes not only an inevitable reality but also an enjoyable journey of discovery and growth.

Seeing the forest for the trees: finding natural.

While I was growing up in Papua New Guinea, (the country where I was born and lived until I was 13 years old) my mother Dr. Carol Jenkins found herself living an anthropologist’s dream: working with an indigenous tribe that had just been discovered in the rainforest and were still living in the ¨stone age¨.

To me as a child, life with the Hagahai people was normal and at the same time absolutely magical. Miles and miles away from any civilization, they had existed for generations isolated from any outside influence, from a time before humans were plugged into modernity in any way.

My family and I had so many amazing experiences with the Hagahai, and I consider that period to be absolutely formative in the way I see and interact with people and Life in general. That part of my life also greatly influences my work as a therapist and consultant/coach.

One thing that you get immediately living with indigenous people (I am sure this is just as true in the Amazon) is that it is mortally dangerous to be inauthentic. Being ¨unreal¨ in any way puts your life at risk. Nature doesn’t care who you know. The jungle doesn’t care how much you have in your bank account or how many friends you have on facebook. The question is can you trust yourself and the people around you enough to put the next foot forward safely?

This level of intense experience in the moment can be unbelievably challenging and at the same time incredibly rewarding because it shows you your true weaknesses. It brings that ¨shadow¨ stuff right into your awareness and unlike psychotherapy, you can’t retreat into your normal life, fire your therapist and just stop coming to sessions. You either figure that stuff out right then and there, or you don’t make it home. Simple as that.

Your life suddenly becomes much more than just an idea in your head and things get real very quickly. You just can’t lie to yourself and others, because you realise doing so means death.

The benefit of this is immediate: you are out of your head and into the feeling of your body. Your senses are open, your mind is clear and quite often what seemed so important just a second ago is just another thought. You are experiencing what it is to be truly alive in the moment. Your ¨crap¨ falls away and you have an intimate connection with your environment and the people around you. The most amazing thing is that you feel an appreciation for life that you recognize clearly as Love. This is what we are all looking for, really.

Some years ago, living in a large, modern European city, stressed and overworked, I found myself disconnected from that experience I knew to be so powerful and real. I sought to find a way back to that place and I threw myself into the world of spirituality and personal development, doing everything I could to make that feeling come back.

I discovered that through doing certain practices (certain types of meditation and self-hypnosis), I could experience that ¨real me¨ and life did not seem to be so much of a burden anymore. I could focus on the things that were important to me; I could enjoy the simple things with great passion and my life improved greatly.

I began to see the benefit of sharing these with others, because I knew that they worked immensely in helping others find that within themselves. This is something I still feel immensely called to do.

But more than sharing ways of ¨getting there¨(so many techniques exist), I feel called to point out the simple fact that the possibility of experiencing something different exists. You CAN experience your life beyond the negative (and indeed positive) thinking in your head. You CAN feel totally connected to all of your life because you are more than just the content of your experience. You are more than all the stories and thoughts about whatever it is you are experiencing in the moment. Your ability to realise that is totally possible. You can STOP and realise this even right this moment.

These days, people do all kinds of things to find that experience. Living in the modern world, it seems like this is getting harder and harder to do. So many psychotherapies focus on dealing with the past and issues in our lives seem so hard to see for what they are, unconscious patterns manifesting as thought in the present. The same present where all our possibility exists: our ability to work, experience, to feel and love deeply

My only goal, when using hypnosis or any other technique, is that you begin to realise that the only reason you may not experience this natural, ¨real¨ state of being is because YOU are an amazing hypnotist. You are so good, most of the time you don’t realise you are keeping yourself from it. Sometime it takes a guide to realise this.

You are powerful beyond measure, no doubt. So powerful, you can create and experience lack, depression and anger (as well as beauty, connection and love) with a simple thought. Sometimes we can create so much noise in our heads that we don’t realise that we are walking off a cliff or missing the most incredible moment of our lives: the one we are living right NOW.

Here is a rare National Geographic Documentary about my mother´s work with the Hagahai people(it´s a little ¨choppy¨in the beginning because it was copied from VHS, but that clears up a couple of minutes into the vid):

By | 2017-10-15T19:38:07+00:00 December 29th, 2015|Life coaching, Personal development|0 Comments

Believing is achieving

After several years participating in personal development and transformational events, certain patterns clearly began to emerge. On one hand the techniques being taught were often truly amazing (especially when it came to hypnosis and NLP) and even thostrong treeugh people often reported what I call the BAM (Big Aha Moments!) of personal change and insight, they also often reported not being able to really take full benefit of these changes with them at the end. They felt that they were not able to carry on the buzz feeling created by these events or seminars because they found themselves back in their normal lives after having had just a peek at what would be possible for them.

Now, I believe there is amazing value in ¨peak/peek¨  experiences. The moment where you know that everything that came before  led perfectly to you realising that ONE thing that made all the difference in your life. We have all had them at some point. When we feel certain that things would never be the same… we would never be the same, but somehow life creeps back in.

While training as a therapist, I came across the concept of self-efficacy: the extent or strength of one´s ability to complete tasks and reach goals. I realised that this was one of the missing pieces to the puzzle.

These experiences brought people to a deeper understanding of themselves, but seemingly only through the techniques and the teachers/facilitators. The people were most often not shown how, in fact, it was THEY themselves responsible for all changes in their experience.

Evidence shows that if someone has the realization that they can change themselves in someway, this belief increases the likelihood and possibility of this change to actually happen (Stretcher et al., 1986).

They key to this is realising HOW your thoughts create your reality experientially and this allows you to build on your successes in a way that is replicable, which means you are in true control of your life regardless of circumstances.

In my time working with therapy and coaching clients, I found that the biggest take-away for them is when the ¨penny drops¨ and they realise that it was them all along…maintaining and creating the problems and just one thought away from a perfect solution.

Learning self-hypnosis is powerful  way to be able to access your Inner Mind. That part of yourself that controls belief, controls the ways that you think about yourself.

Hypnosis is a proven way of increasing self-efficacy (Barker et al., 2010). And when you realise that the fact that self-belief works as a personal experience,  it becomes an extremely practical life tool.

Some people say I have attitude – maybe I do… but I think you have to. You have to believe in yourself when no one else does – that makes you a winner right there. Venus Williams

Strecher, V. J., Devellis, B. M., Becker, M. H., & Rosenstock, I. M. (1986). The Role of Self-Efficacy in Achieving Behavior Change Health. Health Education Quarterly, 74–91
Barker, J., Jones, M., & Greenlees, I. (2010). Assessing the immediate and maintained effects of hypnosis on self-efficacy and soccer wall-volley performance. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology32(2), 243–52. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20479480
By | 2017-10-15T19:38:07+00:00 October 10th, 2015|Life coaching, Personal development|0 Comments

Alchemy of Coaching: baby steps to quantum leap

I’ve heard the coaching relationship described as an alchemical process: the act of turning something ordinary into something extraordinary or special. It seems to me a truly magical working of the highest order.

It is special because at some level both alchemist and element have to decide to fully commit to the process, knowing that at the end of each stage, something will be left behind. The rest will be refined, clarified and integrated into something completely new. If all goes well

Lead is dull, inactive and passive. Gold is vibrant, moving and active in so many ways. At what point does the process begin? The moment when sincere desire and commitment meets focus and creativity. That is the bridge between the ordinary and excellent, the bringing out of true value.

The beauty of this metaphor is that we all know it is impossible to turn lead into gold…right? That would be like magic.

If you’ve ever seen Michael Jordan play basketball, it’s like he’s flying in the air.

Or Seen Philip Seymour Hoffman act, it’s like he totally morphs and becomes the character.

Or heard Paco de Lucía play… there is no separation between maestro and guitar, just sound appearing.

At the highest level of any field, it looks like magic.

At the moment of honest decision and commitment, there is a total union between elements not bound by normal processes. In that moment, regardless of circumstances and projected outcomes, the lead IS Gold. Dedication is not a restriction of freedom; it is the clarification of purpose in order to bring something new into the world.

This kind of value is not created, it is revealed and you are either ready for it or you are not.

“To end the greatest work designed,
A thousand hands need but one mind.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, Part Two

By | 2017-10-15T19:38:07+00:00 October 1st, 2015|Life coaching, Personal development|0 Comments

FEAR, the other 4 letter word

 You know what I mean. That feeling of tightness in the chest and stomach, your throat closing, your hands beginning to sweat and that unmistakable impulse to RUN AWAY. It is not a fun state to be in, but the truth is that without that very natural body response, you wouldn’t be here.12042092_10156008693480304_1006875491_n

This totally natural instinct to flee is the reason your ancestors survived long enough to procreate…they got the right messages from their environment: run from wild animals, snakes and natural disasters! It is highly probable that the stimulation of the section of the human brain called the amygdala (Davis, 1992) produces this fear response.

When we respond to observable danger with fear, it motivates us to survive and that has served us well…yet as modern industrial society has evolved into the digital age and our gadgets have upgraded their hardware, we haven’t. Our environment has changed, but what is sometimes referred to as the primitive or reptilian brain remains firmly stuck in its evolutionary past.

The truth is we find ourselves over-stimulated and emotionally aroused by everything around us. If you turn on the evening news you will find a great many things to be terrified about: the economic downturn, your unhealthy diet, to terrorism (in all it’s forms) and the list goes on… We forget that most probably, if we look around us at this present moment and take stock of what is actually happening in our awareness, there is nothing to run from. No terrorist at your door, bogey man in the closet and certainly nothing to fear.

If you are truly honest with yourself, this body response is the result of light from the screen stimulating your visual-cortex with words and images that produce thoughts (conscious or not) that you believe. That’s it. But it is certainly enough to be a signal to flee fight or freeze in fear…False Expectations Appearing Real.

That being said, I have found that often our unconscious emotional responses like fear DO have something to tell us about our current experience. They can possibly be pointing us to areas of our life where we need to take action. Like someone knocking at the door, they are delivering a message and if we don’t answer the knock just gets louder and louder…we continue getting anxious, fearful and remain cut off from our natural resources of resilience and clarity.

A famous self-help authors titled her book ¨Feel the fear and do it anyway¨, I would like to change that and say feel the fear if it serves you. If not, let it go!

Hypnotherapy is a very effective way of triggering the body’s natural relaxation response and retraining the unconscious part of your mind to let go of unreasonable fears and phobias that you have learned. If you want to know more about it, please check out my web-site hypnotherapyinbarcelona.com.

Davis, M. (1992). The role of the amygdala in fear and anxiety. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 15, 353–75. doi:10.1146/annurev.ne.15.030192.002033

“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.”   (Thich Nhat Hanh)

By | 2017-10-15T19:38:07+00:00 September 18th, 2015|Life coaching, Personal development|0 Comments