Tag Archives: Overthinking

Hitting a concrete wall: overcoming mental blocks

Do you ever find yourself saying “I’ve hit a mental block”? I think we all do sometimes, whether it’s a task at work, a college assignment, cooking an old favourite dish..

Usually, we can unlock that block ourselves. All it takes is a change of scene, a few deep breaths, or reading something (for example a recipe to refresh our memory about that troublesome dish). However, occasionally a mental block can take a bit more work to overcome.

Recently, a new client came to see me. He was trying to find a job in his chosen field, but had developed a mental block about job searching, and he couldn’t see a way forward. He told me that he felt he’d “hit a concrete block, or wall”.

Where did that wall come from?

After talking with him, I started to feel that he’d built this wall from negative forecasting. As we’ve discussed before, negative forecasting happens when you assume there’s no possible positive outcome. In this case, my client felt that he’d never find the right job, so his brain started to tell him that there was no point searching any more. So, a job hunting barrier started to develop.

He began catastrophising, which means he was always being self-presented with worst-case scenarios. In this situation, negative thoughts included never finding a job and becoming long-term unemployed, or finding a job then not being very good at it, or not getting on with colleagues, or finding the right job, applying for it, then blowing the interview…

This constant negative forecasting creates anxiety, and our primitive brain starts to take over. We enter that hyper-vigilant state where we’re always on the alert for more problems, and these overcome any positive thoughts. When we become overwhelmed by negative feelings, our anxiety increases and that draining vicious cycle begins. As we all know, job hunting requires energy, positivity, and a good dose of optimism. My client simply had to break this problem-focused cycle to break his mental block.

The best tool to break down the wall

We would have to work together to replace these negative thoughts with positive ones. I felt the best way to do this would be through CBT, cognitive behavioural therapy, combined with solution focused hypnotherapy.

CBT is a popular and effective talking therapy that looks at how a person’s thoughts affect their behaviour. In this case, negative forecasting about his career was preventing my client from searching and applying for jobs – his thoughts had a direct impact on his actions. As his therapist, my role was to work with him to challenge these negative feelings: if you can change the thought processes, you can change the behaviour and thus the outcome.

We started to work together on how his thoughts were affecting his feelings and actions. He’s now been coming to me for a month, and we’re already starting to find a door through that concrete wall. My client says he’s already feeling more hopeful and optimistic about his future – and I’m really confident that he’ll find that ideal job.

Let’s open that door

Do you have a mental block that makes you feel like there’s a concrete wall between you and where you want to be? We can find a way to overcome this, working together to replace those negative thoughts with affirmative forecasting.

I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic and an Anxiety UK-approved therapist. My clinics are in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. Take the first step towards unlocking that block, and contact me for a confidential chat.

Overcoming the fear of giving a presentation

If you’re really anxious about giving a presentation at work, you’re not alone. Glossophobia (fear of public speaking) is a common phobia, and people who have social or generalised anxiety often struggle with the idea of addressing an audience.

How does the fear of public speaking affect people?

Like many phobias, the symptoms vary between individuals. Nausea, sweating, dry mouth, wet palms, shaking, blushing, panic attacks… It’s not surprising that people who experience this go to great lengths to avoid public speaking. In extreme cases, people even turn down promotions because their new role could involve giving presentations.

If the idea of addressing a group of colleagues or clients makes you feel anxious, don’t worry; there’s plenty we can do to overcome this. Let’s have a closer look at a couple of clients I’ve helped with this.

 Overcoming glossophobia: case studies

I’ve recently worked with two (separate) clients who admitted to being natural introverts, and who needed to conquer their glossophobia. Coincidentally, both were solicitors; and that’s an interesting point. These clients were both qualified professionals with successful careers, and at first glance, don’t seem like people who would struggle with confidence or communication. However, anyone, whatever their career or background, can experience a fear of presenting.

Both solicitors needed to give presentations to their clients in order to progress to promotion. Their fear manifested itself in the ways you’d expect: shaking, cold sweats, feelings of panic, fear of the worst happening. So what could make two otherwise career-confident people feel like this?

Understanding the fear of public speaking

Our primitive responses are never that far from the surface. Once upon a time, our fight-or-flight response was there to protect us from sabre tooth tigers and other life-or-death threats. City-based solicitors are unlikely to be mauled by prehistoric beasts, however, our brain persists in trying to protect us by creating an instinct to flee.

The intellectual side of our brains tells us that a presentation isn’t a physical threat; however, the primitive brain keeps on predicting worst-case scenarios. We start to overthink the presentation. Stress hormones build. The idea of giving presentation becomes genuinely scary.

How solution focused hypnotherapy can help you give a presentation

With both these clients, we start out by understanding what causes the symptoms of glossophobia, and what can be done to minimise and even remove these. We then worked together over a number of sessions to find different perspectives on their anxieties, as well as coming up with practical coping strategies for presenting.

From wearing clothes that give you confidence to relaxation exercises, there are lots of things you can do to help lessen your anxiety. It’s surprising to hear that the always affable Sir Richard Branson doesn’t like public speaking. He uses various tried-and-tested tricks such as visualising a crowd of friends instead of an audience – and I can work with you to create your own presentation strategies.

Don’t let nerves get in the way of success.

I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic. My locations are in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. Contact me for a confidential chat and we can work together to help you give that presentation with confidence.

 

 

What are neural pathways?

When I’m talking about how the brain works, I sometimes mention neural pathways. What are they and how do they affect our lives? Here’s a brief look at the science behind solution focused hypnotherapy.

What is a neural pathway?

In brief, a neural pathway is a series of connected neurons that send signals from one part of the brain to another.

Neurons come in three main types: motor neurons that control muscles; sensory neurons that are stimulated by our senses; and inter-neurons that connect neurons together. These connected neurons process the information we receive. It is these that enable us to interact, as well as experience emotions and sensations. They create our memories and enable us to learn.

We already have a series of neural pathways, and we are creating new ones all the time. An example of an early neural pathway is that if a baby smiles, he or she is rewarded by a smile in return and possibly a cuddle. The same baby may work out that if he or she touches something sharp, it may hurt. Both are valuable learning experiences.

Neural pathways are essential; however not all of them are beneficial and can become negative habits.

How neural pathways develop

Like a physical pathway on the ground, if you keep going over the same route, it becomes a habit. You probably have a set route that you take on the way to the local shop. You can walk it with your eyes closed, and why would you ever go a different way when this way is so ingrained?

Habits are the same. By always reaching for a bar of chocolate when you feel low, or a drink to lessen feelings of anxiety, you are creating a pathway in the brain. This means that like your walk to the shop, you automatically follow the same route. You’re feeling down, so your brain goes along the path to the chocolate bar.

The happy thing is that like a real road system, the brain can be changed and adapted. This flexibility of the brain is called neuroplasticity, and it’s this that enables you to change habits that you thought were ingrained. Like the Highways Agency, the brain can create new routes and shut off old ones, with some help and training.

How solution focused hypnotherapy helps change neural pathways

This is what my colleagues and I do: we help our clients to let go of old habits and create new, positive pathways in their place. If you have realised that you need to change your route, you can start to remove those negative behaviours.

A good example of how we re-programme our neural pathways is to do with weight loss. It could be that since childhood, you’ve come to associate a biscuit with reward and feeling good. So, if you feel in need of an emotional lift, you automatically take the path (physically as well as mentally!) towards the biscuit box. Yes, diet and exercise help you lose weight; however unless you change those pathways, any weight loss won’t be sustainable.

I work with my clients to adjust their relationship with food. However solid this pathway has become, we can block it off by replacing the need to eat with other ways of feeling good. By looking at the source of the pathway, we can also head those anxious feelings off at the pass, meaning that you won’t need to travel that path anymore. Solution focused therapy helps you train your brain to stay on positive pathways, and yes, you can break those well-worn habits.

I’ve used eating as a straightforward example, and an issue that many of us struggle with. However, you can also change your pathways to break nicotine or alcohol addiction, or help with social interaction if you have anxiety. Thanks to the neuroplasticity of your brain, with help, support and effort you can overcome habits that sometimes seem unbreakable.

Start on a new path

I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic. My clinics are in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. If you feel that you need support to break any negative behaviour or habits, please call me for a confidential chat. We’ll start on that positive new pathway.

 

Keeping calm in a crazy world: managing external factors

How often have we heard the phrase “the world’s gone mad!” over the last few months? There seems to be uncertainty all over the globe at the moment – and now we’ve just had the news of a snap general election in Britain. As well as this, it feels like we’re bombarded with information all the time, through the media and social platforms. From celebrity babies to old school friends looking fantastic on Facebook, the world seems full of factors that increase our sense of anxiety.

It feels like there is too much happening at once, and external factors are starting to fill up our ‘stress buckets’! However, you can still focus on your emotional health while there are external social and political factors at work.

In other words, how do we learn to keep calm in a crazy world?

Manage your social media

The constant scrolling, the information, the opinions, the comments, the sheer exhausting bombardment of social media… Smart phones are fantastically useful devices, but they’ve made it far too easy for us to live our lives on social media. We compare ourselves to others far too much (even though we probably suspect that their social media portrayals aren’t exactly accurate, this doesn’t prevent us from feeling inadequate because of them).

Switch off your WiFi at night so you’re not tempted to carry on scrolling at bedtime. Don’t friend or follow people or organisations that offend you or make you feel uncomfortable – and remember that you don’t actually have to have a social media account. We all lived perfectly well without social media “back in the day”!

Avoid alarmist news sources

We’ve all heard a lot about “fake news” recently, and there are certainly a lot of scary-sounding headlines around. Stick to reputable news sources that give facts, such as the BBC – but don’t have News 24 on a loop. You can always replace fakes with facts: if a headline grabs your attention but doesn’t quite feel right, check it out on a website such as FullFact (UK) or FactCheck.org (US). Knowledge can be deeply reassuring, and can help you manage worries caused by fear-mongering and alarmist headlines.

Do something completely different

Switch off the smartphone, and opt for some good old-fashioned fresh air and exercise! Take time to escape from the constant media bombardment, and as psychologist Dr Alan J Lipman beautifully puts it, “explore and interact with the unmediated world that you live in”. Spend time with real people you care about, not just social media profiles and talking heads on television. Take time to breathe, be mindful, enjoy the good things in the world rather than focusing on the turmoil.

Learn to manage your anxieties

You can’t change the world single-handedly – but you can manage how it affects you and how you deal with it. Many of my clients come to me because they feel that their anxiety or stress is taking over – and solution focused hypnotherapy is so effective at relieving these feelings. We work together to focus on solutions, rather than dwelling on problems, reducing your anxiety while calming your mind.

Learning calming techniques is extremely beneficial (and this works so well hand-in-hand with solution focused hypnotherapy). This really helps with all that negative future forecasting which is such a symptom of stress.

Think about exceptions

Something that we focus on in my sessions is the solution-focused therapy concept of “exceptions”. By this, I mean occasions when everything is going well and you don’t feel personally unsettled. For example, a client may say “I never seem to feel anxious at work”, and that gives us an ‘exception’ to the unsettled feelings so that we can explore your strengths and coping skills that you use in other situations. If you feel that external factors are getting too much for you, identifying your own coping mechanisms can be of huge benefit.

Let me help

I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic and an Anxiety UK Approved Therapist. My clinics are in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. If the world seems like it’s spinning too fast at the moment, please call me for a confidential chat – and together we can help you control anxiety and stress.

Keeping calm in a crazy world: managing external factors

How often have we heard the phrase “the world’s gone mad!” over the last few months? There seems to be uncertainty all over the globe at the moment – and now we’ve just had the news of a snap general election in Britain. As well as this, it feels like we’re bombarded with information all the time, through the media and social platforms. From celebrity babies to old school friends looking fantastic on Facebook, the world seems full of factors that increase our sense of general anxiety.

It feels like there is too much happening at once, and external factors are starting to fill up our ‘stress buckets’! However, you can still focus on your emotional health while there are external social and political factors at work.

In other words, how do we learn to keep calm in a crazy world?

Manage your social media

The constant scrolling, the information, the opinions, the comments, the sheer exhausting bombardment of social media… Smart phones are fantastically useful devices, but they’ve made it far too easy for us to live our lives on social media. We compare ourselves to others far too much (even though we probably suspect that their social media portrayals aren’t exactly accurate, this doesn’t prevent us from feeling inadequate because of them).

Switch off your WiFi at night so you’re not tempted to carry on scrolling at bedtime. Don’t friend or follow people or organisations that offend you or make you feel uncomfortable – and remember that you don’t actually have to have a social media account. We all lived perfectly well without social media “back in the day”!

Avoid alarmist news sources

We’ve all heard a lot about “fake news” recently, and there are certainly a lot of scary-sounding headlines around. Stick to reputable news sources that give facts, such as the BBC – but don’t have News 24 on a loop. You can always replace fakes with facts: if a headline grabs your attention but doesn’t quite feel right, check it out on a website such as FullFact (UK) or FactCheck.org (US). Knowledge can be deeply reassuring, and can help you manage worries caused by fear-mongering and alarmist headlines.

Do something completely different

Switch off the smartphone, put down the paper, and opt for some good old-fashioned fresh air and exercise! Take time to escape from the constant media bombardment, and as psychologist Dr Alan J Lipman beautifully puts it, “explore and interact with the unmediated world that you live in”. Spend time with real people you care about, not just social media profiles and talking heads on television. Take time to breathe, be mindful, enjoy the good things in the world rather than focusing on the turmoil.

Learn to manage your anxieties

You can’t change the world single-handedly – but you can manage how it affects you and how you deal with it. Many of my clients come to me because they feel that their anxiety or stress is taking over – and solution focused hypnotherapy is so effective at relieving these feelings. We work together to focus on solutions, rather than dwelling on problems, reducing your anxiety while calming your mind.

Learning mindfulness techniques is extremely beneficial (and this works so well hand-in-hand with solution focused hypnotherapy). This really helps with all that negative future forecasting which is such a symptom of stress.

Think about exceptions

Something that we focus on in my sessions is the concept of “exceptions”. By this, I mean occasions when everything is going well and you don’t feel personally unsettled. For example, a client may say “I never seem to feel anxious at work”, and that gives us an exception to the unsettled feelings. We may explore coping skills from this exception which can be used in other situations. If you feel that external factors are getting too much for you, identifying your own coping mechanisms can be of huge benefit.

Let me help

I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic and an Anxiety UK Approved Therapist. My clinics are in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. If the world seems like it’s spinning too fast at the moment, please call me for a confidential chat – and together we can help you control anxiety and stress.

What is overthinking – and what can we do about it?

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Everybody worries from time to time – so when does worrying become overthinking?

Overthinking is simply what its name suggests – thinking too much. Overthinking is going over the same thought again and again, analysing the simplest of situations or events until all sense of proportion has gone. The overthinking brain cannot translate these thoughts into actions or positive outcomes, so therefore creates feelings of stress and anxiety.

The phrase “overthinking” is often used quite flippantly these days. (You can picture the social media posts: “I’m overthinking my holiday packing. Lol.”) But for the genuine overthinker, there is nothing shallow or light-hearted about their thoughts. What distinguishes overthinking from merely thinking?

Am I over-thinking?

Surely we all overthink to some extent? As parents, sons or daughters, employees or business people, worrying about things is linked to caring about our loved ones, and about doing a good job.

However, people who really struggle with overthinking tend to be “ruminators”, going over events that have already happened. Plain old worrying tends to be about the future: can I meet this deadline? Can I find a nice residential flat for my mum? Often, our worries help us move forwards as we are working out how to mitigate them; however overthinking tends to be passive rather than active, dwelling on past events and building up disproportionately negative future results.

Take this scenario. You accidentally call your new boss by the wrong name. What do you think and feel when you realise this later?

The average worrier will feel mildly embarrassed, plan to apologise with some self-deprecating comment the next day, then forget about it and make dinner. The overthinker will replay this error over and over, while rewriting different outcomes. By four in the morning, he or she will be mentally creating scenarios of being passed over for future promotions, or even chosen for redundancy. The incident has triggered big questions in the overthinking mind, which blow the whole event way out of proportion.

This may seem like a trivial example; however it’s a good illustration of how over-thinking can take over many facets of your life. Dwelling on a past event and making catastrophic predictions from it are classic examples of what an overthinking mind can do.

Overthinking comes from your primitive emotional part of your brain

Like many traits of anxiety and depression, overthinking actually comes from one of our primitive preservation instincts.

The primitive mind will always see things from the worst possible perspective. This is because the brain is being hyper-vigilant, trying to keep us alive – there’s no sense in being optimistic about those sabre-toothed tigers I’ve mentioned before!

The intellectual brain will tell us that no way will we lose our job because we called our boss by the wrong name. However, people prone to rumination are responding in that primitive fight-or-flight mode, where focusing on worst-case scenarios is more likely to keep us alive. Overthinking and anxiety work together, exacerbating the feelings of stress and helplessness.

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Overthinking fills the stress bucket

It’s easy to create anxiety through negative future forecasting. However, dwelling on the past can also make us feel extremely anxious. Negative thoughts fill our “stress bucket” to the point where we feel that one more drip, one more thought, will make us overflow.

How can we empty our stress bucket? At night, we enter the amazing healing process of REM sleep, where our brains go over the day’s events, moving them from the emotional, primitive brain to the intellectual side. The brain files events away, together with the emotion, and suppressed emotion, and turns them into memories and narratives for another day. The brain may also ‘live out’ unspent emotion via our dreams in order to use up unspent adrenalin as part of this process. The person who called their boss by the wrong name won’t have forgotten the incident over night, but won’t really be thinking about it by the morning.

The overthinking person will not be so fortunate. If he or she is not sleeping well, due to overthinking, tossing and turning whilst ruminating over the events, then they miss out on this vital REM sleep, perhaps waking up during the night, or not able to get to sleep until the early hours by which time it’s time to get up and start the day with low energy and low mood.

How solution focused hypnotherapy can prevent overthinking

Everyone overthinks sometimes. The problems arise for people who find it very difficult to stop the thoughts. Whereas the occasional over-thinker can intellectualise the initial worry, the real ruminator is subject to a constant barrage of negative thoughts. Naturally, it’s all too easy for a vicious circle to develop, as increased anxiety leads to further overthinking, and so on.

So what we need to do is break this cycle. Solution focused hypnotherapy, with its focus on the present and the future, is a logical way of tackling overthinking. By creating a contrived trance state, we achieve a state where both sides of the brain come together – and this is when we can start to replace all these negative thoughts with positive thoughts for the future.

We talk about solutions and ways forward, helping you to set achievable goals, and to recognise those times when you are coping well and to build upon those strengths and resources.

Hypnosis itself reduces anxiety through relaxation and visualisation, allowing people to focus on the positive aspects of their lives, resulting in shift towards an optimistic – and indeed, realistic – perspective.

That new boss you accidentally called by then wrong name? It’s opened up a great chance for an informal chat, and that’s always good, right?

Let’s start thinking about overthinking – together

You’re not alone. Overthinking is something many people experience, and I can work with you to overcome it.

The cycle of overthinking and anxiety can easily be broken using solution focused hypnotherapy. This is a natural, calming, and safe way to begin to manage your thoughts again.

I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic. I have clinics in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. To find out more about how I can help you, please contact me for a confidential chat. Contact details can be found at www.greatmindsclinic.co.uk.

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