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say nothing

Train yourself to say nothing

I got an email today from someone looking for help with their client.

I'm looking for a script that will help eliminate a person from using aahs and ands when he is speaking to groups. He strings his sentences together with and and when he is thinking what to say next he says aah. Do you have anything that would work or that I could tweak to help him?

My reply was:

I have been a university lecturer for over 40 years. Like most speakers, I too used to uummm and ahhhhh during lectures. I only became aware of it after I had to  transcribe some of my lectures. It was embarrassing the number of 'hesitation' noises I made when talking to my classes.

I set out to get rid of them and I have succeeded totally. The trick is to become aware of them. As soon as you become aware of them you can avoid standing there making noises just to fill in the gaps. I found that there are two methods you can use.

Make sure you have something to say.

The first one is to not start speaking without knowing what you're going to say. When you are a teacher or a lecturer you feel there is an intense pressure to talk all the time. You need to show that you have something to say. This in fact is not true. It is immensely freeing to be able to say "I don't know". You can then say "what do you think the answer might be?" Or you can say, "I'll do my best to find out and I will explain it in class next time we meet." Or  just say "let me think about that for a moment, talk amongst yourselves". Once you realize that that is no need to keep up the continuous flow of speech your speaking becomes much more natural.

Train yourself to say nothing.

The second thing you can do is when you don't know what to say next, say nothing. This is my preferred method. When I am searching for the next word, looking for the right phrase, or even when I got no idea whatsoever, I just pause. I make no sound whatsoever. And the great thing is, that most people don't even notice. And certainly, nobody cares.

That is by far the easiest way to get rid of the unnecessary Ummms, Ahhhhs, "youknow", 'like' and all the other fillers. So what I suggest you do with your client is to plant a post hypnotic suggestion that he will become acutely aware of every time he utters a filler noise. And that when he is about to say some pointless syllable he actually stops, pauses in silence, and gives his brain time to catch up with his lips.

I think that will be the easiest way to help your client.


How would you deal with this ? Share your ideas below.

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procrastination perfectionism

Procrastination Perfectionism

Every day brings an interesting client. My client today had procrastination. He is finishing university this year. He has one more course to finish and his degree will be complete. He failed the course last year and now he cannot get down to studying what he has to do for this year. If he fails this time he will fail the whole degree.

Typically a therapist would suspect that this client either is afraid of failing or is afraid of succeeding. And indeed when he gets his degree he will be taking up a job overseas. He will have to give up the comfortable life of a student, so there is the fear of the unknown.

Procrastination Perfectionism

However, when I questioned him further it was obvious that he was actually suffering from undiagnosed depression. He had all the symptoms, and in particular, black and white thinking. In his case this was in the form of perfectionism. Procrastination Perfectionism is very common. 

He felt that if he was not going to do well in the exam and pass with outstanding marks then he was a complete failure. He had failed before so he wasn't sure that he would pass this time. That little voice in his head was saying  'You might as well not bother'. And so he was demotivating himself over and over. As the deadline crept nearer it got more and more likely that he would indeed fail. So it became an ever diminishing circle of anxiety and recrimination, and negative thinking. And the more pressure he put on himself the less work he did.

Once the situation was explained to him he could see what was happening and that the key to preventing his procrastination was dealing with the negative thoughts first. We will have to wait and see how this turns out, but it is interesting to me that in all the books I have read on procrastination none has ever suggested the link with depression, expectations and perfectionism.

I think it might be worth researching further.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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mind goes black hypnotherapy

Mind goes blank hypnotherapy

Mind goes blank hypnotherapy

A reader emailed me and said: Sometimes when people ask me questions that I do know the answer for, my mind goes blank, for no reason. I know I know the answer, but I just cannot get the words out.

This is quite common of course, most people suffer from it from time to time. But if it happens a lot, or in specific situations then you need some therapy. What is happening is that you are being asked a question, you know the answer, but before you say it, a bit of doubt creeps in, either that you might be wrong, or that the answer will not please the other person. This sets off a mini panic attack, in which your mind goes into fight-or-flight mode and everything else is cleared away so that you can make a break for safety. That is why you get the feeling of 'blank' - your conscious mind has been pushed away and you are operating directly in your unconscious mind.

Fight or flight response

Of course another part of your mind knows that there is no need to run away. So you end stuck, you have no access to your conscious mind that knows what to say, and you are ready to run but rooted to the spot. The result is you end up tongue tied, unable to speak and feeling stupid. Exactly the situation you feared.

The basic problem is low esteem or low self confidence. The recommended treatment is to provide therapy to increase the person's self confidence.

Mind goes blank hypnotherapy

This can be done in several ways:

a) Regression to cause. Find the first time that the client felt really unsure of what to say, some situation that made them doubt what to do, and clear that by inner child work

b) Scripts. Use an 'ego strengthening' script to make the client feel confident about their abilities in all situations.

c) Self Hypnosis. Teach the client how to relax, and how to access their own resources. Applied relaxation techniques will stop the panic attacks as they start. By squishing them right away the person can stay in control of the situation.

What do you think?

Do you suffer from going blank? What works for you? How do you fix it for other people?

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Controlling Clients

Hypnotizing Controlling Clients

Hypnotizing Controlling Clients

Controlling Clients are always difficult. Today I saw what was perhaps the most difficult client I have ever had. She was not being deliberately difficult, but every techniques I tried just didn't seem to work. I first saw her last August. At that time I could not hypnotize her. She was constantly internally challenging everything I said. She analysed every word, doing everything except doing what I wanted her to. My policy in those cases is to send her home with some hypnotic CDs to listen to. Then come back when she has learned to let go enough to go into trance reliably.

Today she said the CDs annoyed her. The imagery did not suit her. She was constantly analyzing why I used certain words, and frankly the whole recording irritated her. The recordings might have made her a little more physically relaxed. But she was never hypnotized.

Anxiety and the need for control

She clearly has anxiety and hypervigilance but she was still unable to tell me what trauma she had. She said that there is nothing there to find. Her problem was a fear of earthquakes in high buildings. The obvious approach is to use regression. I thought that she might have had some effect from the CDs. So I again tried to hypnotize her, going very slowly and carefully. But as I approached the feeling the fear part she smugly told me that she wasn't feeling anything.

However,  I saw clear signs of trance. It seemed to me that she actually was going into trance, but as soon as she felt herself losing control she popped right out again. She could not reduce the rate of her breathing during the induction. She was breathing very shallow. This  was to me another indicator that she has some sort of chronic anxiety.

Controlling Clients means giving them control

So decided to approach hypnosis indirectly. We talked about our options and how I didn't have any. I told her I really didn't know what else to do. I explained the theory of hypnosis. The best I could do was to teach her self hypnosis, but  I warned her there was a danger of an abreaction.

She asked me how she would do that . So I proceeded to show her. I told her that I was going to take her through the steps of self hypnosis.  She should pay close attention because she needed to control the stages. That way she would be able to do it herself when she gets home.

I therefore started on physical relaxation, then breathing focus, then finding a safe place. Then told her to empty her mind, stack any stray thoughts over to one side, treat them like puppies and shoo them out the door. Then I suggested that now her body was relaxed and her mind was empty, she need to practice controlling her mind. I did a long series of suggestions about finding a color and shrinking it down to a point of light. Then I suggested she might find herself floating inside that light. Her head started to nod, and her eyes were moving under hey eyelids in response to my suggestions. She was clearly in trance.

Getting a Controlling Client into trance

I then led on a metaphoric journey with lots of symbolic interactions as a form of therapy. Then I got her to count herself out. The moment I suggested that she opened eyes she told me she hadn't been in trance!

Now she obviously had been, so I asked her to tell me what I had talked about. At that point she realized that in fact large chunks were missing. What she had done was to go deep into trance in some parts, and then start to come out of trance before I deepened her again. She was remembering only the times when she was in light trance. The times when she was in deep trance she had no memory of. She finally agreed that she had indeed been in trance.

The technique for hypnotizing controlling clients is to let them think that they are in control. Telling her that I was going to teach her self hypnosis by-passed all her defences. As she followed along with my instructions she naturally led herself  down into trance. All the same, I was very relieved when she finally did succumb. 

What do you think?

I wonder what other hypnotists do to deal with clients who won't give up control? What do you think is the best technique?

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Stress from childhood

Is your Stress from childhood memories?

Stress from childhood

My client was a senior manager in a construction company. He came to me because he was getting more and more stressed. It was affecting his work, and it was beginning to show. He could nut understand why he was getting stressed so badly. His job was high powered, he had been doing it for many years, he was successful and had a great future. He was a big tough guy in an industry full of big tough guys. And yet, something was really getting to him. He not only had stress, he was getting distressed. 

I started trying to find out exactly what he meant by "stress". He told me there was only one thing worrying him.  He had personally championed bid for a big government contract, and had got it. That contract was going to make the company truckloads of money. If they could pull it off. It was going OK, but as it ramped up, he could see shortages of key components, and of the skilled labour needed. He worried he might not be able to source these. Somehow, this was really winding him up.

Stress from childhood feelings

He was not able to identify any specific thing about this contract that was different from any other contract. He had thought about it himself, but could find no explanation. I asked him, "How do you feel about the problems with that contact? How it make you feel inside?" I encouraged him to go inside, to allow the feelings to come out. 

This immediately brought out a whole lot of unhappy memories. He was not close to his stepfather. His mother left his father and married his father's best friend, my client's stepfather. My client was distressed that he in fact had been named for this other man. The memories caused him to get more distressed and he started crying. His emotions were clearly right at the surface so I decided to go for a metaphor replacement therapy.

Exploring his feelings with Metaphor Therapy

I asked him "what are you feeling right now? What is it like?" He said it was like a ball about the size of a fist. A  heavy weight. Black, cold, not smooth. He said it was all screwed up and smashed. It was dark and solid. I got him to think about how he could change that thing. He said that when he could get rid of it he could forget all that stuff.

I got into think about that ball. He said that he was carrying it around with him. And got him to make it bigger and smaller and to get it to change. It became full of colours and green. Eventually I got it to go away. But he was still upset.

I explored this remaining feeling. He told me that when he was a child his parents broke up. His mother left his father. She broke off all communication with him. The complete break meant that he was not allowed to see his nana anymore. He loved his grandma, and she was taken away from him. This was what it was all about.

Being unable to have his nana. This was the source of the feelings of unfairness, of the unhappiness, of the feeling of being cheated and deprived. This was what the uncertainty and loss of control of the contract was about. The feelings about the contract were triggering memories of the same helplessness. Every time he thought about the contract going wrong, it brought up those ancient feelings of despair and loss. The current stress was actually rooted in childhood. 

Healing his inner child

So I did inner child work on his feeling about being taken away from his nana. I got him to go back to that little boy. He comforted the boy. I told him to tell that little boy that it was not his fault. "Tell him he did nothing wrong." He changed the boy's feelings and led him out of that place. Then I got him to watch  over the boy as he grew up, and finally reintegrated and reconciled the adult and child.

I think this is the first time I've done inner child work with a man. But the results were spectacular.  He said "I felt a great weight  lifting off me. That feeling just isn't there anymore."

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fear of everything

Fear of Everything

Fear of Everything

I had a really interesting client today. A young woman came in complaining of being anxious all the time, of worrying about things that might go wrong, of distrusting everyone, of never feeling safe except in a group of friends.

Her symptoms were getting worse, she was finding more and more things made her uneasy, and she was getting anxious about whether this would ever stop or if she was slowly going mad. She had started losing all her friends and could see no future if this continued. Her anxiety itself was making her more anxious. She was beginning to think that her life was closing down, and that she was losing her mind.

Sudden violence

She said that she used be the most easy going person around, but that changed about three years ago. I asked her what happened at that time and she described a home invasion by some criminals. They had gone to the wrong house and started to demand things with violence. The client was punched, thrown around, and her father terrorized by these men.

She said it was not a problem as she had seen a psychotherapist and although they did not talk about it directly the psychotherapist said that it did not matter and the anxiety come from something else in her childhood.

I started talking about the home invasion and immediately she looked distressed and tearful. I told her that is was obvious that she had not gotten over it, and that I thought that was the cause of all her problems.

Embodied fear of everything

I explained that what she was experiencing was the body's natural reaction to a sudden unexpected trauma. She had never resolved the fear of the home invasion and that fear was now generalizing to more and more aspects of her life. The fear was made worse because it was totally unexpected. Far from having a bad childhood, as the psychotherapist had said, she actually had a lovely childhood, and felt safe and secure and loved right up to the time that the home invasion occurred. The contrast between her life up to that point and the sudden out of control situation made it even worse. She had no personal experience of violence up to that point, and it made her terrified.

I believe that PTSD is the result of a situation where the person feels that they have had the rug pulled from under their feet; that everything they ever believed in is no longer true; nothing can be relied on; that the world is suddenly seen as a dangerous place. This woman had all of these things and had not been properly counselled as to how to deal with it.

Relieving the fear of everything

I got her to relax, and to think back to the home invasion. She immediately got the feeling of anxiety. I asked her to locate it in her body. Then I got her to turn the feeling into an object, to describe that object in ever increasing detail. Eventually I had her move the object out into her hand and asked her how it seemed now. She replied that it was smaller and not important now. She said she wanted to throw it far away so it couldn't come back.

I got her to do that. Then I brought her back to the present and asked how she felt now. She that all the anxiety had gone, and she was quite looking forward to going out with her friends that night instead of dreading it. As far as I could tell all the problems had disappeared completely.

I thought this case was particularly interesting because it showed clearly how one incident can then expand to dominate the client's life. It also shows that the theories about the mammalian response to life threatening events is correct. 

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sexual dysfunction

Sexual Dysfunction is not always about sex

Sexual Dysfunction is not always about sex

My client came to see me because of sexual dysfunction. He is a fit young man living with a woman he loves. She is keen on sex and so is he, but he keeps losing his erection during the process. She is understandably annoyed and is threatening to end the relationship.

My client told of a disastrous first attempt at sex that left both of them unhappy. He had been at a Christian camp and the object of his desire was also inexperienced. When the two of them met at night in an empty room it was in secrecy and under constant danger of being discovered. He said the whole thing was an embarrassment, nobody got anything out of it. He blamed it on inexperience and the threat of exposure. It was a classic case of a first attempt at sex that goes wrong, and plants the seed of worry that expands and ruins the rest of his life.

Sexual Dysfunction and Regression

Before he came to me he had been to see a different hypnotherapist three times. That therapist asked the usual questions and tried regression, but it did not have the right effect. He is now in a relationship with a woman who he thinks could be 'the one' so he is putting extra pressure on himself and his girlfriend is putting on even more pressure. I couldn't see what I could do that would be different from the regression and general NLP advice that he already got.

And then I got to thinking about that first encounter. A young man, a teenager, should have no problem getting it up. That's what young men are designed for. So I asked a bit more deeply about what went on that night, and particularly about what went on just before his assignation. He revealed that he was worried about what might happen before he even got there, and that everything turned out wrong just as he feared it would.

So I started thinking about why a young lover would be fearful even before the attempt. There must have been some reason why it even crossed his mind that it could go wrong. I tested for anxiety/depression. He has a bit of Introversion and a bit of anxiety thinking, but not full depression. His father had depression. He told of a childhood where his parents divorced when he was ten and he heard them arguing all the time. I concluded that he has hyper vigilance.

Sexual Dysfunction anxiety

I think that he had childhood anxiety and that it was the existing anxiety that made the first sex go wrong, not the bad sex that caused the sexual anxiety. He has underlying anxiety that is making him catastrophize over his past sexual failure. And because he sees this particular woman as his chance at a life partner, he is putting intense pressure on himself because this one must work, or he will miss out for life. This is causing more catastrophizing thoughts, more anxiety, and she is putting more pressure on him to perform, which causes more anxiety and so on.

The interesting thing about this case is that it is not the first sexual encounter that was the Initial Sensitizing Event (ISE) and therefore regression is the wrong treatment. There was no ISE. What was there was chronic anxiety from childhood, that happens to be expressing itself as sexual performance problems.

The solution therefore is to treat the anxiety. And that's what I did.

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Enough exercise

Are you getting enough exercise?

Stress is probably the most common problem in modern life. And yet, how to deal with stress is well-known and easily achieved. You avoid stress by getting enough sleep, keeping your attitude positive, and working towards your long-term goals. 

The question of course, is how to achieve those three things? It has been proven over and over that the answer is exercise. Regular consistent exercise is possibly the single most important thing in keeping your mind and body healthy.

Benefits of enough exercise

Exercise does not only benefit the body. It also has a direct effect on the mind. Regular exercise lift your mood, and leaves you feeling relaxed and calm afterwards. When you feel relaxed and calm, you are better able to deal with stressors as they arrive.

A healthy body actually leads to a healthy mind. Exercise releases any emotional tensions held in your muscles. Releasing muscular tension releases anxiety. Relaxed muscles help you sleep better. Relaxed muscles prevent you generating the hormones associated with stress. Serotonin, dopamine, noradrenalin and other hormones all affect our perceptions of stress.

Those hormones enter the bloodstream, are taken to the brain, and make you feel worse. They maintain the primitive fight or flight responses in your brain, and keep you keyed up, ready to take on any threat. Constant anxiety tends to fill your mind with negative thoughts. These feed on themselves, make you more anxious, because more stress hormones, which then makes you feel even worse.

The way out of this vicious cycle is to get regular strenuous exercise. Exercise creates a different set of hormones that tend to make you feel good. Feeling good, makes you think positive thoughts. Positive thoughts lead to positive attitudes. And your positive attitude makes you immune to the things that normally trigger stress in you.

Most people just do not get enough exercise.

Do you?

As well as telling your clients how to improve their mental balance, perhaps you should be prescribing a healthy dose for yourself as well?



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How to Hypnotize Coming out of Trance

Freudian slip: Calling your current partner by your ex-partner’s name

 Calling your current partner by your ex-partner's name

Today I saw a client with a Freudian slip. He called his current partner, Rachel, by his ex-partner's name, Rebecca.

A very decent man, he worries deeply about whether he is doing the right thing for his partner. He divorced his wife, Rebecca some years ago. Now he's started a relationship with a new partner, Rachel. Last week they invited a valuer to their home as the first step to setting up a financial basis for their new relationship. David inadvertently introduced his current partner as Rebecca.

Rachel was upset. However, she got over it. Until he did it again the following day. He called her Rebecca again.

Rachel got upset again. She continues to be upset. She has accused David of wanting to reignite the relationship with his ex-wife. She refuses to be consoled. Rachel is now talking about breaking up the relationship.

And to top it all, David called her Rebecca for a third time.

David is distraught. He desperately wants this relationship to work. He will do anything to make it work. But he is now terrified that he is going to use the wrong name again. The very last thing he wants is to have anything to do with his ex-wife. He just cannot understand why her name keeps coming up.

What to do about a Freudian slip?

Most people would just laugh it off. However David isn't that lucky. Rachel has also been through a messy divorce herself. She has little confidence in relationships. She desperately wants this relationship to work but is always looking out for signs that might be another disaster like the last one. So being called the wrong name just confirms this to her.

What is actually happening is the result of a simple psychological process. When David was married to Rebecca he got used to having a woman in his life. That woman was always called "Rebecca". He called her "Rebecca" thousands of times. If there was a woman there, he unconsciously identified her as Rebecca, and use that name. After thousands of repetitions it became automatic.

Getting a divorce does not wipe your mind clean. David is so used to using the word "Rebecca", that when there is a woman nearby that he feels comfortable with, his mind automatically brings up the word "Rebecca". It doesn't mean anything. It is just an unconscious shorthand process. It may actually persist for many years in certain situations. But it still doesn't mean anything, except his mind is taking a shortcut.

Both he and his partner are going to have to dig deep into their store of compassion and understanding to get over this. But it is definitely not grounds for separation.



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Fear of snorkelling

Fear of snorkeling phobia

Fear of snorkeling phobia

I am looking for a script that will work with a lady who is having trouble putting her head underwater to swim or snorkel.

I haven't as yet had a full session with her. She mentioned that this would be what she would require healing with.  I am not sure which script would work best. Your advice much appreciated.

I have used your hypnosis scripts in the past especially for nail biting.  We have had a lot of success. I only had to go back and do a follow-up once.

Removing fear of snorkelling

There isn't really a script for this type of thing. What she is experiencing is a type of psychological fear linked to a much earlier fear.  Most phobias are created when a child gets frightened by something. The child's mind creates an association between the fear and the situation. After that every time the child finds themselves in that situation the fear comes back. Over time, the fear get stronger and stronger. It can eventually become debilitating. Most adults deal with the fear by avoiding the situation. However, phobias are fairly easy to clear up.

You need to use regression for this condition. Find out what is triggering the fear, and what the original situation was that is causing the fear. Put the client into a light trance. Tell her to bring to mind the fear by thinking about what triggers it. When she is experiencing the fear at a mild level, ask her to allow her mind to open.  Ask her to remember the very first time she ever felt that way. She will probably report some childhood event that she remembers, but has given very little weight to.

Ask her to describe the event in detail, who was there, what happened, yet had to make it as vivid as possible.   Then introduce some element, or some person, or some personal power that she has that allows her to overcome the fear. Once she has succeeded in banishing the fear in her mind, the phobia is gone forever.


You don't need a script, you just need a procedure to follow.

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