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Stop being so hard on yourself

Being hard on ourselves seems to come so easily to us as human beings. We are our worst critics. Why is that?

We'd much rather beat ourselves up about how much progress we haven't made, compare ourselves to other people or tell ourselves that we're not good enough or deserving enough to succeed in our goals and aims. Maybe it's because it gets us off the hook somewhat - it gives us some kind of excuse as to why we haven't yet achieved the things we set out to do - and means we can then allow ourselves even more time to procrastinate or to feel rubbish about ourselves!

It's important to pause and reflect on how far we've come though. I was reminded of this recently, during a conversation with my brother, who is also a therapist. I was expressing my frustration at having not made as much progress as I would have liked at growing my business and how I needed to work much harder to get where I wanted to be. 

"Are you kidding me?" responded my brother. "You're a busy wife and mother of two. You hold down two jobs. You have so much going on and you're doing REALLY well at growing your clients and helping people!" (Well, those weren't his exact words, but that was the gist of what he was trying to convey!)

He went on to remind me that most people who train as hypnotherapists DON'T manage to engage clients and create a successful career. Most fall into the illusion that they need to learn "just one more technique" to be successful. They get into an endless cycle of training courses, and yet still don't have the confidence in themselves to take on paying clients. Some don't know how to market themselves effectively as a hypnotherapist, so they start calling themselves coach or some other title - then realise they still don't know how to market themselves! Most just give up entirely. 

"But you're actually doing it," he said. "It doesn't matter if you're doing it part time. You're still doing it - and just look at the difference you've made to so many people's lives already."

And he's right, of course. I'm in a really good position. I'm lucky to have a background in marketing - it's enabled me to make a few good decisions which have helped get me known as a hypnotherapist. I've built up a steady but manageable flow of clients, they've achieved great results with my help, and I now have a practice that is pretty much entirely referral only. That's the dream of any business!

Sometimes we need to cut ourselves some slack. All of us go through times that affect our productivity. Most people outside my inner circle wouldn't be aware, but it's been a difficult couple of years for my family. We've dealt with illness, the realisation that there's a fair bit of neurodivergence in our ranks, job losses and I've been through an experience that was personally quite upsetting and traumatising for me. It's taken a while to bounce back from these things, and I shouldn't feel guilty for not firing on all cylinders all the time. And nor should you. 

In client sessions one technique I use a lot is 'future pacing' - this is when I allow the client to use their imagination to step forward in time into their future self, when all their problems are resolved. It's a way of allowing them to experience what change feels like (and a way for me to test the effectiveness of our work!) 

There's a phrase I often use when they are fully engaged with this future self, which goes something along the lines of, "Now look back to now and think about all the things you did and all the changes you made to get yourself here."

It's powerful stuff. It forces you to stop and reflect accurately on your progress. To remember all the things you have done and are doing RIGHT. 

So if you're feeling like you haven't achieved enough in a particular area of your life I challenge you to do this now. And I guarantee, you will realise you have achieved so much more than you think you have!


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