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intuition

So, what exactly is intuition? Well, it’s a gut feeling, a hunch or a little angel on your shoulder. But more specifically it’s the ability to acquire information without using conscious reasoning.  You might also call it access to unconscious knowledge, inner sensing, insight into unconscious patterns or the ability to understand something instinctively. Carl Jung (Swiss Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst) defined intuition as “perception via the unconscious”.  

Buridan’s Donkey is a philosophical paradox about free will. It’s about a hypothetical situation where a donkey, that is equally hungry and thirsty, is placed exactly midway between a stack of hay and a bucket of water. In theory it will die of thirsty and starve because it can’t decide. In reality it would make an intuitive decision. The reason for the decision may not be correct, but it would make a decision based on intuition.

Intuition is a very powerful aspect of the human mind, but can we trust it? Well, not entirely. Your subconscious holds a massive amount of information – memories, feelings, biases, lessons learnt, judgements, experiences, etc. It also picks up information we are not consciously aware of such as body language, eye contact, pupil dilation and slight changes in voice patterns. With all this information it makes split second decisions. It’s incredible and amazing, but not infallible. As Clarissa Pinkola Estes (American Writer and Jungian Psychoanalyst) said, “That is what the intuition is for: it is the direct messenger of the soul”.

Whether we like it or not, humans are judgemental and biased.  When we meet someone new, we automatically decide what we think about them within a few seconds. Why would your subconscious think one person is friendly or trustworthy? Perhaps based on previous experience of someone who looked like that? Perhaps some feature in their face that suggests friendliness?

Given the fallibility of your intuition it might be an idea, when you can, to take a moment when you realise you are doing something instinctively, to engage you conscious mind and think why you feel the way you do. For example, why do I trust this person, when I have only just met them?

Having criticised intuition, it does have its place. For example, do I feel comfortable about a situation? When we feel uneasy our threat response is activated. We might not be able to explain why but if something doesn’t feel right we shouldn’t ignore it. When things turn out badly we say ‘I knew it’. This was your intuition trying to warn you.  

So, having had some intuition, in time, you’ll discover if it was correct or not.  You will find that your instinctive thoughts are often correct. Should we rely on it solely when making decisions – probably not. But our intuition should be part of the process along with more rational thoughts.

Intuition is also close related to inspiration and creativity. It’s your subconscious sending you a message that can benefit you. As Henri Poincare (French Mathematician, Physicist, Engineer, and Philosopher) said, “It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover”.

So, you should try to hone and improve my intuition. To do this, the best thing you can do is to make quiet times for your subconscious to speak to you. This might be mediation, spending time in nature or just doing nothing. Try it, you may be surprised what you discover.

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Take Back the Lunch

Are you someone who skips their lunch breaks or eats at your desk? If so, this day for you. 17 June is National Take Back the Lunch Break Day. Why? Well, there has been an increasing trend towards taking less frequent and shorter lunch breaks. And this is affecting employee morale and well-being with issues such as stress and burnout.

Research has shown that the average lunch break is less than 30 minutes. And that’s barely enough time to buy something, let alone time to have a rest and eat it. Not having a proper break will affect your concentration and productivity. Most of those who do take a break, report that they feel refreshed and more energised. Although as Tim Berners-Lee (English Computer Scientist and inventor of the World Wide Web) said, “Anyone who has lost track of time when using a computer knows the propensity to dream, the urge to make dreams come true and the tendency to miss lunch”.

This trend is part of an erosion of personal / private time that we all need. The “always on” culture is ultimately bad for our physical and mental health. So, today of all days, take a full lunch break, find somewhere nice to eat lunch and enjoy a little “me” time.

So, how do you break the habit of skipping lunch? Well as with all habits it’s about gradually retraining yourself. Firstly, change your perception of lunch. It’s not about food being fuel, it’s about taking some quality time to eat something nice, perhaps with your friends and colleagues. Make sure you buy or bring to work something tasty and delicious. The idea is that you look forward to lunch, not just get it out of the way.

Don’t forget that your lunch break is your time. Use it to do something you want to do. Perhaps, get some reading done, take a walk or go for a run or enjoy a bit of nature and fresh air.

You may want to set a reminder for yourself to eat lunch at a particular time every day. This habit, combined with the delicious lunch you have planned, helps you break the cycle.

Do you have someone to have lunch with? Someone to remind you to take a break? It’s important to have a best friend at work, to have a coffee with and to eat lunch with. Perhaps there are a group of people you can lunch with. Group and peer pressure is part of the support group system used to break addictions.

So, remember to escape your desk, enjoy some fresh air, have a real lunch and maybe some social interaction. Why not use #takebacklunch to share your new lunch break routine on social media.

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Diabetes Week

13 to 19 June is National Diabetes Week. Its organised by Diabetes UK, a UK charity that helps to inform about and fight Diabetes. So, what is diabetes? Well it’s a disorder characterised by prolonged high blood sugar levels (Hyperglycaemia). And it’s more common than you might think – 1 in 14 people in the UK have some form of diabetes.

It is caused by either the pancreas not producing enough insulin, or the body not responding properly to the insulin produced. Insulin is the hormone which is responsible for regulating glucose and helping the body extract sugar from food and getting it into cells to be used for energy. 

There are three main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes results from the pancreas not producing enough insulin. This is caused by an autoimmune response that attacks the cells that produce insulin. Why this happens is not currently known. Symptoms typically appear in childhood or adolescence, although it can develop in later life. It is not lifestyle and diet related.
  • Type 2 diabetes starts with insulin resistance, a condition in which the body doesn’t respond properly to insulin.  As it progresses, a lack of enough insulin can also develop. It is more common in older adults. However, there has been a significant increase in obesity among children and this has led to more cases in younger people. The most common cause is a combination of being overweight and a lack of exercise.
  • A less well known type is Gestational diabetes which occurs when pregnant women develop high blood sugar levels. Blood sugar level usually returns to normal soon after giving birth.

So how do you know if you have diabetes? Well the most common symptoms are going to the bathroom a lot, thirst, feeling tired, weight loss (without trying), genital itching and thrush, wounds take longer to heal, blurred vision and increased hunger.

But, fear not, the good news is if you have type 2 diabetes you can do something about it, manage and even put it into remission. To do this you have to change your lifestyle to eat more healthily and take more exercise. Now this is not a crash, short term diet, but a permanent change in your habits. As Sonia Sotomayor (US Supreme Court Justice) said, “Diabetes taught me discipline”.

Being overweight, not exercising and smoking are three of the largest risk factors that lead to serious conditions such as diabetes and cancer.  Unfortunately, these can be some of hardest things to change in your life. As Stephen Furst (American Actor, Director and Producer) put it, “The way to deal with the devil of obesity and diabetes is literally one day at a time”.

But Hypnotherapy can help you to break habits and routines, get motivated, stay focused and explore the root causes of these life style choices. This is such a powerful tool to fight type 2 diabetes that I have made a short film to illustrate it. If you think hypnotherapy can help with your diabetes or to make lifestyle changes then contact me.

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Love Conquers All Day

3 June is Love Conquers All Day and it’s a time to think about and cherish the ones we love. No matter how tough life gets, it’s easier with our loved ones by our side. Love can conquer any hardships, difficulties, and challenges. As Lao Tzu (Ancient Chinese Philosopher) said, “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

You shouldn’t wait for a special day, such as this day or Valentine’s Day, to express your love and appreciation of those in your life. But if you feel you may have not let your love show recently, then now is a good time. Perhaps go on a date or have a night out. Make time to have quality time with the ones you love. As Ann Landers (American advice columnist) put it, “Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses”.

And it doesn’t have to be all about romantic love. Ancient Greek philosophers identified six forms of love: familial love (Love of your family – parents, siblings, etc.), friendly love or platonic love (a strong bond or association among friends), romantic love (attraction), self-love (being concerned for you own happiness and contentment), guest love (hospitality to visitors and strangers) and divine love (love of all creation and creatures). All of these types of love are important and provide the foundation for a happy and healthy life.

Divine love is an interesting sort of love. It encompasses a universal, unconditional love that transcends and persists regardless of circumstance. In many ways it’s like the religious idea of God’s love for all creation. Many religions have this concept. For example, according to First Timothy (one of three letters in the New Testament of the Christian Bible often grouped together as the Pastoral Epistles) it comes “out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.”

So there are many ways to show your love. Perhaps hang out with friends, check on a family member, be kind to a stranger, donate to a charity or volunteer to do some work in the community you live in.

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Dare Day

Trust me, 1 June is the day to step out of your comfort zone. Why, well 1 June is not only National Dare Day, but also Flip a Coin day. So it’s the perfect opportunity to break out and do something different. If you have a decision to make, perhaps flip a coin and let fate or chance take the wheel.

So for those of you who want to break out of your comfort zone and don’t know how, here are some ideas. Firstly, break your routine – make changes to how you do things. Perhaps walk to work, have a proper lunch break and try a new place to buy your meal. Anything that gives you the opportunities to experience something new.

Perhaps you could move tasks to different people. If you can, delegate a task to someone. Or, rather than dressing your small child in the morning ask them to do it themselves. You might be surprised how well someone else can do it. Start small, but the more you can delegate the more time you will have for other (more interesting) tasks.

Learn something new. Ever said to yourself, ‘I wish I could do that’. Well, learn. Be it, a new language, skill or hobby. It might help you at work, save you some money or just be something interesting and challenging.

Why not give something back or pay something forward?  Volunteer for a local cause or charity. Every non-profit organisation wishes it had more volunteers. Don’t worry about what skill they may need, sometime just having someone to man a stall or deliver leaflets is tremendously helpful. If this is too much, then just try to do a nice thing for someone every day.

I have written before about how physical exercise can have a major impact of mental health. So consider making physical changes, like taking more exercise or start a diet. You may find you have more energy and your mind it clearer and sharper. 

Is there something holding you back? Is there something you dislike or are fearful of that would be useful to be able to do? Be it fear of public speaking, flying or not being able to cook or not knowing anything about gardening and plants. If it’s causing a problem or regret, harness that and use it to overcome it.  

Socialising and meeting new people can be daunting but it’s a great way to learn new things and get new perspectives on any number of things. Be it on line or in real life, put yourself out there and meet new people and share your options, knowledge and experience.

It a truism in sport that you should also play with someone who is better than you. And this applies to many areas of your life. It doesn’t have to be a formal mentoring / coaching relationship but being around people you aspire to be provides guidance and inspiration.

Finally, how do you eat an elephant? One bit at a time. Dream big, be ambitious and don’t let the size of the task discourage you. As Lao Tzu famously (Ancient Chinese Philosopher) said, “Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step”.

If you need help breaking problematic routines or habits then hypnotherapy can help. Contact me to find out more.