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All you need is Love

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Sally Heady

Winter 2015

How the question of love is at the heart of what holds us back

“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” – William James

A question of love

On a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the strongest it could be, how much do you love yourself? This question is a powerful one. I actually grimaced when I was first asked this question and I have often noticed an expression of pure horror pass across my clients’ faces when they were asked the same. I often opt for ‘like yourself’ as a more measured, British alternative.

Love myself? Isn’t that a bit weird? Certain images or words might spring to mind when you think of people who love themselves. Arrogant, selfish, self-absorbed, narcissistic are a few. You might think of that person who is constantly pouting in the mirror or that person who greets their own jokes with a loud, braying laugh. You know the type.

This is a misconception of what it is to love yourself. The people I know who have high levels of self-worth are humble, open and light-hearted. They can listen to criticism without taking it personally. Their relationships are stronger because they are not striving to ‘take’ from those around them or continually seek validation from others. They are less fearful about making the ‘wrong’ choice because they trust their judgment or their ability to cope with life’s challenges. For all these reasons and many more, self-love is something worth exploring.

The Universal Neuroses

I work with people to help them resolve a wide range of problems including anxiety, weight-loss and phobias (including social phobias). By using the Cognitive Hypnotherapy model we can get to the bottom of any unconscious beliefs, which are often the root cause of the person’s problem. These beliefs, more often than not, express doubt that we are loved or loveable. Another version is “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t deserve”.

Do these beliefs resonate with you? The renowned American hypnotherapist, Gil Boyne, considered these beliefs to be ‘universal neuroses’, something that we all carry to some degree and are often at the heart of whatever holds us back. Another maxim, as coined by Trevor Silvester is ‘we are all fellow strugglers’. Whilst many of us are loathe to admit it, it is our fragility that unites us. It is the fragile thread that binds us all together.

How can Cognitive Hypnotherapy help?

It can be surprising for a person who comes to see me for weight-loss or procrastination to unearth powerful negative beliefs such as these. The reasons why these beliefs come about will be completely unique to each person. It could be a time when you were told off for boasting about an achievement; were bullied at school; or felt rejected by someone you loved. You may not be able to know what event first sparked a belief that you were, in some way, not worthy. Because the Cognitive Hypnotherapy model is so flexible, we can dissolve these limiting beliefs by reframing past events or by disrupting the way that belief is stored in the mind.

I have witnessed incredible changes and shifts in people once they have been able to free themselves from these beliefs that were limiting their capacity to love and accept themselves. The unhelpful emotions or behaviours that were previously compensating for a void, are no longer required. You no longer need to procrastinate over leaving the job you hate, you no longer need that extra doughnut, and you no longer need to worry about the future in the way you used to. Self-love revelations

Up until a few months ago I held a rather alarming belief that I was a ‘bad person’. This was due to the fact that, like most other human beings, I had made mistakes in my life. I really, really hate making mistakes.

Most of the time I knew that this belief was not really true and I could get on with life quite happily. I was mostly a confident woman, content in my work and personal life. But just as I was about to make bold, exciting decisions or indulge in a special moment I would sometimes experience a sensation that I named ‘the hand’. The hand was the tingling, tightening constriction around my neck that often caused me to place my hand around my throat, as it felt like an invisible force that would throttle me. The hand was my reminder that I did not really deserve good things, special relationships or a thriving career because really, deep down, I was a bad person.

During a cognitive hypnotherapy session with a wonderful friend and fellow master practitioner, I conquered the hand once and for all. As I realised the sensation was disappearing I felt a surge of emotion, which went along the lines of ‘wow, I can’t believe I let myself carry this for so long.’ In that moment I was saddened by the fact that the hand had hindered me so much in loving and accepting myself fully. What followed next was a wonderful sense of relief and joy. Since then my increased levels of self-love and compassion have truly changed my life. I have more energy, enthusiasm and self-belief. I feel I can give so much more to relationships, without being distracted by my niggling self doubt. A weight has truly lifted.

This experience has allowed me to look into the eyes of others and attest to the power of giving yourself permission to love yourself more completely. Whilst I know that I still have an inner critic that pops its head up now and again, I am now far better equipped to recognise it and smack it back down where it belongs.

The part that loves you

On the theme of self-love, I have also observed a happier pattern. The vast majority of people also have a part of them, however small, that knows that they are worthy. They know they are good enough and they are loved or loveable. We could call this the ‘universal gift’. The universal gift allows us to have positive relationships, careers and seek fun, enjoyable experiences. I work with people to grow and strengthen the ‘self-love’ part as a resource they can draw on whenever they need to.

The results? Amongst other things, I have seen people change careers to what they really want to do, lose weight, feel more confident in situations they used to label ‘stressful’ and experience greater peace in their daily lives.

One person who had come to see me for procrastination and writer’s block wrote a beautiful short story after our first session. Her increased levels of self-love allowed her to silence her inner critic and express herself freely.

A question for you

I remember asking someone, “Imagine if you could live life from a place where you really liked yourself, where you knew you were good enough, how life would be different for you?” I will never forget her eyes lighting up and saying, “Well, that’s easy, anything would be possible”.

This is a question I regularly come back to in order to challenge myself. I invite you to ask yourself the same question and imagine how your life could be different as a result.

If you would like to explore how greater self-love could change your life, why not arrange to see a Cognitive Hypnotherapist today.