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Change yourself because

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Trevor Silvester

Summer 2017

Change yourself because.. the world isn’t going to change to make you happy.


I recently read, with some consternation but little surprise, that the National Union of Students had proposed the banning of clapping and whooping at their conference, because it can lead to the ‘safety and wellbeing’ of students being compromised. Instead they were encouraged to wave, ‘jazz hands’ style. Wait…what? They mean deaf people can feel excluded by sound-based acclamation. They seem to have missed the fact that their move would exclude blind people who can’t see the waving.

It’s one example of a worrying trend, where the young are seeking to get the world to change to accommodate their ‘vulnerabilities’. Speakers have been banned from campuses because their message may be upsetting to some. ‘Safe spaces’ have been set up within universities, offering those who feel marginalised a place to ‘share’. Free speech and open debate is being eroded to avoid the thought-crime of ‘giving offence’.

And it’s the older generations who are to blame. Since WWII, the culture that gave us our finest hour, with values such as grit, ‘keep calm and carry on’ and resilience, has gradually become replaced by a society that encourages dependency on others, victimhood and an intolerance toward opposing thought. And it’s all to do with LOC: our Locus of Control.

Where’s your LOC?

If your LOC is External (ELOC) then the world does things to you. What people say about you can make or ruin your day. Your opinion of yourself can rise and fall according to what you can afford to own. You look to others to take actions to make your life better. It’s a life of threat and need for protection.

If your LOC is Internal (ILOC) then you make things happen in the world. You recognise that you always have choice over how you respond to what happens to you – nobody can take your power, you can only give it away. You ask yourself ‘what can I do here?’, rather than waiting for others to act. It’s a life of opportunity, possibility and growth. Since the war, we’ve slid from encouraging in our children the virtues of ILOC, toward a style of parenting that, with good intentions, has created the situation I described at the beginning. By trying to keep our children safe from things that could hurt them, they turn into children who shy from discomfort – emotional or physical.

I remember when exam grades were changed so nobody failed anymore, they just got a lower grade. When suddenly, sports day wasn’t about winning and losing, but about inclusion. It was a huge mistake. We learn character from our struggles, yet we’ve tried to abolish them for our children. It ill-equips them for life. They enter the workplace with an inflated sense of their worth, because they haven’t learned to tie their self-esteem to their efforts.

We’ve taught them that if the going gets tough, they can leave it to others to solve it for them. Our consumer society has exploited the fragility of their egos by persuading them that the answer to their low self-esteem is to surround themselves with the badges of success – the right phone, clothes, car or body spray. Striving, effort, and the gritty pursuit of excellence is eschewed in the belief that success should come easily because they’re special; they’re entitled.

It’s a mess.

The Remedy

I’ve written a book for parents called Grow! Personal Development for Parents, which is aimed at providing the tools to remedy this mindset, both in parents and their children. It’s a handbook for developing ILOC in anybody, because over 20 years of listening to people in my therapy room has led me to believe that it is the lack of this mindset that is at the heart of people’s unhappiness with themselves. Further, it is this lack of ‘self’-satisfaction that is the spawning ground for most of the other problems they tend to arrive with – from depression and anxiety to low self-esteem, eating disorders and even substance abuse.

If we look to the world for what kind of day we’re going to have, we’re waiting to be the victim of it. If we depend on other people’s opinions for how we feel about ourselves, we feel inferior to them. No wonder the response of so many of the young to the unpleasant things of life, is to demand that life becomes more pleasant. And, of course that sounds a worthy aim, but on its own, would just lead to a lower and lower tolerance for what is deemed unpleasant, and a broader and broader definition of it. In the end, we’ll all be scared to breathe for risk of offending the dead.

What we need instead is a shift in mindset. Viktor Frankl said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”. Changing ourselves is within us to do and, as hard as it might feel, it’s easier than changing the world. But by changing ourselves for the better, we change the world for the better, one person at a time.

Frankl also said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”. We all have that space within us, that space where we can find what we need to have choice and control over our thoughts, our actions and our feelings.

It’s the ILOC space, and it needs practice to go to, and come from, in reaction to the world around you – especially as the world doesn’t want you to. It wants you to continue to believe in an ELOC world where you can be persuaded that you’re a victim, that other people have the answers to your happiness, your safety, your purpose.

I believe that you’re only a victim if you choose to be. That your purpose is yours to choose, and that your happiness isn’t going to be attained by anything physical you can acquire.

Everything is your choice

You don’t have to remain feeling a victim. A famous Stoic philosopher called Epictetus said that we are not affected by our experiences, only by the view we take of them. With Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapy we can work with you to change your attitude to what has come before. Your past is not your destiny. Your future is your choice.

Your purpose is also yours to choose. I’ve seen so many clients who wake up one day to realise they’ve been living a life to please others – to fulfil someone else’s idea of what that life should be. Actually, that was once me. Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapy can help you free yourself from the constraint of other people’s expectations, so you can start living the life YOU choose. It isn’t easy, but it is possible. I did it, you can too.

And, finally, your happiness is your responsibility. Nobody can tell you what you need to do to feel it. Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapy can help you understand yourself in a profound way, and provide you with the tools that emerge from that understanding, to enable you to live deliberately, to create YOUR version of happiness.

One last piece of advice. Notice how, every time I’ve referred to what Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapy can do, it’s been to help you help yourself. That’s fostering ILOC. The therapist collaborates with you to build your ILOC space. I’d avoid therapists who tell you they can make you better. They’re just triggering your ELOC. The purpose of any good therapist is to make themselves redundant as soon as possible. Because you, actually, have all you need within you.