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  1. marchingYou are a 13 year old boy.  Your Mum does her best.  Of course she was only 16 when she had you, she came straight out of care and didn’t have any family support whilst bringing you up.  As for your Dad.... who? But that’s okay because at least you and your Mum don’t get knocked around like some of your mates.  Your Mum has had a couple of dodgy blokes, but she’s always done what she can to protect you and wouldn’t put up with any nonsense – not even from that dealer who’s your little sister’s father.  You live on an estate where most of the men are unemployed apart from the ones who are dealers or do a bit of thieving to make ends meet.  It’s all very grey but the flat is only a little bit damp, Mum keeps it clean and the microwave works so you have hot meals most days.  There are no books in your house – why would you need any when you’ve got a telly and an X-box your sister’s dad gave her. You try to do the best you can, and stay out of fights mostly

    This is your reality.  It has been shown that being in ugly surroundings where you need to conform to survive, your imagination shuts down.

    The Government in their infinite wisdom have just announced that they will spend £2million putting military style training into schools, because as Education Secretary Michael Gove says every child "can benefit from the values of a military ethos".

    If you cannot imagine anything different, then you cannot achieve anything different.  Perhaps the government should spend a little of this money on ensuring that all children fulfil their potential by teaching them to recognise that they have some!  Even Albert Einstein recognised that imagination is more important than education. I’m not suggesting for one moment that children don’t need boundaries – of course they do – but they also need to be able to imagine what it would be like to do things differently, achieve different things and to set themselves goals beyond the life they know.

    In hypnotherapy and NLP we suggest people ‘act as if’ things are different, but if that change is something you can’t even imagine, how can you do that?  Ask a child from a background where experiences are almost entirely negative and restricting what they would like in the future they are likely to focus on what they can have – not what they could be.  They are likely to base any imagination they are able to exercise on what they see on television or the games they play on their games station.  They aren’t stupid, they know the things portrayed in games and on TV aren’t real, but they are a lot more exciting than reality.  Everyone has lots of stuff - they all wear nice clothes and lots of them drive nice cars and live in fancy houses.  They’re all really happy or powerful and they don’t put up with anything from anyone.  Wow – great role models.

    meditating teensI have met children who have not been able to draw a picture or do junk-modelling without being told precisely what they should produce.  They have no imagination left.  Happily I have also seen imaginations being awakened through directed play and pretending to be other than what a child normally is.  A military ethos has its place but surely we should be a little cautious about introducing it into schools?  Surely we would benefit kids a lot more by allowing them to believe in themselves as valued individuals who look to their future desires of being happy, safe, fulfilled and valued by opening their imaginations.

    My ‘Imagination clubs’ for children start in January. (Sadly without any Government funding...yet!)

  2. Since I have re-entered the networking circuit I’ve been surprised at how many people have asked what motivated me to become a hypnotherapist.  As you know, we all prepare our elevator pitch and mentally rehearse our answers to the most likely questions we’ll be asked, but for some reason I just wasn’t expecting this one.  Luckily I know the answer!

    I was a particularly fortunate teenager on many counts, not least of which was the fact that my Father was a hypnotherapist.  Earlier in life he had been a bit of a performer - an accomplished pianist who performed a memory act and stage hypnotism and when I was in my early teens he retrained as a clinical hypnotherapist.  When I was about 16 he gave me the gift of self-hypnosis. 

    Like so many things you learn in your youth, I always took the gift for granted.  The fact that I could do something as remarkable as choose to engage my unconscious when I needed to was something I assumed everyone could do.  I could close my eyes, walk down a few steps and be relaxing in the sun on a beach in less than a minute.  I could convince myself that my shoes weren’t crippling me for that last 5 minutes of the walk home.  Really important stuff for a teenage girl!   However, the real power of self-hypnosis was far more important to me.  In exam situations, I would take a moment at the start to take myself into a relaxed state, reminding myself that I could only do what I was doing at any moment.  I would be totally focussed on the question I was answering at any given moment; not worrying whether my response to the previous question was good enough; not considering whether I would be able to answer the next question; simply focussed on the now.  I’d like to be able to say that as a result of this I did dazzlingly well, but actually you need to work and revise as well....  I can honestly say however, that I was never stressed out by exams at school.

    Entering the workplace can also be so stressful, and once again for me self-hypnosis was amazing.  I went through a number of career options, many of which involved formal examinations (as was the way in those days!)  I never stressed and consistently scored well.  Interviews again, stress-free due to the relaxed state I was able to invoke through self-hypnosis.  With hindsight I realise just how fortunate I was to be equipped with such an amazing tool. 

    Like any skill, it may be used on many levels.  Teach a child to ride a bike and he may wobble around for a few days and then not ride again for years; he may practice every day and become an Olympic racer; he may ride gently around the countryside for his whole life.  Whatever happens, he will always remember how to do it.  For me self-hypnosis is just like that.  Once you’ve mastered it, you can keep it in your life-skills tool-kit and use it as and when you need to.

    So, what’s my motivation? Partly I want to share a gift of empowerment and self-mastery, and also to use the tool I have benefitted from for a large part of my life to free clients from fear.