I love working with people to help them to let go of the issues that are not serving them – so that they can lead the life they want and deserve. As well as being able to help them I also learn from them. The breadth and depth of knowledge and experience that people have always leaves me impressed.

I also love chatting with people and wherever possible I engage in a way that hopefully means we are both left feeling more positive than before. I was walking back from my Hypnotherapy practice in Richmond the other day and decided to head home a different way – taking in some roads I hadn’t been down before. I love exploring and enjoying new sights and as I headed home I came across a small café I hadn’t noticed before – so I thought it would be nice to grab a coffee and support another local business.

It’s quite a small place with one person behind the counter. I went in and after saying hello I started chatting, asking how long they had been there, and before I finished asking they said, “Are you just going to ask questions?” Whilst not offended, I was surprised given that I had only asked one question. I asked for a latte and then explained that I wasn’t there to ask questions specifically and that I was interested as I hadn’t come across them before. It was just curiosity.
As they went about making my coffee they said they were sorry if they seemed rude but it was just that they’d had somebody in earlier that day who just spent all their time asking questions. So when I asked a question, they immediately responded in a way that was not about my behaviour but in response to a situation that had happened before.

What I found fascinating about what happened is that it was a really clear example of how we can all respond to a situation, not in the present, but as a reaction to the past. In this case it was easy for them to see why they were responding in a particular way, but most of the time (90%) the processing we do in response is done unconsciously.

We are pattern-matching machines. Every situation is matched to something that has already taken place in our past and our response is then coloured by that event. This is not a bad thing – we learn how to navigate the world this way. When we are young we touch something hot and we remove our hand and we learn that hot things can hurt and so we are careful around them. We do this constantly – this is how we create the world we experience and we all make our own maps of the world. Most of the time our experiences have created helpful and positive references for us to compare to, but sometimes we haven’t. This might result in phobias, such as with dogs or spiders, or particular fears, such as flying. It can also affect how we are in relationships, or particular work scenarios such as speaking at meetings, or being told to do something. We may have a reaction that isn’t helpful for the situation or for us. I know this because I used to enter into relationships with my past behaviours unhelpfully distorting my new relationship. I was seeing it through the lens of my old ones. This wasn’t helpful and meant that I wasn’t able to have the relationships that I wanted – because I kept creating the same one.

But we don’t have to hold onto these old patterns and behaviours. With cognitive hypnotherapy I was able to re-examine those events that had shaped my present behaviour and look at them in a different way – a more neutral and helpful way – and by doing so I was able to let go of their impact. It transformed my life.

Take a moment to reflect on those behaviours in your life that you don’t find helpful. Are you matching a situation today to an unhelpful one in your past? Perhaps it’s time to stop playing ‘snap’?