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February 2012

The dark side of social media

How does social media impact your life? Do you suffer from the dark side of social media?

Are you addicted to using your devices to stay connected to others – even when it means avoiding connection to the real people right in front of you?

Over the last 5 years social media has shifted from a ‘fringe idea’ to being integrated into everyone’s life. Everyone is joining the ‘conversation’, either on facebook, twitter, pintrest…and many more. Apart from this supposed ‘addictive’ nature of social media, there is another ‘dark side’ of social media that I see contributing to client’s situations in the hypnotherapy clinic. It all comes down to ‘status’.

When you post on Facebook, it does not say ‘feeling’ update or ‘what I am doing’. It is clear what it wants – a status update. It is about projecting your ‘status’ to your network.

Herein lies a big problem with social media – the increase in social comparisons. Humans are hard-wired to compare themselves to those around them. It comes from those times, 50,000 years ago, when being resources were often limited and those at the top of the hierarchy accessed them first. Those at the bottom could miss out or could be the first ones kicked out (and therefore at risk for survival). Humans would have to make comparisons and judgements about their social status and ensure that they were not at the bottom of the heap.

In modern times we are not exposed to the same social risk, however our brain is still primed to seek out social comparisons. Humans create ‘rules’ about themselves about how they have to be, and often these have a comparative nature. They hark back to primitive times, but they can be powerful drivers of modern behaviour.

Social media allows people to view the ‘status’ of others at all times – and therefore be open to social comparison 24/7. But what if the status updates are not ‘true’?

What people post as their status may reflect what they want others to believe about them (or what they think is true or good about themselves) rather than the full scope of good and not so good which would be a more real version of what any person is.

What we see in status updates is the PROJECTION of what that person wants in their status. Whether they do it on purpose or not does not matter – we have to regard all postings on Facebook, Twitter and other sites to be consciously or unconsciously self-filtered.

The dark side of social media comes about when we lose sight of the false nature of the ‘status update’. When we believe that every status update is reality, rather than really being a projection of the person’s desired reality, the problems begin. The natural human instinct to compare ourselves to others takes over and we drag out our primal social response. If we compare our internal reality (which for everyone is a mix of good and not so good) with the ‘shining’ status updates we read from others as if they were the complete truth about that person, we could easily create a very strong negative self-view of ourselves compared to others.

This can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, hopelessness, helplessness, frustration and engagement in unhelpful behaviours.

By remembering that everyone is the same – with an ‘inside’ of thoughts and feelings and an ‘outside’ which is filtered and projected – we can start to come to terms with this difference. The reality is that everyone has mixed feelings about aspects of themselves. What they project is often very different.

Whilst treating clients in my clinical hypnosis practice in Balwyn, I often see this comparison and negative self-messaging associated with a range of presenting conditions. I sometimes wonder how much the increase of social media and the ‘false status’ updates impacts upon the level of symptoms that I help the client overcome.

This is only one ‘dark side’ of normal online social media. There are many others.

How do you post in social media?

What do you want to project in your posts?

What do you see in the posts of others that affects how you feel – particularly about yourself?

What other ‘dark sides’ to social media do you see?

I’d love to hear your stories, please comment below.

Live Well


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the three elements of powerful influence


Someone asked me this week about my hypnosis and coaching – “how do you influence people to change so elegantly and powerfully?”



After seeing what I did, they wanted to know more. Reflecting on this question, I told them there are really three key elements to ‘influencing’ others that create the basis of what love to do – intention, skills and strategies.

‘Influence’ is such a loaded word in the English language – it has been loaded up with meanings such as ‘manipulation’, ‘trickery’, and ‘dishonesty’. For me, ‘influence’ is not this at all. Instead, it reflects the ability to work with someone in their view of the world (in – flue = flow into; their view) and help them expand that view to find new solutions.

Which is where the first element of powerful influence comes into play: Intention.

Humans are finely tuned social creatures, and we have structures in our brain which trigger defences when we think we are being manipulated. These are so sensitive that they detect tiny body language cues and inconsistencies in how others behave – we get a ‘gut feel’ about others very quickly.

If your intention is anything but wanting the best for the other person, any attempt to influence them will be detected as ‘manipulation’ and their defences will slam shut. Being clear that your intention is for the good of the person you are influencing (and not for your own self-benefit) allows you to work with them behind their defences on finding great solutions for them.

After many years of study and self development, I am really clear about why I do what I do, and can be completely focused on getting positive outcomes for the people I work with. This ‘intention’ is so important in my work. If you want to influence someone, be clear of your intention. If it is for their benefit, then your chances of success increase. If it is only for your benefit, expect to fail.

The second element of powerful influence is having the skills. Because of our inherent social natures, humans are all great influencers. Just look at children, and how they find great ways to get what they want from their parents! We are born to influence (and be influenced), but often much of what we know is at an unconscious level.

We can learn to consciously enhance our influencing skills, but having the experience to know which technique is useful at that time for an individual client and how to elegantly use it takes lots of time and practice. ‘Clunky’ use of skills can appear to others like manipulation. To become influential, either trust your unconscious mind to provide the necessary skills at the right time, or spend a lot of time studying (or both!).

The third element of powerful influence is strategy. Having a clear process that allows the intent and the skills to be used effectively ensures that the effort to influence is not wasted. Just throwing influence tactics at people has a low chance of success. Taking the time to think through how you would approach an opportunity to influence someone can make your efforts much more effective. I teach a model, the CENTURY model, which works in coaching, hypnosis and general influence situations. To be influential first have a strategy for how you will apply your intention and your tactics.

There is a final ‘secret’ to influence that is often missed – one that sits at a deeper level that even these three key elements. The person you are influencing has total control of their own experience, and no matter what you do, in the end you are only ever helping them influence themselves.

When you get it right, the positive impact that you can have on others is wonderful. Helping people to live to their potential, to improve their lives and live in richer, fuller ways is what I love to do.

Have you ever been powerfully influenced? Have you ever been manipulated? How did you respond?

Do you have any tips or tricks on influence that you would like to share? I would love to hear your stories.

Live Well,



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Top 7 reasons stopping weight loss success

  It is great to see the results that are possible when working with weight loss clients in my Melbourne Hypnotherapy clinic. Often, clients have struggled with a number of approaches involving strict dieting, enforced exercise or complex regimes.   What I find is that there are common themes that present in terms of how people think about themselves and their weight. From my experience in assisting clients with weight …Read More

Join the DOTS to greater understanding

Sometimes the behaviours that people present with for Hypnotherapy at my Balwyn Clinic are incredibly painful and problematic for them.  It is no wonder they reach out for help.  Often they have tried many things before they come into my hypnotherapy clinic, sometimes they wonder if they are somehow ‘broken’ or a ‘hopeless case’.

What really is true is that the goal of any therapeutic intervention in my clinic is to give clients a richer, fuller, more satisfying life.  I am passionate about moving people on from their problems and setting them up for long term success.  I have a view that no one is ‘broken’ or ‘hopeless’.  I believe that people are stuck and sometimes the smallest shifts can create the most amazing long term changes.

Often the presenting ‘problem’ or behaviour is a ‘response’ to something else that is going on.  I believe that all of my clients are doing the best that they can with where they are at, and that many presenting ‘symptoms’ are strategies and methods to cope with what is going on.

To get a deeper understanding of what is really going on, it is often useful to ‘join the DOTS’ of the problem:

Distraction –How is the behaviour/symptom a distraction from strong thoughts or feelings which are unpleasant – and what would they be?  Drinking and gambling can be used to distract a client from frustration, anger and negative self-talk, for example.

Opting out – What does the behaviour or problem allow you to ‘opt out of’?  How does having this ‘problem’ protect you from facing situations or things that you could find troubling?  For example, anxiety and social phobias can be powerful tools in allowing someone to opt out of social situations that have a potential for them to suffer rejection by others.

Thoughts – How has the behaviour been rationalised?  How is the problem ‘fused’ to the self-belief of the person?  “I binge on chocolate because I am stressed at work” – What if the fusion of ‘binging on chocolate’ and ‘stress at work’ was not actually real?  What if the stress at work could be coped with in a different way, that was more valuable?

Strategies – How is the behaviour part of a greater strategy?  Often there are other behaviours that are not seen as problems which, together, form an overall strategy for coping.  This ‘constellation’ of behaviours provides a method of coping (often smoking, gambling, drinking are linked in this way) – but coping with what?

It is reported that some therapists remove one ‘problem’ behaviour only to have it replaced by another.  You may have heard of smokers who gain 5 kilograms because they become addicted to sweets.  If the smoking is a way of coping (as highlighted by joining the DOTS), then getting to what the client is coping with allows them to move on to a richer, fuller more enjoyable life beyond the issue – rather than replacing one coping mechanism with another.

Consider a problem behaviour that you have seen in yourself or someone else.  Try ‘joining the DOTS’ and see what you come up with.  How would you (or they) like it to be different?

I would love to hear your reflections or feedback on joining the DOTS, and what you learned. 

Please leave any comments below!

Live Well,


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Great Expectations

I was working with an athlete who was terribly disappointed after a race and it was impacting his view of himself and his ongoing performance. What do you say to someone who had trained hard, worked hard and broke down in the event he had set as his goal? Often performance athletes and anyone else with high expectations (often ‘Perfectionism’) create a view of what should be and what they …Read More