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August 2012

The answer that overcomes anxiety

Today I would like to reflect a little on anxiety, and one simple yet powerful way to move beyond it.

This is probably the ‘problem’ that I see most often, and it underlies so many of the reasons why people see me in my Melbourne Hypnotherapy clinic in Balwyn, or work with me on Skype.

What is often true is that there is a continual ‘questioning’ of what is going to happen.  The clients with anxiety will often project their worst fears into the future, and expect them to come true.

They manage the ‘risk’ of these terrible futures actually happening by continually asking ‘what if’ questions.

But here is the thing – clients running anxiety are often ‘world champions’ at ASKING the ‘what if ‘ negative question.  However, they often NEVER attempt to answer it.

Even the Dali Lama would be anxious if he kept asking himself all sorts of negative questions, and just left them hanging there.

If you find yourself asking the ‘what if’ question (as an example “what if I am not good enough?”) then follow these simple steps:

1. STOP.

2. Ask yourself if that is a valid and realistic question.  Often this collapses the problem as it becomes clear that the question itself is not plausible.

3.  Answer it!  And if you cannot answer it, list what you would need to find out to answer it.

As simple as this sounds, it is incredibly powerful.

Answering the ‘what if’ question does some important things:

•It demonstrates that you have OPTIONS.

•It connects you to your RESOURCES and STRENGTHS

•It stops the question floating around, loaded up with fear, remaining more scary because it was not answered.

Try it and see what happens.

If you find yourself asking ‘what if’ questions, then follow this procedure.

What happened?

How did it change your anxiety?

What did you do or notice that was different?

Please let me know how you got on!

Live Well



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Every problem has three trapdoors

For whatever problem you have, one thing that is true is that it has three in built ‘trapdoors’.  These trapdoors will take you out of your problem….and straight into your solution.

Each and every problem that you have has these three trap-doors.  Using one or more of these trap doors allows you to escape your problem and find a solution.

In the clinic, helping clients find these trap-doors and use them allows them to escape anxiety, fears, phobias, bad habits, addictions and depression.

Perhaps you can try them for yourself.  

Trapdoor 1:  Exceptions

Problems become all-consuming as we focus on them.  They consume our attention and seem to be everywhere, and in everything.  Regardless of the situation, there will ALWAYS be a time or place where your problem does not exist.  Often this is in a place where you do things that you love – perhaps in a sport, a craft, on holiday, socialising.  If you can find the exception, you could consider how that exception could apply at a time the problem exists.

If it is not always a problem, what is it really?

Trapdoor 2:  Evidence

It takes little to ‘convince’ ourselves that the problem is real and powerful.  We will find ‘evidence’ everywhere for our problem.  However, we are often very quick to dismiss any evidence that we are doing something that is NOT our problem.

The rule from cognitive science is 3:1.  That is, we would need three pieces of evidence that something is not a problem to match one piece of evidence that the problem still exists.  It is easy to find the one, and difficult to see the three.

What if you could pay attention (and accept) evidence contrary to your problem?  What if you could imagine three pieces of evidence.  Seek and ye shall find! 

If you could find three pieces of evidence contrary to your problem, what would that mean about what your problem was?

Trapdoor 3:  Expectation

If you consider your problem, does it come with a positive or a negative expectation about the future?

Normally, problems come laden with negative expectations – that is, people consider their future is going to be full of negative (bad) events based on their problem.  The expectation that the problem is going to continue and have a negative impact sets the person up to get what they focus on – more negative outcomes.

However the future is not written.  If you had a problem now, but managed to have a positive expectation about the future, what would that mean about what your problem was then?

Using the trapdoors:

The trapdoor within your problems leads to solutions.  Are you ready to give yours a test?  

OK, think about your problem.  Really get in touch with how it feels, what you see or hear when you are in it.

Now consider the trapdoors.  

What is the exception in your life to the problem?  As you consider that, how does that redefine what your problem was?

What is the evidence that you have something other than your problem?  As you consider and accept at least three things that would prove you were other than the problem, what would that mean your problem was?

If you were to consider that the future is different to the past, what would a positive expectation mean that the problem has become?  And if you looked back at now from when your positive expectation was a reality, what would you have done to the problem?

And as you consider these, you can think about any number of possibilities that would be a great solution for you now.  Which one will you now take forward?

I would love to hear how you got on with this exercise.  What did you discover, what has changed?

Live well,



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What lies beneath

Last week I was not in the clinic, but working as ‘crew’ on the training of 100 people taking their first steps by becoming NLP practitioners.  

Across the seven days, I worked with these individuals who were on a journey to develop new skills – and often got a massive surprise at how much they were able to personally transform.  

For me, the ‘gift’ of being able to serve others from a place of empathy and experience was so valuable – as I gave so many gifts to others.

It is interesting to note how ‘alone’ and ‘different’ many of the people felt.  It was as if they were somehow ‘broken’, or ‘not complete’, or carrying a burden so great that they could never be like anyone else.

However, what is true is that what lies beneath in each of us is essentially the same thing.  We are each whole.  We each have a massive array of skills, experiences and talents.  We have each faced challenges and developed ways of responding.  We all have emotions like anger, fear and sadness.

Allowing ourselves to see that we are whole and that we have so many resources within us allows us to create paths from our problems to our solutions.  

We have problems often because we have disconnected ourselves from the wonderful resources we have within us which could help us resolve that problem.  We may even just be uncertain of how to move forward, or uncertain whether we even can.

Using a number of different and powerful techniques, I was able to assist people in a matter of minutes to completely transform from ‘problem’ state to solution state.  And the truth is that they had all of the resources within them, I offered some skills and strategies on how they could access them and bring them to bear on their uncertainty and their problem.

As you think now about something which is an issue for you, perhaps you could consider:

  • What if you had already solved the problem?  What would you be doing differently?
  • What would someone who didn’t have that problem do?
  • If there was a time when you didn’t have the problem, what did you do differently then?
  • How would you coach someone else to move beyond the problem?

As you ask yourself these questions, what do you notice?  

I hope that what you notice is a sense of possibility and resource.  I have a strong belief that what lies beneath all of us is whole, complete and wonderful.  I know that it is often ‘how’ we do something which creates the boundaries of our problem – we get stuck, we may not have developed the skills and strategies yet.  

What lies beneath every problem is the solution.  If you are struggling to unlock your resources and find the solution, then perhaps working with someone like me can help you get the result that you are looking for – because it is already with you now.


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