In order for us to develop, grow and expand, it is necessary for us to take on new challenges. Life is about continually learning and expanding. We feel at our best when moving toward something wanted, and we move forward by accepting challenges. For example, you may challenge yourself to read a particular book, learn something new, commit to a process or technique, give up a bad habit or anything else that you want to do.
The challenges that you take on should not be too big because then you are setting yourself up for potential failure. Attempting to jump a gap that greatly exceeds the range at which you can jump will only serve to be counterproductive. On the other hand, challenges should not be too small because you would then fail to stretch yourself enough to grow, expand and develop. Therefore, by taking on challenges that are too small, you will not better yourself or accomplish new and bigger things.
So, when challenging yourself, you should ensure that the challenges are neither too big nor too small. Essentially, challenges should not be so big that they are greater than your present capabilities, and challenges should not be so small that they are too easily accomplished. You must take on challenges that are within your capability range but at the same time will stretch you beyond where you are now.
You can measure the challenges that you take on by deciding if your challenge is a preference or a demand. Gradually getting fitter would be an example of a small but rewarding challenge. Similarly, doing a charity bike ride for the first time would be both challenging and rewarding. On the other hand, becoming a famous actor overnight, or training for a marathon in a week would be an example of a demand because it would create too much pressure. It is about creating challenges that are preferences rather than demands.
Hypnotherapy has proven to be extremely effective for treating anxiety. However, a good hypnotherapist will look to discover the root cause and then alter your thought processes so that you think differently. When you change the way you think, you change what you believe and you thereby change how you feel.
Whilst hypnotherapy can be highly effective, there are a few processes you can do on your own to help reduce and manage anxiety:
1. Practice deep breathing – When you become anxious your breathing can become erratic and your brain gets deprived of oxygen. This then activates the release of stress hormones which increases anxiety. But by breathing deeply you are delivering oxygen to the brain and instructing it to remain calm and relaxed. We recommend Dr Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 method. At a point where anxiety is building it is advisable to take a very deep breath in, through the nose, for 4 seconds, filling your lungs completely, and then holding that breath for 7 seconds before exhaling that breath, through your mouth, for 8 seconds whilst making a ‘whoosh’ sound. This process should be repeated at least 4 times or until you feel yourself becoming calmer, more relaxed and composed.
2. Imagine yourself after the event – If it’s a specific event that you feel anxious about, you are probably playing out this event in your mind including all the worst case scenarios, hence you feel anxiety every time you think about it. But if you practice visualising yourself after the event has passed and has gone well, you’re putting your mind in the future after the event. Your brain cannot tell the difference between what’s real or what’s imagined, so if you visualise yourself after the event, you cannot feel anxiety in the present moment.
3. Meditation – The final process is to carry out meditation on a daily basis to help you instil that feeling of calmness and control in everyday life. Meditation can be hard for people to get into but with practice it becomes easier and can be extremely beneficial. It is recommended to meditate for at least 10 minutes, however when beginning if you can only manage a couple of minutes that is fine, just keep building on it. Sit somewhere quiet and comfortable and close your eyes. Breathe normally and as you breathe in and out just notice your breath. Counting “one and two” or “in and out” in your mind can initially help to keep your mind focused on what you are doing. When you find your mind wandering off, simply acknowledge it as a momentary lapse in concentration and then gently bring your focus back onto your breathing.
If you practice breathing exercises, meditation and visualisation every day, you can reduce anxiety in your everyday life.
2. Visualise your goals every day: Imagining something without belief is just fantasy or wishful thinking. But imagining a goal with belief and with the intention of creating it impresses a new reality on your unconscious mind and habituates a positive state. As a result, the more you visualise, the easier it will become to maintain that good feeling state. This positive state will drive you towards your goal and attract to you everything you need in order to get there.
3. Perseverance: Do you give up when you suffer a set-back? Do you feel like throwing in the towel whenever you encounter rejection? Does your belief dwindle when an unforeseen obstacle arises? If you do any of these then you'll never be successful in anything. En route to any goal, no matter what area of life, you'll face set-backs, rejections and unforeseen obstacles time and time again. If you allow any of these to get the better of you then that's it, you've failed. So what if you've suffered a set-back, encountered rejection or hit an obstacle? Get over it. Pick yourself up, learn whatever you need to learn and keep moving forward. Winners move forward whilst losers stay still, complain about why they can't move forward and criticise those that do. You have to overcome set-backs, reject rejection and smash through obstacles. You need to develop the habit of perseverance.
4. Be future focused: People often preach that you should live in the moment, especially in the spiritual community. One phrase that we frequently come across is 'Live today as if it were your last'. Whilst we understand and agree with the notion of this statement, we do not believe it is practical. If today were your last what would you do? Would you go to work? Would you spend your money? If you lived each day as if it were your last then you'd be in trouble at the end of the month! No body ever achieved success in anything by living in the moment. Success demands that you plan for the future. Goals are future focused and you need to have goals in order to push yourself to grow. And growth is essential because growth means moving forward and expanding yourself both physically and spiritually. Growth equals happiness.
5. Praise: The habit of praising may sound easy but it's not. For many people, criticising and complaining comes naturally to them. It's like second nature to them. But that's only because they've practiced it for so long that it's become a habit. People who complain and criticise other people all the time are probably just as harsh with themselves. You won't know it, but in their own thoughts they'll be judging and criticising themselves. Practice praising other people and yourself. If you catch yourself putting yourself or another person down, turn it into a positive instead. Encourage yourself and others. Praising doesn't mean you have to agree with what others say or do, nor does it mean you have to hang around people who irritate you. It just means focusing on the positive aspects of yourself and other people instead of the negative ones.