Tag Archives: positive thinking

Solitude – why it’s good

23 Sep

“the state of being or living alone; seclusion: to enjoy one’s solitude.”

Most of us lead extremely busy lives these days. We spend at least 1 hour and 30 minutes each week stuck in traffic, over 30 minutes waiting for public transport due to traffic and road works, over an hour waiting in queues and shops, at least an hour dealing with bureaucracy and even longer trying find things we have misplaced at home. On average we spend one working day per week in these time consuming activities. On top of that working days are longer and we have access to many stimulants like the Internet, Twitter, Facebook and computer games. Time for taking a breath is a luxury for most.

Socrates said “An un-reflected life is not worth living”. This may be a tad strong of course but the point is reflecting on one’s life and taking stock every now helps us to grow, be thankful, question if we are happy and hopefully find solutions; to do that we need solitude. Solitude also allows us to just stop and take a breath and just be.

Great ideas and solutions more often stem from being alone with one’s thoughts.

For many people solitude is also a time to connect with greater things, for some it may be God or the higher self, and for others it may be nature or just being. This may be going to a place of worship such as a Church or walking in the countryside or just sitting in a park. For many people solitude is a time for nourishing the spirit.




Why is it hard for some people?

Solitude is hard for some people because they have grown accustomed to a particular life style where being busy or being engaged in something external like Twitter or Facebook or the Internet is a buzz. Children are growing with over stimulation as a result of fast moving action packed games. The child grows into an adult who is unaccustomed to being OK with quite alone time.

For others it has become a luxury due to long working hours as well as having a busy family life.

For others it triggers anxiety. This is rather common. Some people think ‘I have to be doing something, being productive, because if I’m not it’s unbearable and proves I’m lazy’. So some people link it to their self worth and have low frustration tolerance to it.

For others it triggers anxiety about being alone. We have worked with many people, using Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) model that it based on Laws of Nature, whose anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia would make it impossible to sit alone and enjoy the solitude. The anxiety disorder itself is an obstacle to having solitude.




How to achieve helpful solitude?

If someone does not get anxious about being alone, then there are many practical things to do. The most important step in creating time alone and solitude is setting a goal and then committing to it. It is vital that solitude is seen as a beneficial state first. You have to think of the benefits of solitude and make it significant. It has to be your personal goal.

1) Make solitude a goal and commit to it

2) Think of options available to you e.g. meditation classes, sitting in the park on for half an hour, walking, spending time alone in your home reflecting and so on.

3) Choose one or two

4) Do it regularly and consistently.

You don’t have to do this daily even though some people do of course. You can choose whether it’s once, twice, three times a week or even every other week. That too would be beneficial. You may decide to drive to the countryside every month or two. There are many alternatives, so be creative.

Anxious at the thought of taking time out?

If however, you become anxious at the thought of taking time alone or even being alone, then you need to explore what’s at the heart of your anxiety.

REBT, the philosophical CBT, has a simple explanation about why we feel anxious. It states that we feel anxious because we hold unhelpful or unhealthy beliefs and thoughts about something. There are four types of unhealthy beliefs that can trigger anxiety.

1) Absolutist thinking e.g. I must have feeling of excitement when I’m alone, I must not be bored, I have to be busy

2) Exaggerating the badness if the internal demand is not met e.g. it’s horrible to be alone, it’s terrible not to be busy

3) Low frustration tolerance if the demand is not met e.g. I can’t stand being alone, I can’t bear it if I’m not busy

4) Damning the self if the demand is not met e.g. If I’m not busy it proves I’m lazy and worthless

Such beliefs would trigger anxiety and most people have a tendency to avoid situations or states like solitude if it triggers anxiety.

Solution to anxiety about taking time out?

The solution is change the above beliefs by reflecting and realizing that they are not based in reality and that they are unhelpful if you want to make solitude a personal goal.

1) So accept that you don’t always ‘have to be busy’ for example

2) It’s not horrible or terrible even if you don’t want to do it often

3) You can stand it and bear it

4) You are not worthless if you take time alone

Initially as you practice solitude you may feel uncomfortable but keep thinking in the helpful and realistic way above and sit with this discomfort. After practicing this a few times you will become accustomed to solitude and from then on you will begin to have feelings of comfort and positivity about it. Your mind will then be free to just be, or to reflect.

People with anxiety disorders must first see their GP and perhaps consider therapeutic help.

Maximise Your Full Potential with REBT!

12 Aug

A great Summer of sport has highlighted several major achievements by our British athletes, Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, Chris Froome winning the Tour de France and of course Mo Farah to name but a few. Clearly all of these individuals have worked hard both mentally and physically to unleash their full potential





In the 1950s, Albert Ellis pioneered a new type of psychotherapy called Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy. Ellis held that the real reason his clients disturbed themselves had nothing to do with their childhoods (as advocated by Freud) but everything to do with their irrational beliefs. Intriguingly Ellis discovered that all his clients shared a number of similar irrational beliefs and that these irrational beliefs are usually accompanied by “shoulds” and “musts”.

A person may believe for example that he must have the love of a particular person, or that he should not have to go on multiple job interviews and risk rejection, or that he should never have to control anger, or that he must have the continual, unfailing devotion of loved ones…or it is the end of the world. Ellis also believed that humans are flawed and highly fallible, no matter how great our strengths. We may feel terrific after a great action or turn of events, but we also feel bad after something bad happens. Managing the opinions of others is even more difficult, because we can never please everybody. Instead of basing our self-worth on our actions and accomplishments we should accept ourselves unconditionally. We may rate our actions as good, bad, successful or unsuccessful, but this does not mean that it has to reflect on our self worth. REBT demonstrates that challenging these irrational thoughts allows you to focus on reality and make decisions based on rationality. Rather than avoidance taking constructive positive action allowing you to maximise your full potential.

So as we observe Murray and his preparations for his challenge to regain the American Open Title we can reflect that had he believed he absolutely “must” win Wimbledon or it was the “end of the world”, or based his self worth on the opinion of others (which for a long time was definitely not positive!) we may well have been waiting for another 77 years for a British champion.



Spring Clean your Mind

30 Mar

So spring is here, it’s starting to get warmer, the days longer and the flowers are starting to bloom. With warmer and longer days, we all feel a little fresher, able to cope with new challenges and we all seem to have a little more energy.

Spring Cleaning...Not just for the home...

Spring Cleaning...Not just for the home...

A report in the Archives of General Psychiatry suggests there is a strong biological link between the seasons and our energy levels and our mood in general. With spring comes an increased level of serotonin, which makes us less lethargic, and far more optimistic. Ask yourself this, do you feel more motivated and ready for the day in the spring?

Spring clean

We’ve all heard that expression – spring clean – and it’s something most of us do in our homes, opening the windows and letting that warmer, fresh air circulate through our homes. But a spring clean doesn’t have to just relate to our homes, spring is a great time for an assessment of your own mental health.

A spring clean of the mind is all about self-reflection, looking back and dealing with your past, and then focussing on the future. Canadian researchers found that there is less serotonin (the brain chemical associated with improving our mood) circulating in the brain during autumn and winter. Seasonal, decreased serotonin levels are linked to decreased mood and increased lethargy.

Our very own Avy Joseph, Principal of the College, explained in a Daily Telegraph article that over the winter months many of us get stuck in a feeling of unhappiness triggered by an event, such as a marital breakdown, that we can’t get past. “You have to challenge those beliefs that trigger the feelings (such as a belief that you are a failure after a divorce) and then accepting what has happened judging yourself as a failure. Understand that whatever happened is an event fixed in time and that life, like the seasons, moves on. Accept yourself as a valuable person who has imperfections.”

But how can we do this?  Avy explains: “Bad things do happen but you can recover from them. Reflect on your life regularly; set aside a small amount of time to ask ‘Am I going where I want to go?’ And take time to meditate or relax, to be still and accepting. And then think of ways to be positive, to appreciate the world around you”

By doing this we cleanse our minds, ready for whatever new things the spring and summer months have to offer.

Personal Growth

Spring is a great time to cultivate friendships, invest in relationships and to explore our own personal growth, through books and courses, for example. Many of us have lots of interests we would love to follow more, or things that we want to learn but we never seem to make time for. Making time for personal growth can give you a new way of thinking and behaving in the world .

At the College of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy, spring is a great time for people to discover and explore an interest in Hypnosis, Counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy. It’s one of the reasons why the college runs its foundation course in spring (starting the end of April). It’s a part time course that runs over weekends, so it doesn’t affect your day to day working life. These types of courses are perfect to help you feed your interest, but are flexible enough so you can fit them into your daily life. For some, taking new courses can even lead to a fresh career, a fresh start to their working lives.

Spring in your step

So this spring, take the time to clean out nor just your home, but also your mind. Give it a good clean with some self-reflection, look to the future and be positive, and then take advantage of those increased serotonin levels, the warmer and longer days, and feel that spring in your step return…

Changing career? A positive step

27 May

Sometimes work can really be getting us down, it can have such a negative impact on not just our working lives, but our lives in general. Even though many of us would like to change jobs, it’s the prospect of looking and trying to find something different that scares many of us off, not to mention the potential need for drastic re-training and starting again. For the majority of us, we believe it’s far easier to just put up with the current situation.

For some of us, bad news can often bring about a positive mindset and therefore change in careers. With bad news, such as being made redundant, we often find ourselves sitting back, taking stock of our lives, the skills we have and our general interests. This can lead ultimately to a positive mindset, drive and ultimately career change…

A great example is one of our very own hypnotherapists, Beverley Harper. After 20 years working in sales, Beverley held a senior position with a good salary, so when she lost that job it was a huge blow to her. In a recent interview in Woman magazine, Beverly explained:

“I was the main wage earner and had a big mortgage to pay each month. I kept thinking, what am i doing to do now. As I left the office for the last time, I wondered if I’d ever work again. Would I lose everything? I was forced into shaking up my entire life.

Thinking about my skills and interests, I decided I wanted to go down a completely new path. I’d already started a course on hypnotherapy, which I’d experienced when I tried to give up smoking, so I decided to study for diplomas in clinical hypnosis and cognitive behavioural hypnosis at the College of Cognitive behavioural Hypnotherapy in London. I followed this up by studying for a master’s degree.”

Beverley undertook a massive change in her life, and it wasn’t easy, choosing to remortgage her house, paying course fees on her credit card and juggling freelance jobs. Losing her job was the catalyst that has driven her to her change of career, a career that she now feels gives her far greater job satisfaction. Her retraining has taken 5 years, but the big payoff is that job satisfaction. Beverley finished off her interview by saying:

“On the one hand I wish this dramatic change had happened years earlier, but then my life experience helps me empathise with my clients. Work used to be a pressure cooker – now it’s a privilege”

So if you are thinking of a career change, and you want to make a positive step, remember to be positive. You are the one in control of your life and you can make any changes you want to it. You don’t need to wait for something bad to happen to kick start that positive change…

If you are interested in a course at the College of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, you can ask us any questions here, or request a prospectus.

Feel Good Music

8 Apr

Fancy winning a one on one life coaching session, as well as a £50 Debenhams voucher? Then enter our “Feel Good Music” competition, and get thinking positively!

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy examines how unhealthy (negative) thoughts can affect our happiness and helps us change our attitude into healthy (positive) thoughts.  Unhealthy thoughts can be found everywhere, but a very common place for them is in song. So for our competition we want you to rewrite your favourite song, CBT style!

 How to enter the competition:

 First off, you need to “like” our Facebook page. www.facebook.com/ccbhlondon

Now this is the fun part, all you have to do is “re-write” one of your favourite songs that contains lots of negative thoughts. What you need to do is put a positive spin on it, CBT style…Then upload it to our Facebook page, either in the form of a status update, or if you are really confident, upload a recording of you singing your new version. Don’t worry, you don’t need to re-write the complete song, just one verse or chorus.

 You will need to include your name, the name of the song and the original artist.

 Before you get writing, we have compiled some helpful hints and tips and provided our own example songs, so read on for a little while longer.

 What are healthy lyrics?

  • Based on things that you want, while accepting that it is possible that sometimes we don’t always get what we want. 
  • Accept that bad things happen without catastrosphising the badness e.g. it’s really bad that I didn’t get what I want but the world has not ended. 
  • Acknowledge that we experience difficulty and frustration whilst remaining resilient e.g. it’s very tough but I am still alive and breathing.
  • Separate the worth of the individual from that person’s desire.  e.g. if a relationship breaks down, I believe that I am worthwhile person with or without that partner.

 Spotting some unhealthy lyrics which you want to avoid / change (hint there):

  • Based on ‘MUST’, ‘HAVE TO’, ‘GOT TO’, and ‘NEED TO’.
  • Inconsistent with reality and don’t accept other alternatives
  • Catastrophise the bad situation and underestimate the person’s ability to cope with the hardship.
  • Links the person’s worth to the condition the person is insisting on e.g. I must have love, and if not I am nothing.

 One last pointer. It’s all about ME, the song needs to accept that we are largely responsible for all our own emotions. It is not someone else who or the situation that causes them.  E.g. if you break up with someone, believe that it’s bad to be without love, but you remain worthwhile in spite of it.

 Here’s two we did earlier:

 1. Mariah Carey, I cant live (if living is without you)

 Unhealthy original:

I can’t live
If living is without you
I can’t live
I can’t give anymore
Can’t live
If living is without you

can’t give,
I can’t give anymore

CBT style healthy version:

 I can live
If living is without you
I can live
I can give, I can give some more … even if now it feels like I can’t

I can live
If living is without you

I can give,
I can give somemore

 Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart

 Unhealthy original:

 Don’t leave me in all this pain
Don’t leave me out in the rain
Come back and bring back my smile
Come and take these tears away
I need your arms to hold me now
The night are so unkind
Bring back those nights when I held you beside me

 CBT style healthy version – not a number 1 we agree but you get the idea

 I’d like you not to leave me in this pain

I’d like you not to leave me out in the rain … but you did

I’d love it if you came back as I would smile again

Please come back, I would stop crying

I really want your arms around me to hold me now but I don’t need them

I feel so bad at night at the moment but I know it won’t feel like this for ever

I wish for those nights when I held you beside me but you buggered off

  OK, we will never make it in the music industry, but you might…Let’s see how you do, good luck…

You can find the T and Cs here

Is your glass half full?

4 Apr

It’s a classic phrase, one that is constantly used to illustrate the difference between an optimist, and a pessimist. However, the same phrase and question can tell you a lot about your own mindset towards life in general, are you a positive thinking person? Or do you have a rather negative outlook?

It is well documented that negative thoughts can have real negative impacts on our lives. So by the same reasoning we should remember that positive thinking can have a positive influence in our lives in general. This theory is even illustrated on a number of TV shows, though exaggerated; we can find a number of characters who we all seem to admire, simply because they have a very positive outlook on life.   Now let me explain that when I say positive thinking I mean healthy, balanced, realistic and helpful.  I don’t mean like Pollyanna, where even stuck in traffic on a hot day when you have an important appointment to make, is positively spun. 

But sometimes it is good to see how one person’s poison can be another person’s sugar, proving what we say in CBT that it is your beliefs, thoughts and attitudes that are at the heart of your emotional responses.  For example, I was watching Cougar Town (if you don’t know it, it is an American sitcom starring Courtney Cox on Sky Living), which has a character, Andy, who has an unbelievable positive outlook on life. A recent episode was devoted to this and how positive thinking deals with a number of events in his life (I know a little silly and farfetched but it gets the point across in an exaggerated fashion). The character constantly sees the good things in all the events that happen to him, even those that many of us would have seen as stressful or difficult, for example a  lost phone; lost wedding ring; relationship problems etc. But Andy’s character remains positive, and deals with all these “negative” events with ease, allowing him to remain constantly happy and up-beat.  Now wouldn’t we all want to be like that all of the time?

“People are not disturbed by events but by the view they hold about them”. Epictitus.

Glass is Half empty…Negativity…

You have to admit that being a pessimist is far more draining than being an eternal optimist. Optimists seem more relaxed, happy with life and events simply because they see the positive and enjoy positive emotions. On the flip side, if we suffer with negative thinking and negative emotions, these can have powerful impacts on our day to day lives.

One of the most challenging and unhealthy negative emotions is that of Anxiety. It’s experienced by all of us at some time or other and it takes many forms. Some of the more familiar labels used to describe common anxiety problems are work related stress, panic attacks and panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, performance anxiety and general and specific phobias.  Each of these emotional problems has its own focus, but each share a common origin.

Seeing the glass has half full…

Taking a positive approach to all events in your life will help with your own happiness. But dealing with those strong negative thoughts and emotions may require help.  CBH (Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy) can not only help you tackle negative emotions, but also provide you with the tools to combat them in the future.

For more information on CBH, anxiety, depression, hypnosis etc please read some of our useful pages on our website, some of which are shown below: