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Claustrophobia - don't just live with it

Jan 24, 2016

Claustrophobia is an anxiety disorder defined as the irrational fear of enclosed spaces and it affects about 15 to 37 percent of people worldwide.
Only a small percentage of sufferers receive some kind of treatment. This means that most people who are affected by claustrophobia live with some degree of restrictions on their life.
Typically, people fear having no escape, being closed in, being unable to move, or being unable to breathe.
The things sufferers avoid include travelling in lifts, flying, being alone in a small room, locking doors, being in a crowded room, travelling on public transport, sitting by the window when using public transport. Being in an MRI scanner is also a well-known problem for claustrophobics.
If you are a sufferer or know someone who suffers from claustrophobia, you can most likely add to the list of things to avoid.
What causes claustrophobia?
The most common cause is a traumatic experience in a person’s past. For example crawling into a small space and getting stuck, being in a crowded area and getting separated from parents or group, falling into a pool and almost drown, being locked in by mistake in a small room.
Another cause is behaviour inherited from parents or peers – also known as classical conditioning. This simply means that when a child observes that people close to them show fear of e.g. travelling in a lift, they learn to associate lifts with danger and will avoid them.

Other theories include a genetic survival instinct that keeps the person from perceived danger, or smaller Amygdalae (the parts in the brain that controls how the body processes fear). Some researchers from Germany and UK work on the theory that claustrophobia is caused by a single gene defect.
Don’t just live with it
As human beings we are very good at adapting. This also means that we adapt to unpleasant things such as claustrophobia and simply learn to live with the condition. It is almost as if people accept that there are things in their life that they simply cannot do and that is the way it is.
True, there are things we have to live with, but some restrictions such as those imposed by phobias can be removed easily resulting in a better and less restricted life.
Psychologists offer various treatments for claustrophobia and other phobias, which may run over several sessions. In severe cases, doctors and psychiatrists may prescribe medication.
There is another option – Thought Field Therapy
Thought Field Therapy is a quick and easy way of eliminating phobias including claustrophobia. No drugs, no pain, no exposure to unpleasant situations. In most cases, one session is enough and the phobia is gone in a matter of minutes.
If you would like to explore this option further, get in touch with me and arrange a conversation without obligation.

Why most New Year's resolutions fail

Jan 10, 2016

Happy New Year – I wish you all a great 2016.
I check the traffic statistics on my website regularly, and true to form, I have had an increase in visits and viewed pages since 01 January. Happens every year. And, if history is anything to go by, my website traffic levels will have returned to normal by February.
I appreciate the increased traffic, because it is a sign that people have decided to make changes to their lives and are researching the option of getting support from a coach.
Another fact is that the increased traffic on my website does not translate into a similar sized increase in enquiries or new customers. – This by the way is the experience of most coaches.
What is going on?
Well, it is a sign that the enthusiasm for carrying out New Year’s resolutions fades very quickly. But why?

  • Can you relate to any of this?Resolutions made simply because it is tradition
  • Resolutions made from peer pressure (e.g. joining the office hype to make a joint New Year’s resolution and support each other carrying it out)
  • Making a resolution for the sake of it because “everybody does” and when people ask about yours you must be able to mention at least one
  • Finding it too hard, too restrictive, too boring, or too time consuming to carry out the resolution
  • Dropping it because the results aren’t good enough or quick enough
  • Forgetting what the resolution was in the first place
  • Making the resolution whilst drunk
  • Making too many resolutions
  • Making the same resolution year after year - and failing to deliver

In reality, New Year’s resolutions can be made any day and any time of the year. Because we attach a certain meaning to the turn of the year, – new beginnings – we seem to save up our personal life change requests for the month of January.

In January we have just come off a December social high of family, friends, food, sugar, and alcohol (and maybe a few other things). The weather is cold and wet and bank and credit card balances are a scary and depressing sight now that the Christmas and New Year’s bills start to take effect.
Not only do we have go get back to work and a normal eating and drinking pattern, we then decide to stop eating and drinking, stop smoking, start exercising etc. As if it wasn’t hard enough already, we basically decide to go cold turkey on most of the things we like.
Small wonder people lose motivation and fail in their New Year’s resolution efforts.
Most New Year’s resolutions are sensible and sound, we just go about them in the wrong way.

  • Too many at the same time
  • Too negative
  • Not truly committed to the resolution for one reason or another
  • Under estimating the effort required to achieve the desired results
  • Too vague
  • No support
  • No celebration or prize for achieving your goals

If your list of New Year’s resolutions looks something like the picture above you will already feel overwhelmed.

Pick one or two that are the most important to you. You can always come back to the others later

Look at how you have phrased you resolutions. Do they contain the words like Stop, Quit, Less, Lose? Negatively loaded words like these are no issue for some people. For others they send a negative and demotivating message. Try to rephrase your resolutions to something that is more motivating. “Stop smoking” could be “Become smoke free” and “Lose weight” could be “Achieve ideal weight”
Be honest with yourself. If you are not committed to making the life style change or some other change, don’t do it. Instead, find out what’s stopping you and deal with that. There may be an underlying reason (perhaps emotional) for not being committed to a resolution. It is more important and perhaps also more difficult to deal with an underlying reason, but if you want to move on this is where you need to start. Of course, it is also possible that a New Year’s resolution is simply irrelevant to you and should be dropped.

Many people are caught out by the sheer effort required to achieve a goal and therefore give up. Take small steps. Break a goal into sub-goals and make sure that you have an end goal in the first place. If you are chasing a dream rather than a goal, you will be exhausted very quickly.
The post-it notes in the picture above are typical examples of vague resolutions you will never achieve. You have to ask “How will I do this?” “What does success look like?” “When will I have achieved this?” “How am I going to celebrate my result?” The more specific the definition of your goal, the greater the chance of achieving it.

For example: “Quit smoking” – Rephrase to “Become smoke free”. Decide by what method and in which timeframe. Decide sub-goals if you are cutting back gradually. How will you celebrate when you are smoke free? For how long must you have been smoke free to truly achieve your goal? Who will support you in the process and how? How will you deal with urges and temptations to break your promise to yourself?
Have a look at your New Year’s resolutions and follow the steps above. This will give you a much better chance of achieving your goals.
Doing this on your own is never easy, because we are very poor at challenging our own ideas and thoughts. Using a friend, partner or a family member to challenge and sense check your thinking is possible. However, friends, partners and family members being eager to help will often tell you what to do “If I were you I would…” or “You just do…” Furthermore, they know you too well and will perhaps avoid sensitive subjects.
An independent coach can guide you through the process of achieving what you want in a way that suits you. If you would like neutral and non-judgmental support in achieving your goals or New Year’s resolutions get in touch so that we can discuss how I can help you.

Stop fearing the future

Dec 20, 2015

Fear is a very powerful emotion that prevents us from doing, having, and being what we want. When your head is full of “what-if” and “If-only” thoughts you are holding yourself back. Fear stops you doing things.
What if I fail? What will they think of me? “If only I had….then”. What if it does not work?”
These and similar thoughts are the ones holding us back. We are so focussed on what could go wrong that we forget what might as well go right.
There will always be an element of fear of the unknown or fear of failure. That’s OK as long as it is only there to sense check and prevent recklessness and stupidity.
If you want to achieve or do something – big or small – there is always a chance that it won’t work. This is quite natural because until you have actually tried something you will not know if it is right or if it works etc.
To save ourselves the sense of failure or embarrassment we can walk straight into the trap of thinking about it a bit more, do some more research, wait for a better time of year and so on and so on. Procrastinating like that only postpones the achievement of your dreams, aspirations, and goals and makes you feel disappointed in yourself.
Here comes the difficult part: Take action! Do something – anything! Then see what happens. What happens is the feedback you need to check if you are on the right track. I know from personal experience that the feedback is not always what you have hoped for and that can be quite disappointing and demoralising. However, it is only a signal to try something different next time or try the same approach again, but in a different context. Also from personal experience, I know how good it feels when the feedback is positive. It can be quite overwhelming in a good way and certainly a motivator to go and do more.
When you want something - go for it! One step at a time. Send a job application, pick up the phone and ask a question, send a few emails, change your hair style…… the list goes on and anything goes as long as it is working towards achieving your goal.
Set a deadline. A goal without a deadline is just a dream. A deadline puts you under a bit of pressure and focusses the mind.
Write it down. Research shows that the simple act of writing down your goal and deadline increases your chances of achieving it by about 10%.
Talk about it. When you mention your goals to your friends and family, your chances of success increase enormously. This is because they will ask how you are getting on and you do not want to be seen as being all talk and no action.
Start small. If you have a list of things you want to start doing, stop doing, do more of, or do less of pick an easy one first. Having achieved that you will get the confidence to tackle the bigger and more complicated items on your list. In case it does not work, you have gained valuable experience that you can use next time.
What will they think? Well, what will you think? Unless you hang out with the wrong crowd, you will receive acknowledgement and respect for simply having a go, regardless of the outcome. What is far more important is what you think about your efforts. Be kind to yourself. Stop the negative internal dialogue and congratulate yourself on what you have done.
Ask yourself one important question. If you fail, if it does not work, or if it never happened – what would you prefer? To look back and say, “at least I tried” or to look back and say “I wonder what would have happened if only I had tried”.
If fear is holding you back and you want to move on, get in touch and let us discuss how I can support you. Making that phone call or sending that email to me could be your first action towards achieving your goals.

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"I could always rely on Peter to ask a thought provoking question that stimulated my own reasoning and thought process. Coaching has been a very positive experience and I feel I am better equipped to manage my work environment and myself." LC