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Brian Tracy quote

When we pay full attention to what someone is saying, it contributes to people feeling validated and recognised.sw_Listening_sa209430

One of the most valuable gifts you can give someone is to be present for them whilst they talk to you. If you think back over your last interaction with someone, did you listen properly? By this I mean really listen to them with your full attention?

Modern psychology states that something like 78% of our communication is non-verbal. This means when people are speaking their words may be saying one thing but their tonality, the volume of what they’re saying and body language, may all be communicating something else.

For example someone says, “Of course I love you!” in an aggressive tone. Or someone is saying yes whilst unconsciously shaking his or her head side to side in a ‘No’ fashion.

It’s the same when we’re listening, if we are only half paying attention to what someone is saying, we are giving mixed messages. What we’re really saying is, I’m not really listening because what I’d like to be getting on with, or saying is far more important than anything you have to say! These mixed messages are confusing for people and add to negative feelings and low self-esteem. It’s poor communication.

Successful business entrepreneur Brian Tracy uses the quote ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood’ a good premise for excellent communication.

 Brian Tracy quote

The art of active listening requires practice and since many people like to talk about themselves, there’s usually plenty of opportunity for that.

Effective listening underpins healthy, positive relationships.

How do you stop your mind from wandering when the person in front of you is talking and perhaps you’ve heard it all before? Breathe, focus on your breath for a moment and then guide your unruly mind back to the person on the other end of the phone or the face of the person who’s standing in front of you. What if that was the last time you ever saw them, spoke with them? Would you be happy at how you had received them?

I once witnessed a situation where one person was sharing something really personal and heartfelt and the other person emptied the entire contents of her handbag looking for something. When the first person stopped talking the other eventually looked up and said “Go on, I am listening.” Was that active listening? What do you think?

So what is active listening? Here’s my top ten tips for attentive listening.

  1. Where possible stop what you are doing
  2. Make eye contact with the person who is speaking.
  3. Stand or sit directly in front of them.
  4. Aim to keep your own facial expressions to a minimum, no raised eyebrows or eyes rolling to the sky.
  5. Remain still, without fiddling or rummaging when someone is speaking to you.
  6. Refrain from sounds such as ‘tut’ ‘phew’ or other non-verbal sounds.
  7. When you think they have finished speaking, allow a space, they may not have finished.
  8. Don’t talk over people.
  9. Don’t interrupt.
  10. If someone is talking slower than your mind is working, don’t finish their sentences, there’s just a chance, you’re not a mind reader and don’t quite know what they’re going to say.

Looking forward to your feedback.




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Does your inner child rule the roost?

the subconscious mind believes whatever It's told so be kind to you

Is your inner parent part too strict and demanding? Then it might be time to ‘big up’ your adult part!

Transactional Analysis is a model of psychotherapy loosely based around the idea that we have three parts within the psyche, Parent, Adult and Child.

For the purpose of this blog, we’re not going to look at all the wonderful aspects of the parent and child parts, just the negatives (‘cos if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it).

Because the long-term memory hasn’t fully formed in childhood, we need constant training and reminding to clean our teeth, remember our football kit, pick up our clothes from the bedroom floor etc. This means that our inner parent recordings might translate as a nagging and demanding part of us that has expectations, or criticises our efforts.

This can have varying effects on the inner child that in response, may rebel, sulk, whine, or even give up trying altogether.

Obviously you need to examine your own upbringing to determine what sort of messages are running in the background of your mind.

If you have an inner dialogue that goes something like this….

“You’ll never amount to anything” (parent)
“ Why bother, I may as well not even try, and whatever I do is never good enough anyway.” (child).
No you can’t have another biscuit you’re just being greedy” (parent)
“ I’ll just eat more when you’re not looking then”

…then you’ll know that you’re being dominated by old programming from the past.

The good news is that you can upgrade and integrate new positive programs!

By observing your inner dialogue you can learn to identify what isn’t working and incorporate new ‘adult’ dialogue. So the above might change to something like…“Come on, give it another go, even scientists fail over and over, you know it’s part of the process of learning.” or “You can have the whole packet of biscuits if you like, but how will you feel after you’ve eaten them? You know it will make your workout harder as well, why not just have one now and maybe one later’ (adult).

the subconscious mind believes whatever It's told so be kind to you

This works simply because the subconscious mind believes whatever it’s told. I can’t say this often enough. This part of the mind can be easily re-programmed because it believes whatever it’s told! Its main job is to store information regardless of whether it’s true or false. So affirmations work!

By developing the adult part, it gives us somewhere else to go to get away from the negative thoughts and bad feelings that can arise from this internal battle. We change our state; by stepping into the ‘adult’ it’s a place of power and control. We begin to have more rational, kinder thoughts that start to bring out the best in ourselves.

So observe your inner dialogue and write down a more adult approach to that particular issue or problem that you’re having and stop giving yourself such a hard time.


Sue xx

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Are you still being bullied?

it is possible to reframe painful, past memories and to change your emotional and psychological state, in order to feel in control once again.

“You wait, I’ll get you at break time.”


Words that resonate with anyone who was bullied at school.

If you were, it’s possible that you’re still being bullied, perhaps in your place of work, at home, on social media, or even as a mum at the school gates. You won’t believe how common that is.

Some years ago I co-founded a company that delivers Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to Corporates. Thanks to the expertise of the Managing Director Steven Stanbury, we quickly had some major companies on our books. As the Clinical Services Manager I was responsible for setting up telephone counselling services. I dealt with many calls over time and can honestly say, that every caller who felt they were being bullied, had been the victim of bullying sometime earlier in their lives, sometimes at school and sometimes in their family.

It’s not for me to judge as a therapist, whether someone is being bullied or not. I’m far more interested in helping to empower that person and enable them to develop a more confident sense of self.

Thankfully with positive psychology and approaches such as NLP and hypnotherapy we have tools and techniques to change the way we think and feel.

It’s often said in psychology that there’s no such thing as reality, just our perception of reality. For example, you and I could witness a car accident and later sit down and write a report, with differing details, even down to the colour of the car!

So if you’re still being bullied, that’s enough now! No more. It’s time to do something about it. Get empowered! Seek help. Find someone to work with who will help you change your perception of the past and give you the tools to feel more empowered in the here and now.

Please know, that it is possible to reframe painful, past memories and to change your emotional and psychological state, in order to feel in control once again.

 it is possible to reframe painful, past memories and to change your emotional and psychological state, in order to feel in control once again.

Watch out in the next week or so, for the new Assertive Empowerment Now download which will be available from the shop. This could form part of your strategy for making positive change.

Thanks for reading and please pass this on to anyone who you think might benefit.

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Here we go again! Ever wondered why you’re back in the same situation?

Take steps to care for yourself as if you were something special to cherish, something valuable.

Whether consciously or subconsciously, we recreate scenarios around us that are familiar. We do this in an effort to feel safe and comfortable.

In the extreme, we may be driven to consistently select undesirable partners who are unkind and abusive. You might hear people say things like “she/he was so nice in the beginning and couldn’t do enough for me. I had no idea she was violent!”

On a more superficial level we may always go to the same café for coffee each morning, taking comfort in seeing the same people and repeating that pattern. It’s warm and cosy, safe and familiar.

Have you noticed that we are subject to recurring themes and patterns in our lives?

These patterns continue to generate the same thoughts, emotions and behaviours that bear out our personal stories, our themes.

For example people who are insecure and have a deep-rooted sense of rejection, will often find themselves in situations that seem to confirm the very thing they most fear. Rejection. At a subconscious level they constantly recreate dramas that ‘prove’ their beliefs.

There’s a bizarre comfort for them in this. A sort of ‘there we are I knew it. No-body loves me’ story, which allows them to be right!

Unaware of the subconscious patterns, they allow their inner chatter to dictate to them, building stories based on negative thoughts. The negative thoughts subsequently stimulate unpleasant emotions. The emotions act as drivers that impact their behaviour. This in turn often provokes the very thing they are afraid of, rejection and the whole cycle starts again.

These recurring themes are often reinforced year after year. Even when there’s clear evidence of the behaviour that is hurting them, such as a string of failed relationships with a similar vein (like choosing that type of partner again,) they continue to act out in the same way because it’s familiar. Like a pair of comfy old slippers!

So how can we change?

Even when we are conscious of our patterns and behaviours and want to change, it takes a fair bit of mental and emotional discipline to avoid the same mistakes.

Let’s take someone who is feeling insecure, it’s likely they will have a program running in the subconscious mind that says ‘you are not loveable, worthy of being cared for, or deserving’. The good news is, that it is possible for thoughts and feelings like these to diminish in the face healthier ways of thinking.

Counselling and psychotherapy can help to explore the recurring themes and the subconscious desire to revisit them (repetition compulsion). There are other things you can do to help yourself and here’s a couple of suggestions.

Take steps to care for yourself as if you were something special to cherish, something valuable.


Self-nurturing is imperative. Write down seven ways you can nurture yourself,

It may range from a fundamental:

1.) Cook proper warm meals for myself.

to a more intense

2.) Dump the abusive partner.

It will have taken years for the maladaptive behaviours and patterns to emerge so there’ll be a fair bit to combat. The quickest, and most painless approach I know to changing how we think and feel, is with hypnotherapy and hypnosis programs.

Stress Free with Confidence or Supercharge Your Confidence is one of the easiest and ways to reprogram your subconscious mind.

Discipline yourself to listen a minimum of once a day. An ideal time is last thing at night as you settle down to sleep and requires minimal effort. Within a month of listening you will notice a huge shift in how you think and feel. As you retrain the brain you’ll notice new patterns that will lead to a more relaxed, positive productive way of being. This then impacts your behaviour and finally your patterns begin to change.

Because the subconscious mind believes whatever it’s told your self-esteem has to grow stronger at the very least this prepares you to look more deeply at your modus operandi with a view to making change.

Let me know how you get on

Sue xx

oh and by the way, if my example of the unsuitable partner has a resonance for you, go over and have a look at Natalie Lue’s ‘Baggage Reclaim’ site which is brimming with good advice.

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Too Scared To Face Something?

_DSC6302I recall  with some embarrassment, in my late teens, being so totally terrified of going to the dentist that I would not turn up – no cancellation – no excuse,  just didn’t go! I know, I know it’s really unassertive at best and rude and inconsiderate at worst.

Why is that we have so much trouble telling our truth?  

I later realised that this inability to just pick up the phone and simply cancel the appointment or even say I was too frightened to attend, could be attributed to the child part of me.

The Transactional Analysis approach in psychotherapy loosely suggests that we have three main programs running in the back of the mind, that of Parent, Adult and Child.  Any part can take over and dominate the psyche.

In this case the child was dominating, mainly because the feelings of fear were so powerful. Now had the adult or even the parent part of me dealt with the dentist I might have addressed my fears earlier.  Unfortunately at that time the fear was so utterly paralysing that it triggered a childlike state in me leaving me unable to speak out.

Continue reading Too Scared To Face Something?

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Get Ahead Of The Times! Try this amazing technique if you need advice or support

Arnhem Market Sep 20 2013 (51)Last week I asked you to write a letter to your younger teenage self offering guidance and support,  or words of wisdom. Some of you wrote telling me how good it felt to get that encouragement. Thank you for the feedback!

Don’t underestimate the power of engaging with yourself in this way.

I can’t say it often enough that your subconscious mind is not time bound and does not judge.

With that in mind here’s this week’s challenge.

Continue reading Get Ahead Of The Times! Try this amazing technique if you need advice or support

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What would you say to your younger self if you had the chance?

walk-1March 8th is International Women’s Day and YouTubers and Twitter users are part of the #DearMe campaign that aims to ‘empower young women everywhere’. Women all over the world are writing and recording messages of advice and wisdom to their younger selves, to drive the message home.

Many psychotherapists offer similar techniques when aiming to empower clients. Having people close their eyes and imagine connecting with a younger part of themselves, then offering support, love or protection to that younger part can be an incredibly empowering and healing intervention.

This is because the subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between something real or imagined.

It lacks the power of discernment and will readily accept a new and improved version of an event (it’s a bit more complex than that, but that’s it in a nutshell). The subconscious mind is not time bound so doesn’t really recognise past or future, it just IS. As such, rescuing a hurt inner child and comforting it really does make that part of you feel better.

A lack of self-esteem partly arises from us rejecting ourselves at different points in our lives

If we have ever felt isolated, guilty,  lonely, bullied,  blamed or shamed we  may reject that part of ourselves in an attempt to feel better. By banishing that aspect we aim to feel worthy and more loveable. That may work as a temporary measure but we are likely to feel empty and unloveable as adults unless we heal and empower these parts.

So here’s my challenge to you this week

(Oh and it isn’t just for women since I know I have some male readers too). Sit down with a pen and paper (you know my rule about being creative away from the computer) and write a letter from you now, to your younger self. Offer words of support, love and compassion.

If you really could step back in time and re-write the script and tell yourself not to worry, to recognise your skills and talents what would that letter look and sound like? Give it your best shot, imagine that you really are sitting there with the younger you, who most needs help and encouragement, try asking what that part of you really needs to feel positive and confident then take a few moments to listen, really listen to the inner response from that part. You might be surprised what comes up.

Here’s a clip from my letter to a younger part…” continue to care about others, Sue, that’s a really nice aspect of you, and make sure that you care about yourself just as much too. It’s okay to put yourself first sometimes.”

Let me know how you get on. If you need extra help try Stress Free With Confidence or Super Charge Your Self Esteem from the shop.






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It’s Time to Sack Your Inner Judge – Here’s How

Stop judging yourself
Ah yes, our inner Judge. Where does it come from? More importantly how can we stop the incessant judgments?

From the moment we wake up until we go to sleep the ‘Judge’ or ‘Inner Critic’ is often present, judging others and judging ourselves. How we look, what we do, what we did, how we act. Yes, the  Inner Judge presides and criticises all of it.

Well firstly, well done if you are able to even identify your ‘Inner Judge’ or ‘Inner Critic’,  since most people don’t  manage to separate themselves out from their Judge (and that isn’t a judgment!)

Secondly, you’ll need to be tenacious in order to keep observing the Judge from a different perspective or place.

Thirdly, you’ll need to have another place to go in order to watch or listen to the Judge at work.

[Related: Why Am I So Judgmental? Your judgments may hide a deeper meaning.]

Continue reading It’s Time to Sack Your Inner Judge – Here’s How

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Would you sit a child in front of it? Why you need to stop watching the news

The News StresshackerI often ask clients who feel stuck, anxious or depressed to refrain from reading the newspapers and watching the news on a daily basis.

Why would I encourage people to stay away from the news? Well, here’s the reason.

If, in your memory, you already have a collection of negative, miserable or traumatic memories and thoughts stored up, you will increase the negativity by adding a regular diet of troubling news.

And, let’s face it, most of the news is negative.

Continue reading Would you sit a child in front of it? Why you need to stop watching the news

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A simple thought hack: create an analeptic circle to remove negative thoughts

Analeptic cycle
Do you know what an analeptic cycle is? I bet you know what a vicious cycle is!

Do you ever doubt yourself? Wonder if you’re quite good enough as a mother, daughter, son, friend, employee, employer or in any of the other roles we take up in life? Do you ever hear that little nagging voice in the back of the mind, or wake up to a stream of negative thoughts?

Welcome to life!

It’s totally normal to feel like this – most people do at some time or another.  But did you know that there are things that you can do to quieten the negative chatter, to silence the inner critic?

Here’s one technique for stopping that inner critic

Continue reading A simple thought hack: create an analeptic circle to remove negative thoughts