Bondi Hypnotherapy Clinic

Alright or RUOK?

RUOK Day is on Thursday September 14th. 

The official site explains the significant beginnings in 1995, of Gavin Larkin’s initiative, based around one simple but powerful question; Are you OK?  This was the very start of what has

sad demeanour on countenance

woman considering change

become a fixture in both calendars and minds across Australia and beyond.  September 14th Even though Gavin is no longer alive, his proud legacy continues as ‘RUOK Day’ approaches once again.  concern for people with suicidal thoughts calls for courage to ask the question; “RUOK?”  and the skills to handle the answer.

A simple question many conversations

The simple question continually delivers many conversations.  The RUOK teams travel to public venues like shopping malls across Australia with a simple but powerful resource; how to ask the question and then have the conversation.

Conversation with both purpose and structure

The RUOK official site makes the important point that, ibn order to be well placed to support someone else, you must be OK yourself.  Self-care then, is the starting point relating to any initiative around concern for people who may be struggling with life.  And, just because you may not be the best person to ask someone you’re concerned about if they’re OK, perhaps there’s someone else who might ask the important question and even have a vital conversation.

Not being ready or able to ask the question; RUOK, can simply mean you don’t have the time to spend on a conversation that could be very important for someone’s wellness.

What if the answer is NO!

The question as the RYOK site suggests is the beginning.  Most questions generate answers.  What if that answer to this one is “no”?  It is important then, to know what to do (and what not to) if someone answers; “no”, they are not ok.  Maybe it is not the best time for them to discuss their challenges right now, or privacy might be an issue, or the timing is not right somehow.  These are all important considerations for any important conversation. Especially this one.

Useful attitudes

If asking such a question as; RUOK? is uncomfortable for you, consider rehearsing until you get easier with the implications of the possible response.  Ask open question to encourage them to speak more and you also show the specific things that caused you to be concerned in the first place.  For example, “I notice you didn’t seem yourself at the match yesterday, and I’m just wondering how you’re doing?

Avoid confrontation

Even if you’ve prepared and said your piece, asked your questions, started the conversation, this does not always mean they’re ready to open up and talk.  This does not mean you’ve failed or are in any way responsible for their behaviour.  Leaving the door open for talk later on is still worthwhile.  Checking if they’d like to talk to someone else, reminding them that you still care, are still worthwhile.

The art of listening

Listening is an art. Listening well and paying good attention can be powerful resources in attempts to support someone in pain.  Avoid finishes their sentences, rushing them with head-nods or other gestures and don’t judge.  Silence itself is golden sometimes.  Giving ‘space’ to someone so they can process their understanding of their experience before they speak about how they feel can be powerfully supportive.  Encouraging elaboration on something they’ve said can also communicate that you’ve been listening well and paying respectful attention.

Professional help

Sometimes, the problem just might require professional help.  This reality implies no criticism of anybody.  If it is too hard or complex to address, contacting professionals is just a next logical step.  The official RUOK site encourages people to contact professionals. They suggest a range of services including; the family doctor, Helpline (131114), Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), Grief Line (1300 845 745).  The official site for the RUOK? Day link is








Personal circumstances and life purpose

fit in puzzle

last piece to fit in

Personal circumstances are important considerations when exploring life’s meaning and purpose.  In this short series, I am referring to content from Dr Eric Maisel’s book; ‘Life Purpose Boot Camp’.  Maisel drives home some important points. One, meaning is a psychological experience and, as such, it is fickle and unpredictable. We can try and find meaning and even try unsuccessfully. We can make meaning investments, seize meaning opportunities. We can take charge.

More than one purpose!
Another important point is that notions of a single life purpose are fraught with risk of disappointment.  Here, I want to point to what Maisel calls the ‘crucible of reality’, your own reality.  Your own personal circumstances.  Some of which may be need a little attention, or a lot!

Understanding and even changing circumstances is crucial to living life purposes. Your personal circumstances are your constraints, or at least they can be.  It can be confronting to face reality squarely, preferring perhaps to avoid inconvenient truths. But the truth is; reality matters! It matters a lot. Making meaning that is based in your values is making meaning that is grounded in your circumstances.  The ones that help and the ones that get in the way of progress.

Importance of attitude

Attitude is one part of addressing circumstances. It is not just useful but sensible to face personal realities with an attitude of resourcefulness but attitude is just one part of the deal. Facing circumstances, armed with a resourceful mindset facilitates action that is resourceful also. And it is usual for circumstances to require action above mere awareness.

For example, the notion of making a difference in the world, as noble as that may seem, cannot be pursued meaningfully while personal devastation of addiction is a feature of daily life. You cannot adequately lead a principled life while avoiding responsibilities.

7 circumstantial questions

Maisel asks 7 questions in order to guide you through the challenges of facing up to circumstances>

  1. What, in fact, are my circumstances? How can I really know what parts of life require attention?
  2. What circumstances do I most avoid confronting?
  3. What aspects of my personal experiences might I reasonably forget about because they don’t impact my capacity to live my life purposes? A nuisance can be a nuisance without interfering with my path to purpose!
  4. Could I adopt a better attitude to my circumstances to help me live my life purposes? Do i approach my circumstances with a victim mentality.  “I cannot succeed with living my life purposes, I’m doomed…” does little to set the scene for great things to come.
  5. What actions can I take to repair circumstantial aspects of my life that are unhelpful?  Some things we can control some things we cannot.  Knowing the difference is a start. Knowledge is great, then comes the work!  Actions will be particular for particular circumstances.  Dealing with unhelpful habits can be a great start!
  6. What’s coming up ahead that I can prepare for?  It’s not always possible to see all the lies ahead in life.  But it is worthwhile to take a good look now and then.
  7. Can I make a simple way of keeping control of my realities?  Simple steps such as choosing to journal progress, marking obstacles, detours from your path and returning to basic principles of making meaning investments are all useful tools in holding a good path.

The answers to the 7 circumstantial questions encourages a proactive approach to managing personal circumstances. Living life purposes, making meaning informed by values and principles, can be powerfully impacted by circumstances. Improvements in one greatly improves prospects for both meaning and purpose.  If you stick to this short series I will have more soon.

Mental wellness, including freedom from anxiety and depression is greatly enhanced by connection to realistic goals, and a sense of meaning and purpose in life.  Maisel’s contribution can help.






Personality, meaning and life purpose: there must be some way outa here!

Personality, meaning and life purpose are very closely linked.  In an earlier post I discussed Dr Eric Maisel’s; ‘Life Purpose Boot Camp’ and his views on personality.  Here, I want to explore further some more practical steps that will, hopefully, support people willing to move beyond insight and into the work of naming, framing and living life purposes (yes, ‘purposes’ plural).  Personality for Maisel has three elements: ‘original’, ‘formed’, and ‘available’.  We use our available to make meaning adventures.

Maisel asks for two things prior to calling out life purposes.  Firstly, he suggests a personality upgrade.  For some this may prove irksome, at least initially.  Upgrading your personality simply means considering the relationship between your formed and available personalities, talking to yourself about what parts of your formed personality require attention, upgrade in Maisel’s terms.

The language of freedom

The language of freedom means noticing you have choice.  Many of us all too often use the language of obligation or necessity.  “I should be a better person”, “I must get my career sorted” which may be accurate are rarely helpful.  Saying; “I am free to choose to be a value-based actor in the world’.  Or, “I have many career options open, even in this economic climate”, are based in the language of freedom rather than the pressure of compulsion.

Facing defensiveness

We all refuse to face up to the realities of our own personal circumstances from time to time.  When it’s easier to deny unresourceful realities of our formed personalities, it’s also the case that we are refusing to access self-knowledge.  Do you have things you find difficult to face and accept and need changing?

Unresourceful thinking

Noticing familiar ways of thinking that you know are unhelpful is an important step in actualising your life purposes and being on the front foot in terms of making meaning.

Your available personality is a powerful resource in defeating unhelpful thinking patterns.  Regarding yourself as somehow ‘less than’ needs to be addressed as soon as possible.  Running an internal dialogue which is self-critical can prevent resourceful meaning making.  It can also provoke an inaccurate self-image.

Ideas are great, except when they’re not!

Just because you have ideas, this doesn’t mean they’re to be acted on.  Feelings are not reliable guides to action.  Judicious evaluation of ideas, especially emotionally loaded  ones,  through your available personality can be a powerful means of holding a solid stable direction.  Your available personality is your greatest ally.

Notice, appreciate and enjoy your strengths

Your formed personality contains rigidities, rote ways of operating.  These are problems and also strengths in some contexts.  Rigid tenacity in the face of life’s difficulties can prove to be a great asset.  Your own personal unconscious style of conduct could well prove endearing to others.

Be a value-based meaning maker

Some values are very useful and worthy of upkeep, some values need to be evaluated!  Some people value working long hours to the detriment of home life and personal health.  Some people hold the value of ingesting drugs to enhance artistic creativity.  Re-evaluating values through your available personality can prove powerfully resourceful.  Your own values can be explored for example here:

Consider your identity

An important meaning opportunity is your own identity.  How you identify yourself is important.  If you identify yourself as a loser, a failure, or some such unhelpful type, you could well dissuade yourself from investing in yourself and therefore living your life purposes.  If you identify yourself as ‘broken’ in some way, or mentally ill, you could limit your options to a stifling degree.  Imagine yourself as self-assured, calm, confident, considerate, and also responsible for your own direction.  From this perspective, at very least, more good is

girl at sunrise

woman considering meaning and purpose

possible. Resourceful meaning investments can be made and action on life purposes is much more possible.

I’ve upgraded my personality, now what?

Following a personality upgrade, perhaps even in parallel with your personality upgrade, there is the vital
requirement for realism.  It is critical to operate in the real world, to face your circumstances, especially the ones we resist facing.  For more about facing up to your circumstances please visit my next post coming soon.

Mental wellness, freedom from anxiety and depression are all helped by realistic and positive life goals.  The setting of these goals and taking steps to achieve them means living life purposefully, investing in meaning, and taking personal leadership.  Wellness, happiness, and freedom are important life purposes!

Life Purpose: the meaning of life

Meaning and life purpose

Feeling lost?  Fed up?  Bored? It appears many of us are at a loss somehow.  In parts of the world where we have

girl silhouette against sunrise

pondering purpose and meaning

the most stuff, most money, most toys, there seems to be something missing.  Meaning and life purpose.  Mental wellbeing can be closely linked to meaning and life purpose.

Dr Eric Maisel, a prolific author by any standard, has produced a book called; ‘Life Purpose Boot Camp’.  This is a guide through an 8-week course aimed to help build clarity about taking charge of  your life.  I should really say directions. Because Maisel is very clear you can have several life purposes.  He is also clear that your experience of meaning is quite fickle.

Disconnect between what is and what could be?

For Maisel, the metaphor of ‘boot camp suits.  If you experience disconnect between the way things are and the way you want them, then ‘enlisting’ could be a big help.  Maisel, a one-time soldier, drill instructor, and now proponent of what he calls; ‘natural psychology’, calls for the application of a boot camp approach to both personality and circumstances.

Your 3 personalities

In natural psychology, you are regarded as having 3 personalities.  Firstly you are born with your own, original, idiosyncratic personality. The good in noticing this is just to log the fact that we are all different.  You have, from your very beginning, very your own ideas about things, as well as your own developmental path.

Next, there is your formed personality.  This, Maisel says, is your “rote, mechanical ways of operating.  Formed personality both helps and hinders.  For example, it helps to just simply know that there are 100 cents in a dollar without having to figure it out every time you want to buy milk.

Your available personality can be used to address parts of your formed personality that don’t serve you.  Your rigidities are often both convenient and damaging.  For example, it is convenient to never apologise under any circumstances.  But not necessarily helpful.  There may be circumstances where an honest, authentic apology can heal rifts, repair relationships but your formed rigid position refuses to face such a prospect.  Your available personality holds the freedom to choose to make change that will improve functioning, embrace life purposes and make meaning.

Making meaning

For Maisel, meaning is a psychological experience.  Life Purposes are decisions, intentions that are informed by your values, your principles.    Life purposes are not dispensed from some existential superpower.  Life purposes are not provided by the “universe”.  No, it is up to you to decide for yourself not just what your life purposes are, but if you are to have any life purposes at all!  Meaning and life purposes are made by our own thoughts and actions.

As a ‘Life Purpose’ instructor and having supported numerous courses through the wonderful Sydney Community College in Australia, I find people sometimes grapple with some nuances in Maisel’s work, his language, and his open declaration that ‘work’ is involved.  But the psychological experience of meaning and the naming and framing of life purposes (plural) is important work. For many the most important part of the wonderful journey that is life.  To consider the “how” of meaning and life purposes please visit my next post on this topic.




FOMO can seriously damage your health!

Fear of missing out, "FOMO" can have deadly consequences.  Feeling a need to reach for your mobile device while driving may make great sense. But doing 110 k down a motorway and responding to a loved one's tweet means you have to split your attention. Life can be rearranged in an instant, in a tweet in fact! The Sydney Swans are supporting a very recent campaign to help.
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Personal change work: a simple sequence

Any enduring personal change work usually follows a fairly predictable sequence…
1.   Awareness, 
2.   Ownership , 
3.   Strategy, 
4.   Action, 
5.   Self-compassion

1. Awareness
For any change work to be called for there has to be awareness of a need for change.  Awareness alone, while important, is not enough. Many of us are aware our diet needs changing or our internet browsing could do with a cutback, but we grab that muffin and log on anyway! Of course, change will not happen without awareness (unless we’re locked up and deprived of access) and awareness acts as the initial motivator.

2. Ownership
Many people started smoking to appear cool, present as more mature, or even appear sexually attractive! Smokers are aware of the harm their habit does but many continue anyway. Ownership of the solution is crucial to progress with any personal change work, smoking included. Ownership of the solution means adopting a wholehearted decision to quit. Wholehearted decision-making calls for squarely addressing circumstances, facing up to the rationalisations that help maintain unhelpful habits. Some people continue smoking believing they’ll gain weight, or be unable to cope with stress, or believing they’re so addicted change is not possible. Wholehearted ownership of the solution leads to resourceful strategy.

3. Strategy 
 In our smoking case, the strategy is simple; never, never, never, smoke again! This simple strategy calls for several important tactics. These involve preparing for risky contexts. Those risky contexts can be places, events, even times of day where smoking was a feature. The morning coffee, the night out, or invitations from a work colleague to step outside for a smoke and a chat. Tactics involve formulating replacement activities, polite refusals, even new undertakings such as exercise. Important tactics include urge management. One useful approach involves reframing the urge experience as cause for celebration! Imagine an urge experience being met with; “awesome, this is great! It means I’m succeeding!” Such a response can be a powerful affirmation and will power strengthener. Many people limp along for weeks or even months in the grip of a contest between the urge to smoke and the decision to refrain. 
 Reframing an urge experience is a powerful tool!

4. Action
Such formulations are great but require action. Massive action that supports the strategy. Hypnosis and even self-hypnosis can be a powerful resource especially in early stages of change. The relaxation involved in the hypnotic experience affords a great opportunity to access personal strengths and resourcefulness.

5. Self-Compassion
Self-compassion supports gentleness and is a powerful contradiction to unhelpful self-criticism. People undertaking change work (like quitting cigarettes for example) often criticise themselves for the mess they’re in. Practicing self-compassion implies self-acceptance, understanding that we are flawed but rising above our past to make the required change without recrimination of self or others.

Cognitive dissonance

Know of Dorothy Martin?

The ‘Seekers’, was the name of a cult who believed outer space aliens in flying saucers (from the planet Clarion by the way) would come to save them from the horrible flood which would end life on earth.  Dorothy Martin (an ex-scientologist) claimed to be receiving secret messages detailing the impending doom.

Precisely at midnight on December 21st, 1954 was the time that everything as we know it was to come to a horrendous end.  The Seekers gave up their homes, their money, everything, in advance of this event.  They had absolutely invested in their belief.

One of seekers was a fraud.  He was Leon Festinger.  He was very interested in how the members of this cult would react when, as he believed, there would be no flood to speak of, no devastation, and no end of civilisation.

So, the time came, and past, and nothing! Zilch! Zero!

Here was a bunch of people standing around. No aliens and not a flying saucer in sight! Nada!

What happened next amazed Festinger.  The Seekers, who had been secretive up until now, avoiding publicity, actually wanted it.  They wanted to share with everyone what a near miss there had been.  They wanted to share how their faith had saved the world from disaster.

Festinger coined the (now common) term; ‘cognitive dissonance’.  This he defined as:

                “…a state of tension that occurs whenever a person holds two cognitions that are psychologically inconsistent.

The interesting power underlying the Seekers’ curious response to the non-event was their need not to face the truth and change their minds but relieve their tension, to make themselves feel comfortable.  They ‘explained away’ the reality, they rationalised it.

When reality conflicts with our beliefs, we accept the new reality, explain it away (as the Seekers did), or deny it in order to reduce the dissonance between our ideas about how things should be and how they are.

Sensory acuity, self-objectivity, self-knowledge defeats any need for denial.  I have seen addicts, abusive people, deny any problem when the contrary evidence is mounting daily.  They come for “help” because they were sent, there is no problem except with other people in their lives.

People sometimes talk themselves out of going to social events by offering ‘reasons’ such as; “it’ll be too hard to get a cab at that time of night.”  This ‘reason’ is favoured over the more uncomfortable reality that, as soon as the invitation was received, I felt extremely anxious and worried about other people’s opinion of me.  Excuses are the lies we tell ourselves!  Excuses shield us from painful truths.

An alternative approach is to notice my discomfort, my anxiety process in operation, and feel the fear and go anyway!  Some even advocate celebrating the fear response!  “Great, awesome! This means I’m facing inconvenient truths rather than soothing myself with excuses.”  In a similar vein, I encourage people working on weight loss to reframe their hunger experience to be a cause for celebration!

Denial is a form of protection, a defence mechanism, a protective behaviour and cognitive dissonance is not just something relevant to a curious cult in 1950s America.




Pain Management: blessing and curse

The Problem of Pain

Pain is a problem and also a resource!  It is a signal from the brain through the central nervous system that something needs attention.  Without pain we would blissfully decline, not knowing that our wellbeing was impaired in some way.  The pain experience is worthy of gratitude as it points us toward the need for remedial action.   The toothache, the headache, the sprain that prevents us from adding more pressure to injury are all kind messengers bearing important news.

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The Anxiety Trap: Time to Break Free!

To regard anxiety as a trap is to suggest that somehow we are tricked, lured into an anxiety experience somehow.  This view is not uncommon.  People in clinic regularly refer to their anxiety experiences as ‘creeping up’ or, ‘taking over’ them.  Unpacking these perspectives can be a first step in dismantling not just unhelpful ideas about anxiety but the experience itself. [click to continue…]

7 Simple tips to beat anxiety

Ever find yourself worrying and fretting? can’t sleep? over-thinking and analysing? In everyday life, we can be happy, optimistic, and connected to a life of meaning and purpose.  Then something happens,  we experience a disconnect from our personal power.  A sense of purpose replaced by a sense of loss somehow?  Optimistic outlook replaced by fear-laden imagined futures?  How did that happen? That key presentation you were to make for work becomes an opportunity for fear and apprehension.  Many people don’t realise anxiety is a problem you can beat.  [click to continue…]