One of the keys to Jon Hinchliffe’s success as a therapist is his ability to take concepts he uses in his work and show how they can be used in everyday life.

As one of the main tools Jon uses is hypnosis, Jon is often explaining how hypnosis is based on everyday situations.

Jon has used the principles of his training in Indirect Hypnosis, Ericksonian Psychotherapy and NLP to significantly improve his life with the debilitating illness ME/CFS/PVFS (Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome).

He first become ill with it in January 1994. Up until summer 2008 Jon used a mobility scooter to get around outside. Now he is back to being the runner he was in his teens. He still has the illness but is constantly working to maximise what he can achieve in his life.

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Dealing with conflicting advice

At the suggestion of one of my weight loss clients I am reading Christopher McDougall’s Born To Run. I have been amazed at how it has moved me and how it fits in with my current perspectives on life.

The book talks about running as something mankind genetically evolved to do which is a major contradiction to the view of most medical people at present. I am currently seeing a physiotherapist and she has been looking at my running style. I was told I was too on my toes and needed to change to a more heel to toe action. This book seems to advocate different foot action which is probably closer to what I was doing. I was searching the internet on a couple of words related to the book and drifted off into a couple of videos on running styles and the difference of running in cushioned shoes and running barefoot. Again I noticed the style of running being suggested for me seemed to be going the wrong way.

Now when I face a conflict of advice I consider peoples expertise’s and my instinctive reactions. Unfortunately my physiotherapist is just one person and there was no evidence asked for or given. On the other hand the book quotes some interesting “expert” sources and my very limited search of the internet happened to show me more evidence the way of the book. I therefore am experimenting with a running style that might be closer to what the book suggested.

I have made two runs so far. The first was about 20.10 which is not far off my personal best until last weeks “fluke” run. The main change of style for me was not to move my legs forward so much but to kick them back towards my bottom and make fast small steps. (it is suggested 160-180 a minute) The run felt hard and I was disappointed with my time when I saw it as for some reason I felt it felt fast. Amber my Cocker Spaniel runs with me and I think she struggled on that one so perhaps I felt faster.

This morning I ran again and decided I should focus more on the style not the speed. Amber to my surprise was in front of me which is unusual for her except she didn’t get a walk yesterday. And while I was “tired” I generally felt I was talking it semi-easy. Certainly it was less effort than it felt on the previous run. I have been wondering why I would want to aim to kick my bottom with my back kicks. It didn’t seem logical but today I got a sense of what might be going on. By lifting my foot so high backwards I am then using the weight of my foot dropping/swinging to move forward. Perhaps this saves my upper legs more. By kicking back I am doing an exercise that my physio wanted for my knee so what seems to be going against my physiotherapist might actually be helping me in her mind too. And to my surprised I clocked a new personal best 19.43. I have not done a distance run since my knee started playing up and I am now getting very curious to see what happens.

My Initial tests seem to suggest it is right to go the way I am going. I will keep reviewing things however.

So the key points from this experience are:

  • Reading can inspire improvement
  • When faced with conflicting advice evaluate the expertise of the person(s) giving the advice. Consider others sources. Consider you own experience and go with what feels the best way for you.
  • Conflicting advice can often be more in harmony than is first seen
  • Make a change and see what the results of that change are.
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How well do we consider problems?

How well do we consider problems?

When puzzling over my personal best at running today. I initially decided I must have started running as normal and because I was feeling extra tired I just forced myself on. I certainly didn’t think about slowing a little which would have made my goal a little easier.

In actual fact I recall thinking as I left that I would go for a normal run. I did consider a slower run but I don’t really know the difference between running 20mins or 21mins. Some days it just seems to happen.

All my initial thoughts about my personal best where based purely on events during the run. I was considering the run and so I considered just the small time frame of the run itself.

It was only as I was driving and not actively thinking that my unconscious piped up and said “What other factors could have affected the run?”.

Well today I had an egg sandwich before going for the run. My run was delayed about 2hrs because oversleeping meant there was no time for the run before doing some other duties. Normally I run on an empty stomach as soon as I wake up.

It is therefore possible I had more energy because of the food. I would be surprised if this was the case because I felt so exhausted but it is a factor I failed to consider because of my limited time frame.

I has also stretched my legs muscles a little before going. Something I have only done since seeing the physio about my knee.

I had also had a days rest from running.

I am getting better at running

I don’t know which of these factors had an effect on my performance today. Perhaps they all did. As I have argued before the “Why” is not overly important. The important thing is seeing and knowing you are improving. Today I did. This means today was statistically likely to be a fluke and my next run will be slower. I am still improving though.

And the important message from this post is that it is easy to fall into the trap of viewing something through a limited frame of reference. Once know this you can start looking for ways to consider a bigger picture and how it affects you.

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Perceptions of self so wrong

For the last couple of days I have noticed I have had some possible cold symptoms going on and for once I didn’t pay much attention to them.

Today I woke up and noticed something has hold of my throat a bit more than I normally allow. I therefore went straight into a trance and focused on feeling good. On noticing my current feelings and knowing that I will be feeling more comfortable and health soon.

I then went for run. Because of recent knee problems I have now got a short run (12mins) and a long run (20-21mins) whereas before I just had a standard short run (not the long run) and runs where I am building up my distance. This change of perception means I am finding the long run tiring when I shouldn’t be.

Today I was fighting urges to stop very early on. I was appalled. This run used to be so easy. Have I let myself slip? What was going on? It must surely be the symptoms draining me. Well I wasn’t going to give in. As I ran I considered short cuts. I focused on getting through the next up-hill section and knowing I would be OK on the flats. I got around the whole route and forced myself to “sprint” finish not that it was that “Sprint” like. I really needed to focus on seeing a runner sprinting in order to get through the distance. Finally I was finished, phew.

I then looked at my watch 19.56.74. 19.56.74! My personal best is 20:10. I thought I might have managed 20:30 but I was not going to be surprised if it was 21:00+. What had happened? How had I misjudged my running speed so much. How did I manage to run so fast despite feeling under par.

Today taught me again that humans (or this human so far (The so far is very important!)) are very poor at judging performance.

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What are the benefits of being overweight?

I have just written a blog on the benefits of being overweight http://goo.gl/qdOdT. It seems most people don’t appreciate these benefits. What do you agree or disagree with? Can you suggest any more benefits? I would love to hear from you.

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Physiotherapy – Do you have the determination to be a positive thinker?

I have already written about the fact I have started getting some knee pain*. A second visit to Mount Chambers Surgery in Braintree had my GP referring me for Physiotherapy. As soon as this happened I totally relaxed about my knee. I decided there was nothing serious wrong and everything that could and should be done had been done.

I was almost disappointment when my physiotherapy appointment came through really quickly. I had an initial session a fortnight ago and then a 2nd session today.

Today’s session has really stretched me. It also sent me into a search of negative patterns and thoughts. 

I have always been very poor at following therapist instructions. I am not very bodily aware. Therefore my brain was getting lots of good exercise that moves me forward (in old terms I get stressed, tired and frustrated trying to following instructions. Notice although I want to write this article the negative way I still wrote the first draft positively. This shows how strong getting into the habit of positive thinking becomes).

What provoked this article however was that the Therapist said I needed to stretch my muscles more. That my knees were hurting and I have a hamstring on my right leg that is odd shaped because the muscles are over tight.

I was instantly taken back to a time I had a professional massage as a birthday present. I had probably had my ME/CFS for about 4 years at that point and the masseur was stunned that by the time he had finished massaging my second leg the first leg was tighter than before he had started it. Having read Richard Bruno’s “The Polio Paradox: Uncovering the Hidden History of Polio to Understand and Treat “Post-Polio Syndrome” and Chronic Fatigue” I now have an understanding of why this might be. This immediately got me thinking “Oh boy, I am now a runner again but I clearly still have ME/CFS“.

I also was aware I was feeling light headed moving around today. Again I now have an understanding of this and it gave me a depressing thought. 

Finally I was aware that it takes me what seems like 2 to 5 seconds to scan my body and notice how I feel. The physiotherapist wanted to know how I felt with each exercise and I would expect most people can answer straight away. I felt odd and wondered why I am so different. But then it occurred to me I have spent since 1994 ignoring how my body feels. Of course it takes me a long time to access how I feel I have spent years training myself not to notice my aches and pains. The exercises also highlighted that my back is still more painful than a typical persons. I might have stopped taking painkillers after 15 years and reduced the pain but clearly I hadn’t solved all the problems with it.

All in all I felt disappointed. It was then that I caught myself and noticed my negative thought spiral. That I was feeling helpless about my ME/CFS.

Then I started thinking positively again. It is possible that I might have these problems for life but what use is that to me? It means I am dooming myself. I am not prepared to do that anymore. I have moved from being a Mobility Scooter user to a runner. I could not have done that without choosing to move forward and see myself being the runner I wanted to be.

I am now really intrigued to speed up my awareness of my body. By becoming more aware of pain and discomfort perhaps I will be able to make even more corrections to my body. By doing stretching exercises I can relax my muscles and train/re-train the neurons in my body to do something that was perhaps lost when I first got ME/CFS. It might be that it is a long slow process. It might be something that happens really quickly but while I focus on making it happen it is more likely to happen. Certainly much better than if I think “blast, I am like this for life. What a wreck” etc.

It is normal to have negative thoughts. It is normal to be unsure of the future but what doubts do you have in your life? Are you accepting them and being limited by them or do you have the courage and determination to move forward?

* I will leave that sentence like it is but I note that it implies I am expecting more pain. I completely missed that negative thought. This is why even someone that is used to the language of hypnotherapy will still miss things and benefit from sessions.

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Back Pain

Getting up from the chair the two days ago I managed to strain my lower back. Being a hypnotherapist and highly curious I again used the experience to experiment with pain control.

The last time I had pulled my back was on a scout camp and I was resting on a fallen tree. When I had gone into trance so as to reduce my pain I had suggested to myself that I have the urge to make movement that will help my back. I this lead me to doing things like leaning backwards over the log and stretching my back. I had been impressed at how these movement had helped and my perception that I had recovered quickly and been able to continue the Scout camp despite the problem.

On this occasion It was quite a bad pull and by the afternoon I was certainly walking around a bit stiff. I therefore decided to go into trance and within seconds I was out of it again because I had the urge to exercise my back in ways I hadn’t so far thought off. I had tried that sort of movement this time but in trance I realised I hadn’t screwed up into a ball.

I trusted myself and carried on. I had stuff to unload and load into the car for a car boot sale and I didn’t want my wife hurting her back!

By the evening I was very much aware of my back being not right but we had arranged to go out for an Indian meal and I was fully able to enjoy that. After the meal I was keen to get back and lay down and then I wonder if I should just give in and take some painkillers. I didn’t. I just used another trance and turned down the pain. Overnight I focused on my back recovering.

In the morning I had the boot sale and I was a little stiff to start with but by midday I was in very good shape. I was cautious unloading but still in pretty good shape and this morning when I woke I felt good enough to go for a run. There is currently a little discomfort but nothing worth worrying about.

Is this a typical cycle for a hurt back? I have no means of knowing. I feel I have recovered quickly. My hunch is that because I was in pain and monitoring it I was in a position to get the right movements to help my back and also protecting it from extra damage. When we take painkillers we aim to block the pain and we don’t think about repairing out back. We are numb or semi-numb to pain so we could even do things we should not be doing.

It is possible my back pain recovered slower than other peoples but it is my belief that working on it the way I did I am likely to have improved my chances of a quick recovery. I didn’t actually stop doing anything other than I was more tired and more likely to rest than normal if I had nothing urgent to do.

I will leave you to think about whether this approach could help you with any pain you have.

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Social shyness

My bumping into a friend at the weekend caused me to feel uncomfortable about my inability to find things to say when meeting people. 

Naturally my first thought was why?

  • Well when I was 3-5 years old I had something called Henoch-Schönlein purpura. Apparently this meant I spent a lot of time unwell and aching. How much I don’t know but it could have affected my social learnings at a critical time.
  • At school I was very shy.
  • In 1981 the school got its first computer a Research Machines 380Z. I used the computer in every spare minute for the next year thus losing another crucial year of social time.
  • In 1994 I became ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/M.E and spent until 2007 socialising very rarely.
  • I tend to be more of a listener than a speaker unless a subject really interests me and even then I still prefer to hear what others have to say

All these things are factors from the past that might have influenced who I am today but do they mean I will be that person tomorrow? 

Only if I allow it.

I have already noticed I like talking to people that are shy. If someone new joins a club/group I am in I will always make a point of talking to them and making them feel welcome.

I can learn a standard set of questions that people tend to ask when meeting someone new. IE “How are you?”, “How is working going?”.

The more I practice the more I learn about interacting with others socially the more I can switch into social mode. The more I switch into social mode the less forced it feels. The more it is the natural me and the less I am left feeling uncomfortable at my inability to find things too say.

Finally what is wrong with silence? Do all gaps in conversation have to be filled?

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The power of words and the dangers of our own pre-occupations.

Yesterday while at Freeport Braintree, I bumped into a good friend I hadn’t seen for a few months. We said Hello and then I misinterpreted a comment. While being hugged “hello” the comment was made “It’s gone”.

Interestingly for me my image at present appears to be about my weight. I have exercised less and increased my food intake to avoid eating sweets and as a result I have ended up putting a couple of pounds. I am back at 13stone for the first time in a while. I don’t like this so I will be make some further small adjustments. I will still eat what I want but just eat slightly less and know that I have plenty of food if I really do fancy eating a little extra.

So when I heard “It’s gone” I said “no actually I have put some back on”. I have been used to people seeing me and commenting on my weight drop since improving with the ME/CFS.

My own pre-occupations with my weight meant I completely missed what was being said which was my hair is no longer long. Now “It’s gone” is a short vague statement but that is how easy words can affect us and make us see and feel things others didn’t intend. I was so wrong on my interpretion it was easily picked up on this occasion, but how often to do two or three comments gets misunderstood and we read a situation completely badly? Perhaps we then react negatively and people then react negatively to us? We blame the other and yet it was us that generated the negative situation.

As a hypnotherapist I use words to create positive images. Parents would do well to think about how their words could be received. Which is likely to get a better response, “I am disappointed you didn’t put your dirty clothes in the washing bin” or “I am disappointed you haven’t yet put your dirty clothes in the washing bin but next I ask you I look forward to being able to praise you for doing it much quicker”. The later implies you still believe it will happen this time and also you are sharing an image of future success. It is a long winded way of saying things and I actually re-wrote it twice but the more you think this way the more it will be natural for you to encourage progress than to just be negative.

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Why do we “Why”?

Why do we spend so long asking why? What good does it do us?

Asking why it rains can give us an interesting answer but it doesn’t stop it raining.

Asking why, as a ME/CFS sufferer, I have a greater urge to sleep than the typical person might help me understand my body more but it doesn’t help me keep awake.

Asking why the “school bully” thumped me on nose one day could give me a range of answers but it doesn’t change the fact that I was hit on the nose.

Why therefore do spend so long asking why? Does the answer to a “Why” question ever give us a solution?

Can anyone give me a useful “Why” question that would not be better expressed with what, where, when or How?

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