What are you thinking?


Emotions :- are not problems to be solved but feelings to be understood.

Life is not about solving problems, it is about learning from experiencing emotion.. What is that emotion telling you

A recurring emotion causes a feeling  that leads to a (series of) thoughts. It is the manifestation of situations not properly or completely resolved ( dealt with). The thought is saying “Remember me--- deal with me”.

To do this we need to be able to step back to “See” the emotion, find its root, understand how it has developed then re-experience it but, with the benefit of hindsight : understand it  and re interpret it in a way that will not continue the negative impact. Such regression is safer and easier in hypnosis and with the guidance of a therapist.

Being “In the emotion” gets you back to the point where the “Problem” started. With guidance  the feelings can be drained from the event so that you can make a calm and rational  assessment of the events , the parts played by others, their own role and you  can play out alternative scenarios.

Having exhausted the possibilities you  can then be led to accept that what happened, happened, ( We are where we are)  and that you can choose how you now react to that knowledge, dispassionately. This means that you can end  a therapy session with a better understanding but more importantly you can agree  to either change the perspective or the intensity of certain feelings and emotions that resulted initially to enable you to cope with the event and to move forward without  constantly referring back.

The brain constantly refers back when trying to react to similar events, the aim here would be to ringfence the particular event so that it is no longer used as the model  for future reactions.

In accepting that the past is a closed story you can establish a new base line—“From now on I will…… etc”



Fear is a collection of feelings and emotions that you tie to a particular thing.

Fears have power over us only as long as we see them as separate and external i.e. not really part of us. If we accept that fear is an emotion and emotions are generated by us as a reaction to a stimulus we can also accept that the fear is just the particular set of emotions or feelings we have invested in it. Understanding the fear means that we can take it apart. So by changing, modifying or weakening the feelings we moderate the fear and create a more rational feeling that is suited to our needs. We have made ourselves fearful by selecting the emotions and feelings with which we react, once we realise that this is our construction, not one that is imposed from outside we can know that in effect we chose to react in that way . Logically we can choose to react differently ergo end of fear.

Consider the following as a possible interaction between a therapist and a client:-

1.Initial questions:-

2. What is the fear?

3. What causes it?

4. What makes that thing fearful

5. Do others also find that fearful

6. How could you see that in a different way so that it is no longer making you fearful.

a. For example on a scale of 1—10 how real is the fear /threat

b. 1—10 how likely that the fear will be realised.

c.  If it did happen how bad would that be.

d.  What could you do to make it less likely to happen, less bad.

e. What skills and knowledge do you need  or already have to make this a realistic alternative.

7. If you were not afraid of  xyz in what way would you feel different.

8. How would that affect the way you react.

Fear is what we allow it to be, caution is valuable but fear is caution taken to unhelpful and counterproductive extremes. We talk of being paralysed by fear—in what circumstance is that helpful to humans. Balance needs to be regained in order that effective, appropriate reactions can be given.



After a trauma what is the single most important thing you know about it---- YOU SURVIVED.

There may be feelings that you have about how and why you survived( especially if others didn’t) and they can be dealt with in stages  Low self esteem can create the “ I should have not survived but others should “etc But first and foremost you have to accept fully, deeply that you did survive and put a full stop there.


When you accept that you survived you can use various ways of dealing with the issue of those who did not: some say I will live life to the full, I will tend others who were damaged, I will see this as a new lease of life /wake up call etc.


It is important that you accept that you did survive  because that gives you have a new starting point. It is equally important that you accept that The trauma is a story that had a beginning, middle and end.  That accepted means that the  end effectively forces a new fresh start, it is not a way back to dwell in the incident because there is nothing left to be gained from it “ This is where we are now”

You can look back at the trauma from the current viewpoint but must recognise that this is not re-living because at the time of the trauma you did not know if you would survive—now you know you did. Knowing that allows you to be forensic in examining the event, in a dispassionate way---take all the “If I had done >>>>”  and ask could you really have done >>> and if you could what stopped you from doing it.  That way of thinking never seems to reach its real conclusion so you think of it  as a way that perhaps would have led to a different outcome. Realise that in the circumstances, at that specific moment that was the choice you made, accept that you were under a level of stress that you have never encountered before, accept that you could not know how to react in such an alien situation, accept that in the time since the incident your perception has changed because you have had (too much) time to think about it.

Challenging feelings of guilt

Just consider this conversation, that might occur with someone who felt that the outcome of a trauma was their fault.

When you woke up  on the morning of the incident  did you say “Today is the day I >>>?


 OK then an hour before the incident   did you say “Within an hour I will >>>”


5 mins before the incident  did you say “Now I am going to>>>>”


So when did you decide to do it

I didn’t

I don’t understand , you said you felt guilty, so when did you plan what happened? So you say  you did it without planning it, are you  such an expert at this sort of thing? Have you done it before?


So what exactly are you telling me, how did it happen

( CLIENT realisation)  It was an accident, not planned it just happened

That is an illustration and may take much more work before the person concerned reaches the understanding of their real relative role or responsibility in a given situation.

Once  someone reaches that “lights on moment” it is important to reinforce the message so it may be that I would get this  client to visualise  a road side hoarding--- 20m high 50 m wide, with Dayglo letters  that fill the sign saying,” It Was An accident”  --- add a fanfare make the letters light up. Create such a strong image that whenever the client gets drawn towards  the negative thought this super strong image pops up  and takes their total attention by advising.

“Any time you think of that incident and feel guilty  see that sign right in front of you, filling your field of vision, hearing that loudest you ever hear fanfare at the same time.” Again an over simplification that illustrates a therapeutic benefit..


Managing feelings

 It is always said that if armies or dictators  repress people it makes them resentful, bitter and determined to fight back. Eventually people reach breaking point and start civil wars. Repressing your feelings does the same thing for you. The more you crush or hide emotions and feelings the more you make them fight for recognition.

As those repressed feelings get stronger they appear to exert power over us Please note that I say appear because that can only happen in our own personal reality. Those feelings and emotions are not physical things, they have no body or power of their own, they cannot force us to do or desist from doing anything unless we individually give them the power to do so.

How do thoughts and feelings gain size and power? Firstly by being acknowledged,  thousands of random thoughts are constantly flashing through our minds 99.9% being instantly dismissed as ridiculous, unhelpful, unnecessary, impractical, irrelevant and for many other reasons too. If we pluck one of these thoughts off the production line and start to examine it we are creating a value and existence for it above all the others, we then look and add emotion, and credence to the idea so that soon it seems to be a robust entity , independent of us that  we then permit to have a measure of control over us. All this is permitted by us and so, as in any other setting, if you can grant permission you can also take it away. As soon as you realise this, you are on the road to taking back control. The regaining of full control is a process of changing the way you regard the thought: you can change the elements that make up the thought to weaken it: to prove to yourself that it is undesirable, unworkable, damaging or threatening to you. What seemed like a viable proposition can be made unworkable, it then gets discarded never to bother you again

Damaging thoughts are like clouds, they start as nothing, spurious electronic firings of the brain that come together in random and often mismatched ways. When we notice them , perhaps initially out of curiosity and apply the what if or how thought processes;  they grow and intensify, they can, if we continue to fuel them, become storm clouds that blot out the sun of reason and common sense, blocking our ability to see how wrong they are. We believe what we see unless it is proved false, perhaps we trust too easily that which pops out of our own imagination. Once we step back and look at the detail in some of these thoughts, feeling or emotions we get the bigger picture, we can shine light on them and see that just like the cloud there is no substance there, just  mist and distortion.

Thoughts,  such as depressive ones or positive elation ones can trigger physical reactions before we are consciously aware of them. Therefore to say we will prevent  unwanted thoughts is not possible but what we can do is rationally assess, categorise and file or dispatch them.  

We can use thought stopping, to halt the progress of an unwanted developing idea then choose either to dismiss it, divert from it or confront it.

The important thing to know is that thoughts are not reality. Thoughts represent what could, if the right circumstances prevail, be, but not what will be.

There are circumstances when we dwell on thoughts that normally we would dismiss and instantly forget ever came to us.  Depression is the interlinking of a series of thoughts that appear to show a reality that has no real foundation. Removing the fertile ground in which the process of negative thought development can take place  is the long term solution to depression, which is  essentially a collection of unwanted thoughts.. We are good at convincing ourselves of all sorts of things so  depression is a product of the mind just like any other. Being able to recognise this truth gives us the start point to begin unravelling this misconstruction. We are fallible beings, we do not get things right every time, in fact we have to make mistakes  to demonstrate to ourselves why one way is preferable to another in dealing with  any individual situation. Living is a constant process of refining, improving, breaking down and rebuilding. By accepting that knowledge we can stop feeling sad at so called failures and celebrate the continuation of our learning, experience and growth.

© Martin Williams 2013/15/16