The Invisible Pain Of Growing Up

It’s the hardest job in the world. There’s no interview to see if you have the right skills for it, no fail-proof training to give them to you if you don’t. The original product is something you’ve never dealt with before and it arrives with dozens of accessories but no instruction manual.

In the early days, it emits all sorts of alarms, all of which relate to different operational issues but which, to your spectacularly untrained ear, sound exactly the same.

Through trial and error, you learn how to fix these problems. But no sooner do you resolve one than another, completely new problem arises for you to work out. And pretty soon you’re wondering if you’re worthy or capable of doing the job at all.

To make matters worse, everywhere you turn there seem to be magazine articles and blogs and TV shows about people who seems to know how to do your job better than you are doing it. Possibly better than you can ever do it. Which is at once irritating and also scary; because you also know that this is a job you can never, ever leave. There are no weekends, no holidays, no breaks. It’s yours, 24/7, 365 days a year.

It’s called parenting. And it’s hard work. 

When it all comes down to it, we just want our children to be healthy and happy. They are the benchmarks by which we measure our performance in this most demanding of jobs. If we do well – and amazingly, most of us do – our children grow and develop into lovely, kind, understanding, intelligent and, eventually, independent young adults.

But how do we get to that point? It’s difficult enough with one child. But every child is different, so when we have a second, or a third or more, we find the fixes, rules, systems and approaches we used with our firstborn don’t necessarily work with the others.

Some general rules will work – things like bedtime and rules at the dinner table, for example – but managing multiple children requires adaptability and a flexibility of approach that’s not always easy when we’re also trying to find space for our own busy lives.

Parenting of an anxious child is harder still. Some children are naturally more anxious than others. While some degree of childhood anxiety and fear is perfectly normal, some children have excessive worries which can severely disrupt their daily lives.

Each child will show anxiety in different ways – some will internalise it and may say “Mummy, I feel sick” or “Mummy, I’ve got a tummy ache”. Others show outward signs of anxiety by going into meltdown – crying and screaming etc.

Toddlers may fear loud noises, being separated from a parent or sudden movements, while pre-schoolers have different fears, such as fear of the dark, noises at night, people in costume or certain animals.

Older children have different anxieties again: lightning and thunderstorms, doctors and hospitals, bees and wasps, being home alone and fear of rejection

Knowing when to intervene can really be a great help to your child. So, when do we need to worry?

A child with general anxiety may exhibit excessive worry about normal everyday things, restlessness, poor concentration that affects schoolwork, regular tummy aches, sleep issues, irritability, aches and pains in muscles or tiredness.

A child with separation anxiety may refuse to go to school, have frequent tantrums, nightmares, headaches or tummy aches.

Phobias are another form of anxiety and need to be treated promptly. The most common ones are around animals (usually dogs), spiders, dentist and doctors, clowns, balloons, water, buttons and coins!

Teenagers and young adults tend to suffer more with social anxiety. They avoid answering questions in class for fear of looking stupid if they get it wrong and they hesitate to join in conversations and avoid meeting new people or making new friends. If it gets very severe they may even take to their room and become agoraphobic.

I was seeing so many children at my clinics for anxiety that I created a four-session programme to teach them how to regulate and manage their emotions and feelings, helping them cope with frustration, teaching them self- esteem and how to improve it, and to help them with their assertiveness skills.

Most mums reported that their child improved markedly after only the first session and that teachers had commented on improvement at school, too.

And although anxiety will usually show up at various points during childhood, a child who knows how to cope with it will be so much better prepared to work through it and return to a calmer state.

Happy children aren’t simply kids who are permanently free from anxiety and worries – they are children who are confident in their ability to work through certain anxiety producing situations and find their own way through it!

You can find more information about our treatments for children’s anxiety here. If you want to have an informal chat about your child’s condition, you can also telephone us on 07766 515272           

Anxiety & Fear – What Is The Truth?

As people it is quite easy for us to create a whole convincing reality in our heads. How do we know the difference between the actual truth and ‘a truth?’ When we experience anxiety, it is relatively simple to respond to that uncomfortable feeling from a negative perspective. By default we automatically go into fear, we convince ourselves that something awful is going to happen, since anxiety was a response to and created from unpleasant past experiences. We will naturally gravitate to our default setting, a defense mechanism that was put in place by our subconscious as a way to keep us safe, that is its job and it will carry out the task at hand regardless.

The subconscious knows nothing about linear time and is still responding to an old ‘threat’ with the same hyper alert response that it used many years ago. That old programme is running in the background, and is creating a reality from ‘a truth’ of how it used to be, as opposed to how we are living now, older and wiser, and hopefully no longer under threat, or in imminent danger. The subconscious is not at all concerned about how safe we are now, all it cares about is the truth and nothing but the truth, so help you! Anxiety can be very unpleasant and challenging, leading to a host of difficult symptoms, like OCD, drug and alcohol addiction. Hypnotherapy for Anxiety can help relieve these symptoms by negotiating with our subconscious Inner Protector that the external threat no longer exists, and thereby convincing it that we are now safe, not only that, but we are no longer in flight or fright response. It can let go and update that anxious reaction to life and its challenges, to more comfortable and harmonious responses that are relative to our present reality, enabling us to live by a new ‘truth’ that fills us with ease and well-being.

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Anxiety? Don’t Worry About It

The point of this title is not to minimise or play down the impact anxiety has on the sufferer, far from it, rather to explain the ‘nature’ of anxiety and just why sufferers become so entrenched in the cycle of fearful thoughts and symptoms that is the quicksand of an anxiety disorder.

I specialise in anxiety and I understand only too well how debilitating anxiety can be, how it blights lives and can leave sufferers mentally exhausted, self-medicating with tranquillisers and alcohol and in some cases unable to leave the house for fear of an anxiety attack.

However, one of the worst things about suffering from anxiety is that whilst anxiety always begins for a reason: a prolonged period of stress, emotions you haven’t let yourself fully feel (anxiety is all too often a ‘lid’ over other unexpressed emotions such as grief or sadness), issues from childhood that haven’t been resolved (your subconscious mind begins ‘shouting’ at you through anxiety and depression – it’s a clever tool the subconscious uses to make someone sit up and pay attention), it all too often continues and the anxiety becomes a condition within itself: I call it ‘anxiety about the anxiety’.

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We Fear What Has Already Happened

One of the first things I tell a client is this: the subconscious mind doesn’t understand time. Linear time simply does not exist in the subconscious. I feel it’s really important to understand this as it explains so clearly the irrational fears, phobias and anxieties that plague the individual whose lives in the present are actually in pretty good shape. They may be happily married but plauged with fears of their partner leaving them, despite their other halves consistent reassurances. They may be thriving at work but left sleepless at night with irrational fears of facing the chop. All too often people have good lives but for the deep undercurrent of ‘generalised anxiety’ that leaves them fully unable to enjoy their life and relax into themselves fully.

Often there is no reason in my clients present why their anxiety is nagging away at them with such incessant persistence, the reason is nearly always in their past: old heartbreaks, old losses, old traumas, old subconscious beliefs or even inherited beliefs and fears passed down from parents, schoolteachers or friends.

The truth is we fear what has already happened, and because our subconscious mind is our inner protector and wants to keep us safe it works very hard at keeping us vigilant against any future pain and leaves us on red alert, scanning the horizon for invisible threats!

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Additional Credits

Video by Weeks360.

Photography by Liz Bishop Photography.

Production by Mark Norman at Little Joe Media and Joanne Brooks.

Hair by Jonny Albutt.

Make up by Olly Fisk and Nabeel Hussain.