How can a solution-focused mind free us from anxiety and fear?
“Tell me, what is your biggest fear in the pandemic?”
I talk about work security, monetary stability, uncertain career prospects, and how it may be months down the line.
“Close your eyes for a bit.” Well, how was I supposed to disobey the instruction from the life coach and the hypnotherapist who is improving lives globally? Using Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Liverpool-based South African Life Coach, Wayne Farrell, continues to assist people from all over the world with fear, anxiety, depression, and stress. Coming up to twenty-three years in the UK, Wayne has travelled wide and plans to take his work as far as Central America.
“Let’s take a timeline from now up to Christmas 2021,” Wayne told me as my eyes were now closed. He asked me to use my imagination. “Imagine step by step, all the things you would like to achieve, they are happening, and by Christmas, you have achieved all the things you have. Keep picturing, keep picturing things that you want, you have them, one at a time”. Was it the power of speech or my willingness to submit to such imagination? I found myself smiling whilst my eyes were closed. I felt warmth and a sense of excitement, feeling “what if!”
“You can open your eyes now.” So I did. I was now grinning.
“So, how does it feel?” Asked Wayne beaming with a smile.
“Very good,” I said honestly.
“Well, that wasn’t so hard, was it?”
No, it wasn’t, I thought, and I realised I felt happy as well. It didn’t feel like short-term happiness.
So is it that easy? Can we actually work on our anxiety and fear during the pandemic with the power of our imagination and thoughts? Cynics might say it actually has no meaning in the context of reality. The reality is, we don’t have many opportunities at the end of this pandemic to re-build ourselves. It is because people are trying to believe in it and submitting to it to be influenced by such thoughts. “It is what we feed our mind and what we feed our body,” Said Wayne. Well, that makes sense, doesn’t it? Our good health depends on what we eat, and without good health, we cannot perform the desired tasks. Therefore, if we don’t feed our minds with the right kind of thoughts, we may not find alleyways and alternative roots to get where we want to get in our career and personal lives.
Confronting adverse situations and many hardships as a child, Wayne wanted to be a better dad and a positive example for his son. So he went for a life coaching course and saw what amazing changes could be possible with the power of thoughts and the positive changes in our world views. Wayne then completed NLP Practitioner Training and felt that he has more to give than just giving himself the power of positivity. He started educating people in various parts of the world with life coaching, hypnotherapy, business coaching, and mindfulness, to state the few. Wayne plans to create a sustainable farm in Panama where he will offer these services as well as donate the production of the farm to children in need and to people who are suffering from difficult situations.
“First the basic,” Says Wayne, “Food for the body to be strong and then food for the mind for how to build a future. I don’t believe only a few people should have the right to have economic stability, I believe everyone has the right to economic comfort, and everyone has the right to believe they can have it with the right kind of tools. I believe it is possible. So the training comes later, once their basic needs are fulfilled.” Wayne explains, “But I shall continue to help my clients all over the world as well.”
So how can we not be afraid during the pandemic about our future? Hypnosis Plus had the pleasure to interview Wayne Farrell and had the opportunity to do a crash course on how to change the way we think.
What is anxiety? How may we identify anxiety, and what means a disorder in the frame of anxiety?
The term – disorder, I don’t really buy it. The problem in life is we have these labels. Disorder is a label on someone. When I have a disorder, I am a victim. I am not a believer in labelling people with terms such as disorder because it victimises people, and it is difficult to receive help once you are a victim.
Anxiety is fear – fear of something happening or not happening. For example, people may think covid will start a great depression in the economy, and they then become scared. They start imagining what will happen to them, what will happen to their family, that people will die, and everything that they are scared of. Anxiety is the fear of a badly constituted future. When you picture the bad thing, you are anxious about it.
How could anxiety disorder develop? What is the difference between natural anxiety and disorder in the same frame? Do we develop it gradually, or does it hit us at once?
To start with, lots of people turn to medicines such as anti-depressants.
Now let’s look at this.
For example, my daughter was anxious about her SATS exam some time ago. It is not a bad thing. It means she wanted to do well. So she needed to imagine that she will do well. In these circumstances, if you think, let’s imagine it will go well, you will do well. Another example is, if I want this interview to be well, then I shall think about it, it means I want it to do well. So a little anxiousness in life is needed to do well or to achieve something as long as it does not go out of control. So it is when we lose control of our thoughts and imagination, it is about having control over our thoughts.
Let me use another example; a husband comes home for dinner at 6 o’clock. It is 7 o’clock today, but he isn’t here. He is not answering the phone, and the wife starts to imagine all the negatives, such as he had an accident, is seeing someone else, etc. She is losing control over her thoughts, and anxiety will hit her. So we have to look at the root of the cause of the anxiety. Doctors work on the symptomology of a patient; hence the patient gets medication or anti-depressant to control the anxiety. Symptomology is a set of symptoms of a medical condition shown in a patient, but that doesn’t solve the route of the problem. If we work with the root cause of those anxious thoughts, anxiety diminishes. Depression doesn’t have a place if we deal with fear. So going back to the wife, she needs to find out why she had jumped to a negative conclusion.
To understand the root of the cause and the remedy based on Symptomology, let’s imagine I am hitting my head constantly. Eventually, I shall have a headache, and if I go to the doctor, he will give me medication to control the headache because I have shown the symptoms of having a headache. But this will not solve the problem because I shall hit my head again, and the headaches will be recurring. So I shall always be in those medications. But if someone works on the root of the problem, that is, I am hitting my head and try to find out why my behaviour is this way, then at some point, I shall stop that behaviour; so I shall not have a headache again, and I won’t need the medication anymore.
So we need to find out the root cause of the problem, and once we have found out why we are behaving in a certain way or thinking in a certain way, it will be possible to be free from anxiety and depression.
Tell us, once we are identifying anxiety issues, what can we do? What can we do as friends or family for the person who is suffering from anxiety, especially during the pandemic? Please give us an example.
We need to have control over the way we think. Remember that it is what we feed our mind and what we feed our body? We need to allow us to find the root cause of the anxiety and change the way we have been thinking.
As family and friends, we can really support the person who is suffering. We need to make them feel safe, feel loved, and show them that they are not alone.
What are the must-not and must when we suffer from anxiety?
We need to stop looking for evidence for things to go wrong. Stop overthinking. Stop thinking that things will go wrong. Take control over your thoughts and change the way you are seeing things, seeing the future. So to change the way you think, you need to look at TOP.
T: Take control over your thoughts and take control to change them.
O: Think, what are my Options? What other outcome could come out of this situation? How can I get the outcome to be true? Perhaps I could study, read more, do online courses, and take control of my health.
P: Practice focusing on what you want instead. When you are catching yourself imagining things going wrong, stop. Think again, what your options are, and start practicing focusing on what you want.
Michel de Montaigne, the French philosopher, said, “My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.”
What it means that we imagine about things that will go wrong for no purpose. We must not keep thinking about what may go wrong; it brings doom and gloom, and it leads to losing life’s purpose, and when we don’t see the results, we believe we are right about imagining what could have gone wrong. I work with my clients about what they are feeling, what makes them imagine how things will go wrong, and work on how to stop that way of thinking. But everyone is different, and there is no single answer. You cannot just do one standard thing with all the clients because there isn’t a single answer for all the clients. I work with each client, and there are different approaches you need to have rather than using a single technique because everyone is different.
Are we able to allocate most of the time we have during the pandemic for working on mental health? How?
Of course, there is the opportunity with the time we have in the pandemic. Mental health includes so much; it is a big question. Think about what the mental health issues are that we are dealing with and what help we can get. There is psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, alternative therapy, educating ourselves, and find out what actually is the root of the problem. Always go back to what I told you about what you feed your body and what you feed your mind. Think; when we exercise, our body releases a chemical called endorphin, which triggers a positive feeling. We feel better and healthier. We are not going to feel the same way if we are less physically active. So the same way, if we don’t keep our minds active and engage in self-improvements, we won’t have much to look forward to. We have to keep running that hamster wheel.
The negative aspect of the pandemic is the lack of opportunities because of redundancies, economic issues, and restrictions on the face to face communications. It seems reasonable to state that it is not possible to make the best use of our time because the prospects of re-building ourselves seem bleak. Tell us how we can work around these issues that are currently affecting us.
Easy answer; well, it seems easy, that is, create your own reality. Create your own economic situation. It seems easy to say, I know, but it is also possible in reality. There are ways we can do things, and we can change things around. For example, my business has changed dramatically in the last twelve months. I have always helped people face to face, but I had to think of other ways in the pandemic. I now help clients online. You have to look for opportunities within the situation of reality, and there are things you will be able to think of. For example, you know Sir Isaac Newton, the great mathematician and physicist of Cambridge University, right? In 1665, the great plague broke out, and all the students were sent home. For twelve months, there were no classes, everything was closed, so it was like the lockdown today. Rather than visualising a negative future, Newton used the time in isolation to solve the most unsolvable mathematical problem. He spent two years in the pandemic developing his theories in gravity, calculus, and the law of motion. It means he focused on himself during the lockdown and what could he do with the time available in the pandemic. Sure, one may say, but he was a genius! But remember that he didn’t start out as a genius. That first twelve months were a great opportunity to think about his theories, and he did it without any help of the professors in the pandemic when there was total isolation. Take it as an example, you don’t start out as something, but you need to develop on it. You can use this time to help your children to develop something, think about what you can do with them that could be good for their wellbeing. You could learn something together, read, make something, and ask them about ideas. Unfortunately, we have been spending most of our time on Netflix, but there is more you can do with the time you have been offered so that at the end of the pandemic, you have something. And that is what you can take from Newton’s example.
What advice do you have for the people who are naturally worried about the future or the safety of the vaccines and working environments?
Jim Rohn, the American entrepreneur, author, and a motivator, said, “For things to change, you have to change.”
If I want things to be changed, I need to do things differently. Think about an example of you wanting to lose weight. To lose the weight, you have to make the changes in your habits and lifestyle that is conducive to your expectation. If you want to have change, you need to make changes; in fact, change is the only constant. There are always changes. You need to change something inside.
“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near” – Jack Welsh.
Yes, it is an alienating experience in the pandemic, a total change in our experience. Imagine somebody has time travelled from the 16th century. How would they feel? How shocking our lives would seem to them? They would be physically here, but internally, they would be in the sixteenth century. They have not made that internal change. So the pandemic may feel that way, but we humans have to constantly evolve. We need to learn how to adopt, we need to accept that changes are constant, and we need to adapt to changes. A good example is the successful business people who constantly have to change according to the changes around them.
We have been made redundant. So think how we can evolve from this point. What are my interests? What other skill sets do I have that I can make use of? How can we be invaluable to an organisation?
For example, my wife is a Teaching Assistant. Unfortunately, there were redundancies in her institution, twice. Nevertheless, she kept her job. So I now ask her to think about what else she can think about to make herself invaluable to the organisation or what other things she could do to move further and up.
Remember that each person is different. We have our own values and beliefs. If I start criticising your faith and values, we shall end up in conflict. We have deeply seated believes, which makes us indifferent to changes. But we cannot start criticising everyone for their beliefs.
What you have to do is think about the things like pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine theories. It is good that we can question things, and we can suspect things. But it boils down to facts, not theories based on a belief system. Don’t start believing everything you read on the internet or the videos on YouTube. Try to understand the facts around these videos and news on social networks.
Think about the changes you need to make at the moment from the social point of view and adapt to those changes. For example, personally, I don’t believe the mask doesn’t affect the students’ learning ability. The pupils are sitting there with their mouth covered, they can’t have that full face to face contact with tutors, they are sitting there breathing the same air, it is uncomfortable and unclean, i.e., they could sneeze inside the mask, and they have to sit on it all day. But from the societal point of view, they need to follow the protocol.
So you have to think about what I can do to have better control in me and have better control in my environment. People don’t have control if people are not adapted to change. So do things from the social point of view and try not to believe in theories that are not fact-based.
Do you have some motivational words for the time after the pandemic?
There are few things you need to look at.
- Focus on what you want and what outcome you want.
- What would you have done if you knew that you would fail?
- How do you absolutely know that you would fail?
- Is it absolutely true that you would fail?
- What would happen if you tried and actually achieved it?
- When do you start?
When you keep picturing the failure, you will be anxious, and you will stop trying something different. It doesn’t mean you will fail. You need to change from being a problem-focused person to a solution-focused person. A solution-focused mind will change the focus externally. Remember about what we feed our mind.
Picturing a problem-focused future can be installed in us. For example, a child can pick up a negative message from the parents’ negative outlook and grow up with a negative focus in life. To understand it, think about a baby elephant. It is tied up as a baby, and it knows it cannot go further. When it’s unchained as an adult elephant, it still walks around the same loop because as a baby, it learned that it could only move around in a particular area. So it never thinks of running away. We feel we can’t do something, and we are unable to succeed because we are also circling the same loop of thoughts.
The thing is, when you think negatively, everything will turn out to be negative because you have not cut off that chain that trained you to stay in the same place.
But a solution-focused mind can be achieved. Stop focusing on the doom and gloom and start thinking about things like how I can create my own economy. It can be self-taught, so when will you start?
For more information on Wayne’s coaching and how he can help you to achieve a solution-focused mind and come out with a fulfilling and positive life at the end of the pandemic, visit https://www.coachingwithnlp.co/about-us/.
To know more about hypnotherapy and how it can help you during the pandemic, visit https://hypnosis.plus/.