Sometimes my clients will contact me after a few days of listening to their RTT recording and tell me that it’s not working. I can hear the despair in their voices. Often clients come to me after trying everything else, and when nothing else has worked. So, there’s a lot of expectation and hope invested in RTT being the “thing” that finally fixes their issue.

When this happens, I do what I always do. I reassure them and tell them to persevere and keep listening to their recording for the full 21 days.

21 is not a magic number. Research shows that, on average, it takes 21 days to form new habits.  (Incidentally, there's also new research that shows 66 days as the average time it takes to form a new habit. But as RTT works with the subconscious, results are often faster – and that’s why it’s called Rapid.)

This was definitely the case with *Sophie, an attractive successful business-woman in her 50s, who came to see me to help beat her addiction to drinking wine and eating junk food. She told me she would often drink a whole bottle of wine after work and eat bags of crisps while she cooked dinner. She had gained weight and her eating and drinking felt out of control.

Her RTT session uncovered deep-rooted beliefs about her own self-worth and attractiveness, about being lovable and deserving of happiness and love. Over decades she had buried these feelings of not being good enough, in food and drink. She was eating her emotions.

For women especially, so much of our self-worth and self-esteem is tied up with how we look and feel about our bodies. True self care is about understanding that we are all fundamentally lovable and about having a whole new mindset, where food is nourishment not punishment.

In the session we worked to change Sophie's subconscious beliefs about herself. For her recording  I focused on the messaging that she would no longer have any cravings for wine or crisps, and that she would be able to look at a bottle of wine and feel completely indifferent.

A few days after her session, Sophie texted to say she didn’t feel the RTT was working. She was still drinking after work, still eating crisps. Christmas was coming up and she felt she was too stressed to carry on. I could hear the despondency in her voice. She had previously told me that RTT was her last resort and she was desperate for help.

I told her not to worry, but to keep listening to her recording anyway, and that I would wait to hear from her when she was ready to book in her follow-up session with me.

Christmas came and went. I thought about her, as I often think about my clients, and hoped all was well.

And then, yesterday, I received this.

“Hi Dawn, sorry it’s been so long. I had a bad run up to Christmas and I didn’t think the therapy had worked. But I’ve now not had a drink or any crisps for 23 days and I’m feeling pretty focused.

It has worked! It has been as you said it would be. No cravings!”

I tell all my clients:

Change with RTT happens in one of three ways:

  1. Instantly - clients experience a massive and sudden transformation during their session.
  2. Gradually - transformation occurs over the 21 days of listening to the RTT recording.
  3. Retrospectively – sometimes there may be no noticeable improvement, and then after a period of time clients notice they no longer have the issue.

Change happens once mindset is set to a new direction – and sometimes this can happen in an instant, sometimes over a period of time. But it can and does happen.

“When someone constantly criticises it often tells you more about the psychology of the criticiser than the person he or she is criticising. Knowing this is the first step to protecting yourself from the onslaught”

Worrying new evidence suggests that being constantly criticised can send people to an early grave. That’s according to a recent study published in scientific journal Health Psychology.

Professor Jamila Bookwala’s team at Lafayette College, Pennsylvania, analysed data from 1,734 men and women* who had been interviewed for the National Social Life, Health and Ageing Project. When revisiting the survey participants five years later, they found that those who reported higher levels of being criticised in their partnerships were more than twice as likely to be dead than those who were criticised the least. (Some 44% of people who said they were criticised often by their partners were found to have died when researchers returned five years later.)

When you’re on the receiving end of constant criticism

If you’ve been criticised – and frankly, who hasn’t experienced it at some point in their lives? – you’ll know exactly how deeply hurtful it can feel. If you pay attention to the physical responses in your body when you’re being criticised, you’ll more than likely notice your heart rate increase, your chest become tight, maybe you’ll clench your fists. You may experience a feeling of nausea or a sudden blinding  headache.

Your body responds in much the same way it does to a physical threat  – it releases stress hormones as part of the flight, fight or freeze response.

According to Professor Bookwala, frequent criticism can put damaging stress on the body, and the effect is the same regardless of gender and independent of factors such as whether a person has other close friends or family.  This is because criticism is a type of chronic interpersonal stressor, and “just like other chronic stressors, can have a cumulative and enduring negative impact on not only health and wellbeing – morbidity – but also mortality”.

No one likes to be criticised. But there are degrees of criticism. On one end of the spectrum there’s “constructive criticism” which is supposed to be helpful but can still require a deep inhale of breath to listen to without responding in kind. Then there’s the other extreme: personal criticism which attacks the fundamentals of who you are, and because of this can be deeply wounding. This kind of criticism:

* Is based on the person being wrong, rather than their behaviour
* Is about blame
* Is not about helping to improve a situation
* Is about there being only one right way of doing things
* Makes the person feel humiliated, small or feel badly about themselves on a fundamental level.

What to do if you face constant criticism

The first thing to bear in mind is that when someone makes a habit of criticising you,  it often tells you more about the psychology of the criticiser than the person he or she is criticising. Knowing this is the first step to protecting yourself from the onslaught.

Step two is recognising what is known as the Looping Thought pattern that results when being criticised is a trigger. Criticism hurts because ultimately the person doing the criticising is telling you that in some way you’re not good enough. Some words of criticism hurt more than others and this depends on where “the old wounds are”.

Triggers are evidence of old emotional wounds that haven’t yet healed. For example, if someone was obese as a child and was made fun of because of it, being called fat even in adult life will trigger that old wound, even if the adult has gone on to successfully achieve a healthy weight. Some criticisms trigger off these old Looping Thought Patterns more than others and have  nothing to do with the present day situation.

The key here is to change your response to the criticism. You can read more about changing your response to old Looping Thoughts in the article Choose Your Response: Keeping Calm in Anxious Times

Fundamentally, when I work with a client who is in a relationship with someone who criticises them all the time (be it a partner, boss, friend or family member), it’s about getting to the root belief of feeling “not good enough”.  And this root belief is often created in childhood because of experiences or situations where a child felt bad about themselves in some way, guilty, unloved, or different to other children.

“If criticism is someone telling you you’re not good enough, accepting their criticism is saying – Yes, you’re right.” – Dawn Quest

By changing that root belief, it makes it impossible for someone to allow criticism to affect them in quite the same way as it did before.

At the same time I embed a visualisation exercise into their hypnosis recording which is about creating a Shield to protect themselves from criticism or rejection.

We can’t control whether people criticise us or reject us or not but we can control whether we let that affect us. So I tell my clients to imagine they’re wearing a suit of armour made from industrial strength rubber, and to imagine any hurtful words or criticisms as flimsy arrows bouncing off them, right back at the person doing the criticising. In effect they become impenetrable and criticism loses its power.

Using imagery and visualisation in hypnosis in this way is a powerful technique to build emotional resilience.

Have you been told you’re too critical?

When accused of being too critical, criticisers will often defend themselves by  accusing the other person of “being too sensitive”.

Criticisers also say they’re “just being honest” and are “providing feedback” without realising that honesty without tact is actually cruelty, and very hard to be on the receiving end of.

If you’ve been told you’re too critical then the likelihood is you are – sorry, that may be hard to hear.

Fundamentally you may be wrestling with your own feelings of not being good enough. Studies show that children who grow up being constantly criticised often become criticisers themselves. Is this true of you? Were you criticised a lot as a child? Is it time to look at those old wounds and see what can be done to heal them and in essence feel that you too are good enough just as you are?

In his article for Psychology Today –  One thing that will ruin a perfectly good relationship – author Steven Stosny, Ph.D defines the difference between criticism and feedback. Criticism focuses on what’s wrong with the other person, feedback is about finding ways to improve a situation.  Criticism implies the worst about the other person (You’re stubborn. You’re lazy). Feedback is about the behaviour (how can we sort out what’s going on here).  Criticism devalues, feedback motivates and energises.

So if you often say you’re providing feedback but you’re accused of criticising, take a step back and look to see how your words may be rephrased in a more positive way – or even if they need to be said at all!

Talking about how you feel with the person who is criticising you can be the first step to healing any rifts, but oftentimes, criticisers find it very hard to hear even the most neutral of conversations, often turning it and saying they’re the ones being criticised (without noticing the irony!).

However, if talking doesn’t work, for those who are being constantly criticised – know that you do not need to stay in a relationship where you feel  devalued or belittled.

And for those who criticise – Professor Bookwala says:  “Put simply: stop criticising your partner – it can negatively impact their health and how long they’ll live.”


*All were aged between 57 and 85, with an average age of 68, and 90 per cent were married. The rest were living together or in an otherwise intimate relationship.

This new normal we're getting used to is pretty strange isn't it? I've heard the word surreal used a lot lately as many of us get to grips with lockdown in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. It goes some way to explaining the bewildered looks on people's faces as they wander around supermarkets considering this new reality where shelves are suddenly empty, at least here in the UK. And as we all wake up to a world where nothing feels the same, but outside the sun is still shining and the birds keep on singing as if nothing has changed, surreal just about covers it.

So how do we adapt to these changes, however temporary, and how do we navigate our way back to feeling normal when everything around us feels anything but?

Accept discomfort - it will pass

The first step is to accept that it is entirely natural and normal to feel uncomfortable emotions right now. It is also okay and normal not to like any of what is going on. Yes, it is good to be positive, to remain upbeat and try to find the silver lining in the face of what feels scary, but that comes later.

In order to remain positive, we must accept all those uncomfortable and darker feelings first. Sweeping negative emotions under the carpet does not make them go away.

"What we resist, persists" - Carl Jung

What we resist, persists. Carl Jung explained. The easiest way to deal with a negative emotion is to look it squarely in the face and call it by its name.

EXERCISE ONE: Today, I feel....?
Grab a pen and a piece of paper and list everything you are feeling right now, in this moment. Where does it sit in your body?  Get in touch with what the feeling is? Is it covering another deeper emotion? Sit quietly with this feeling and accept that it doesn't feel good - you can't will it away, you can't fight it, you can only accept it.

  • Tell yourself, everyone feels sad/frustrated/angry sometimes, everyone hurts.
  • Tell yourself, it is okay to feel bad.
  • Remind yourself that feeling negative emotions will allow them to pass more quickly and easily. Noticing them makes them smaller.
  • Tell yourself it will pass.

What is keeping you stuck?

In a crisis, our refusal to give up expectations of how things should be prevents us from experiencing how things could be.

One of the rules of the mind is that our minds like the familiar.  When change is forced on us before we are ready, the natural human response is to resist. First there is shock, then denial, then anger. It is a grieving process all of its own, grieving for an old way of living and an old way of doing.

What keeps us stuck is trying to hold on to the old ways   - our old normal -  when all around us has changed so dramatically that what used to work no longer does. 

The best way to look at it is to consider normal as just an old set of habits we now need to grow out of. Our minds love what's familiar and are destabilised by the unfamiliar. If you've ever given up sugar in your coffee you'll know how it takes some time to get used to the new taste. But once you're used to it, if someone accidentally puts sugar in your .coffee it tastes disgusting - you wonder how you could have ever drunk it that way.

In order to cope with the new normal during the coronavirus pandemic and quickly, it's about making the "unfamiliar familiar and the familiar unfamiliar".

The quickest way to do this is to create a new structure to your day as soon as possible.

EXERCISE TWO: A new daily routine
Write down all the things you used to do every day and every week before the current crisis. What did your day look like? Why was it structured that way? For ease, efficiency, comfort, enjoyment?

Now look at what your day looks like in the current crisis. What has changed? Ask yourself what changes are you finding difficult and what are you resisting? See if you can work out why - and then get to the bottom of the feeling, and as in Exercise One, fully experience the feeling and let it pass.

The new normal

In creating a new normal, look for the opportunity. As coach David Hollis writes: In the rush to return to normal. take the time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.

"In the rush to return to normal. take the time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to" - David Hollis

A case in point, having fewer items on the supermarket shelves made me buy different products I might never have tried before and most of them were cheaper, and the family even liked them (which was quite a miracle in itself!). So, because of the current lockdown, because there was panic buying, because there were fewer products on the shelves, I tried something new and saved money. It's a simplistic example I know, but it's a small thing that made me see the current crisis in a new way.

Not everything about our lives pre-Coronavirus worked well, Now is the time to stop and reflect and choose a better way of living once we are out of this crisis, which of course one day we will be.

EXERCISE THREE: Life after the crisis
On your piece of paper write:  once  this crisis is over...

  • This is what I want to change:
  • This is what I want to keep:
  • This is what I want to try:
  • This is what I want to do:
  • This is how I want to be:

Adapting to change is never easy, even at the best of times. Coping with the new normal is a challenge. In the current crisis, everyone is struggling in some way, big or small. Recent research reveals that self-compassion is key to handling difficult times in life. Knowing that we all hurt, all feel pain, all struggle, all fail, is about making us more aware of our vulnerabilities, and that's what makes us human.  That's what makes us compassionate.

We don't have to achieve great things. We don't have to put a brave face on hard times  or be cheerful all the time - those things come all on their own when first we recognise that times are tough, but they will pass.

The following is a transcript from Dawn's talk: How to Change Your Life, at Wellness Wednesday, Tunbridge Wells, on 12th February 2020

Hello, I'm Dawn Quest. I'm a Rapid Transformational Therapist and coach, primarily working with female clients to help transform their lives through change in all aspects of their lives - career, relationships, family, confidence and self esteem and weight loss and body image among others.

Just to give you a little information about Rapid Transformational Therapy. It's a very powerful form of hypnotherapy that can help get rid of any subconscious blocks that are standing in the way of my clients' success and happiness.  Time and again I've seen RTT transform my clients' lives in very impactful positive ways. So if you have any questions about RTT do come up and have a chat after my talk.

 I'm here tonight to talk about How to Change Your Life.

And I'm assuming, hopefully not wrongly, because you are all sitting here it's because in some way there may be some aspect of your life, big or small, that you want to change or maybe you are ready to take a big step, that big leap of faith and make a major life change - but somehow it feels daunting and overwhelming and frankly downright terrifying - and that is quite understandable.

In the next 15 minutes, I hope to be able to inspire and motivate you to make any changes in your life that you've been considering, maybe for a while now, big or small,  and give you some key practical tips to get you started on the path to changing your life for the better.

Maybe you're stuck in a job that at the very least doesn't fulfil you but at the extreme end is causing you stress, anxiety and emotional issues. Maybe you're unhappy in your relationship or relationships and you are trying to make a decision about whether to stay or go. Maybe you feel unhappy with the way you look or feel about your body - maybe you want to get fitter and healthier.  Or maybe - and this is true for a lot of people - you don't know what you really really want - but you know you're unhappy, you feel unfulfilled and lacking in purpose, and that there has to be  something better for you out there than what you have already.

Whatever the change may be...  I am going to talk about what needs to happen first before we can successfully change our lives.  Why it's important to understand exactly what is holding you back from making a change  - and that could be practical reasons, emotional reasons or most commonly, FEAR. And what to expect when you start making changes in your life - and that can mean self-sabotage but also sabotage from others. 

And, I'm going to outline some key steps to get you on the path to making the changes you most want to make that help you feel good about yourself and your life.

The very first change that needs to happen, before you can make any other change or changes in your life, is in your mind. And that means every negative belief, feeling and thought that is keeping you stuck in your current situation needs to be removed, eliminated and replaced with something much more positive, attractive and more powerful. 

People make the most dramatic changes in their lives when they suddenly have a wake-up moment where they realise:  "That's it, I can't take any more, things have got to change. I have got to change now."

In that split second they know that life has to change and they can't go back to being the old them, in their old life - their minds have suddenly had an upgrade, if you like - just like a phone - and switched to a better more efficient operating system.

Maybe you've even experienced it. Perhaps you know you have been eating badly but it only hits you when you're in a shop and you try on a pair of jeans and you have to go up a size. You think: "Crikey. I need to lay off those Mars bars I've been having every day for the past three months."  Maybe that one glass of wine after work to destress has turned into two, maybe three.. and you wake up one morning and you have a hangover and you say to yourself "never again". Or you've had to work overtime once again and you've missed your child's birthday party and the look on their face when you get home is just too much to bear. We all have that moment that is unique and personal to us - it's a breaking point moment.

But, while change happens in a second, what comes before that moment, may be days, weeks months, sometimes years of deliberating; of hoping, wishing, wanting things to be better, for things to change.

In other words, there's a whole lot of "putting up with" we do before we reach our breaking point. We justify the things we are unhappy about in our lives. We're not unreasonable people - we want to help, to be cooperative , we don't want to rock the boat, we want to be liked. Or that classic - what will people think? So we put up with things.

Until, for some of us, the day comes that we don't. And that day is when the discomfort and perhaps fear of change is far less than the discomfort and pain of our current situation.

And that's the secret to change:  you need to be able to tell yourself that if the worst happened, your life would still be better off by making that change  than what you are currently experiencing.

So, let's say you've got to the point where you know things have to change and you're ready to take action. What then?

So point two:

My question to you is: what has held you back in the past and what is holding you back now from making the change you most want to make?

What usually happens in the lead up to wanting to change our lives, or in the very moment that we make that decision, is our old primitive survival mechanisms kick in and we may start to hear that voice in our head and it's usually saying something negative, like: What if it all goes wrong? What if you fail (again) You'll never change. You tried before, you can't change." And so on. Our minds can come up with many logical and rational reasons for staying where we are and maintaining the status quo.

The trick is to be able to determine whether what is holding you back is real or imagined. And by imagined I mean FEAR. A real and practical reason for not wanting to change jobs may be that you know this year you're going to have some major household bills, so the timing isn't right. But you can work with that. An imagined reason is, something like, "well, no one is going to want to hire me, I'm too old, I'm too qualified. There are no jobs in my industry right now. Best to stay where I am." Those, for the most part, are fear dressed up as reason.

Now fear is a very basic emotion and it's designed to protect us. That's its one and only job. Back when we were cavemen and women, fear kept us alert and prevented us from being eaten by dinosaurs. Fear meant the survival of the species.

These days of course, we have very different dinosaurs to fear. But in most situations in everyday life, the feeling of fear is triggered by an ancient need to survive - far beyond what is real and necessary. In other words, fear may keep us safe, but it also keeps us stuck - and sometimes stuck in the most awful, miserable situations .

So, maybe you are thinking about setting up your own business, but your fear is, "I'll fail, I'll be declared bankrupt, lose my home, lose my family. I'll be that  person everyone crosses the road to avoid speaking to out of embarrassment."

Maybe you want to give a talk at a local PTA event on a Wednesday evening, and you're worried that you'll be overcome by nerves or make a huge fool of yourself - or that no one turns up.

How I coach my clients through fear is with this basic exercise: I ask them to think about their worst case scenario - maybe write it down and really go to town on the gory details: the public humiliation the financial ruin, losing friends or alienating loved ones...

And then I ask: what would you do if the worst case scenario happened? And again I get them to describe exactly how they would respond in this situation.

And in every case, my client reels off a list of actions they would take if they ever found themselves in that worst case scenario. And what they realise by listening to themselves speak out loud is that if the worst case scenario happened - they would cope,, they would find a way out of it. And you will too. We are all more capable and resilient than we think.

Another benefit to thinking about worst case scenarios is by rehearsing them ahead of time, the reality never ever pans out as bad. It just never does.

So, examine your fears. Ask if they are real. Ask yourself, if this fear came true how would I handle it and come up with some logical, practical ways you would cope. And then move on.

So, now you're ready to make the change, you've addressed your fears.. and now I am going to point three and give you a warning and it's this: Don't expect everyone to be happy for you.

And that my come as a shock. You may be excited about all of the positive ways you are changing your life and some people will be very supportive. And some people won't. And it may surprise you who isn't supportive. It may be those who are closest to you.

Because while you may have addressed your own fears about the changes you most want to make, you'll be coming up against other people's fears about how you will change. And guess what, their fears aren't real either.

For example, if you decide to lose weight and you start sticking to a healthy meal plan, you may find your friends, who may also be unhappy with their weight, start to try and sabotage your plans by offering you chocolate or cake. And they may not doing it intentionally. It's because if you change and become this slimmer version of yourself, what happens to the, what questions will they need to start asking themselves.

If you decide to give up drinking, you might have friends tell you you're being boring. You may be giving up for serious health reasons - that's not boring. But again, it's because they fear losing a friendship, losing the comfort they had drinking with you. Because you drinking with them validates their drinking  - even if they themselves know they're drinking too much.

So expect to feel some resistance. Try if you can to surround yourself with the positive people who support you. That doesn't mean not listening to sensible advice - you don't need yes men,  But it's about examining the the motives of those you don't support you. Their resistance may be nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. And remember that those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. If you have to, if you suspect someone might not be supportive, in those early days when you are making positive changes but you feel vulnerable to criticism perhaps, then keep it quiet until you feel strong enough to say what you are doing.

So once, again, there is a free downloadable workbook on my website that outlines an eight step plan - your own personal blueprint for change, if you like. So please do take a look.

To round up, I want to tell you that changing your life may be the most important thing you ever do. In fact, changing your life can save your life. And I don't mean that to sound overly dramatic but I have seen this to be true.

I'm a big fan of the late American poet Mary Oliver. The majority of her poems were about nature, about being outside - they are very reflective and  beautiful. And you may already know this quote, it is quite well known.  "Tell me, what are you going to do with your one wild and precious life".

Because we sometimes forget don't we? We only have this one life. Most of our days we can easily fill with the mundane - paying bills and making dinner and trying to get kids to do their homework. But we forget - we are all in denial. Life is short. Life is too short and precious. And if you ask anyone at the end of  their lives what they regret the most, they will tell you:  the biggest regrets are not the things they did do, but the things they didn't  - the opportunities they missed, the risks and chances they didn't take, the perseverance to stick to a goal, the people they turned away from.

Life is precious and short - and for that reason alone, don't we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to be the happiest version of ourselves, the best version of ourselves. And that doesn't mean being selfish, or completely disregarding others' feelings  -  it means being responsible for our own happiness. If you've travelled on a plane, you'll know that the air stewards tell all parents, "if we hit turbulence and the oxygen masks drop down, put your own mask on first before seeing to your children's." And the reason is obvious of course. If you pass out because of a lack of oxygen you'll be of no help to your children whatsoever. So it is in life - if you are struggling with being unhappy or living a life that constantly rubs you up the wrong way - it won't just impact you. You'll be more irritable, more stressed, maybe you'll feel depressed more often than not. Everyone in your immediate circle will feel it too.

A college professor talking to his students, said: "You all have a little bit of wanting to save the world in you. But I want you to know that it's okay if you only save one person, and it's okay if that person is yourself".

Our own happiness, the choices we make for our own happiness can inspire our friends and loved ones and help them do the same.

So I am going to leave you with a last question and it's this:  if you know what it is you want to change in your life, ask yourself, what is the very first step I can take right now to change my life for the better and commit to making it.

It is never too late to make a change in your life. In the words of the Chinese proverb: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

In 1940, author, activist and lecturer Helen Keller published  a book called Let Us Have Faith.  In a chapter entitled  Faith Fears Not she wrote:

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing*"

It's one of my favourite quotes despite often being misquoted (with the addition of an "at all" at the end).  I like it because it reminds me of the big picture, when fear gets in the way of making big, bold decisions about how I want my life to be. 

Helen Keller is of course most famous for living a bold and fearless life despite being blind, deaf and initially considered mute.  Keller suffered a viral illness at 18 months old that stole her sight and robbed her of her hearing; doctors diagnosed  "an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain" which was later believed to be scarlet fever or meningitis. She described her life  growing up as being “at sea in a dense fog” – which is probably all the description you need.

Having faith must have been a daily challenge for Keller. If you can't have faith in what you see and hear, then what remains must be an extraordinary faith in something else; not necessarily religious faith, though Keller had that, but a simple unwavering faith  in life. The belief that with every step she took, the ground would not renege on an unspoken deal to be there beneath her feet, always. Without the anchors of sight and sound to guide her, all she had was faith in what she knew to be true - gravity, the ground, people who looked after her  - and that these would be present and continue her whole life long.

I'm presuming a lot of course. But for the rest of us, gifted with all our senses  - or perhaps burdened by them -  how often do we have that same trust in life: that it will unfold in its own way without us needing to control every element, every moment, every outcome? How often do we feel that a bold step into the unknown will be met well and not with disaster?

Life goes on whether you sit on your sofa and binge-watch Netflix or get out there and follow your heart, do something new, give life the opportunity to live up to your expectations.  But getting out there and doing something  is invariably more interesting.

Fear of Failure

What usually stops the "doing something"  and "following your heart-ing" is fear of course: a fear of failure, or humiliation, or rejection and so on. Fear either gives rise to a desire to try and control everything, or a feeling that no matter what you do, it will never amount to anything, so why bother? You could argue that laziness is just fear in disguise. Better to not try than try and fail.  

But whether you're frightened or not makes no difference. People who play it safe are not necessarily safer. People who go out and experience the world may not be safer either but life is richer, more colourful, more wonderful.

Life is an adventure... even if it doesn't feel like it

Yes, you might be stuck in the same old, same old. Life may be feeling mundane and boring, hard work and difficult. But what you will always have is choice - and choice is exciting.

If nothing else in life, we have a choice in how we respond and react to the mundane and boring and difficult. Despite everything else we have a choice to be different, act differently, think differently. And that means we can act in completely new, better and more appealing ways. Even small changes - like taking a new route to work or choosing to have lunch anywhere but the  desk -  creates a gap between the old us living the boring/mundane/difficult life, to the new us, one step on the road to something better.

Try something different and you might meet someone new who'll change your life, or you'll find your perfect home on a new street. Maybe you'll discover what it is you really want to be doing with your life.

You can put up with being unhappy or you can change it. You can stay or leave. You can shut up or speak up. But in that small moment of decision and change, adventure exists  because, well...


Possibility is perhaps one of my favourite words (after serendipity). It promises hope, it even sounds hopeful. Which it is.

Possible is probable's more exciting, flamboyant cousin. Possible is a little lighter on her feet, more daring. She's a  lot more fun.

Sometimes we get stuck on what's probable, and what's likely to happen. Ask ourselves "what's possible" and it's almost like you can feel the grinding of our mental gearboxes as we start looking at a problem from a different angle. We often have a problem with possibility because dreaming and hoping for what's possible often feels foolish, childish and silly. Probable is much safer ground, more grown up.

Yes, today might probably be much like any other. Or quite possibly it might be the start of something new. Set your mind to what's possible, because when we're open to possibility, we're open to change and  life being better. To life being an adventure. Because...

What's the worst that can happen?

So you have a big dream or goal or idea, or just a notion of how you want your life to be different. But you keep putting it off because you're frightened it will all go wrong.

Imagine for a moment the worst that can possibly happen if you decide to follow through? Describe it in full, gory technicolour detail. Your husband will leave you, you'll be bankrupt and end up homeless relying on charity just to get by. Or you'll fall flat on your face and everyone will laugh at you and you'll have to go back to your boring job answering phones.

Once you're  finished imagining the full horror of failing, ask yourself what you would do then? 

When I ask a client to go through this process. every time without fail they come up with a perfectly reasonable, logical course of action. They realise that even if the worst happened, they would still be okay, that they'd find a way to figure it all out.  

If you can visualise the worst thing that can happen, you can also visualise the best.
Choose that.

Look for the helpers

Back when I was too young to know better I used to make a lot of decisions based on what my heart wanted. Which was a lot of fun (but not advisable some 30 years later).

I moved to San Francisco in my twenties because I was in love. But it wasn’t long before that all went kaput. The weekend that we broke up I also lost my job, and my home and I ended up sleeping on a friend’s sofa. It was 4th July. Independence Day. The irony wasn’t lost on me. As I heard the fireworks boom over Crissy Field, I contemplated my own independence, enforced as it was. I felt utterly miserable.

But that weekend where I felt like I had lost everything  that had meaning to me, I realised I had something. When everything was stripped away I had myself. And my skills and my talents, my body, my mind. I remember looking at my arms and legs in complete surprise as if thinking "My God I'm still here, despite everything." I felt pretty invincible - heartbroken, but invincible.

And then something lovely happened. People who were strangers then but who I now consider lifelong friends, rallied round and helped. As the much-loved children's TV host Mr Rogers always used to say "Look for the helpers". I had lots of helpers. 

For someone whose life had just been upended, I felt in pretty good shape, pretty lucky. Because with these things - my body, my mind, my skills, my talents, and people to help - I had all I needed to start over.

On life's 'big highway' you have all that you really need to start something new, start again, start out.  You have all that you need for the journey: your brilliant mind (whether you believe it's brilliant or not, it is), your amazing ability to love and be loved, your curiosity, your intelligence, your compassion, your connection. Everything else, all the other stuff is just a bonus. As Dr Seuss said:

"You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself in any direction you choose"
Dr Seuss

The worst can happen and often does. But it happens despite, not because, you're living life to the full.  Life is a bitch. And then it isn't. What is there really  to lose except a life un-lived?

So love life with a big heart. Love people completely and allow yourself to be loved in return. Not the fake, pretend love that’s really something else dressed up as love in disguise. Love people who make you feel, as author Jen Sincero puts it  "like you could carry a horse up a hill". 

And go for what you want, not what you think other people want for you. We're here for such a little time. Try not to worry. Even if you can't see the ground in front of you, trust you will be okay. And remember to look for the helpers and let them help you. Because helping also makes the helper feel good. 

If you're unhappy where you are, all it takes is just one step in a new direction. That's the adventure. The ground will be there.

Helen Keller, Let Us Have Faith, 1940

  • "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. God Himself is not secure, having given man dominion over His works! Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. Faith alone defends. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable."
  • This article was first published just over two years ago, but in light of many of us having to go through lockdown and self-isolation during the Coronavirus pandemic, it felt very apt to repost. 

Just recently, I've started doing three things that have had an immediate and profound impact on my physical and emotional health.

My energy levels have soared, I'm more productive and more creative. I'm calmer and less stressed and generally just feel like a happier person. This, at a time, when I'm usually struggling with the grey and dreary skies of a long UK winter.

Nothing in my external world has changed at all - still the same pressures and demands on my time. But everything in my internal world has -  I'm able to cope with them better.

Together these three daily routines take about 30 minutes tops. And, because I know what a difference it makes, this half hour has now become an essential, non-negotiable part of the day, not a luxury to fit in if I have time.

As the title suggests, making time for these in the morning sets me up for the day. But even if I do them at lunchtime or later in the evening, I still reap the benefits.

In recommending these three simple practises, I'd say do what feels right for you. Do just one, do all three, group them together in a sequence or split them up into three separate practises. I strongly suggest, however, being consistent and performing these regularly for maximum benefit.

Tabata - the 4-Minute Workout  

Tabata - or the Tabata method -  is a short, high-intensity exercise routine comprising 20 seconds of all-out, maximum-effort exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times. Total time from start to finish is four minutes - and that's it, you're done for the day.

The Tabata Protocol was created by Dr Izumi Tabata¹ following his work with the Japanese Olympic speed skating team in the 1990s (though he himself credits the team's coach, Irisawa Koichi). Tabata found that just four minutes of exercise performed in these short bursts was equal to, if not better than, an hour's worth of exercise in terms of cardiovascular fitness and health.

While you may already have an exercise programme you love, for those of us who don't (because we simply can't find the time, or we can't justify the cost of a gym or a babysitter), it's perfect. I challenge even the busiest person not to be able to find four spare minutes in a day.

According to fitness professionals, the key is to make those 20 second bursts count - if you're not pushing yourself to maximum effort then you're not doing it right.

For me, it's the way Tabata makes me feel for the rest of the day that has me hooked.  I feel energised and raring to go, an effect that lasts well into the late afternoon. As a result I get more done, and if it helps me look better into the bargain, that's a bonus.

You can find specific Tabata apps which help you time your routine (trying to keep track of counting while you're doing jumping jacks is harder than you might think). At a pinch, you could use a stopwatch.

As with all exercise programmes, if you're in any doubt about starting a new fitness routine, consult a medical professional first.

¹ Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO(2max) - Dr Izumi Tabata, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise,  1996.


After Tabata, I find a comfortable spot, which is usually sitting at my desk, for the next step - meditation.

Meditation has become something of a buzzword over recent years and months, aided by technology and a range of very cool free apps like Calm, Headspace, and, one of my favourites, Brainwave (which uses binaural beats to access deeper levels of relaxation).

No longer strictly a religious practise, or the preserve of the New Age movement or celebrity fads, meditation has become mainstream. Global CEOS and leaders incorporate meditation into their daily schedules, companies are starting to introduce meditation and mindfulness as part of their overall employee mental health strategy, and teachers are introducing meditation into the classroom.

And it's not hard to see why, with research showing the benefits of meditation ranging from better sleep to improved mood, soaring levels of creativity and just simply being happier.

For me, meditating is like turning the dial on a radio to tune in to a calmer, saner frequency. Answers to problems I've been wrestling with for days suddenly seem to pop up. The rollercoaster ups and downs of life level out to a more manageable state. There's less drama.

There's a wide range of online meditation recordings to choose from, including  guided meditation routines to mantras on YouTube to audio recordings with embedded binaural beats, as mentioned above.

A meditation can be as simple as a body scan, focussing on relaxing all the parts of your body. Or it can encompass greater themes like compassion, gratitude and forgiveness (a personal favourite is MindValley Academy's 6 Phase Meditation).

I have also created two meditation audios:  Inner Calm  designed to help banish the stresses of the day and unlock inner calm and balance.; and Mood Boost, providing a  quick boost to lift your spirits and lighten your mood.


If meditation is like turning the dial on a radio to tune into a better mood, then practising gratitude is like flicking a switch to change night to day, dark to light in an instant. It's that powerful a mood changer.

Recent research shows that people who practise gratitude say they experience fewer aches and pains, have improved relationships and deeper, uninterrupted sleep. In addition they suffer less from anxiety and low mood while finding pleasure in the small day-to-day things. Overall, people who feel gratitude are more satisfied and contented with life, regardless of the circumstances they find themselves in.

How you practise gratitude is, of course, a personal thing.

Some people like to keep a gratitude journal, writing down three things they are grateful for every day; others like to have a gratitude jar which they fill with notes of gratitude on a daily basis. Or you could incorporate gratitude into your meditation routine.

An acupuncturist friend of mine keeps a photo album on her phone filled with photos of people, places and things she loves. She takes time out of her day to scroll through that and remind herself of all she is grateful for.

I personally think of one or two things I am grateful for every day and hold them in my thoughts for a few minutes.

But don't just go through the motions. Rather than just list the things you're grateful for, the trick is to fully immerse yourself in the emotion. Tap in to all your senses - what you see, hear, smell, taste and above all feel, for a more powerful experience.

We all get busy, too busy sometimes. But if you try just one of the above three practises, know you're doing something profoundly positive and wonderful for your everyday physical, emotional and mental health. And that your day will be better because of it.

Photo ©Fotolia/coffeekai


Get the inside scoop

Sign up for exclusive content and news from Dawn Quest
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram