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How I overcame my fear of public speaking

I was standing in front of a group of medical doctors about to give a speech on enzymes that my college physiology professor helped me write the day before. I remember thinking, “Is it too late to quit this job?” I wasn’t the first choice to give this speech. I was the third, but I was there now...

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Help, I’m Afraid of Peacocks

Posted by healthyhabi | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 02-23-2016

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peacockI received an unexpected voicemail message from a man claiming he needed to schedule an “Emergency” appointment.

Firstly, the word “emergency” always makes me nervous because I’m afraid the person is suicidal, and they think I am a psychotherapist. Before calling him back, I grab the number for suicide prevention and google who I have to call if he really is. I was very relieved when a young sounding man answered the phone and told me he needed to schedule an emergency appointment to handle a fear. The fear in question… a fear of peacocks. “I’m sorry, did you say peacocks?” I thought he was joking. I have to remind myself to assume everyone is serious so I don’t start laughing.

“Yes, peacocks. I hate those stupid peacocks. I’m afraid of them, and I need this handled by Saturday.”  

“I am sure I can see you before then, but just out of curiosity, why Saturday?”  

“Because I am going to the San Diego Zoo with a bunch of friends, and they have peacocks there. I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of them.“ He explained that he was in the military, and they were on leave. Someone had gotten a bunch of zoo passes, and they were going.  

I have a zoo pass and have gone many times over the years. I hadn’t even noticed there were peacocks, but that’s how fears work. A person afraid of spiders can spot a spider from a mile away. I have a relative who finds money everywhere; he can spot a dime from a hundred yards away, whereas I could trip over a $100 bill and not see it. This is probably why he is richer than I am, but that’s a different story.

I have worked with clients’ fears of just about every barnyard animal that exists, so I have heard many versions of this story. Most frequently geese are the offending animal, although I have heard about quite a few horses as well. My client, who is stationed at the local camp Pendleton, is originally from Ohio. He grew up on a farm and had a very bad relationship with the peacocks they kept. They chased and pecked at him every time he was in the yard by himself.

For a long time, he was smaller than they were, but he still found them pretty scary even when he was quite a bit taller than they were. The fear was already locked in place. Even now when they chase him, he often screams involuntarily, which is fine when you are 6 but not so much when you are 25 and in the company of fellow marines. For some reason animals you are afraid of always seem to know this and will chase you no matter how old you are. It’s like you are marked. Similar to how cats always seem to know to jump into the lap of the one house guest who is allergic to them.  

In this case, we had to work on helping him release his fear and also let go of the habit of responding to peacocks in an embarrassing way. His response was just as much a habit as his fear was, and I hoped to help him not respond to anything in that way.  

The session worked well. I had a few extra passes to the zoo that I wasn’t using to give to him, so his session was basically free. Later, I got an email from him saying he had a great time at the zoo and for once the peacocks left him alone. Several weeks later I went to the zoo myself, and while enjoying a cup of coffee at one of their cafes, a group of peacocks came over to me and one pecked at my foot. My client was right. There are peacocks at the zoo, and they are mean… Stupid peacocks. 

Jill Thomas CCHT
Healthy Habits Hypnosis


Love & Marriage Advice from an Expert

Posted by healthyhabi | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 02-09-2016

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loveadvice_04Our family moved from Arkansas to California when I was young teenager. Soon after we arrived, my parents became close friends with an Indian couple in their 60’s named Virot and Irmala, whose entire family was still in India. Virot and Irmala quickly became like family to me, and I thought of them as my godparents. They were kind and loving, and although they spoke with heavy accents and were more than a little odd, I loved them for it!

When I was 16, and visiting godfather Virot at his Indian goods store one day, he told me that because of my age, it was time to have a serious talk. I knew he wasn’t going to talk to me about sex, and figuring any other topic would be fine, I settled in for a very surprising conversation.

Virot started by explaining that in his large, extended family, it was his role to work on arranging marriages for his relatives. He then looked me in the eye and said, “Jill, it’s time for you to start thinking about marriage.” WHAT?!  I was quick to reply, “Virot, I am 16! That’s not going to happen for a long time, so no matching me up with your family in India. Okay?” Virot replied, “No, of course not now, and not with my family, but you must start thinking about this because the decisions you make now will influence the choices you have in the future.” Alright…he had my attention. What followed was some amazing marriage and life advice from someone, strangely enough, whose own marriage to a complete stranger had been arranged, but from what I had seen, seemed to be a very happy union.

“Jill,” he said pointedly, “the most important thing is that you MUST have your own money. You must not rely on a man to pay your bills. Money is freedom, giving you the choice to stay or to leave if it’s not a good situation. So, you need to think about going to college.” I found it interesting that he pushed me twice as hard as my own parents to go to college.

“I don’t care what your American churches say about marriage,” he went on. “If it takes a lawyer to break it, then it’s a contract and not a covenant. Make sure you know the terms of that contract very well by getting to know the man for a long time before you get married. Know what kind of person he is, what kind of family he comes from, and most of all, how you will be treated in the marriage, before you sign that contract in a church or a courthouse.” 

Virot continued, “If you plan on having children, it is especially important that you marry someone of exceptional character, since he will be half of the legacy you leave through the generations coming from your bloodline.” The blood thing seemed to be enormously significant to him, although I was never sure why. I did get his point, though, about choosing the best possible father for my future children.  

“Find someone with a background much like your own. People fight about their differences, not what they have in common, so it’s essential you find someone of a similar religion, culture, and political opinion. And marry someone as smart as you or even smarter, so he will challenge you to be better.”  

“It is vital,” he ended, “to put yourself first! Don’t marry someone whom society or your parents think would be the best choice.  Marry someone you think will be the greatest match for you forever…not just someone nice-looking or rich. Take your time to find this person, and never, ever settle. If he doesn’t seem like the very best match, stop seeing him and move on.  It’s better to be alone than to be with the wrong person.”

loveadvice_03I was aware that Virot didn’t talk about love. That wasn’t his way, as he was much more practical. He wanted me to marry the very best – not just someone I LOVED, but also someone who was good for me.  

“Oh,” he added. “Do not forget, also, before you agree to marry anyone, bring him over for me to approve. I absolutely insist on that.”

I did follow his advice and took my time, so much so that Virot was gone from this world before he could size up my choice in person. However, I take comfort in the fact that he did meet my husband when we were just friends, before we fell in love, and I’m certain he would have approved.

This Valentine’s Day, my wish for all you men and women is long-term happiness in love. As Virot said, find your best possible match! Lust is great, and love is even better, but neither guarantees a lasting partnership. Take your time, don’t forget your personal value and importance, and never settle for anything less than what will bring you the most joy over time. Love yourself and your future children enough to follow through on this.  

One other little remark Virot made – and I almost forgot – was not to marry anyone whose mother was hard to get along with. Oops!

Jill Thomas CCHT
Healthy Habits Hypnosis