Other Stories

Falling into a Hole

A woman is out for a walk when she falls into a deep hole from which there appears to be no way out. She cries out for help and a passing academic leans over and offers her advice on how to avoid such holes in future. Later a religious leader hears her cries and suggests she thinks about the true meaning of her predicament and says that there is a being somewhere who cares about her. Subsequently a therapist responds with an offer to help her explore how she allowed herself to get into this situation. Various other professionals offer advice as the woman sinks into deeper despair. Lastly a friend comes by, realises what has happened and jumps into the hole with her. The woman is pleased to have the company but also wonders why her friend has put herself in the same situation. The friend replies, “I have been in this hole before, I know the way out.”

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The Drum

A long time ago, a man was beating a drum as hard as he could. The neighbors were fed up at the racket and asked him what he was doing. He replied, “Keeping wild tigers at bay.” A neighbor shouted, “But there are no wild tigers within a thousand miles of here.” The man smiled and replied, “It works, doesn’t it!”

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Exam Questions

There was a student who was talking to her head of department outside the library one day and the Head asked her how his Economics course was going. The student replied that it was no problem and that she was sure she would do really well in the test because she knew all the questions.
The Head was very surprised and asked what the questions would be, and the student listed 10 questions that she said the teacher would ask in the test. The Head went straightaway to the teacher and started to berate the teacher for giving out the questions before the exam. The teacher protested, saying that he had not given out any questions, but when the Head listed the questions that the student had said, they were exactly what the teacher had written down for the test on the paper that was in his office.
The Head and the teacher decided that the student must have slipped into the office and copied the paper, so they called the student up in front of a committee on charges of cheating.
The student protested her interest and said that the teacher had said there would be ten questions on the test and had made clear what questions they would be. The teacher protested loudly, “I never said what questions would appear on the test.” The student replied, “Oh yes, you never said it, but you showed it clearly. When you were talking about a topic that would appear as a question, your voice changed and you moved to a different part of the room.” So I simply put a star next to those topics, and that’s how I knew they would appear on the test.
The whole committee agreed that the student had done nothing wrong, and was in fact to be congratulated on her careful attention to detail, so she was told that she didn’t need to sit the test at all and would receive full marks because she had already shown how well she knew the material.

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You are Here

Then there was John. John met everybody who came on the ward. He pestered the nurses explaining, “I’m locked up here for no reason at all. I don’t belong here.” So I instructed the entire ward personnel everytime he says “I don’t belong here,” I said, “reply to him simply ‘But you are here’.” After about six months of always getting that same reply John said, “I KNOW I’M HERE!!” The ward personnel reported this to me and I went to him and he said, “I don’t belong here”, and I said, “But you are here.” He said, “I know I’m here.” I said, “That’s right you are here. Now that you are here what do you want to do about LEAVING here?” Within nine months he was discharged, got a job as a manual laborer and started putting his sister through college and contributing to the support of the family. Having no psychotherapy other than, “You ARE here.” Forcing a patient to recognize where they are at and meeting them there and then bridging the gap to the future is a very important thing.

Other Stories

The Bear and the Factory

Once upon a time, there was a bear. The bear lived beside a beautiful forest, and all through the summer, he enjoyed walking through the forest, climbing trees, and chasing squirrels. Then when it got a little too warm, the bear would cool down by heading down to the lake and swimming for a while. When the bear got hungry he went fishing and caught salmon. The salmon in the lake was just perfect. It felt good to be a bear.
As August changed into September, the bear noticed that the mornings and evenings began to get a little cooler. And as September changed into October, the bear realized that it was beginning to get a little cold, and as you know, bears don’t really like the cold – unless they are polar bears, and this bear was most definitely not a polar bear. He was more the prototypical kind of bear – a real bear is how he liked to think of himself. So of course, when it got cold, the bear started thinking about the long sleep of the winter. And as October progressed, the colours of the leaves changed from green to reds and yellows, to browns and beautiful golds, and the bear decided that it was time to get his bed ready for the winter.
So he found himself a nice comfortable warn and dry cave in the forest and he started to gather branches and leaves to make himself a comfortable bed. He tried out his bed, and thought to himself, “no, not quite comfortable enough,” because bears like to be really comfortable when they sleep. So he gathered more leaves and piled them up to create a perfect mattress and pillow. And it was comfortable that when the bear laid down his head, he immediately fell into a deep deep sleep.
And when he awoke, something wasn’t right. It was still cold. It certainly wasn’t Spring, and instead of the sweet sounds of the birds singing in the Spring, he heard strange mechanical noises. He got up and still quite bleery-eyed, he wandered out of his game. What a surprise! There right in front of him where the forest should be were a line of machines and men working at the machines. That was the source of the awful noises. For the bear had woken in the middle of a factory.
Suddenly, a big man came up to the bear and grabbed him by the shoulder.
“Why aren’t you working?” said the man.
The bear was very shocked and replied a bit hesitantly, “well … because I’m a bear.”
The man asked again, “don’t be silly – why are you not working?”
“Because I’m a bear”, said the bear.
The man said: “No, you’re not. You are not a bear. You are just a silly man who needs to shave and take off that fur coat.”
“No really! I am a bear,” said the bear.
The big man eventually decided that the bear was crazy and dragged him off to the company doctor.
The company doctor said, “you’re not a bear – you are just a silly man who needs to shave and take off your fur coat.”
When the bear kept insisting that he was a bear, the doctor said, “OK, I am going to prove to you that you are not a bear.”
The doctor drove the bear in his big fancy car to the zoo where five bears were sitting in a cage.
The doctor turned to the bears in the cage and said, “Is this man a bear?”
All the bears in the cage started to laugh and one said, “Of course not! If he were a bear, he would be in the cage with us!”
However, the bear was still not convinced.
So the doctor took the bear to the circus where there were a troupe of performing bears who juggled and rode bicycles.
“Is this man a bear?”, asked the doctor to the bears.
One of the bears in the circus who was juggling almost fell off his unicycle because he was laughing so much.
“Of course not! If he were a bear, he would be in the circus with us, juggling and riding a bicycle!”
When the bear heard this, he felt very very sad because he thought “oh no, I am not a bear – I am just a silly man who needs a shave and to take off his fur coat.”
The bear continued to be very sad, but started going to work every day in the factory.
Every day, he trudged to the factory and became used to the long boring work at the factory. He became tired and stressed. And worst of all, he really began to forget that he was a bear. Trudging to the factory every day, he began to think that he had been working in the factory for ever and that he was foolish for thinking that he could be anything other than a factory worker.
And the bear continued to work at that factory for a long time. Every day he went into the factory and he worked and he eventually got used to the factory work, although he didn’t really like it very much. He got very busy and stressed. Every night, he was so tired.
He worked there for almost a whole year and then one day he noticed that the summer was coming to an end and that the evenings and mornings were getting cooler.
And as August changed into September, it began to get colder and by October the leaves on the trees had begun to change colour.
Still every day, he trudged along into work. And then one day, as he walked, in front of him a leaf floated down from a tree way up above his head. It floated down in front of his face. The bear put out his hand and caught the leaf and he looked at it in surprise.
It was beautiful – red and yellow and brown and gold. He looked at it and thought, “Winter is coming, soon it will be cold. I want to go to my cave and sleep.”
But then he shook his head and he said, “no, that’s not right. I’m not a bear. I’m just a silly man who needs to shave and take off his fur coat.”
And his head went down again and he walked on. He continued trudging on towards the factory.
And then two leaves fluttered down in front of his face from a place far up above his head. To his surprise, the two leaves fell perfectly into his two paws as if his paws had been waiting for the leaves all the time.
He looked at the leaves and they were so pretty – yellow and brown and red and gold, all mixed together in a beautiful mosaic of patterns. He caught the leaves and looked at the leaves and he suddenly remembered! He remembered everything! He remembered – “you really are a bear! That’s right, you really are a bear!”
And he looked at the factory in front of him and he said to himself, “Oh no – that’s not for me” and he turned away from that path and started walking and then running down a different path. And the path led deep into the forest, far from the factory.
There he found a cave and made a bed and lay down to sleep and he fell into a deep deep beautiful sleep.

Other Stories

Sir Lancelot and The Essential Question

Part I:
Many years ago, in England, there was a castle-town called Camelot. One day Sir Lancelot went out riding on his horse from Camelot. Sir Lancelot was not very smart and so he forgot to take his sword. Suddenly on a narrow path, the Black Knight appeared. The Black Knight was Sir Lancelot’s enemy.
He said, “You have no sword. I could kill you easily now. But I am a playful fellow. So I will give you a question. If you can answer this question, I will not kill you. But you must promise to return here soon.” Sir Lancelot agreed. The Black Knight then said, “The question is, ‘What do women want most?’”
Sir Lancelot didn’t know the answer. But he had lots of friends back at Camelot and they were always talking about women. So he thought surely they would know. So he turned and started riding back to the castle.
Suddenly on the path an ugly old woman jumped out and stopped him. She said “I heard your conversation with the Black Knight and know the answer to the question. Find me a husband and I will tell you the answer.” Sir Lancelot felt she was right but said, “Excuse me” and he rode around her and went on to the castle.
At the castle he asked all the fellow knights “What do women want most?” They all had different answers, some said chocolate, some said money, some said diamonds, some said “me”. Sir Lancelot was not very smart, but he did have good intuition and his intuition told him these answers were not right. His intuition also told him that the old woman he met on the path really did have the right answer.
Lancelot said to the knights, “The person who I think really knows the answer is an ugly old woman. But she won’t tell me the answer unless I find her a husband. Would any of you marry her?” Immediately all of their heads dropped as if a teacher had asked a difficult question in a classroom. EXCEPT one. Sir Gawain was a very nice fellow and he stood up and said, “If it will save your life, I will marry any woman.” So the two of them rode out to the forest. They found the old woman and quickly told her that Sir Gawain would marry her. Then Sir Lancelot said quickly, “Please tell me, What do women want most?”
The ugly old woman said, “Women want _______.”
[STOP HERE. Ask as many people as possible the question “What do women want most?” ]
Part II:
So there was Sir Lancelot and Sir Gawain in front of the old woman waiting for an answer to the question, “What do women want most?” The old woman said, “Women want . . . [pause] . . . choice.” Both Sir Lancelot and Sir Gawain were confused by this answer but they accepted it. The old lady and Sir Gawain then went back to Camelot to get married. Sir Lancelot went to meet the Black Knight. “What is the answer?” said the Black Knight. “Ch Ch ch ch choice?” said Sir Lancelot stuttering in fear. “Damn! You got it right. How did you know?” “Oh, I’m just smart” replied Lancelot.
Then Sir Lancelot rode back to Camelot. The old lady and Sir Gawain had just gotten married and they went up to the wedding room at the top of the castle. The old lady jumped on the bed, and Sir Gawain went to the window to get some fresh air. Suddenly, there was a very sweet breeze that came through the room and he turned and he saw that the old lady had turned into a young beautiful woman. “What happened?” he wondered.
The young lady explained that a wicked witch had put a spell on her and that the only way to break the spell was to marry a knight. Gawain was very excited and started toward the bed, but the young lady said, “Wait, it is not completely over. I can be beautiful like this only half of every day. Do you want me to be beautiful in the day or in the night? The rest of the time I will be that old lady.”
Sir Gawain thought long and hard. And finally he said, ”___________________”.
[STOP here and ask the people you tell the story to what they think he said. What would they choose? And what would you choose?]
Part III:
Sir Gawain didn’t know what to say for the longest time. It was hard to choose between night or day. Finally, he said, “I don’t know, you decide!” And suddenly ZZZAGABOOM! Lightening struck the castle and . . . the young lady said to Sir Gawain, “You did it! You gave to a woman what she wants most: CHOICE. Now the whole curse is off of me and I can be beautiful both night and day as long as I live and for as old as I become!”
[Part IV: Optional]
Now some people say that’s the end of the story and the beautiful woman and Sir Gawain lived happily ever after. But others say that Sir Gawain thought things over and he realized that the woman had had no CHOICE when she married him. And he too came to think that CHOICE was important, for women and men. So he decided to get a divorce and give her the choice of meeting him if she wanted to.
Some people wisely end the story here, leaving listeners the choice to imagine their own ending. Some unwisely continue and say these two dated, got married, and had a son that they, strangely enough, named “Knight.” When he grew up, he became a knight, of course. So they called him Knight Knight. And the other Knights were always teasing him in the evening by saying “night-night Knight Knight.”
(At this point the story-teller begins dodging rotten eggs and tomatoes thrown by the audience! )

Other Stories

The Princess and the Toad

There was a lovely princess who kept harming herself. She was not sure why she did it but found it hard to stop for long. One day she decided she’d had enough. She turned the hurtful activity into an ugly toad and banished it to a cave at the bottom of the sea. The toad tried to climb out but she fixed it with a terrible stare and it was locked in the cave as if there were steel railings barring the exit. Day by day the princess grew stronger, healthier and more beautiful. To begin with she thought about the toad but the image of him became paler and paler. Eventually she hardly gave him a second thought. She was powerful and fit. She had no pain and no stress. The toad became smaller each day, his lumpy skin became smooth and he was like a harmless, pale slug. He could never harm the princess again. THE END

Other Stories

The Lake

And the surface of the lake was calm, a deep deep calm, and the people loved to gaze upon the calm surface of the lake knowing that it was merely the face that overlay a depth of calm. But that was before the rain.
Then came the rain, and the people saw the hundreds and thousands of ripples upon the surface of the lake. Many believed that the treasure at the heart of the lake would be disturbed and even destroyed by the rain as it pelted down upon the surface, continually sending out new disturbances on the surface of the lake. Yet when the rain had come and the rain had gone, the lake stood as before, calm at its surface, and more importantly calm down in its very heart.
And the avalanche came crashing down from the mountain, carrying monstrous rocks from on high that broke through the surface of the lake. All those watching feared for the destruction of the lake, yet when the avalanche had come and gone, the lake had absorbed the might of the avalanche, swallowed up those rocks and let them too become part of the lake.
And the river flowed into the lake and beyond the lake, carrying parts of the land into the lake and part of the lakes out beyond the lake into new rivers, new waters, and eventually all the way down to the sea. The people watched and feared this new power that threatened the integrity of the lake – threatened to change it from what they all knew and loved into something completely different. And the lake did indeed change, yet at its heart it was still peaceful and calm and powerful, able to absorb the new currents of change, and to pass on – to recycle parts of itself onto the world beyond. And the river flowed through the lake and the lake itself grew as it changed.
And a boy threw a single stone into the water and it sent ripples out upon the lake and the ripples spread underneath the sun shining down on the water, each ripple lighting up in a glorious display of silver and gold. For each disturbance on the lake is simply a way another way for the lake to live, to change, to learn, and to love life itself.

Other Stories

Choosing the Emperor

It was time for the Emperor to choose the next emperor. As a test, he calls young people to his castle. gives each one a seed. One young man takes his home, plants it, takes care of it. He hears that others’ seeds are growing beautiful plants. He’s sad. One year later, everyone assembles at castle to show the emperor their plants. Only this young man has no plant. Emperor chooses him because “Your next emperor will be an honest man.”

Blog Hypnosis Therapy

Education and Therapy

I’m always interested in learning new stuff or revisiting the same material from different sources, especially when it involves some of my favourite areas like hypnosis and NLP. Over the last few months,  I have working through the readings and assignments on the wonderful free online course by Stephen Brooks in Indirect Hypnosis. I highly recommend the course as a way of learning more. Stephen has put together what is probably the finest no-charge resource on the Internet. One thing to keep in mind though – it is time-consuming! They recommend at least three hours per week and that kind of committment over a year is obviously difficult for many folks unless they are highly motivated.
Anyway, to the point… one of the recent questions posed on the online course was the comparison of education and therapy, and I have reproduced my response below.
To what extent can education also be classed as therapy, and to what extent can therapy also be classed as education?
I have been a teacher/educator for many years and I definitely see that a lot of “therapy” work is carried out by teachers. The classroom is a social environment, and many so-called educational problems can better be viewed as social problems. For example, in my EFL language classes in Japan, students are very reluctant to give an answer for fear that they may give a wrong answer. Japanese culture does not in general support people who give wrong answers 😉 As a result, students do not develop their language skills as much as they possibly could because of group pressure. This same group-pressure leads to many other problems for people including high stress, inability to express goals externally, and much more. Things that are addressed and resolved successfully in the classroom can also have a powerful therepeutic effect on other areas of a student’s life. People live in social contexts and therapy does not exist in a vacuum.
Some forms of counseling are purely information based in that they offer the client access to information that will help them make better choices. So is this therapy, or education?
If we are changing the frame – the beliefs and values that support ‘problem behaviours’ – by giving information, then we are certainly engaging in therapy as much as education.
Recently, I have studied a lot of recent neuroscience and within the neural networks of the brain, change in the form of education or change in the form of therapy produces similar enriching effects. The neural networks can extended, the increased myelination increases the speed of certain pathways.
My current thinking is that the difference between words such as learning, growth, or change (or the roughly corresponding Education, Development, Therapy) is a difference of focus and can produce identical changes at the levels of both neurology and of behaviour.