Dickens, Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Future:

Shops have started playing Christmas songs and the kids have started opening their advent calendars and that can only mean one thing: that we are on the ever-escalating countdown to Christmas.

This past weekend I took the family down to Rochester in Kent for our first visit to the annual Dickensian Christmas Festival. It was a far cry weather wise from the summer Dickens' Festival we went to and this time we spent more time trying to keep warm and dry rather than trying to find shade from the summer's blazing heat.

There were street entertainers doing short plays, magic and music, a chance to have a go at bell ringing (which my daughter got told she is a natural at!) and as many people dressed in Dickensian clothes or as characters from Dickens' novels as you want to spare the time to look at. There was also an absolutely ram-packed Christmas market and the kids loved going on the rides (except the scary ride which was over before it began for my two). And let's not forget the candle light procession and the 'guaranteed snow' (pumping out from machines around the town) that created a wonderful wintry atmosphere.. 

Now I love all this kind of stuff: the characters, the street entertainment and so forth. There is so much to watch and do that it takes all of your focus and you find yourself very much in the present mentally and free from all the other day to day stuff that can so often be there the rest of the time.

One particular street play I stopped to watch was a very well put together and funny rendition of a Christmas Carol, where Scrooge is visited by three ghosts (or four if you count Jacob Marley) who represent the ghosts of past, present and future. And it always reminds me of a particular hypnotherapy technique that can be useful where someone is seeking motivation or isn't doing something that they know they really need or ought to be doing.

Here you have the ghost of Jacob Marley warning Scrooge about how he will pay for his wrongs and selfishness by having to carry a heavy chain that he continues to forge by his deeds:

dickensian christmas festival rochester

And presumably Jacob Marley was also warning my daughter about the need for her to be as good as gold (and to do what her father says!):

rochester dickenensian festival christmas

Meanwhile, I was spending Saturday evening at the Festival hanging out with my new friends....

dickensian christmas festival rochester dan regan hypnotherapy ely

And we weren't quite sure who these two were dressed as but my daughter is fearless for a photograph: 

hypnotherapy ely rochester dickensian christmas festival 

The Ghost of Christmas Future

In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is firstly visited by the ghost of Christmas past and then the ghost of Christmas present. They show Scrooge how his actions, mind-set, greed and selfishness have developed over time to where things are in the present.

He is then visited by the ghost of Christmas future who shows Scrooge his future if he carries along the same path. There are all sorts of images and scenes of a disliked man for whom nobody mourns the death of. But having glimpsed the future path he is upon, Scrooge vows to change his ways and awakes a reformed and rejuvenated man on Christmas morning.

And it's this process of considering the future path of your life that can be useful to motivate you to make changes and take action. You can consider and imagine what your life will be like if you carry on doing things in the same way as you have been doing and how that impacts into your future. If you don't do that thing you know you need to, what will your life be like a year from now - and even in five years or ten?  What will you be seeing, hearing and feeling? What will be the impacts and consequences? How will it impact on those around you?

scrooge rochester dickens festival dan regan hypnotherapy ely

It's a technique I often use with smokers, to have them consider how that habit will impact into the future if they carry on doing it in the same way. It also works well with weight loss motivation, as a reminder that each and every small decision each day about what to eat and how much to eat, reverberates into the future in how you will feel in yourself, how you will look and the potential impact on your health and self-esteem, as well as how those consequences might lead to regrets and impacts on those around you.

Yet it can be used for any other area where motivation is needed, and where it can be useful to consider not just our needs and wants right now, but how it impacts if we keep doing the same things. Another example is exercise, where people will often say they should exercise more, yet somehow never get around to it. It can also be used in other contexts, such as recognising the need to overcome fears and anxieties by taking action today to resolve them, rather than struggling over and over into the future.

And of course we don't want to just put the fear of the future into us and leave it at that!

So having thought through what life will be like along the current path of doing the same things and having run our own version of Scrooge's ghost of Christmas future, we now want to consider what life will be like if we actually start doing that thing we need to do starting today. If you start taking actions that you need to take, or want to take, from today, how will your life be in a year, five years and a decade from now?

If you made the decision to quit smoking, or eat healthily, or to exercise or do something to overcome anxiety, how would those changes influence your future life? You can think about the kind of thoughts and feelings you'd experience, or how much healthier and better you would feel in yourself and how that may impact on other people in your life. This really is a positive path because you took action to achieve what you wanted to achieve in your life.

And having then considered both paths, you make a decision about which path you will follow from today and the actions you will start taking to move you in that direction. You start taking the positive actions and making the changes that will mean experiencing and living the life you want to live.

That might mean, like it was for Scrooge, adopting a new mind-set and treating everyone with kindness, generosity and compassion (all wonderful qualities to adopt aren't they?). It might even mean enjoying time with family instead of begrudging it or even anonymously buying someone a turkey for Christmas dinner (or something Quorn for me please! And just how did the Cratchits manage to cook that large turkey they received in time for lunch? - a mystery that has troubled me for decades!!).

Whatever that thing is that you know you need or want to be doing yet somehow you aren't doing it, take some time to think how that is going to play out into your future. Then decide on the life you actually want to be living and go and take some action to make it happen.

To your success,

Dan Regan

Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket

If you need help to get that motivation going and to start taking positive action on your goals, then you could wait and see if Jacob Marley and the other ghosts visit you on Christmas Eve or you could decide to do something about it now and book your free initial consultation here: Appointments

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