‘There’s no point in getting stressed, unless a tiger is chasing you...’
Published at 08:57, Saturday, 19 March 2011
In November 2009, Sally Stubbs’ beautiful Keswick home was devastated by the Cumbrian floods. She, though, was not.
Much of her 300-year-old house by the River Greta was swamped by muddy water.
But Sally practiced what she preaches. “I have a philosophy,” she says. “There’s no point in getting stressed, unless a tiger is chasing you. You need that adrenalin if a tiger is chasing you. You don’t need it to bail water out of your house.”
Sally has preached to thousands of people, in person across Cumbria and via the CDs she sells all over the world.
As a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist, her message is not unique. ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ pretty much sums it up.
What sets Sally apart is her method. She does not drag her clients back through traumatic experiences. Instead she takes them to the most important time of all: the seconds before.
Some who claim to transform people’s lives thump the table as they speak. This is not Sally. Perched on the edge of an office chair, she talks quietly, in brief, soft bursts.
Sally estimates that 90 per cent of unhappiness is caused by thoughts. “Even though our circumstances can be harsh and difficult, we can create happiness in our own thoughts.”
This is the message behind her new book, If Life Gives You Lemons.
The title was inspired by a positive-thinking mantra: ‘If life gives you lemons, make lemonade’.
“The whole book is about embracing happiness. My belief is that every human being has a right to happiness. Unless they’re violating other humans.
“If we change our thinking, we can change the way we live. Worries go round and round. They don’t have a forward movement.”
And this is where Sally comes in.
“The process mostly shifts time where time gets stuck.”
She laughs as soon as the sentence is finished, perhaps enjoying the bemused response.
How does time get stuck, Sally?
“We get stuck in time. In the moments prior to a trauma or crisis, part of the personality freezes in an attempt to stop the trauma getting worse. That part can get stuck.
“We replay those moments over and over again and we’re not even aware of it.”
She gives an example of a mother stuck in the moment before her child was run over and killed.
“The last thing she remembers is him running out into the road. The mind is stopping time there in an attempt to stop the child being killed. To protect us from the next moment.
“Traditional psychology believes that if a person relives a memory enough, it will be solved. That isn’t where the problem is. It’s in the moment before.”
One of Sally’s teachers, therapist David Grove, worked with Vietnam War veterans. “These young men were coming to him with their depressions and obsessions. Time and again he was hearing: ‘The last thing I remember is my buddy running away...’
“Everyone has moments like that.”
Many ‘moments’ occur in childhood. Sally says a huge proportion of adult problems, such as depression, phobias and insomnia, are at the end of a thread which began many years earlier, often with something long forgotten by the conscious mind.
Have there been any such moments in Sally’s life?
“Oh yes. When I was 16 months old I had an ear infection. The infection affected my eyes. I had eye surgery. The moment I was freezing was just as I was going under anaesthetic. ‘At least I’m still breathing, but I don’t know what’s going to happen next.’”
Her deeply buried ‘moment’ led Sally to work as a client with David Grove after attending his seminars in London.
Sally was unhappy about her lack of assertiveness.
“I was withdrawn. I wouldn’t say boo to a goose. I was a pushover, a door mat.”
With David’s help, she recalled the moment she was stuck in: a frightened child in an operating theatre. The “T-minus 1 moment”, as David referred to it.
When she uncovered that fearful memory and picked it apart, it lost its power.
“Consciously, I didn’t realise that T-minus 1 moment existed. When I realised, there was a massive change. Life became different. More expansive. I became more expressive in myself.
Most moments do not involve life-threatening incidents, which means they can lie buried in the subconscious where the traumatic effect remains.
Children might see or hear their parents arguing and regard it as something traumatic. The memory will be buried but its power can bleed for years.
“This didn’t happen, but let’s say when I was little my dad was late home from work and my mother was panicking. I’ve learned that the response to being late is to panic.
“Let’s say I carry that through to my partner. ‘He’s late. Oh my god – he’s been in an accident!’
“Whereas if I just stop and think ‘Hang on a minute, traffic’s really bad tonight’, I can then start to change my way of thinking, and feeling.”
Sally has been practising for nearly 30 years, using what she calls the language of the unconscious.
“Through a trance state I’m creating a space where an individual’s unconscious can communicate with me, and asking the unconscious to search for solutions. The unconscious wants to solve it.
“Psychology used to think personality traits can’t be changed. But they can.”
Satisfied customers include actor Steven Pinder, best known as Max Farnham in Brookside, who has slept soundly since taking Sally’s CD course on insomnia.
Daily Mail journalist Liz Jones has written about being successfully treated for depression by Sally.
Other clients have included young offenders in Cumbria when Sally worked with the county council’s youth services.
“I really loved that work. They were all great kids. They just needed help.”
Originally from Manchester, Sally married medical student Maurice Hamilton when she was 18.
He came to practice in Keswick in 1975. The couple, who have two children, parted but remain friends.
In 1978 Sally enrolled at the National College of Psychotherapy in Chester.
She is now married to Mike, a commercial diver.
Sally’s services are in demand but she is planning to stop seeing new clients for a while to concentrate on writing new CD courses.
Her existing ones include annoying habits, weight loss, and hair loss.
Sally says she cured herself of alopecia several years ago and has done the same for others. She attributes her alopecia to an unresolved element of her T-minus 1 moment.
“When you’re in T-minus 1, you’re in protection mode. Communities of cells are also in protection mode. When they are in that mode, there can’t be any growth.”
Curing hair loss through thought and therapy: that sounds fairly revolutionary.
“I am a revolutionary,” says Sally, quietly.
If Life Gives You Lemons by Sally Stubbs is published by Gibson Square Books. To learn more about Sally’s courses visit www.sally-stubbs.com
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk