Can negative energy give you cancer?

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I believe passionately that mind and body cannot be separated and that one influences the other. As a body therapist as well as a talking therapist, I have seen how stress can manifest in bodily tension, headaches and all manner of ailments. I have witnessed how skin conditions can be exacerbated by worry and how pain can be eased through the power of thought. 
It is not rocket science, there is often a very logical explanation as to how the mind affects the body. For example, you have a job interview or a forthcoming exam and you find yourself experiencing stomach discomfort and you need to go to the toilet. You have a first date and find yourself feeling lightheaded and nauseous. The reason for this is simple, your body is reacting the way it has since prehistoric days. When you have an exam or about to face a new experience that is very important or in which there may be an element of risk, the stress triggers the “fight and flight” response. Your mind tells your body the there is a “threat” and your body responds by preparing you for danger.
At the first hint of trouble the brain sends out chemical messages signalling an impending threat.  The body responds by preparing the either to attack or flee. Nausea signals that the muscles in the stomach are activated to squeeze and relax. It tells the gastrointestinal tract to empty the bowel and we urinate to clear the bladder. We may also vomit and perspire thus ensuring that we have as little excess in our bodies as possible. No need for the body to attend to digesting food while its energies need to be attending to the perceived threat. Our light headed, tingly body and pounding heart all point to blood being diverted to the big muscles of the body preparing us to either fight to the death or run for our lives.
Mind and body working in perfect harmony. Now, the point of this post is really to highlight that while mind and body are one and thoughts do influence bodily reactions; negative thoughts alone cannot give you cancer. This week TV presenter Noel Edmunds claimed that he had developed prostate cancer as a result of stress. The notion that negative thoughts can cause cancer or that certain personality traits make people more susceptible to cancer, is quite frankly, hocus pocus.
Yes, a positive mental attitude and using approaches such as mindfulness to manage pain and discomfort caused by the condition, or to enable us to live a better quality of life while getting appropriate medical treatment is invaluable. Negative thinking would be better addressed through talking therapy and expression of emotions, rather than blaming our illness on our psychological state.
Dr Max, the Daily Mail’s resident psychiatrist in an article on the subject of negative thinking and cancer, goes as far as to say that, ” blaming a cancer sufferer for their own ‘negativity’ is very hateful.” He suggests that these kind of ‘quack’ theories make those with cancer vulnerable to crooks and charlatans who may prey on their misinformed beliefs.
I can really appreciate how people may cling to the hope that powerful thoughts can influence the process of healing. To an extent I subscribe to this view, however, I think we need to exercise a measure of caution. If orthodox medicine is shunned because we believe that our thinking caused our illness and therefore our thinking can cure the disease, then that is such a shame. Complimentary medicine can ‘compliment’ and shape the way we cope with illness and it may also support orthodox medicine, but negative energy and thought alone cannot ’cause’ illnesses such as cancer, however much Noel Edmunds and others would have us believe.
Until next time,


Steve Clifford, Psychotherapist

Twitter @cbt4you


Image: By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

Find your Self-belief

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How many times have you opted to stay in your comfort zone rather than try something new? How many things have you not done because you didn’t believe in yourself? Missing opportunities leaves us feeling regret and erodes our sense of self.

I really believe that all of us were born with infinite energy to achieve things. It takes courage to move out of our comfort zone, but growth happens right on the edge not in the middle. Yes, it may feel scary, but by gritting your teeth and facing your fears of not being good enough you can achieve great things.

There are a number of things you can do to begin to make changes and no better time than the present to do so.  Go out and do something with others, perhaps joining a local choir or club. Many organisations welcome volunteers no matter how little time or experience you have. Helping other people is not only good for them and a great thing to do; it also makes us happier and healthier too.

Going for a walk or doing some other outdoor activity can help with self-esteem. Research shows that getting active makes us happier as well as being good for our physical health. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of a depression.

Trying out new things or learning a new  skill can gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience.

Set yourself some goals for 2016. Something exciting, new, ambitious but realistic.  Setting goals  and having dreams gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them.

Stop comp airing yourself to others.  No-one’s perfect. Dwelling on our flaws, makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all is the key to improving our self-belief.

If you’ve ever felt there must be more to life? The answer is, there is!  Next time that negative inner voice tries to talk you out of something… say NO.

Make 2016 your year.

Until next time, Steve

Twitter @cbt4you

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                                                 Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                                                                                 Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

Image: By Camdiluv ♥ from Concepción, CHILE (Colours) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Tired or just plain exhausted?


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With Christmas all but a fading memory, it not unusual for people to feel fed up and fatigued at this time of the year. In Britain it is estimated that at any one time 1in 5 people feel unusually tired and 1in 10 have prolonged fatigue, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Essentially, there are two main types of tiredness. There is the type of tiredness that is like a solitary grey raincloud. This is the type of tiredness that is transient. It might seem like it is with us for a while, but it will pass and usually it is the result of a busier than usual few days, several bad nights in a row or as a result of a stressful event you have just passed through.

The other type of tiredness is more like a grey oppressive sky, heavy and unmoving. It is typified by of a chronic loss of energy that accumulates over months. It may not always feel like tiredness or physical exhaustion but it doesn’t seem to shift.

Often the signs are subtle, perhaps hidden behind behaviour traits that might easily be missed such as:

1) Finding yourself constantly checking your texts, emails and phone messages.
2) Difficulty relaxing or switching off.
3) Forgetting about tea breaks or unable to relax over a meal.
4) Piles of unread magazines with articles you must read.
5) Having too much to do that you can’t take a day off.
6) “Switching off,” by eating, drinking or spending too much.
7) Losing yourself in mindless TV.
8) Working harder and harder just to stand still.

All these types of behaviours are signs that you need to stop and take a break. Powerful indicators that you need to take time out and really look at what is important. It is as if you have “over- ridden” the “over-ride” switch. This type of behaviour, whilst aimed at improving our lot, simply puts the rest of our life at risk of failure and leads to what psychologists call ” burnout.”

So what can be done to address the balance?

Here are a few pointers:

1) Start the day with a relaxing activity such as yoga, meditation or a fifteen minute walk.
2) drink more water, adopt healthy eating, exercising and sleeping habits.
3) Set “boundaries”- learn to say “no.”
4) Take time to disconnect from technology, put away your phone, lap-top or tablet.
5) Discover your creative side, take up a hobby or other activity that has nothing to do with work.
6) Finally, slow down, get support and re-evaluate your goals and priorities.

Make this the time to put the spring back in your step.

Until next time, Steve

Twitter @cbt4you

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                           Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                                       Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

Image:By Evgeny Galkovsky aka ZheGal ( [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Why Self-Esteem Matters

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What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is the way that you think about yourself. If your self-esteem is low, the thoughts you have about yourself are likely to be negative and you are likely to focus on what you think are your weaknesses.

Having low self-esteem can affect every area of life including work, personal relationships and your ability to socialise. Tackling low self-esteem and boosting positive thinking can really improve your sense of well-being and your mental health.

Here are a few tips you might find helpful.

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others. You will nearly always home in on their strengths and that will make you feel worse about yourself.
  2. Stop putting yourself down. Every time you that it will erode your self-esteem.
  3. Listen out for compliments, learn to accept them and say “thank you.”
  4. Find an affirmation, a statement such as, “I am confident and competent,” write it down and read it every day.
  5. Read everything you can about self-esteem, devour books, blogs, websites, etc, and make improving your self-esteem your mission in life.
  6. Avoid people who are negative and put you down, instead mix with people who are positive, confident and supportive.
  7. What do you like about yourself, however small? Kindness, friendliness, reliability, etc. note these down.
  8. Make a list of your past successes, however small, like learning to ride a bicycle or playing a musical instrument. Write these down.
  9. Try to do more of the things you love, rather than the things you think you ought to do.
  10. Finally, be true to yourself. Respect yourself, live your life, not a life dictated to you by others.

Begin to make these positive changes today – Good luck.

Until next time, Steve

Twitter @cbt4you

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                     Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                       Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

Image: By Samael Kreutz from Concepción, Chile (Broken Heart) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Why does my brain freeze when asked a difficult question?

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I remember as a child hating maths and dreading the weekly maths lesson at junior school. There was I, a chubby eight year old in short trousers and a grey school uniform. It’s one of those abiding childhood memories that continues to haunt me. Maths held no joy for me as it was the setting for weekly ritual humiliation. There I’d sit, in the same chair at the same desk in rows with the others, sun streaming into the classroom window while I’d long for the ground to swallow me up. I’d feel sick the evening before in apprehension of this lesson.

Here we were, learning multiplication tables by rote. The teacher, a stern elderly lady with grey hair at the front of the class chanting a monotonous rhythmic dirge, “Two seven’s are fourteen, three seven’s are twenty-one, four seven’s are twenty-eight…” This boring chanting seemed to go on for ever. Or at least I hoped it would.

Then the moment of dread. “Clifford, you, boy! What are six eights?” Frozen to the spot, my school uniform boiling hot in the rays of the sun from the window. My tummy turning, eyes watering- I just wanted to run. “Well, boy?” She would exclaim. My brain in complete lockdown seemed to fail on me. Desperately I tried in vain to find the answer but in the end I blurt out some random figure. I now wait for the ritual humiliation to begin. A titter from the back soon turns into a chuckle, followed by laughter from what seems like the whole class. “On the chair”, she commands. I duly obey and go rigid waiting for the moment the ruler smashes into my leg, stinging. Children laughing. Once again my prediction had come true.

Now as an adult not only can I see the wrong in this sort of ritual punishment and gratuitous violence dished out in the name of education, but I can understand fully why I reacted as I did and my mind went blank. Some fifty years later as a psychotherapist who specialises in trauma, I now know all about “fight and flight” and our evolutionary response to threat.

I want you to imagine the scene; you are alone in the jungle and a wild animal, a tiger appears from the vegetation. You hear the rustle and see the leaves move. At once you spot it. Do you think to yourself, “I wonder if that is a male or female tiger?” or “I wonder if it is hungry?” No you don’t. Furthermore your brain switches off the thinking part. It does so deliberately, instinct kicks in and you make a grab for the nearest tree and climb up quicker than you have ever climbed in your life. You see, if you stop and think you are creating a delay, precious time when either you could attack the predator if escape. In other words, stop, think, equals lunch!

Looking back, if only I could have acted as my instinct was telling me? I would have leapt out of that sunlit window or broken down the door to escape. Still, that’s all ancient history now.

Until next time. Steve

Twitter @cbt4you

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                     Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                       Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

image ref: By Contributor(s): Queensland figaro [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy a More Relaxed and Stress Free Home

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With so many stressors in our lives we all need a retreat, a nurturing environment where we can chill out and relax.

When you come in at the end of the day do you feel that your home is your sanctuary? Or do you feel overwhelmed by all the outstanding things you need to attend to? Is your home a place to truly relax and unwind? If it isn’t, maybe now is the time to make some changes.

Start by having a good look around you. Is your home an oasis of calm, or is it untidy and makes you feel stressed when you look at it? Living in a messy, cluttered environment is a sure way to feel stressed. Try to keep on top of small chores, and not to let things build up. Put things away as you go along, instead of making one task into two.

Pay attention to lighting. This time of the year it’s important to get as much light as we can to stave off  the “winter blues.”  Studies have shown that the presence of natural light indoors has a really positive effect on health, and stress in particular. In the evenings, a calm environment with mood lighting can help us relax and ultimately prepare for sleep.

I often suggest to my clients that they create a personal ”sanctuary.” It may be a quiet sitting area or a corner that you can make your own. A Buddha, incense burner and candle can create the ambience of a sacred place. Some photos of loved ones or a favourite pet might also make you feel good. Visit this calm space every day and meditate or sit quietly. Allow yourself time to unwind, reflect and recharge.

Brighten up and calm your environment by arranging some fresh flowers in a vase, and enjoying the colour and scent. Why not treat your loved one to a bunch of flowers as a token of appreciation, gratitude and love?

Until next time. Steve

You may wish to know that Steve is now offering therapy sessions via Skype Please contact us through our website @

Visit our facebook sites:

Twitter @cbt4you

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                           Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                                       Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.


Ref: Marturana, A (2012) “10 Small Changes You Can Make Today To De-Stress Your Home.” The Huffington Post :  [Accessed 20/10/15]

Are you struggling to sleep?

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Many people find themselves struggling to sleep.  It may only be the occasional night, but for some, night after night is a struggle. Here are a few tips that may make a big difference. It’s not a case of picking the ones you favour, you really need to put as many in place as you can.

* Keep a fixed bedtime and getting up time even if your sleep has been awful.

* No reading, listening to the radio, watching television in bed.

*No computers, tablets, smart phones (the light omitted disrupts the release of melatonin, a hormone required to sleep)  – the bed is strictly for sleep and sex only.

* Put your watch and alarm clock completely out of sight.

* Use ear plugs and an eye shade in bed to keep avoid exposure to sound or light during the night.

* Avoid caffeine (tea, coffee, fizzy drinks and chocolate) and nicotine from 2PM.

*Avoid exercise in the hour or so before bed.

* Eat a small snack several hours before bed.

* Spend no more than 20 minutes lying in bed trying to sleep.

If you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and go to another room. This room should be warm and dimly lit.  Then perform a relaxing activity (not doing daytime tasks which act as a ‘reward’ for staying awake).

When you start to feel sleepy, go back to bed.  If you are still awake about 20 minutes later, repeat the process.

* Absolutely no naps during the day at all.

* Just prior to going to bed perform a relaxing activity.

* Once in bed switch off the light immediately.

* Always remember that sleep will come to you naturally and that different people need different amounts of sleep.

* Remember difficulty sleeping is very common, it is not as harmful as you believe.  Getting upset about it will only make it worse.

Good luck in putting these strategies in place.

Remember, sleep is a passive process, the harder you try to sleep the harder it will be.

Contact me if you wish to book an appointment to look closer at any sleeping difficulties you may have. Alternatively visit

Until next time. Steve

You may wish to know that Steve is now offering therapy sessions via Skype Please contact us through our website @

Visit our facebook sites:

Twitter @cbt4you

Steve Clifford                                                                                                                           Senior Accredited Integrative Psychotherapist.                                                                       Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.