Are you struggling to cope with situations that others take in their stride? What do they have that you appear to be lacking? A fairy godmother, perhaps? Unlikely… but, maybe these fortunate people have simply uncovered a way to maximise their mind and brain, thus achieving so much more with seemingly no effort. All of this is up for grabs for anyone wanting to pursue a more fulfilling life. You could start benefiting now.
The power of the subconscious mind
Each of our minds is a vast well of knowledge, learning, emotion and instinct. And yet we effectively use only a fraction of its power. Our conscious mind holds our current thoughts – the inner dialogue we tune into daily. It’s responsible for our logic and reasoning, and is the part of the mind we use for willpower. A common complaint I hear is that willpower only lasts for so long before temptation takes over. This is easily explained when we realise that imagination and emotion are far more powerful than logic. And these things often spring up from the subconscious mind and practically take over our thoughts.
To prove this point, imagine that in the middle of the night, you hear the crashing noise of glass breaking in another room. You might instantly conjure up the image of an intruder and become overwhelmed with fear. But if you have a clumsy cat that likes to climb the furniture at night (as I have) and you hear that noise every night, your reaction to the sound could be completely different, probably a feeling of irritation – it all depends on what you imagined.
So the subconscious mind decides on the meaning of each situation based on rules developed through past experience. It makes assumptions for us to help us understand the world we live in. And yet not all of those assumptions are correct. We inevitably make mistakes during the learning process and unless corrected at some point, we continue to live by these ideas and believe them to be fact. Such beliefs range from thinking we are stupid or shy, afraid of flying, hooked on food or cigarettes, and the list goes on. This is where hypnotherapy could help us to re-evaluate some of the beliefs we have that are inaccurate and hold us back.
Entertainment or therapy?
Hypnosis is a tool that can be applied to therapy or entertainment. Most people are more familiar with the latter and may confuse what they see on the stage or television with the techniques a therapist might employ. Many a time, I’ve been asked whether I can make people think they are a chicken. My response is normally along the lines of: (a) no, I try to get them to see that they are not a chicken (in the case of confidence-boosting); and that (b) I cannot make someone do something they don’t want to do. For entertainment purposes, I’m sure such a prank is hilarious but obviously it becomes redundant, absurd even, in the therapeutic setting. No, we hypnotherapists tend to stick to more conventional and useful methods.
It is worth mentioning that a lot of what you see on the television about stage hypnosis does give the impression of mind-control; cleverly, yet falsely implying that the hypnotist has complete power over his volunteers. This adds to the drama of the show but in reality, everyone participating is simply going along with instructions because they choose to.
Your mind in a trance….
Hypnosis is all about focussing your mind on an idea to the exclusion of all else. When you are in a trance, you are quite capable of snapping out of it at will, and this is often the case with hypnotic driving. People claim that they can easily travel long stretches of road without any recollection of the roundabouts and junctions in between. They were away in their thoughts while it was safe to be, and brought their attention back to driving when necessary. You might have experienced a similar sort of thing when reading a novel or watching a compelling film – reality becomes suspended for a while and you feel the emotions of the characters. None of these situations are by definition relaxing, but most people report them to be enjoyable or pleasant. It’s the same in a clinical setting. It helps to be relaxed, but ultimately, it can simply feel like you are just sitting and listening to your therapist. Some clients claim they felt a floating or heavy feeling, or spinning in their chair. Others notice tingling in their fingers or fluttering eyelids. All of these are normal reactions, too. So, as everyone is different and there is no definite ‘hypnotised feeling’, you cannot possibly get it wrong.
Who can’t or shouldn’t be hypnotised?
There are actually very few people who cannot be hypnotised – they are the very young or old, people with mental illnesses and those of subnormal intelligence. So it is always interesting to come across a client who insists that their mind is too strong to become hypnotised! Having said that, if you have epilepsy you should refrain from using hypnosis because there is a greater risk you may experience a seizure. Likewise if you are concerned about any medical issue you have, it is sensible to check with your GP first. Becoming hypnotised is the easy part. The therapy that ensues is where things become interesting. The main method of many hypnotherapists is suggestion therapy, which is a way of letting you imagine how you want to feel, as though it were real. The subconscious is easily tricked this way because it cannot distinguish imagination from reality. So these positive suggestions become like rehearsals in the mind. Regression and analysis are techniques used by some therapists to help people make sense of their past using new skills they have developed since the traumatic time – whether that was an abuse experience, bullying, frightening incidents or other problems. It is relatively rare to reveal secret memories that were forgotten; more often it is the emotion that was repressed. This can be why we overlook our past issues as the potential cause of our current upset.
Where appropriate, I teach my clients skills in self-hypnosis so that they can build on their progress between sessions and cope with problems that come by in the future – it can be very empowering to know that whatever happens, you can handle it! There’s no need to worry about getting stuck in hypnosis; you can either set a timer (your mind has a very accurate grasp of time, also) or allow yourself to drift off to sleep naturally. Some people make up a tape to listen to, which means they can count themselves back to full consciousness. There are no unpleasant side-effects of hypnosis as it is completely natural – just, perhaps, a life filled with more happiness and optimism than before.