The one thing that might have stopped me coming to hypnotherapy was that I was a bit concerned about the amount of control I would have. I suppose I was aware that there was an element of the unconscious about it, and it seemed a bit like maybe I’d be handing over my subconscious to someone! But I was just saying to my mum the other day how much it is actually very much more like a joint or shared control of my subconscious!! I actually feel much more in control now, and that is a feeling that increased the more I came to sessions, because I was learning ways of keeping myself from being led around by old patterns of behaviour. And yes, the hypnosis part is quite passive – you do just lie there and listen. (Although I found that part relaxing and totally fine.) But the talking part is really active. It’s not just a case of the hypnotherapist ‘fixing’ anything or ‘altering’ anything. You take it apart and figure it out together. And one of the biggest breakthroughs for me was taking all of the neuroscience and Solution Focus stuff, which actually to an extent I was aware of previously and use in my work with young people – and actually applying it to myself, to my own thoughts and behaviours, in a really active, dynamic way.
Hypnotherapy helped me to remove the fear of anxiety – of the anxiety itself. It was a huge realisation for me that the fear of anxiety is actually the most crippling thing of all. Because even then, even when you’re thinking about a future situation where you might get anxious, and feeling anxious about that possibility, that emotional arousal is already starting, and blocking your access to the parts of the brain you most need to cope with that challenging future event.
There has also been a huge change for me in terms of how I view myself as a person. I used to feel really uneasy about the idea of ‘What is Paul really like?’ because of how I would shift quite dramatically from being really confident in one situation to really not in another. I had this unpleasant sense that probably the real me was the ‘collapsing’ Paul, the guy with no confidence whatsoever, sunk in negative thoughts and inertia, and that those times where I felt or seemed really confident were only a pretence or a cover-up of the person I really was. Now I have a much stronger sense of self. I am more fully aware that those experiences of feeling powerless or unconfident are only the fight / flight / freeze mechanism kicking in, and that this is not particularly connected with who I am as a person, or what I enjoy doing, or my values and interests as an individual. I really love that line from the script ‘You are your own person’ and I feel now that I have the freedom to be who I want to be in the world.
In more tangible terms, I have found that going through this process has improved my relationship with everyone I know. It has also helped me to identify the kind of work role that is most aligned to my skills and interests and has led to my applying for and getting a different job, where I feel much less stressed and much more fulfilled, and like I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing. There are three things in particular from the hypnotherapy work that have helped to make these positive changes. The first would be using positive reframing and affirmations to consistently shift my thoughts in a positive direction. The second would be the technique of really vividly remembering myself in a situation where I felt super confident – really going into that memory and then reminding myself that I am the same person as that person, and entering the present situation in that ‘mode’. Lastly, I’ve found it extraordinarily helpful to learn more about the two different parts of the brain, and to keep that knowledge constantly in mind. Particularly, the fact that spending more time in the creative part of your brain automatically means that you are spending less time in the part that isn’t so good at creative, problem-solving type thinking. I’m now focused on building up resources and strengths in the more evolved, more rational, more creative part of my brain.
(Paul, Manager, 39)