What can happen when you add the power and potential of the unconscious mind.
So you want to change something in your life, and you’ve decided to see a professional about it. You want to get slim and fit, and include exercise in your day-to-day life. You want to improve your performance in presentations, in musical performance, in exams or on the playing field. You just want to be more motivated generally. How can you make sure your investment is going to work, as you lay on the couch thinking about it, wrapped in a warm quilt?
To paraphrase Jennifer Saunders’ character Edie from Absolutely Fabulous, if change was as simple as making up your conscious mind, we’d all be doing it. (She actually said, “if losing weight was as easy as eating less and exercising more, we’d all be doing it”.) What you need to do is get all the parts of your mind, conscious and unconscious, on board. If a part of you is feeling terrified of standing up in front of people, like you were when you were six and trying to read, after a teacher yelled at you, the symptoms caused by that terrified child will override your adult desire to be the next Anthony Robbins (who, incidentally, has based his entire career on harnessing the potential of the unconscious mind to help people achieve their goals).
If a part of you is using chocolate to comfort yourself against all the hurts and loneliness in the world, trying to say goodbye to that sweet and sticky habit is going to be much harder than if that part changes to using exercise, or music, to soothe and heal.
So how do you get the unconscious mind to agree to your plan?
You may not realise it but your unconscious mind is always seeking a more effective and beneficial way for you. We are healing organisms – if you cut yourself, it heals – and the organism wants a clearer, happier, better way.
However some habits are learned in childhood: food is soothing; standing up in public may cause someone to yell at you – so better to stay put; someone told you that you’d never achieve a particular goal because you weren’t good enough, and a part of you believed it. These lessons become locked in because they kept you alive at the time. Sweating palms, hard to breathe, locked up throat when presenting in public? Tick – kept you alive.
It may be hard to believe that these symptoms can be easily released, but it’s true that they can. You just need the help of a skilled navigator of the unconscious mind to assist you. The people who understand the unconscious are often coaches, counsellors, and hypnotherapists. Combine two or more of those skills and you have the right professional to help you. Take the last bite of that chocolate for comfort, make a list of what you’d rather be doing with your life, and take the leap of faith into a hypnotherapist’s office.
How do I choose the right clinical hypnotherapist?
- First, don’t expect that one session will cure all ills. Old habits sometimes die hard – so consider it an investment of three to four sessions to start. Any therapist who promises real and lasting change after one session is not the person you should trust with your sensitive inner parts. However you might see real and lasting change after one session. It can and does happen. Just not in a guaranteed, one-size-fits-all kind of way.
- Be honest with your therapist about your blocking behaviours and what you want to achieve. Hypnotherapists believe that all behaviour is learned, and that anything learned can be unlearned, or changed to a better way. It’s a matter of identifying what you want to achieve, what’s getting in the way, and how to release the unconscious blockages or fears that are creating the unhelpful behaviour. However if you have trauma in your past you may need to release or process that first.
- If you don’t click with the person, if they don’t hear you or understand what you are saying, find someone else. There are many specialists available. Don’t sign up for a series of pre-paid sessions unless you have met and trust the therapist.
- Be gentle with yourself during the process and understand that neuroscience has proved that your brain is plastic, and malleable, and can update itself very quickly. Believe that those negative habits can release and that you can truly start to achieve your human potential this year. Start walking confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Helen Wayland is a clinical hypnotherapist, personal counsellor and coach working in St. Kilda, Melbourne.
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