A lot of my friends are always complaining that they are “stressed out.” Can hypnosis help?
Like everything else your response to stress is a learned behavior, a habit. Some things that trigger stress begin in childhood and are related to specific things such as going to the doctor or a general pressure to be Number One. Others are related to current pressures or fears. Sometimes stress may not seem to be related to anything at all. While some people think they strive on stress, they are all actually using the anxious energy to drive them forward in a way that will cause them to mentally – and possibly physically – collapse. Through a few sessions of hypnosis you can always lighten one’s current stress level, but sometimes, that is not enough.
While it would be nice to get rid of stress by what causes it, that’s not always possible. Everyone has to see a doctor at some time. Life gives us difficult situations that can’t be resolved for a long period of time or you can’t always leave a job even though your co-workers, bosses, or responsibilities are overwhelming. In these situations, dealing with the stress comes from two directions: techniques that help the individual control the feelings of stress and suggestions that adjust their response to outside triggers.
The one technique that helps everyone is to get them deeply hypnotized and create a Special Place in their mind where they are absolutely calm, comfortable, and safe. I work intensely with the imagery of the place, not just what you see, hear, and touch, but the more primitive smell and taste. The trick is to have them feel so relaxed and secure that even the concept of anxiety can’t arise. Then that feeling of calm is tied into an anchor, usually pressing together the thumb and first finger of the non-dominant hand. The suggestion is given that whenever they press their anchor, the calm and safety of the Special Place will flow throughout their body, washing away all feelings of stress. Or, they can close their eyes, press their anchor, and take a mini-vacation. This quickly becomes a valuable tool a person can use for the rest of their lives.
While there are many things that people can do to take control of their stress they are all, of course, much more powerful if they have been instilled and reinforced in hypnosis. I start with calming breathing techniques, teaching how to relax one’s body, and, finally, self-hypnosis. I also use this, my favorite breathing technique, for sleep and anxiety. All you need to do is take very deep breaths through your nose using your abdomen inhaling “CALM,” hold it for a moment, and then exhale through your mouth as though you had a straw there and exhale STRESS. After you pause, then start again. Imagine the Stress leaving your body never to return. I generally recommend doing CALM and STRESS twice and then at least 2-3 repetitions using C-A-L-M and S-T-R-E-S-S.
Stress caused by job issues, relationship problems, problems stemming from childhood, and more, need to be addressed directly. Very often the problem at work is with the boss or a co-worker. I usually block the person to those people’s negativity. Then I retrain so that instead of responding with stress, they remain extremely calm. Relationship problems need similar treatment, but often you have to work on getting the strength to start directly addressing the problems with the other person.
Incidents that occurred in the past have to be attacked in many directions. You have to give people general calming tools and block them to both external AND internal negativity. But because the negative emotion causing the stress comes from the inside, you have to work with the memories of what initially caused the stress. Sometimes you have to search for them before you can desensitize them. Then you cut the emotional connections to the incident and the trigger. Ironically, very often what triggers stress may not even resemble what originally caused it.
The other things that people can, and should, do on their own is to maintain a healthy lifestyle and make sure they get in approximately 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. This not only keeps your body and mind healthy, but it releases endorphins, the brain peptides/neurotransmitters responsible for putting you in a positive mood.
I had a really bad childhood and I don’t remember it all. What if stuff comes up during hypnotherapy that I don’t want to know about or I’m not ready to deal with?
One of the advantages of hypnotherapy is that you and your hypnotherapist are always in control of the situation. A difficult or painful memory will not come up until you are absolutely ready to — and want to — work with it.
Hypnotherapy’s object is to change behavior. To do that we are changing habits by “retraining the brain.” It doesn’t matter what caused the habit to change it. Events like panic attacks can be removed without ever bringing up what caused them. In any case, we always ask the subconscious first if it is ready to handle any memories and scary memories will never surface until you are ready for them. When you are, we’ll examine the memory while keeping you completely blocked from the emotions. You’ll know what you felt, but without feeling scared, pained, fearful, or any sort of negative emotion. Then the emotions themselves are removed. The memories remain, but not the emotions that used to be connected to them.