How Does Hypnotherapy Work? (continued)
How does the unconscious receive directives?
A very common way this happens is by accident. This can happen in many ways including shock, surprise, advertising, political messages, family pressure, or a very highly charged emotional experience . The directives, or messages that get through under stress or surprise can be very powerful. Sometimes these surprises are negative (auto accident, trauma ) but they could also be positive (unexpected good news, hitting a game-winning home run, etc.) These accidental directives can be deeply encoded and hard to change consciously. Phobias can be formed in this way (a dog growls and bites unexpectedly) as can powerful positive feelings like "I'm a winner" (ehitting that game winning home run).
By Repetition or Willpower
Another way directives can be delivered to the unconscious is by consciously thinking about an outcome or course of action repetitively to reinforce it. This is a very common approach with sports coaches, elementary school teachers, military training, and some self-improvement programs. Creating a positive change by this method requires a lot of effort, but it can work if the unconscious mind happens to be in alignment with the conscious mind. Unfortunately, it's relatively common for the unconscious to store deep seated beliefs and habits that conflict with our conscious desires to make a change.
A Different Way
But there is a different way the unconscious can receive directives. A way that works in harmony with your conscious and unconscious processes. A way that respects where you are right now in your life and gently moves things in the direction you want. Through Hypnotherapy and related techniques, we can collaboratively introduce suggestions for positive change to the unconscious quite effectively. By using these processes you are able to work actively with your unconscious, making full use of its creative power to add new choices that serve you better.
Patterns and Habits
A very important unconscious function is the encoding of complex tasks into single automatic patterns (similar to computer algorithms) that can be recalled instantaneously once learned. Examples: "how to walk", "how to shake hands", "how to drive a car", "look before crossing the street", or ...unfortunately, "how to light up a cigarette." When triggered, these patterns are executed automatically. Often before we are consciously aware of them.
A crucial aspect of this pattern encoding process is the built in "gatekeeper" function that blocks efforts to change these patterns once they are created. Commonly called the "Critical Faculty" it is a very efficient protection mechanism, and, as mentioned before, this makes the unconscious functions very resistant to change.
All in all, this setup works well most of the time. The unconscious can store routines such as "how to walk" or "how to drive a car" easily and this leaves your conscious mind free to deal with other things. But sometimes directives are received and stored based on misconception or misinformation. For example, due to a chain of events, you may make the association that "smoking helps me relax, and it's a good reward for my hard work." If this belief is encoded, smoking may become programmed as the correct response whenever it's time to relax or whenever a reward is in order. It's important to note the basic positive intentions in play here. After all, you do want to relax, and you do deserve a reward. But the unconscious has associated smoking with the desired state and it has an automatic behavior stored for smoking. It will tend to repeat the same program long after it has stopped working for you. Especially if there is a lot of emotion attached.
Here's another example:
Let's say I have a friend who has a job that requires public speaking and recently, for some reason, she has developed a fear of public speaking. Not good, since it's an important part of her job. This fear may have developed after a slip up in a presentation, or she may have no conscious recollection at all of where the feeling came from. It causes anxiety because her job requires public speaking, and it's getting worse. She starts to notice negative internal "self talk" where that little voice in her head says things like "I always freeze up when I have to perform in public", or "I'm going to blank out and won't remember what to say", etc. These "directives", (especially powerful because of the emotion attached to them) are received by the unconscious, which very efficiently makes them happen at her next public speaking opportunity and "proves" her assumptions correct. Then the conscious mind feeds this negative "proof" back to the unconscious so it can be repeated even more efficiently the next time. This pattern will tend to continue and worsen unless the unconscious mind is directed to change things. Unfortunately, most people don't know how to give the unconscious mind clear direction, or they are very effectively giving it the wrong type of direction!
But you don't have to be stuck in this type of negative feedback loop. You can interrupt this pattern and see a dramatic change for the better. Through the use of Hypnotherapy and related techniques, the "gatekeeper" can work with you, and a more positive pattern can be introduced directly to the unconscious or in collaboration between the conscious and the unconscious.
As the new pattern takes prominence over the old one, the friend in the example above will begin to notice improvement in her beliefs and self talk, and will gradually have better experiences with public speaking. The negative cycle not only reverses itself but begins to gain momentum in the opposite (positive) direction. Improvement can happen rapidly.
The techniques used in this process can vary. But all are respectful, and implemented according to a plan we work out together.
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