On a basic level, we all have and need fear. The emotion of fear has been a contributing factor in the survival of mankind. It serves as an identifier of situations or things that could potentially harm us. But when this natural emotion becomes unbalanced, it can produce a disabling challenge which we call anxiety or a phobia. Irrational and rational fear are all seen as realistic fears through the eyes of someone with anxiety. The fear level is inflated to uncomfortable, disabling levels, even over simple things that others would not see as troubling.
We have learned that people with profound anxiety all share something in common. Their anxiety is enhanced when they feel “little or no control” over a situation. In treating anxiety, the individual needs to identify and understand this feeling of losing control, as a contributing factor.
Reducing or eliminating anxiety can be obtained thru therapy that involves managing this loss of control.
I’d like to focus today on using the tool of self-hypnosis as a treatment option.
How does it feel when you are in a hypnotic state? WONDERFUL! It is the same feeling that you have experienced in those few lucid moments before falling asleep. You are at a point where your body feels like it has floated away and you exist only in your head. Relaxed, warm, comfortable, and safe. Knowing that this is how you will feel will help you successfully reach this level of subconsciousness. If you are skeptical, or resistant to being hypnotized, you are very unlikely to ever make it to a subconscious state.
Hypnosis can be used by a person suffering from anxiety as a successful way to find relaxation and comfort.
This relaxation is a state of mind that many who have anxiety do not experience very often, since they are always in a state of worry and stress. This is recommended to do daily, or as often as needed to reduce your anxiety level. You should start with self-hypnosis as a relaxing tool only. After you have been able to reach this relaxation state frequently, you are ready to move on to the second phase.
The second phase of hypnosis is a therapeutic “working session”, where patients can introduce new thoughts and ideas to overwrite the way that their brain has been programmed. It’s time to replace the old harmful thoughts with new healing ones.
This is done not by tricking your brain, but by reteaching some of your thought patterns while the brain is relaxed enough to access your subconscious thoughts.
The working session usually involves a therapist or another individual to help you reprogram your mind’s thoughts. However, if you share my personality type, you can also do this all by yourself, and still find tremendous success.
I have listed the steps of self-hypnosis in a previous post, “The Fear of Flying Explained”, but here they are again:
Steps to Enable Self-Hypnosis
Before you attempt self-hypnosis for the first time it is useful to have told somebody else in the nearby vicinity what you are doing. Reaching a hypnotic state is a little like sleeping and you may be more comfortable telling somebody else that you are going for a nap. By telling somebody else, you are not likely to be disturbed or worried that you may be disturbed. Part of the point of self-hypnosis is that you will become less aware of your immediate surroundings, so if there was an emergency then somebody nearby will be able to ‘wake’ you.
Here are the simple steps:
1. Get physically relaxed and comfortable. In the early stages of developing this technique, find a quiet place, away from distractions or responsibilities. Get in a position that is comfortable to you. Touch the thumb on one hand to the middle finger on the same hand, (This will be your physical trigger that you will apply each time that you self hypnosis. Over time this physical trigger can be so effective in bringing you to a hypnotic state quite quickly. I caution you not to do this trigger when you driving… and yes… I’m serious).
2. Find an object nearby that you can focus your vision and attention on – ideally, this object will involve you looking slightly upwards on the wall or ceiling in front of you.
3. Clear your mind of all thoughts and just focus on your object. This is quite hard to achieve but take your time to let thoughts leave you. Keep looking at the object, and let each thought go. Turn that thought into a balloon and let it go as you watch it fly away.
4. Become aware of your eyes, think about your eyelids becoming heavy and slowly closing. Focus on your breathing as your eyes close, breathe deeply and evenly. Your eyes are heavy.. breath in… so heavy… breathe out… heavy.
5. Tell yourself that you will relax more every time you breathe out. Slow your breathing and let yourself relax deeper and deeper with every breath. Breathe out… slowly. You are so comfortable…Relaxed, and comfortable.. your eyes are so heavy.
6. Use your mind’s eye to visualize a gentle up and down or sideways movement of an object. Perhaps the hand of a metronome or a pendulum – anything that has a regular, slow, and steady swing. In your mind, watch the item sway backward and forwards or up and down. The clock is swinging …. to one side…. to the other, back and forth… I’m so comfortable, and safe…. so comfortable, and safe…
7. Softly, slowly, and monotonously count down from ten in your head, saying,” so relaxed” after each number. 10 so relaxed… 9 so relaxed … 8 so relaxed, … 7 so relaxed… 6 so relaxed… 5 so relaxed… 4 so relaxed… 3 so relaxed… 2 so relaxed… 1 so relaxed…. and now FULLY ASLEEP.
8. Believe and remind yourself that when you finish counting down you will have reached your hypnotic state. ..I am fully asleep…fully asleep… fully asleep
9. When you have reached your hypnotic state it is time to focus on the reason that you are there for. “I have reached my place of peace… and safety… far away… where shall I go? On a beach… relaxing in the warmth of the sun… surrounded by those you Love.. I am here for peace. I have returned to my zone of peace and happiness. I’m just here to relax and enjoy this moment.” Stay relaxed and focused. Each peaceful destination can be different, and entirely up to you where you choose to go.
It’s Time Now to Reprogram your Thought Patterns. Since we are talking about reprogramming relating to anxiety, record the following statements. Do it in a slow voice about ½ the speed of normal talking. (You will have the ability to start the recording even under this state of mind). You may also choose to have someone read it to you as well. Loop the recording if you can. This way you will be able to stay in this session as long as you would like. It might be 5 minutes or an hour.
“I am in control of my thoughts and ideas”
“I have been fearful of things in my past that have created unpleasant and disabling feelings.
“I choose not to feel those unpleasant feelings anymore”
“I am strong. I can change the way that I think.”
“I will not be fearful. I will not let fearful thoughts stay in my brain. I will not be fearful. I will not let fearful thoughts stay in my brain. I will not be fearful. I will not let fearful thoughts stay in my brain.”
“I choose to let negative thoughts disappear. I will let them go as soon as I recognize that I am having one.”
“I will not own the problems of others. I do not have control over their lives or the choices they make. I do have control over my part of the relationship with them. I will still choose to love them. I will only do the things that I have control over. I will let all other worries go. I recognize that they are the only ones that have control over their life. ”
“My future is bright. I will find happiness and peace.”
“I am a good person. I am enough. I have skills and talents. People like me”.
“I find joy in helping others. I will always be positive in life. I will always be positive in life. I will always be positive in life”.
“I will not let anxiety control me. I control my emotions.”
“I will let life happen, and control the ‘Way I feel” about everything that I experience. I am in charge.”
****** I’d like for you to add other statements specific to your worries. Start them with – I Can, I Choose, or I Will. These statements that you create are very important. It is essentially You telling You what to do, and the way for YOU to think.
When YOU are ready to come out of this hypnotic state of mind, you will always have the ability to do so. You will never get “stuck” there if you want to return. Understand that you have this ability to come out of it, as this understanding will eliminate any worry that might make it difficult for you to enter this hypnotic state in the first place.
1. Relax and clear your mind once more before bringing yourself out of your hypnotic state. I am ready to return..
2. Slowly but increasingly energetically count up to 10. Reverse the process you used before when you counted down into your hypnotic state. Use some positive message between each number, as you count. ‘1, starting to wake up, 2 starting to wake up,… to ….10 fully awake and feeling like I have had a full night’s sleep’
3. When you reach 10 you will feel fully awake and revived! Slowly let your conscious mind catch up with the events of the day and continue feeling refreshed. You will still be quite relaxed… enjoy the feeling of this relaxation.
I make you these promises… You will find the relaxation piece of self-hypnosis extremely beneficial. Even if you initially cannot reach a subconscious state, the relaxation benefit that you experience will be life-changing for you. Self-hypnosis works! You can reprogram your thoughts…. Yes, even by yourself.
Like everything in life worth having, this takes time. This is a process. You might see dramatic results very soon. You might have to have five sessions plus to see a difference. Make it a part of your day or week. You will indeed get better.
If you are unable to do this by yourself, schedule an appointment with a therapist that uses hypnosis in treating anxiety.
Please share your results on this blog, so that others can also learn from you.