Coping With Anxiety
For many, if not most, people anxiety is a blip on their radar. It comes when they can't find their car keys or they are running late for an appointment and then it disappears when they have a good night's sleep.
If only that were true for all of us but I would say that as a hypnotherapist, anxiety and stress is one of the most common issues that people come to see me about.
Strong Mental Foundations
Why is it that some people can just shed anxiety like water off a duck's back and yet for others every setback in life is more like a millstone around their neck?
It comes down to coping mechanisms and the mental foundations we have set up to cope with the tribulations that life invariably throws at us. This is why some people smoke, as a crutch to handle their anxiety.
This may seem obvious to many people but there are a lot of stressed out and anxious people out there who have no idea why life seems so hard for them.
The Straw That Broke The Camel’s Back
We have all heard of the straw that broke the camel's back, possibly so often that we've never even thought about what that means. I'm going to take a moment to describe what it means for me.
A camel is a beast of burden. They carry people and huge loads of supplies through the blazing heat and cold of the desert relying on their own reservoirs of fat and water to carry them through the journey. Imagine being so loaded up that just one more tiny weight is enough to make you break down and cry mercy.
The thing that makes most anxious people like that camel is that they are used to carrying that load. That is their coping mechanism. They carry all that stress, all that anxiety with them and they don't let it go. Ever!
Anxiety: The Breaking Point
Eventually they reach their limit and they break in some way. Maybe an actual breakdown, maybe withdrawing from their life or job, maybe experiencing weight gain, maybe having the traditional midlife crisis.
What anxious people often don't realise is that a lot of us learn to let go of the stressors in our lives. Stressful events get categorised by successful coping mechanisms. Things get sorted into 'things I can't do anything about so I can ignore them' or 'things I can do something about'.
Because they don't carry a seemingly unending load of dead weight around they find it easy to take on individual stressful tasks as they happen. More importantly they have the emotional reserves to cope with the big problems when they come up.
Anxiety and Hypnotherapy
My task as a hypnotist is to help the first sort of person find a way to become the second. It's not always easy to do, often we have to change a lifetime habit or habits to do so (for example: selective eating disorders). To even start the process though we have to dump all the dead weight that's been holding every person with anxiety problems down.
Luckily, hypnotism is great for this sort of thing. A hypnotic trance can be very peaceful and relaxing. It's a great way to temporarily de-stress. Unfortunately, this only goes so far and with bad habits still in place all the self limiting worries and fears soon come back. For more information, check out this article on the effectiveness of hypnotherapy.
Dealing With Bad Habits
It's just as well that hypnotherapy is good for the next bit too. Dealing with bad habits. Helping the part of the mind that deals with stress to find a new, more successful way forward. It may sound silly but the reality is that most of our stress and fears are internal rather than external and the solutions are internal too.
We've all heard of lottery winners whose lives fell apart shortly after winning huge amounts of money. It's not that their life was terrible that led to their downfall. It's that they were mentally unprepared to deal with a windfall and so it became a problem for them. That's an internal problem, rather than the world having it in for them.
How Hypnotherapy Can Help
Anxiety is the same thing, it's an internal mental condition that holds us back unnecessarily. It doesn't have to be that way. We all have it within us to cope with just about any sort of anxiety and stress and hypnosis is one of the most powerful tools to help unlock that ability.
Hypnotherapy may be the tool you need to help that camel take a load off and get back out there to enjoy the journey once more.
If you’re feeling anxious and you feel that no matter what you try, you just can’t seem to shake it, get in touch and let’s talk. I’d love to see how I’d be able to help you.
Wellington, New Zealand
Today I thought I'd talk a bit about hypnosis and something called Selective Eating Disorder or SED. It's an odd subject and for the many people that suffer from it it's often easy to pretend that it's not a problem or even that it's a personal choice.
A Bad Habit
The reality is that it is neither of those things. What it is is a massive restriction on personal freedom and opportunities in life. It's also a bad habit and like most habits (like smoking), hypnotherapy can be a remarkably effective solution. Selective Eating Disorder also known as Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is basically being a picky eater.
It's different from other food disorders in that it stems from a fear of food itself rather than suffering from body dimorphism. Some people with Selective Eating Disorder just have very little interest in food. Some are afraid of various textures, temperatures, tastes and smells. Some are irrationally terrified of choking. allergic reactions or nausea.
ARFID can utterly restrict a person's social life, going to a restaurant with a potential date becomes a huge hurdle. With kids it is common that they miss out on vital nutrients, usually iron or vitamins A and C which are of vital importance to a growing body. With adults it commonly leads to low energy levels and stress at meal times.
Real Case Study: Two Daughters & A Husband
The reason I'm talking about it today though is that I recently had a mother approach me because her entire family. Two lovely little girls and her husband were all fussy eaters. She ended up making at least two, often three different meals every dinner time. Every day was a stressful chore, her fridge was packed with so many foods it was like a student shared flat. Her husband would regularly blow money that could go to more practical ends buying bland takeaway (invariably without vegetables). Hypnotherapy was a last resort for her.
A New Hope
A co-worker of hers had seen me for weightloss and suggested she get in touch with me. This isn't unusual, most of my clients come from referrals. What was unusual was that the mum was contacting me on behalf of a six and a five year old. I think she had decided that her husband was set in his ways but there was still hope for the kids.
What she had been doing prior to contacting me was reward based. If the kids ate one piece of fruit or veg she would give them what they wanted as well. On the face of things that seemed like a winning strategy. The problem was that by making the bland familiar food the reward she was making old habits seem more attractive.
Overworked, And Overstressed
They also saw dad's example and thought it was quite reasonable for mum to be making several meals a day. To be honest, she confessed to me that it was doing her head in. Pita bread, cheese and tomato sauce pizzas don't make a good diet and her littlest was suffering terrible flatulence as it clearly didn't agree with her. Drastic measures needed to be taken and that's why she came to see a hypnotherapist.
I don't normally help little kids, they tend to fidget, get distracted or clam up around strangers. The mum was at the end of her rope though. The solution was a questionnaire that the mum asked her kids about food and how they felt about it.
A Simple Bedtime Story
With the help of their answers and a chat with the mum I wrote a little bedtime story. Each evening as these two delightful little monsters went to bed Mum would read their story about the two little girls, let's call them Joanne and Samantha and the magical dinner table.
Needless to say, within a week the mother got back to me telling me how her little princesses were now clamouring to try some of the foods that the magical girls in the story ate.
Hunger and Habit
Habits are basic guidelines we learn and apply to our everyday life. The reasons are many and varied. They can stretch from celebrity endorsements to what mum used to make tell us when we were children. When it comes to food choices we are exactly the same. We can very easily get stuck in a rut.
Hypnotherapy and hypnosis is a particularly good at breaking habits. Especially bad habits. The ones that we know aren't good for us but we do anyway.
The People We Love
It can be distressing when we are looking after loved ones. Children or partners and they insist on being fed foods that we know aren't doing any good or food that we find to be bland. Occasionally even foods that we know are actively against their interests. The foods that are going to leave them with low energy, bad teeth or overweight.
Imagine for a moment that, with an hour or so of help the mechanisms that reinforce those habits could change. What might that mean to someone's life? To their whole family? Hypnotism can be the answer.
When Hypnotism Isn't the Answer
Here is the basic rule of hypnosis. Long term change only happens when people have buy in. When they agree that they would be better off if they made the change. I have turned away clients in the past when they have come to me because "The wife wants me to do it."
That said, if someone comes to me and genuinely is interested in making the change or they are willing to see if they enjoy a change in their life it can be a magical experience. It can be incredibly rewarding to watch the change as people decide to try fruit for pretty much the first time in their life. Or they go out to a restaurant for the first time and try something other than a plain pizza or steak.
For little kids they buy in comes early. Once they beat the self limiting beliefs of "But I don't like it!" that they learnt from their school friends or a family member. Once they get past that they start to enjoy food like the adventurous explorers that they were born to be.
Without a doubt these are self limiting beliefs... Family and culture teach people their tastes. Not to put too fine a point on it, I have a friend from Andhra Pradesh in India and their 4 year old child eats pickles and spices that make my eyes water to be even in the same room. They eat these foods happily and with great pleasure because that is what they are used to and what their family is used to. We are capable of being so much more. Of doing so much more once we realise that the biggest obstacle in our lives is us.
Hypnotism and Change
All it takes to make a change in our lives is for someone to recognise the value of that change and to share that value with us. When I use hypnosis, I don't change anyone's mind. All I do, the only thing I do, is allow them the opportunity to break past the barriers that they have set up in their own mind.
I help people to see a way forward to making a change for themselves. Whilst habits can be useful short cuts in making decisions, there is nothing more limiting than the belief that we are unable to change.
What Hypnotherapy Isn’t
And this brings us to a really good point to close off this post: when most people think of hypnosis, they think of stage hypnotists, and people being made to do silly and ridiculous things, or that it somehow involves some kind of mind control. That nonsense couldn’t be any further from the truth!
Real hypnotherapy is as simple as telling ourselves a good bedtime story, and training our minds to look forward to good rewards, and to avoid bad habits. That’s it.
If you’re not happy with the “bedtime” stories you keep telling yourself, get in touch and let’s talk. I’d love to see how I’d be able to help you.
For more information review this article on the effectiveness of hypnosis.
Wellington, New Zealand