Conscious Vs. Subconscious
Let’s talk behavior.
According to oxforddictionaries.com, behavior can be described as, “The way in which an animal or person acts in response to a particular situation or stimulus.” Let us dig a little deeper about that whole “response to the particular situation or stimulus” part, shall we?
An important matter to note is that our behaviors can either be conscious decisions or subconscious decisions.
In other words, we can actively make the choice to behave in a given manner OR we can behave in a way that is reactionary, without thinking about it at all.
For instance, when someone cuts you off in traffic what is your immediate response? Typically that immediate response, when we are ‘triggered’ by something, is subconscious. Whatever the response is, it is typically some decision your subconscious has made about what it believes will keep you functioning/safe, long-term.
Now, it is also important to understand that there are two different ways we come to make those subconscious decisions. The first is by a singular event where there are heightened emotions. Whereas, the second is by consistent and/or similar events which are repeated over and over again.
Taking the above mentioned scenario of being cut off in traffic, it could be possible that as a child you (subconsciously) learned from your parents that it is best to honk and react with anger. Using the first example, perhaps there was a time in your childhood where you saw that once the car was honked at, they moved over - and you decided at that moment, that honking and reacting in anger will keep you safe (since it caused the car to move). With the second scenario it could be likely that the action was repeated so many times that you simply learned that was the appropriate behavior on the roadway when you are cut off.
Something I want to be clear about is that the vast majority of us can choose to behave in other ways by making a to react differently. That conscious practice and/or choice of being mindful is wonderful and I am an advocate for it....however....it can also be extremely difficult if your subconscious decided this behavior is going to keep you safe/functioning long term (que in addictions, avoidance, problem habits, etc).
Which bring us to the question I am here to answer - and the likely reason you are reading this article:
Is there a way to access the subconscious in a way that allows us to simply replace an undesirable behavior with one that really is healthy and desirable?
Could it be that easy? In a word, YES,! This is where hypnotherapy comes in!
So what is Hypnotherapy and how does it work? This seems the be the magic question that everyone always wants to know – and the question I am here to answer! The collective (mis)understanding of hypnotherapy, which the press seems to perpetuate, is that it is either some sort of mind control or altered state where you don’t know what’s going on and the hypnotherapist is in control. Neither of which are really true. Hypnotherapy is essentially the use of Hypnosis as a therapeutic technique.
So I suppose the next question, then, is what exactly is hypnosis?
According to https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/hypnosis/about/pac-20394405 hypnosis is, “A trance-like state in which you have heightened focus and concentration.” It is important to note that when you're under hypnosis, you usually feel calm and relaxed, and are more open to suggestions.
Most importantly YOU are in control, and simply choosing to be this way (relaxed and suggestible). The Mayo Clinic goes on to mention that being in this state of hypnosis can, “help you gain control over undesired behaviors or to help you cope better with anxiety or pain” and that, “It's important to know that although you're more open to suggestion during hypnosis, you don't lose control over your behavior.” This is key due to the fact that the most common misconception about hypnosis (and being suggestible) is that it is not a choice you make when, in fact, it absolutely is.
So what is it that makes you more suggestible? When your conscious mind which does all the reasoning and analyzing, is relaxed, the subconscious mind comes in the foreground. This is when we are in trace-like states and we all have them throughout the day, naturally. Since our conscious mind isn’t judging/analyzing things in this state, the subconscious is free to just flow and take things in. Let us look at some examples of those natural states.
Have you ever been driving and ‘zoned out’ only to arrive at your destination and realize you were ‘checked out’ the last couple minutes of the ride? Do you ever fantasize about what things would or will be like if and/or when…? Or what about that state where you are super relaxed and about to fall asleep but you aren’t quite there yet, but you also aren’t all the way awake either?
Those are all examples of various levels of trance! Just being in that state makes you open to suggestion. If something were to feel not right your conscious mind hops right back into control and takes over. Hence you being in full control at all times.
Will It Work For Me?
Now that we’ve established that everyone experiences these trance states lets address the question that is lurking on nearly everyone’s mind: Will it work for me? Being that it is considered a pretty subjective therapy I try not to go with a black and white answer of yes. That being said I have yet to have a client that has not experienced some level of trance in their session, or that has simply not seen any difference following their session.
I will concede that what may take a single session with one client may take another client 2-3 however I have not had any client’s that have ever come away without some positive shift(s), and the vast majority of the time there are some pretty significant shifts/changes that happen after only 1-3 sessions. In fact, somewhere between 90-95% of my clients quit smoking after their very first session, if that helps to provide you with a frame of reference.
Furthermore I’ve found that if you’re looking to overcome an individual obstacle (i.e. anxiety, weight management, depression, trauma, etc.) most of the time between 2-6 sessions are enough for people to feel they have accomplished what they’ve set out to do – or more!
I bet some of you are wondering how such big changes can be made with this. Scientifically speaking they have found that when we are clearly imagining ourselves behaving in different ways, our brain behaves in the very same way as it does when we are actually doing those things in actuality.
When you are in that highly suggestible state and we are taking you through some type of metaphorical change, your brain sends all the messages as it would if you were releasing those behaviors (that negatively affect you) in real life - and embracing the new version of yourself without those limitations.
Suddenly, there is a whole new, empowering alternative for your subconscious to draw from for its behaviors.
Let us come back to the example of the feeling of anger and anxiety when driving. Perhaps over time it developed into you having major anxiety about driving in rush hour traffic and you begin to rearrange your life to avoid driving during those times in order to not experience the frustration you feel while driving.
With hypnotherapy we can simply re-frame the way you experience traffic give your subconscious tools to draw from that help you to remain relaxed and calm in traffic. In fact, this a fairly common scenario many experience to varying degrees (most without realizing the actual subconscious cause).
The good news is that not only is it possible that we can re-frame things in this way for you, but it is also very likely, fairly easy, and 100% painless! In fact there are no known definitive adverse reactions or negative side effects to hypnosis whatsoever.
So if you’re looking for the key to changing your behaviors, my encouragement is to give hypnotherapy a try. I think you will be pleasantly surprised! ;)
Article Written By Jillian Holper CHt, LC
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