About 3 years ago, I decided that I could no longer live with the constant worry about tomorrow, the fear of what might happen, pain in my chest, shortness of breath, irritation, loss of sleep, migraines, flushed face, painful “stress bumps” that covered my thumb, and numerous other physical manifestations of anxiety. In the past, I had been to psychologists, psychiatrists, group therapy…nothing seemed to work. I knew what I should feel but I just couldn’t stop the extreme anxiety and was determined to find a solution.
I first went to a psychologist where I was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. Post traumatic stress disorder? Surely I didn’t deserve this title. This was for veterans of war who risked their lives. “When you were a child, you did too” he said to me. Living in constant fear, never knowing what was going to happen or what was going to set my father off was what I was use to. Then of course there was the threats of killing me which I guess would cause some trauma to say the least.
He didn’t cure my problem but he brought it to my attention. The biggest thing he did for me was validated my feelings which allowed me the right to “feel” what I never allowed myself to before. Not the right to feel sorry for myself, but the right to feel bad for what the little boy went through. To realize that it wasn’t ok and that I needed to feel angry, sad, hurt, scared and all the things my father would take away from me by saying, “you are nothing but a spoiled rotten little brat. You don’t know how good you have it.” With that I would stuff the feelings down.
I made a list of every traumatic event that he put me through. These weren’t minor things like “you made me mad one time.” They were major events that were cruel, evil, frightening and heartless. Even I was surprised at the 14 page list of events that came flooding back to me once I allowed myself to feel.
I soon reached a point that there was nothing left to say. My counselor really couldn’t do any more for me but I was still having anxiety. I knew what I should feel and no matter how much I discussed it, I would still feel the same way.
I was willing to try anything so I decided to try hypnosis. I thought it was a little hokey at first and was apprehensive. I really didn’t believe in it and thought it would be someone giving me suggestions that anytime I hear the the word “flapjacks” I would feel confident and powerful…blah blah. I was so wrong. It was the single best thing I have ever done and it made the biggest difference. I owe so much to Tracy Holwagner at the Self-Empowerment Center. She helped me find the key to myself.
The first consultation she explained the theory behind her approach, how our minds work, and how hypnosis will work to overcome our obstacles whether it be anxiety, depression, eating disorders, etc.
Your mind has 3 parts. Think of your mind as a big circle with a smaller circle inside it. The inner circle or “core” is your subconscious and the outer area is your conscious and they are divided by a filter called the “critical factor.” The conscious mind is where rational, analytical, will power, and temporary memory reside. The conscious mind is very weak. The subconscious is where our imagination, permanent memory, habits, feelings and emotions reside. It is very strong.
The most important part is the Critical Factor. Its job is to protect the subconscious. From the time we are born, we program our subconscious with what we believe, perceive, or are told, much like you would load information onto a hard drive. As this information is stored it becomes our beliefs. As new information comes in, the critical factor matches up to what we already have stored and if it doesn’t match up, it rejects it. Our conscious can tell us something over and over and our subconscious won’t believe it. There is much more information on hypnotherapy at Tracy’s website linked at the bottom of the page.
Hypnosis, bypasses the critical factor and works in the subconscious. It allows us to reprogram our beliefs and habits to what we want them to be and not what we perceived them as a child or during a traumatic event. A hypnotic or meditative state is a natural state of mind we often operate in without realizing it.
This made complete sense to me. It explained why I could talk all I wanted but little would change how I felt. I could understand my feelings and tell myself I wanted to change my perception but my body would continue to react with anxiety. The example Tracy used was how at the mere mention of someone running their fingers down a chalkboard your body may get goosebumps even though nobody actually did it. Your subconscious is programmed to respond to the thought of the stimulus. This would be the anxiety equivalent to Pavlov’s dog experiment.
I made more progress in one session than I had in a year of counseling. I went to about six sessions and I progressed beyond my expectations. I learned self-hypnosis to continue to do the work that I needed to do. I cannot stress enough how effective this has been.
Inaction will get you the same result you are currently having. Many people feel they can just “get over it” and store old memories, hurts, and pain in an attic and hope they eventually will die. They don’t die. They live in our subconscious and dictate our conscious decisions without us knowing it.
I would encourage those who suffer from anxiety and depression to seek professional help. Counselors and psychiatrists can be a very effective means of treatment for some. For me, hypnotherapy was extremely effective and I would suggest it to anyone.