I’ve recently undergone hypnotherapy for anxiety and specifically asked my therapist at the time to focus on two almost immediate events in my life – my driving test (I’m a bag of nerves behind the wheel) and an 11 hr flight to Los Angeles with two kids ON MY OWN (I’m a terrible flyer, and this time gin is not an option!
I’m an anxious person by nature (well actually nurture my therapist would argue…) but thinking about both of these events in particular was causing sleepless nights and cold sweats. I was snappy, irritable and drained of energy thanks to an overrunning irrational mind that stayed permanently in ‘worst case scenario’ mode.
I’ve only had three hypnotherapy sessions so far but since them, I have passed my driving test, first time! And I haven’t even thought about the flight I will be taking in just over a week’s time. Insane right? I’ve a new found confidence that I’m nurturing (you have to keep working at it, you aren’t just suddenly magically cured by hypnotherapy and that’s that).
Since sharing on social media that I was undergoing the therapy, more than a few people have asked me if I thought hypnotherapy could work for them too. It was quite an eye opener actually to find out that so many others I know are also battling their own anxiety / fear demons.
In my last post on hypnotherapy (click here for it) I explained how the therapist used the first session to work out what type of brain I had so (more audio responsive or visual etc) in order to tailor his technuques. So in this post I thought I would explain what my sessions actually consisted of and share the techniques that the therapist tried – some of which you can even try at home right now!
BE LESS PREDICTABLE
It was all rather fascinating, not to mention encouraging, to hear the therapist talk about how our brain can be re-trained. It all comes down to having your brain in set habits. You need to shake up the information you feed it and stop being that predictable creature of habit. Keep your brain on its toes! I hate flying for example and when I go to the airport to catch a flight to LA, I always go to the same place for coffee and breakfast, eat the same thing, then go to WH Smiths to buy celebrity trash magazines (which I kid myself I will be able to read when flying with kids). The expert told me to THIS time go to the airport and completely break the rituals. Go to a different place for breakfast, order something you have never tried before, for example – after all isn’t the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!? So when I fly in a weeks’ time, you’ll find me in the champagne and oyster bar for breakfast ok? 😉
I love this one. I found myself using the ‘DR FRO’ technique almost immediately. Basically, as soon as you have a negative or irrational thought, you call it. You immediately identify it and say (TO YOURSELF!) ‘Fuck Right Off – FRO.’ There is some strange power in catching the negativity, immediately recalling it and then banishing it before it spirals out of control. I found myself using Dr FRO in my driving lessons, whenever I started thinking about failing the test. I didn’t allow myself to think I was going to fail.
This is a real buzz word at the moment isn’t it? But I find the concept magical. One of my biggest problems is future gazing and worrying about things that haven’t even happened. That and dwelling on past bad experiences. This always left me inbetween a rock and a hard place day to day. Mindfulness simply encourages you to just live in the moment and enjoy it. My immediate homework was to find a ‘moment to live in’ every day – it needn’t be anything elaborate, in fact the simpler the better. Just a moment where I could stop and fully appreciate it. Savour every last drop!From a sunset, to a fit of giggles with the children, just think of nothing else but how lovely that moment is right there and then. I’m trying to do it more than once a day, it’s wonderful!
THE ‘PAUL MC KENNA’ BIT
This is the bit where I was actually hypnotised. I obviously can’t tell you how to do that, but I’ll tell you how I felt. The first thing my therapist did was put me in a ridiculously comfy chair designed by NASA! Then I was tilted back to ‘take off’ position in a silent room and told to shut my eyes. It was just words, but words said in a Marks & Spencer’s seductively slow and smooth voice. At first I felt silly and started to panic that it wasn’t going to work, but as he started feeding my mind with some happy thoughts and places I had shared with him earlier, my brain, for the first time in at least 10 years, slowed and became quiet. My eyes were shut but I started to ‘see’ a kalodpscope under my eye lids. He started telling me how heavy my body felt and before I knew it, I couldn’t even lift my arms- not even a finger. Not in a scary ‘I’m trapped’ way, but a ‘I’m so relaxed I don’t want to break the spell’ kind of way!
As we came to the end of the hypnosis, he got my thumb and forefinger and pushed them together meditation style. This was incredibly important as post-hypnosis if I place my thumb and forefinger together, I get transported back to that point of relaxation- that simple sensation reminds me how good it felt and brings back a flood of positive thoughts. Just amazing. Even waiting at traffic lights during my driving test, I managed to loosen my nervous grip of the wheel and touch my forefinger with my thumb- instant calm!
EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUE
Check out the visual for this one-it’s all about releasing hidden energy via acupuncture points. I remember doing this for my Virgin Fear of Flying course, and personally I found it quite irritating, thought I’ve seen it work for others. I think it almost serves as a distraction when you are having a freak out- your mind just becomes focused elsewhere. Try it for yourself though….
WATCH THIS SPACE
So the driving test is ticked. I 100% believe my confidence was lifted as a result of hypnosis. I mean I was nervous, but I felt in control… And I felt a pass was possible. Not definite but possible. Something I never felt before.
It’s T minus 6 days until I fly….and I’m not dreading it. In fact I’m not thinking about it – perhaps because there is so much packing and solo parenting going on. But post flight, I’ll update you all. Wish me luck!