Can hypnotherapy help me to remember?
The truth is, none of us can remember everything that we once knew. Whether that’s where we left our keys the night before, or even those really useful things we learned in school like SOHCAHTOA (something I’ll admit to having never used a day in my life since!). Our brains, it would seem, only have the capacity to remember so much.
So how much exactly can we remember?
Well, this can vary from person to person. And I’m sure we have all seen adverts for games that can train our brains to remember more. Likewise, we know from research that excessive alcohol or drug misuse can reduce our ability to recall information. So we can personally affect how much we can remember through our choices.
Our memories can also be affected by certain health conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and brain damage, for example. Each of these conditions can cause us to forget. While, in contrast, people with autism can often have an enhanced capability of remembering facts and figures.
We are all different. And scientists have no formula for measuring an individual’s ability to recall memories. So how does our brain decide what information to store and what to discard?
How does the brain process memories?
Well, Freud believed that there were three areas of the human mind which are often illustrated using an iceberg. The tip of the iceberg, accounting for just 10%, is known as the ‘conscious state’.
When we are learning a new skill or discovering information for the first time, our minds will process it in our conscious thoughts. This means we are actively thinking about the steps or digesting the details at hand. And we know, from when we try to multi-task, that if something requires our full attention, e.g. it’s in our conscious minds to complete, we are unable to focus on anything else. Or at least, not if we want to carry out the task well.
But we wouldn’t be able to function if everything we needed to do remained in our conscious thoughts. So once a skill is learned, it moves to the part of the brain known as the ‘preconscious’. This is believed to make up 50-60% of the capacity of our mind.
When things move to our preconscious, it means that we aren’t actively thinking about them but we can easily recall them if we need to. This is what we recognise as our memory.
For example, once we have learned how to drive, we stop consciously thinking through the steps of changing gears and breaking at a red light. We can often move from A to B without registering how we even got there. And yet, if the car in front was to brake suddenly, despite an emergency stop not being in your conscious thoughts at that time, the steps can be quickly recalled and put into practice in an attempt to keep you safe and avoid a crash.
The third area of our brain is known as the ‘unconscious’. This makes up the remaining 30-40%. And is the place where we store information that we cannot easily recall to memory if we wish. This area is believed to be responsible for our feelings and behaviours and is influenced by our past experiences.
Sometimes when we experience trauma, our minds are not able to process the events. And so, they instead repress the feelings down, burying them out of our consciousness to keep us safe.
This can be very frustrating. Sometimes a person loses years of memories as a result. And while this may be seen as a positive thing for some, as the individual is unable to remember the details of the trauma, often they will present with other issues years later that is a result of having not properly processed what happened to them, such as anxiety and panic attacks.
But if they can’t remember it, how can they process it to feel differently?
Can hypnosis help you to remember?
It’s worth noting that hypnotherapy can be a very effective trauma treatment. Under a state of hypnosis, your mind can access areas of the mind that it can’t usually access in a state of consciousness.
Techniques such as regression, inner child work and Time Line Therapy™ can help you to go back to a time when the trauma occurred. But this time, putting you in control of the pace you work at and providing you with a safe space to escape to if you need it.
And this work can result in once-repressed memories coming back to the surface to be dealt with. However, it’s not guaranteed to be the case.
Hypnotherapy works when the client is open to being hypnotised, and will only facilitate change that the client wants to make. And while you may feel ready to open the door to your demons, your subconscious may not be and therefore, keeps the door firmly shut.
Read more about the different types of hypnotherapy.
It’s worth noting that you don’t necessarily have to remember what happened to you in the past to heal from it in the present. Previously, it was believed that to recover from trauma, the individual would need to talk about it and go over the details of what happened to them to accept it and move on. However, there has been a lot of research done in the field of trauma and it’s believed that in doing so, this can re-traumatise a survivor. Thereby, having an adverse effect on what the treatment intended to achieve.
While trauma may stem from a particular event or events in our lives, it is the emotions that are triggered from these events that cause the trauma we feel. Therefore, if we can get in touch with the emotions that we felt and process those, we do not need to relive the experience that caused this reaction in us.
Inner child therapy
Inner child work can be very effective with this. More often than not, when our behaviour is not in line with our age, we can identify how old we feel at that time. And this indicates to us that our inner child has needs that weren’t met.
Hypnosis can facilitate you going back to your child self, and providing them with the support they need. Maybe that is telling them that they are loved. Or that things get better. You might want to pass on some pearls of wisdom that you wish you had known then, or give them a glimpse into what the future holds.
The truth is that we can’t change what has happened to us. But those basic needs can remain unmet if we aren’t able to provide them for ourselves later in life. And from this, issues can occur.
So hypnotherapy can help you to remember the past in a way that is safe for you to do so. But there are many other ways that it can support you through what you want to achieve that doesn’t involve reliving the experiences again. Find a hypnotherapist you trust and discuss with them the different options that are available to achieve your desired outcome.
Want more? Read Finding lost items through hypnosis.
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