Public speaking: How hypnosis can help
You may have to conduct a meeting, prepare for a job interview or perhaps want to say a few words at a colleagues leaving party. Or you are the Best Man and you have to give that all important speech. Whatever the reason, you may experience a number of physical symptoms such as trembling, butterflies, shallow breathing, your mouth drying up, to feelings of dread, panic, fear and perhaps thoughts of wanting to run away, not making a fool of yourself, or actually feigning illness. These are all symptoms of the Autonomic Nervous system (ANS), more commonly known as the ‘fight or flight’.
Whilst the ‘fight or flight’ response gives us that all important ‘push’ to do something, an optimum amount of stress and anxiety is good for us. We need it to keep us safe and motivate us to do things. However, if the stress and anxiety becomes too intense it may interfere with our ability to concentrate, and distort our view as to what is happening, and thus affect our life and our mental health. As we repeat the experience it creates a vicious cycle. Perhaps when you experience such feelings you may take a quick ‘stiff’ drink. Over time this may develop into two or more ‘stiff’ drinks, or perhaps you use drugs to calm your nerves, or self-sabotage or gambling to forget about what you need to do, or to cope with the feelings. All of these may spiral into self-defeating behaviours which then can fuel addictions and habits.
Hypnosis can help, by letting you regain control and harnessing the fear, anxiety or stress you feel, before giving a speech, conducting a meeting or preparing for that interview. For instance you will be shown how to relax. It is important to realise that when you are relaxed your body cannot be in a state of fear, anxiety or stress, as the parasympathetic nervous system of the ANS is predominate. Fear, stress and anxiety comes into play when the sympathetic nervous system activates the ‘fight or flight response, and all those powerful physical and emotional feelings. So by relaxing, you harness and regain control of the fear, anxiety and stress.
What if I cannot relax? Hypnotherapists hear this a lot from clients, and when you ask someone to relax the opposite may actually happen, they may tense up. In order to assist we use a variety of methods. We can use the Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR), whereby you are asked to visualise or feel your muscles smoothing out and unwinding from the top of your head down to your feet. This is not a quick ‘relax’ region, but is sequential where you gradually relax muscle groups. It is important to see how you can take control of your body by relaxation. The PMR method works for a vast majority of people. It is also dose dependant. The more you do, the more relaxed you become and the quicker you become relaxed.
The hypnotherapist can use other methods for you to experience relaxation. These range from mental confusion: This is where you are instructed to countdown perhaps in threes, even or odd numbers. This shifts your attention and what is actually happening is that you are relaxing as you count down. This method is extremely effective for very analytical clients.
Perhaps the hypnotherapist may use the fixed point (the swinging pendant, pen or spot on the wall) region, and you are told to concentrate and as you do so this fatigues you and you start to relax. Or perhaps you are told to concentrate on a sound i.e. a ticking clock, the sounds of the sea and once again the melodic sound relaxes you. Whatever the method, the hypnotherapist is well versed in relaxing all types of clients.
Once you’ve been shown the importance of relaxation you will be given a number of powerful suggestions, either directly or indirectly that go deep into your unconscious mind. This could involve visual imagery of you practising the speech or presentation, or perhaps seeing yourself in the job interview. You will be shown how you can control and reduce any physical or emotional symptoms, and the power you have in ‘unlearning’ past behaviours.
Another powerful tool which your hypnotherapist may use, is the dial method. This method is used extensively in pain management and is equally effective for helping for stress and anxiety. You will be shown how you can ‘turn’ down the intensity of feelings so they are more manageable. Once again you take back control.
If you have a speech to give, a presentation to prepare or an interview to go on, then why not try hypnosis and witness for yourself this powerful method of regaining control.
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About James Tiley
James Tiley is a hypnotherapist who practices in Central London and in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. He specialises in the treatment of addictions and habits.