Can’t see the wood for the trees? How hypnotherapy can help
I often work with people who are feeling stressed because they are overthinking the details and not looking at the larger picture. Their minds are often focusing on the ‘what ifs’ and jumping ahead to the worst case scenarios.
Now, this would be a useful strategy; to expect the worst, if we were confronted by a polar bear! But most of the time our lives are not in immediate danger and yet we can imagine that they might be. A friend remarked the other day that if she didn’t do well with a talk she was giving at work, she could lose her job and that would mean she wouldn’t be able to pay the mortgage and ‘what if she ended up on the streets! A nice bit of catastrophising.
I gently pointed out a few facts and how unlikely this would be. We ended up laughing at the absurdity of her logic and concluded that her habit of focusing on the negatives had gotten somewhat out of control. We went on to have a fun afternoon together and by the evening she contacted me to say ‘thanks’ for lifting her spirits and helping her to look at things more clearly. When we positively interact with others it produces the ‘feel good’ hormone serotonin. So spending enjoyable time together had benefited us both.
It can be incredibly useful to put things into a wider perspective, especially if we tend to place negatives under a microscope. If we lift our heads and look over our shoulder, metaphorically speaking, there can be a lot of good stuff we have lost sight of.
As a solution focused hypnotherapist, I encourage my clients to look at what is good, even in the midst of challenges. This encourages a more balanced approach in dealing with issues and achieving personal goals. It is not about being happy all the time. This would be an unrealistic expectation.
We inevitably have to deal with life’s curve balls and can expect to experience moments of sadness, anger, frustration and other emotions along the way. Our challenge is to find ways of moving forward so we are not dwelling too much on these emotions. We can then begin to take back some control. This is summed up very nicely by Mary Engelbreit:
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.
Solution focused hypnotherapy can help us find useful ways of dealing with problems. The emphasis is on building confidence in our ability to cope; in any situation. This feeling of confidence is more easily achieved when we are on track and in the process of making small, manageable changes. It is about getting on with it and moving forward, rather than looking at events of the past or chasing unrealistic expectations. We can begin to focus more on what we can change and have control over and take steps to make it happen.
By gaining a more positive outlook, we can avoid the pitfalls of overthinking the negatives and cast our eye towards the things we can do, in the here and now. Hypnotherapy can help reduce stress and anxiety and this gives us the opportunity to consider more carefully our choices and avoid knee jerk reactions.
That wonderful hormone serotonin also helps us to feel better, so we can enjoy our achievements and this, in turn, motivates us to keep moving in a good direction. This is where we can explore the exciting possibilities of changing the way we think, stick at it and make new neural pathways in our brain that may be challenging to forge at first, but then become easier the more we use them.
Clients often note, with surprise, that the way they are responding to things that may have caused them stress before, is so different now. It is as if they have always had that ability to calmly reflect and react in a more useful way, and this is just what they do now.
Other ways of producing a nice, constant supply of serotonin are through taking positive actions and having positive thoughts. What we do and how we think when we get up in the morning can set the tone for the day, where we are actively promoting feelings of well-being. Even smiling, though you may not feel like it at the time, has been proven to lift our mood.
I am especially grateful to have friends in my life who love to have a laugh. Seeing the funny side of things can quickly shift the way we feel and help us to stand back. This has helped me on many occasions.
If we don’t have a sense of humour, we lack a sense of perspective.
- Wayne Thiebaud.
It can be fun and refreshing to look at the same situation from a different angle.