A few years ago, I had a crisis of confidence. Mostly to do with my role as a paramedic but it has plagued me in other aspects in my life since childhood. I have worked on front line ambulances since 1985 and attained the rank of team leader; the role operationally I enjoyed, the management side not so.
Despite having varied experiences, I went to a couple of calls that were time critical and found, on occasion, that I was losing confidence in my ability in comparison to younger colleagues who seemed to be able to think quicker than me. I quietly reflected on this and started beating myself up. This impacted on other areas in my life, and I started losing the drive to do the things I enjoyed e.g. flamenco dance and yoga.
To cut a long story short, I picked up a leaflet advertising hypnotherapy with a lady near Berwick upon Tweed. I went to see her for an introductory session which led onto a package of sessions. She was so reassuring and took me into level two trances. She took me through a coached breathing session where I mentally counted an in-breath to five through the nose, held for five, then exhaled through my mouth for five. This process was repeated over a few minutes. I could hear her voice, the ticking clock, the sounds of nature outside which all seemed enhanced somehow. Strangely as the trance developed, the ticking clock seemed to be on the opposite side of the room. She then took me through a gradual physical relaxation by visualising a coloured light (my favourite colour, she suggested), then let this healing colour (turquoise in my case) slowly wash over my body from my scalp all the way through to my toes, allowing the body to physically relax. I was then guided through further relaxation by visualising a count down some steps into a place of nature of my choice; a tranquil walled garden, on this occasion… She then spoke to my subconscious asking permission to alter my negative thought patterns. My subconscious responded by an involuntary twitch of a finger. This is a sign the subconscious is aware.
From then on, she implanted positive visualisation and suggestions. This included seeing myself in command on a trauma situation where I am directing my team confidently and calmly. We revisited this scenario several times until it was firmly rooted into my subconscious. After several minutes in this trance state, she slowly counted me back into the room and to full alertness.
She then described how easy it was to induce self-hypnosis which you can do by going through the relaxation process as described but guided by your own thoughts. This can be used to reinforce the positive suggestions. With a trigger, such as pinching the finger and thumb together, I could access this positive, confident mind set immediately. Very useful if you need to make rapid decisions.
I am so impressed with how powerful our minds are. Over years we’ve all been subjected to negative influences and critical remarks to an extent, we believe them as they become imprinted in our subconscious. This can, sadly, prevent people from being their very best. Hypnotherapy can press a reset switch and we can recondition the subconscious to do amazing positive things.
Recently I completed a course in professional hypnotherapy with the British School of Yoga. My mission being to help others who are stressed, anxious or in need of confidence enhancement, hypnotherapy can also be a vital aid to those wishing to radically alter their lives. For instance, smoking cessation, weight loss and beating a fear of flying. For those focusing on goal achievement, athletes for example, a winning thought process can be implanted. Exam nerves, driving test anxiety; although hypnosis can’t make people pass, it can give them better preparation and confidence. For me personally, undergoing hypnotherapy proved to be a valuable asset. It is important in therapy to only take clients to level two trance where they can hear your voice and suggestions and absorb them. If you take them to a deeper trance, they will not recall the positive suggestions. Deeper levels of trance are for those wishing to do hypnosis for entertainment or in some cases, perform medical procedures.
Through experience you find out if your client is better suited to visualisation, for example a beach at dawn or audible induction, like a ticking clock. There are various methods of induction; I have found a quick method is to use an hourglass and ask clients to focus on the sand dropping through into the bottom chamber and as it drops their eyes get heavier and the mind relaxes. It is remarkable watching the subconscious taking over and you may see this by the twitching of the eye lids when they are closed. However, be prepared for tears after or during the journey as hypnosis will also heighten deep seated emotions.
Finally, as a few words of reassurance there are some myths surrounding hypnosis that need dispelling. The hypnotist cannot force the subject to do something morally wrong or dangerous. The subconscious mind will not allow this. It is a safe practice, but it is important to make sure your client is fully awake prior to leaving you. Even though in level 2 trance, where you can hear the voice, some believe they have not been hypnotised. What they do not realise is they have a much-heightened awareness during the trance and will absorb the positive suggestions.
I wish I had discovered hypnotherapy much earlier in life and eradicated my lack of confidence sooner, but I also hear it said that things happen in our lives when they are meant to and I believe I can endorse this theory.