“So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key.”-Eagles, Already Gone
I had a client recently who went through a horrific experience while coming out of cancer surgery, as if having cancer isn’t hard enough. She did recover from the cancer, but every time she tried to make a call for further medical or dental needs she froze up. Months went by and nothing changed. She could not make the calls despite mounting physical discomfort which was now getting in the way of making a living.
In our first session we found, even though her surgery was done somewhat recently, the fear that held her back from making the necessary calls had it’s origins in childhood and was then reinforced by the experience coming out of surgery. We then addressed the earlier fears involved in her freeze reaction.
In the second session we addressed the fears that were reinforced when she came out of surgery. We then rehearsed the upcoming calls she needed to make. We rehearsed the necessary calls many times, and we addressed the fears that came up with each repetition. After several rehearsals she was able to entertain that making these calls might be possible.
She came in for the third session somewhat surprised that she had been able to make all the calls and it didn’t seem like a big deal. She was smiling. I hadn’t seen her smile like that before. It’s hard to explain how satisfying these breakthroughs are. It’s a sense of awe each time.
However, our work wasn’t quite done. She doubted her newfound ability would last. This kind of doubt occurs frequently when new freedoms emerge. It can feel glorious but foreign and unsteady.
The third session was spent on creating a sense of stabilization and security. We discovered her insecurity had early family origins, but were different than the fears that kept her from making those calls earlier. She grew up feeling chronically undermined by her parents. Why wouldn’t her new freedom be undermined by them as well?
Feeling undermined by the same people who are supposed to protect you can create an untenable conflict for a child, which can then create a lifelong pattern of insecurity.
The continuing magic in my work is how the process liberates both heart and mind. We can intellectually understand our inner child all day long, but our patterns won’t change. We can remember specific and difficult times in childhood and see those as the root cause of our problems, but our patterns won’t change. We learn and re-learn helplessness unless:
- We fully acknowledge the pain associated with the injury. This is different than re-experiencing the pain.
- We wholeheartedly accept the version of ourselves who experienced the injury.
- We create a new approach to the problem that supports our wellbeing.
Acknowledge, accept, and create a new approach.
Hypnosis provides a vital aid to these three fundamentals of recovery. Hypnosis makes it much easier to:
- Become the comforter and acknowledger of your past pain, rather than being overwhelmed by it.
- See and accept your past self from a more objective and adult point of view.
- Vividly imagine and rehearse a new approach.
In hypnosis, she became the comforter of the undermined child, empathizing completely with her past pain from a place of caring and concern rather than overwhelm. Once this was accomplished, she was able to visualize a new way of relating to her parents. They were no longer on the hook to acknowledge her because she had acknowledged herself. Now that her parents were off the hook, she become fully responsible for her own destiny. She became free.
At the end of our third session her confidence about staying clear of those old fears had increased markedly. She now made sense to herself. There was an emotional freedom, an appreciation and understanding of her past patterns, and no remaining need to compromise her newfound freedom.