Watch your words! This is a warning that many hear early, probably as a child, in warning about how we speak and the words we use. It is truer and more impactful than we probably realize at the time. Our words and how we use them, however, affect us and the people around us so powerfully. Some people never realize the power of their words and others realize it and use that power in reckless or harmful ways. Take a minute and see what comes to mind when you try to remember words or phrases, things that someone said that affected you in a powerful or memorable way. Then, think for a minute about why those words or phrases were so powerful. Was it the tone, volume, the meaning or something else? Now think about why you remembered those particular words and what you felt or feel about them now. What was the affect they had? How long ago were those words spoken? Why did you remember them or carry them forward with you? Unfortunately, more often than not, the words or phrases that we remember, the one that make a big impact and stay with us far into the future are negative, loud and/or angry. Often times they are said in times that are traumatic, embarrassing or make us feel intimidated or fearful in some way. Those seem to be the words that most often stay with us, with the opposite type of words, the kind, gentle, soft, encouraging and affectionate words said in softness, affection, praise and encouragement coming in a distant second, We let them slip away. Yes, if we think hard enough those words are there too, but they usually don’t come to mind first. They seem to be dominated or over-whelmed by those other louder, more critical and negative words. This is powerful knowledge. Both for being aware of what we say and how we say it, but for evaluating and filtering the impact of our memories. People say things they don’t mean in ways they would never want them to be remembered and yet, that is exactly what happens!
As a coach and hypnotherapist, I have clients tell me in tears or on the verge of tears something that a parent said 30 or more years ago or a now ex-spouse said a decade ago and it is, as if, it was said yesterday in the emotional pain it brings back. When people dwell on these memories of mere words, often said thoughtlessly, and in a moment of anger, it causes them unneeded anguish and suffering. It is necessary to learn to take the power away from words, just as it is necessary to learn to use them better to avoid some of this needless pain and anguish.
Most of the time words are used thoughtlessly and not meant to inflict long term damage on their recipients. Some people do use them very intentionally to inflict pain and these people are often abusive in other ways as well, but we all at times use words and language in ways that inflict unintended damage. This can probably not be entirely avoided, but if we become more aware of what we are saying and how we are saying it, it is a step in the right direction. Especially with very young children, as what they hear becomes how they will speak to others. Even if language is not directed at them, for instance, a child who hears their parents arguing and saying angry things to one another will feel angrier and more hostile and may direct those feelings outward toward others or inward toward themselves. It is also true that it is the underlying feelings that are most impactful and not the exact words. We feel that energy in a powerful way.
I had a client break down in tears when I let her know that cancelling an appointment at the last minute impacted me and my schedule. I did not say it in a loud, angry or overly critical way, but wanted to make clear that it was not acceptable. She was a mature adult, so I hardly expected the reaction. However, coming from an abusive and overly-critical upbringing, something in my tone and the disappointment she sensed in my voice, brought back for her the feelings she felt as a child of never being able to please her Mother or do the right thing and thus, the overly emotional reaction. We talked about it and it surprised me how convinced she was that I was angry at her. I simply wanted her to let me know in advance in the future, if she needed to cancel or change an appointment. We worked on changing up her filtering system and trying to avoid those early experiences as a basis for judging the behaviors and intentions of others.
I had to look at the possibility of my tone and words conveying more judgement or emotion than I intended them to, as well. Having had a critical and controlling Mother, myself, that is something that would come naturally to me. I did not think I had been overly harsh, but decided in the future to go lighter in my tone and messaging to be on the safe side.
It is hard to get it just right in every case. We will probably always miscommunicate and have misunderstandings based on words and how we use them, but the more aware we are, the more attention we pay and the more intentional we become in trying to communicate accurately the closer we will come to that heart to heart, soul to soul communication we all seek.
“Be mindful when it comes to your words. A string of some that don’t mean much to you may stick with someone for a lifetime.” - Rachael Wolchin
NLP or Neuro-linguistics Programming is really an immense toolbox of techniques and resources that use the way our brain and senses work and interact to help in achieving what we want. It is based on the research and studies of its founders Dr. Richard Bandler and Dr. John Grinder. NLP has been around since the 1970"s and has grown to be used by many successful people, companies and, not surprisingly, in the field of education. It has recently been backed up by research and studies in the field of Neuroscience, which have supported some of its basic hypotheses and premises. Some of the NLP techniques practitioners of NLP and Hypnosis have been using for decades intersect with other popular modalities, such as, Mindfulness, Law of Attraction, Emotional Freedom Technique, Timeline Therapy and more. Some would surmise that NLP and all of these modalities have their roots in prior schools of thought and I would not argue with that. Learning and all progress is without question an evolving process. NLP techniques are being used to help children learn more, faster and with better comprehension and retention. Long ago, Buddha said:
“all that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is
everything. What we think we become.” --The Buddha
If we believe this is true, it is apparent how intentionally shaping our thoughts through the use of NLP can be a remarkable tool for teaching and education. In general, kids are the perfect target audience for learning with NLP. They are motivated, open and active learners. They take in the world around them and what is going on in it, quite naturally. They absorb information like a sponge absorbs water. How can NLP contribute to and enhance this natural state that kids enjoy? How can it fit into our educational systems to make processes easier or even be used by parents to help in teaching their children?
NLP is a wonderful tool for teaching children because it teaches them to use their brain to be able to express themselves well and understand others with language skills and it give then a strong foundation for life-long learning. NLP gives your child tools for learning that help to maintain strong confidence and self-esteem. NLP uses children’s natural perceptual senses. NLP uses and expands children’s imagination and creativity. NLP can be used to calm children, motivate them, build confidence or establish trust. All of these are optimal conditions for education and learning. Techniques sometimes need to be modified for children, but most of the techniques used with adults are also effective with kids.
Some effective NLP techniques to use with children are:
1. Anchoring – Is setting a positive association that can be used when you want to replace a negative or traumatic feeling with a more positive or resourceful state.
2. Framing – setting a scenario and criteria that allow practice and achievement.
3. Metaphor and Story-Telling – this so fun and appeals to children’s imagination and is also very effective for learning important lessons
4. Visualization – If you can see it, you can do it. This is true for children, as well as, adults and if your child is visual it will work well.
5. Intrinsic and Extrinsic Rewards – finding those rewards that are important to
your child will make a big difference in their motivation and willingness to l learn, as well as, speed and retention.
6. Modeling – this is an excellent technique for behavior change and can be used so imaginatively to make a strong impression.
These are just a few NLP techniques out of hundreds that can be used to help children learn better and faster. With a little effort most NLP techniques can be used effectively with kids and the results have been amazing. Kate Benson, in an accomplished and licensed Trainer’s Trainer for the NLP Society and also that Director of education for that organization founded by NLP co-founder, Dr. Richard Bandler. Benson said this, “Why aren’t we using NLP in education?” Dr. Bandler and Kate Benson recently released the co-authored book: Teaching Excellence. Dr. Bandler said this of Kate Benson:
“Kate Benson is an expert in applying NLP in the education sector.
She is thoroughly organized, highly skilled and the love for what she
teaches comes across in her presentations. I guarantee you will a
thoroughly enjoyable experience”. – Dr. Richard Bandler
In addition to her position with the NLP society, Kate Benson is the founder of NLPkids.com and is one of the foremost leaders in using NLP in education for teaching kids. Kate says this regarding Teaching Excellence:
You could radically transform how quickly and easily you and your students could learn
You were equipped with the tools to entertain and captivate the attention of your audience
You had the secrets of Teaching Excellence!!”
I am sure you can imagine how powerful that would be and that is how powerful NLP is in the area of learning and using it with kids offers an amazing opportunity to lift them to an attitude and mindset of unlimited life-long learning and opportunity.
Most practitioners and even people who are casually exposed to NLP or Neurolinguistics Programming methods are often amazed by how impactful it is and how quickly change can be achieved. How does this happen and why? NLP is not just a single technique, but a whole set of techniques and tools that take into consideration how our brain and all of our senses work together to communicate and form our perception of both the world around us and the world within us. NLP was developed in the early 1970's by Dr. Richard Bandler and Dr. John Grinder. In the course of their studies they drew from the work of the best in a number of different disciplines taking into consideration what was most successful. They used the work of others and analyzed the results to come up with systems that do seem to work fairly reliably. In fact, neuroscience is now giving us the why's behind some of what has been working for a long time. NLP has been used, not just in psychology and counseling, but in many other fields where communication and relationships are important like sales, management, teaching and even entertainment. Tony Robbins uses it routinely in his work and speaking and many other motivational speakers, trainers, teachers, preachers and even politicians are quite expert in using it. It is usually used ethically with good intent, but can be used with less integrity too. Examples would be for the purpose or brain washing or propaganda. Unknowing subjects can be negatively impacted using it with no integrity. It is a powerful tool and used positively we can create change and influence in important areas of our lives. Let's talk about the good purposes and the seeming magic that can be achieved. It can be such a wonderful tool for healing and change.
NLP training is usually broken into two 7 or 8 full-day sessions just to give you the basics, so you might guess there are a lot of tools and techniques involved and we are only going to talk about a few here to give you an idea of how it works and has such a strong impact. Really mastering and applying the techniques is an art in itself and that is why a skilled practitioner can be so helpful in guiding you with NLP.
In this article we are going to talk about anchoring, contextual reframing and mental rehearsal. These are all quite simple, but when practiced it will surprise you how fast and effective they can be. There are literally hundreds of techniques and some get more complex. They are also quite flexible and after learning NLP, you will easily be able to modify and customize these tools to fit the situation or if you are a practitioner, the client.
Let’s start with anchoring, sometimes called States and Anchors. It is a way to change your state by experiencing the feeling from another time and place. Anchoring is used frequently in many different ways. Sometimes it is just to set a pleasant and positive state to return to or guide your client to whenever needed. Bring your client to a state of relaxation and then ask them to remember or imagine a pleasant enjoyable and relaxing place or situation from anytime in their past. Take them through remembering this time with all of their senses and when they are completely relaxed and immersed in this pleasant memory, gently tap on their shoulder, have them rub their fingers (thumb & forefinger) together, snap your fingers or any other indicator signal and suggest that whenever they want to return to this pleasant state they can simply rub their finger together (or whatever you used) and they will be brought back automatically to this pleasant memory and feeling. With this tool someone can learn to go to this pleasant place whenever they are confronted with a negative or unpleasant trigger. The more times this is practiced the more automatic it will become. You can also use something like an anchor stone that the client can hold in their hand during this process and whenever they hold the stone again, they can re-experience the same feelings and memories.
Contextual Reframing is another great technique. An example of this would be changing the way someone thinks about or perceives something without altering the actual circumstance. One day a client with low self-esteem was telling me about feeling out of place when she went to a networking group. She was much younger than most of the other members and saw them as having more professional and important businesses than she did. She said, “I’m just a lowly dog walker and they were all professionals.” I said, “Were there any other 23-year-old women, who had their own successful business doing something they really enjoyed at the meeting?” She looked surprised and then smiled slightly and I knew she got the point and was seeing things from a new perspective.
Finally, Mental Rehearsal is a great technique most of us have probably used to some extent, but that can be honed to produce excellent results very quickly. The truth is, what we imagine internally produces the same neurological experience for us as when we do something in real-time. Therefore, if we can imagine doing something in just the way we would like to perform when we actually do it, it is a form of training and results in the same performance improvement or very close to it, that actually practicing does. As they say, “practice makes perfect”, so the more we rehearse or practice mentally, the more improvement we will see in our physical or real-time performance. I don’t always remember this, but I have done this and found it to work well, even before I knew it was an NLP technique. I had a guest on my radio show who used this NLP technique to become a pro-golfer very quickly. She then wrote a book about how you can do this too, using NLP. This can be applied to almost any area of your performance or learning.
Hopefully, these 3 simple techniques give you an idea of how NLP can help people to make changes and achieve goals very quickly. To a great extent it is a matter of having the knowledge and being aware of how to use it to your best advantage. With that knowledge and awareness there is no limit to what you can accomplish. Give these simple techniques a try and I am betting you will want to come back and learn more about how NLP can help you up level your performance and your life.
Age-Regression is a hypnosis technique that is frequently used, however, there is some discussion as to whether it is always the best technique or if it is needed at all. Some believe that it is the go-to procedure for effective resolution of almost every issue. Other hypnotherapists don’t really believe that it is necessary at all and never use it. There is a middle ground where some hypnotherapists believe that there are specific times and issues where age regression works well and other times when it is better to use other procedures.
Age-Regression is when the hypnotist guides the client back to retrieve or re-experience memories that happened at an earlier age. This can be cathartic and there are some specific reasons why this is done. It is sometimes very effective in resolving issues. As the client sees and experiences events from the past, they are looking at them from a different perspective and seeing them in a different way with added resources for dealing with them and can therefore come away with different feelings and perhaps, an improved outcome or better perspective of that outcome. On the other hand, going back and re-living past traumas, experiencing those feeling again, can reignite traumas unnecessarily. It is also true that each time we go back to a past memory we change it and we may not be dealing accurately with things. How do we decide then if using age regression is the best choice?
There is not one right answer to this question. I think it depends on many factors and the decision will be very individual and may come somewhat intuitively. However, for me, there are some things that I consider. First, what is the client’s comfort level with going back and delving into those past traumas? Second, is there another way of addressing and dealing with the issues without using age-regression? If there is another way of dealing with the issues and resolving any undesirable feelings or behaviors associated with those issues, then I will choose not to do age-regression, unless the client is really wanting and expecting to experience it. It is always my goal to make the clients healing experience as trauma-free as possible. I try to set up the expectation that the treatment will be easy and not a difficult process with lots of pain and suffering involved. I have found that many clients do expect difficulty and suffering from their experiences with traditional psychotherapy and counseling and often dread the idea of going through such an experience. If seems obvious that can do nothing, but hinder the healing process. It is always my goal to change that expectation and start things off with the client in a hopeful mindset with an expectation that issues will be easily and quickly resolved.
In many cases, issues can be resolved and feelings changed by dealing with the beliefs around a particular experience, rather than actually going back and recreating that time and experience. At other times, experiences can be reframed or energy can be refocused away from dwelling on those negative feelings surrounding past issues. Sometimes techniques designed to eliminate the physical and emotional symptoms associated with the trauma created by the negative event may work well. For instances, learning to recognize when and where you are holding tension in your body and learning to relief or eliminate this tension may be enough to let go of the negativity and trauma from a past experience and move forward. It is believed that going back through regression can be somewhat retraumatizing and if that can be avoided it seems worthwhile.
I have gone through three different hypnotherapy training programs that emphasize handling things in different ways and have found positives in all of them. I have not found one that I believe does everything the best way in every situation, nor do I know that I have discovered the best way to handle every situation. I am constantly learning and finding new answers to these questions. I do rely strongly on my intuition in making these decisions, well as, constantly reading and talking with colleagues about their experience with various techniques. I am learning to trust intuition, along with adding constantly evolving knowledge, as I go along. I encounter new situations on a regular basis and continue to add more ways of effectively working with clients to my skills tool bag. Hypnosis has been around for a long time and there is a huge amount of continuously evolving knowledge and many different approaches. There are numerous ways of dealing with some problems and all of them are successful in certain situations.
In conclusion, I have to say that in the right situation, a good age-regression can work very powerfully and effectively. I have experienced it myself and have seen the lights go on very quickly for clients through an age-regression experience. It tends to dissolve past trauma and eliminate triggers effectively in many cases.
Hypnosis has been shown to be as effective or more effective than other methods in stopping or eliminating bad habits. How and why does it work? It is not magic and still requires that the client be both willing to work and committed to making the change. However, a good hypnotist who also understands how the brain and our emotions work can help clients make quicker and more permanent change in stopping those undesirable habits. In a state of hypnosis, the client is relaxed into a trance or state where the subconscious is more accessible and open to suggestion. The subconscious is a taskmaster and takes on what we ask or program it to do. This is where the hypnotherapists understanding of the brain is important to the client’s success in eliminating bad habits. The language and focus of the suggestions or directions to the subconscious are important, as well as, tapping into and neutralizing the client’s emotions around the change process. Hypnosis can give these efforts a boost by tapping into to the subconscious mind and putting it to work for us. Neuroscience tells us that we change by forming new neural pathways and respond in new ways on a continued or repeated basis. The best way then to end or eliminate a habit is to replace it with a new more desirable habit or pattern of response forming a new neural pathway. If we do this the chances are very high that we will be successful.
While self-discipline is a needed and important aspect of creating the behaviors we desire, pure willpower is not a very effective way of stopping or ending undesirable behavior. The reason is simple - it is simply not the way our brain works. We do not form new neural pathways by saying stop to ourselves and our brain does not stop responding to stimuli and following those well-worn pathways we are trying to change. Despite our will to do otherwise, our brain does what it has been doing in a very automatic way. Repeated diligently enough we will form a habit of saying “no” to a particular set of stimuli, but this is not as strong as forming a new rewarding behavior. In order to change those patterns, we must do something to change them and form new neural pathways.
“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” -- Socrates character, “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” – Dan Millman
A multitude of research has shown that habits are stronger than willpower in most cases. However, eliminating bad habits is still very possible and hypnosis used correctly can be very effective. It is both the ability to access our subconscious mind and put it to work on our side and the ability to visualize and experience a successful outcome effectively that leads to success. Hypnosis can also help in reducing the emotional stress and anxiety that is sometimes a part of that process. It is also true that if you do manage to use willpower to push yourself into eliminating a habit, the change is less likely to last. You get tired and slip back. However, if you can build a new habit, forming those new patterns and neural pathways, you can maintain that change long term and are less likely to fall back into the old behavior. For instances, when I decided to stop drinking diet soda, I substituted Chia Lattes and it was fairly easy and painless to make the change. My substitution decision was, however, a little flawed as I soon had a new bad habit of “chai lattes”, which are both sugar laden and expensive. I kicked chai lattes by forming a new habit of herbal teas and coffee. It was fairly easy and painless and I chose herbal teas that are actually good for me and an occasional cup of a great organic coffee that has an amazing mellow taste.
With the help of hypnosis, committed intent and an understanding of how the brain and emotions work, eliminating bad habits and replacing them with new and more desirable behaviors can be easy! Next time you want to stop doing something remember these simple fundamentals of neuroscience and find a good hypnotherapist to help you make the change easier!
Hypnosis has been shown to be effective in dealing with a wide range of trauma-related issues. It is helpful in dealing with trauma from abuse of many kinds, PTSD and traumas from abandonment, bullying and failures or losses. It is, in general, quicker and more effective than other types of counseling or psychotherapy. It is not for everyone, but if people are open to trying it the success rate is very good. How and why does Hypnosis work in dealing with trauma and how is it different than other ways of dealing with it. It is also noteworthy to say that there is more than one way of using hypnosis to deal with trauma. In some cases, regression may be used to deal successfully with trauma and in other cases no regression is needed and other techniques may be used for reframing and changing mindset, fears and releasing energies and memories associated with the past traumas.
It is worth noting that The British Medical Council, the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have all endorsed hypnotherapy as a valid therapeutic procedure for the treatment of PTSD.
How exactly does it work? Every Experience (both positive and negative) is stored in our brain encoding in neural connections. In our brain’s organizing system experiences or memories of a similar nature are stored or linked to those that are similar in nature. That is why a stimulus from one memory may bring up a similar memory or situation. The stimuli (such as sound, smell, song, color, voice tone) is called a trigger. An event that initiates trauma is different and usually painful and does not fall in with or connect easily with other life experiences. It is filed away in a special place, but still has its own set of stimuli associated with that event. Hypnosis can allow the patient to do a number of things which are helpful in healing trauma. First it is possible to isolate, retrieve and clarify the memory if needed. The client is looking at the trauma now from a more resourceful perspective and can allow them to see the situation resolved in a manner that brings calm, safety and a sense of accomplishment. Also, the client may be guided in visualizing a happy outcome and mastery over the fear or helplessness caused by the trauma. It can eliminate discomfort and anxiety and give the client the tools needed to reprogram their brain for better functioning and less anxiety and fear.
Hypnosis is powerful and deals with unlocking the subconscious mind. A qualified hypnotherapist can use it either by itself or in conjunct with other therapy. Knowing a lot about the client’s history and the nature of the trauma is very helpful in effectively using hypnosis. It must be used carefully. Defense mechanisms and blocking of traumatic memories serves a protective purpose and releasing these protective devices must be done with careful thought and intention. When done with a plan for replacing the panic with more positive and resourceful reactions it can be very helpful in permanently changing traumatic memory triggers.
In some cases, and with some clients it is possible to help the client look at the trauma from a new perspective where they are simply more capable and able to deal with the situation easily and without fear or panic. Seeing themselves in this new way will often be enough to eliminate future reaction to any triggers. Sometimes a past trauma may be modified with more information that was not available at the initial traumatizing event. This will often diminish its power.
So, the bottom line is that hypnosis is a tool that has the power to change and rewire the patterns and connections that stimulate the fear and panic reactions that are stored away in our subconscious. Through hypnosis those neural pathways can be replaced with more positive or resourceful reactions. It is a way of editing the story of the past, in order to create a better story in the present and the future.
When I went to training for my Life Coach Certification, which included hypnosis, I was open to learning hypnosis and I believed that it worked for some people, but like many others, I was a skeptic about what could be accomplished with hypnosis and specifically, whether I could be hypnotized. I also had some typical misconceptions about what hypnosis was and how it would feel to hypnotized. Therefore, it is no surprise to me that many other people and some of my potential clients have these views about hypnosis. I have expanded my views to become a big fan of what can be accomplished with this wonderful tool and an advocate for its many uses. As a practitioner, hypnosis allows me to help clients work through issues and make changes to get results in remarkably short time periods. I am able to help clients when everything else has failed and to do so in a way that avoids much of the pain and suffering that tends to be part of some other processes.
Getting back to the question, “Who Can Be Hypnotized? – with a few qualifications, almost everyone who is willing and open to being hypnotized can be hypnotized. Everyone does experience this wonderful state of enhanced or expanded awareness in a very natural way in your daily lives. Most people go into this natural, self-induced state of hypnosis on a frequently. It is a break in a way from all the distractions and demands on our attention. Yes, this is different than being led into a hypnotic state by a qualified hypnotist and allowing one’s self to experience hypnosis in this way is somewhat more difficult for some. We go into a natural state of hypnotic trance without even thinking about it when certain circumstances present themselves. To be hypnotized we must allow ourselves by agreement and trust to be led to this state by another. This is the part that can get tricky and results in some people being more resistant to moving into a state of hypnotic trance than others. It is also the aspect of “thinking” that can confuse the process and cause some people to resist transitioning into a hypnotic state. When we go into hypnosis naturally, we do so without thinking and thinking can get in the way. Our mind is, contrary to common belief, a single process mechanism with regard to what it can handle. Therefore, when we are busy engaging our conscious mind with thinking, we have difficulty switching over to the subconscious mind and slipping into that state of hypnotic trance that is fairly automatic. It is like trying to put your car on auto-pilot and steer at the same time. It just doesn’t work or defeats the purpose. Some people are reluctant to allow this transition, as it feels like giving up control, rather than going to a higher level of focus, as it actually is. For some it feels like they are giving over control to someone else and although this is incorrect, it feels that way and is therefore, difficult. Finally, there are the people who actually do go into a state of hypnosis, but don’t believe that they have been hypnotized because it just feels too normal to them and they expect it to feel different than it actually does. There are many factors that have influenced people to believe that they will be in some sort of other-worldly state of trance where they are being controlled by others or in a zombie-like state of being where something happens that is beyond their control. This is just not what hypnosis is and how it feels.
What is needed then, if almost anyone can be hypnotized, for someone to be hypnotized? To be hypnotized these conditions must be present:
These are the only two conditions that must be present, but there are other requisites that are very helpful. These would include the hypnotist being good at their craft and able to use different techniques to help different clients move into hypnotic trance and the client trusting the hypnotherapist and allowing themselves to relax into hypnosis as stated above.
It isn’t very complicated. Everyone can go into hypnosis if they want to. You have done so many times naturally in your life already and professional or therapeutic hypnotherapy is simply using this heightened state of awareness as a resource in helping you to work through issues that you want to resolve while you are in your most resourceful state and have the ability to resolve things quickly with great clarity. Yes, even you, can probably be hypnotized if you decide you want to be hypnotized, find a qualified hypnotherapist that you can trust, feel comfortable following instructions and choose to allow yourself to move in this wonderful state of heightened awareness. And yes, you can accomplish amazing things in this state, if what you want to accomplish is realistic and you believe it is achievable.
Hypnosis has been found to be very effective in the management and relief of pain. There are many studies and years of research to support this and many people who would attest to finding relief and being able to live their lives more productively through the use of hypnosis. The question then is how and why does hypnosis work so well for pain? To explain the very effective way hypnosis can help with pain management, we first have to understand what pain is and how it works in the communication system between our body and our brain. We have a very complex neural communication system that helps to keep us safe and healthy. According to the American Dictionary:
“Pain is an uncomfortable feeling that tells you something may be wrong. It can be steady, throbbing, stabbing, aching, pinching, or described in many other ways. Sometimes, it is just a nuisance, like a mild headache … Acute pain is usually severe and short-lived, and is often a signal that your body has been injured.”
The answer to the question “what is pain?” however, is more complex than you might think. You can not always draw a straight line between pain and damage or cause. Think of trauma or phantom limb pain where the painful body part no longer exists. It is complicated; however, scientists and neuroscience agree that pain is generally an unpleasant feeling that leads us to want to change our behavior and it is a very advanced protective mechanism.
Why is pain so complicated and generally misunderstood? How does it really work? First pain is a signal transmitted by danger receptors or nociceptors that send alerts to the brain, but they do not send “pain”, because all pain is made by the brain. It is not the bruise on your knee or your broken arm or ankle that the “pain” is coming from. Pain is your brain’s evaluation of information or data, including danger from the detection system that uses such reference points and cognitive data as expectations, previous experience, beliefs, cultural and social norms and sensory data. In responses, the brain produces pain as a signal, based on the information it has and sends out a signal to the body. It is usually fairly accurate, but sometimes does not have enough information or is relying on old information or patterns that are not totally accurate. There are all kinds of examples of our body getting signals that are not quite accurate, such as those mentioned above. However, most of the time pain is a good indicator that tells us not to lift or bend with our injured back, not to walk on our injured foot or to see a doctor or physical therapist to help with healing. The brain can also turn on pain or turn pain up when it receives evidence of danger and in this way is a protective mechanism. For instances, we might get a headache when we anticipate doing something that has previously caused us pain or injury.
Pain is additionally complicated because it is not just in the brain. The receptors or danger detectors that are the eyes of the brain are distributed across all the tissues of the body and form the neural system that is the brains messenger. So, this system is very sensitive to any changes in the body and ready to mobilize the body’s many mechanisms for alert, healing and repair. There are some conditions that can interfere with or inhibit optimal functioning of this system. There are substances that can numb the transmitters and allow severe tissue damage without indication of pain or heightened signals of pain when actual damage is not severe as the pain would indicate. Inflammation in the body, for instance, actually causes pain to be signaled at a sensitivity level that is far greater than what is actually happening in the body haor what would be felt if the inflammation were not present. that is why anti-inflammatories or reducing inflammations can reduce pain, even though the actual conditions, have not changed.
An example of how pain works that made a strong impression on me was a story I heard when I sat next to a Physical Therapist on a plane trip from Seattle to Boston. He explained pain to me this way:
Jared explained - His friend, who was an avid hiker in the Northwest went on a trip to Costa Rica. Since he hiked a lot in areas where there were no trails he was used to little pricks and scraps from bushes and underbrush and knew that is generally was not an indication of serious injury. So, when on a hike in Costa Rica he felt a prick on his ankle, he thought nothing of it. Not too long later, he found his ankle and leg swelling, painful and was unable to walk on it. His guides informed him that he had been bitten by a very deadly snake. He had to be airlifted back to the US and barely survived. It did not deter him from hiking, which he loved. However, on a hike in the Northwest, shortly after this incident he felt a prick similar to what he had felt in Costa Rica and even though he knew there were no deadly snakes to be bitten by, his ankle and leg swelled up and felt very much like it had when he had been bitten by the snake. The brain was going with the most recent data and information it had recently and decided that “the last time we felt this, we almost died” and so there was significant danger involved and sent signals and “pain” replicating that previous circumstances, even though in fact there was no substantial real danger at that time.
The Physical Therapist’s explanation made a strong impression on me and helped me both in understanding pain and understanding how hypnosis can be effective in helping to manage and relieve it. The next question then is, how does hypnosis work with the body and the brain in managing pain? this in no ways means that when we experience pain, we are imagining it, but that the body signals danger and draws from experience, so sometimes the signals do not mean what they seem and that we can take control of those signals to our advantage to help in managing pain.
Hypnosis is actually a heightened state of focus and awareness and is not sleep or an altered state of mind control, as popular belief has led us to believe. During hypnosis the patient is completely aware of what is going on and can stop the process at any time. The client must trust the hypnotist for the process to be effective, but hypnosis is actually a very normal process that occurs in our daily lives. During hypnosis subjects are very responsive to suggestion and this can be used in a positive way by the hypnotist with regard to pain. Relaxation, focused attention, creative imaginary and some hypnotic phenomena are used in hypnosis to help the patient manage and relieve pain, usually very effectively, using the body's own mechanisms.
An article from June 2012, http://theconversation.com/explainer-how-does-hypnosis-relieve-pain-7060 explains the technical way this works with some advanced measurement tools we now are able to use:
Advances in brain function imaging using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scanning techniques have allowed us to see that hypnosis modulates activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, which links the limbic (emotions) and sensory cortical areas of the brain during hypnotic pain relief. This appears to allow sensations that would normally be experienced as painful to no longer have the suffering or negative emotions that would normally be associated with them.
A labor contraction, for example, can be felt as either the most terrifying and painful of sensations or a wonderfully fulfilling experience that tells the mother she is getting closer to her baby. These very different perceptions may be experienced despite the intensity of uterine contractions being identical.
This is really amazing evidence that hypnosis is effective in allowing us to get a handle on pain and better manage and use this amazing system that our body already has in place to help us in dealing with danger, injury and illness and to help keep us safe and in good health. As I hypnotherapist, I recently updated my certifications with advanced training and certification in Medical Hypnosis from the ICBCH. It is so gratifying to help people in dealing with pain and its immense impact on the quality of our lives.
It is a long-held belief that there is some kind of magic or wizardry to hypnosis, a kind of woo-woo that is beyond explanation and certainly out of the whelm of logic and science. Is this the case or has hypnosis gotten a bad rap? Personally, I do believe that there is a magic to hypnosis, but it is not the type of magic that involves hocus pocus and woo-woo wizardry. It is more the magic of the mind and going beyond previously established limitations. It is the astounding and miraculous realization that we do not know the powerful limits of the mind and the human spirit. Through hypnosis we can explore these limits and, in that regard, it is a magical tool. This statement from the North Carolina Society of Hypnotherapists http://nchypnosis.org/what-is-hypnosis/)
characterizes hypnosis well:
“It’s not like what you see in the movies.
Hypnosis is a natural state of selective, focused attention, and, even though it is 100% natural and normal, it remains one of the most fascinating phenomena of the human mind. Our ability to enter this unique state of consciousness opens the door to countless possibilities for healing, self-exploration and change. Hypnosis, called by different names in different cultures and times, has been recognized for thousands of years and used for many purposes.”
When we watch stage hypnosis we are further led to believe that hypnosis is, at least, slight of hand, if not wizardry. It implies that people can be led to do things they would not otherwise do and perhaps they are unaware of and unwilling participates in the process. This is definitely not the case and a huge misconception. We cannot be controlled or made to do anything we are not willing to do while hypnotized. Hypnosis is actually a state of heightened awareness. It is a state of suggestibility, but no one can be made to do anything that is against their will or values. People will sometimes go along with what is being suggested to them, but it is a matter of choice and they probably have some inclination to want to experience whatever they are participating in.
How does hypnosis actually work and what is magical about it? Hypnosis works using relaxation, focused attention, creative imagery, neuro-patterning and hypnotic phenomena to reach a state of heightened awareness and suggestibility bypassing the conscience mind and putting us in direct contact with the powerful sub-conscious mind. We are constantly discovering new limits to what can be done with the sub-conscious mind. For instances, with hypnosis time travel is an everyday occurrence. We take our clients on a journey backward or forward in their lives and sometimes even beyond and through this “time travel” produce amazing healing and emotional release. We help our clients release trauma and erase the wounds of the past. We can future pace them to achieving goals and dreams they once believed to be impossible. There is no stronger magic or more powerful wizardry than giving people the power to create their own reality and success. In my own practice, I call myself a “Change Adventure Navigator”, as I guide my clients through this amazing journey to places they have never been and anywhere they want to go. To our sub-conscious minds imagining an experience is as powerful and has the same effects as the actual experience.
The beauty of hypnosis is that is takes advantage of the natural mechanisms of our mind/body integration and is largely a process of clearing away the dysfunction and setting us back on our natural course. It is a process that uses how things work to achieve desired results. With hypnosis we can time travel, fly, be anything or anyone we might imagine and become our own Super Hero! What could be more magical?
“I would not want to live in a world without dragons, as I would not want to live in a world without magic, for that is a world without mystery, and that is a world without faith.” --
R. A. SALVATORE, Streams of Silver
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or Tapping, as it is frequently called, is both a therapy modality and a self-help technique which uses light pressure in the form of gentle tapping on the acupressure meridians while focusing attention to neutralize negatives. It was started by Gary Craig in 1992, based on research from Dr. Ronald Callahan and his TFT and other work in the field of Energy Psychology. Gary Craig thought that all of the physical and emotional problems or illness people experience were created by blockages in the energy flow through our bodies. This is similar to ideas behind Traditional Chinese Medicine. He related this as very similar to the way electricity flows through a circuit. If there is a blockage or disruption the electrical circuitry does not work and will short out. EFT is a system and methodology for dealing with this and is used to neutralize negatives.
EFT can be approached from the emotional side, physical side or doing something called, "Tap and Talk", where the client simply taps while talking and relating a story or experience. By emotional side, I mean that you could, for example, work on feeling anxious. By physical side, it means you could work on physical pain or discomfort that you are feeling, such as tension or pain in your shoulders (resulting from anxiety). I like to work from the physical side when possible, because it is usually specific and easy to pinpoint. This is called "Chasing the Pain". How it works is -- you tap on the pain and it will eventually lessen and subside. There is a distraction element to this. It has been found that it will usually move to a different location and you then continue to tap on each location, usually moving downward. The theory is that eventually the pain will move down to the feet and flow out of the body. They have found, amazingly, - that when the pain flows out of the body, the emotional issue associated with it is also gone. And, in reverse, when you work from the emotional side, the physical pain or discomfort will also be gone. The "Talk and Tap" works similarly but tends to be less specific and therefore can take longer but can be very cathartic for the client.
So, what exactly is the process? You start by setting up the tapping session. You tap 4-7 times gently on what they call the "Karate Chop Point" located on the soft fleshy outer edge of the hand. At the same time, you repeat, "Even though I have pain in my shoulders and upper back (if you are doing Chasing the Pain), I deeply and completely accept myself!". After 4-7 taps, repeating those same words, you go to the second tapping point, which is the meridian on the top of the head, then inner edge of eye brow, outer edge of eye brow, under the eye, under the nose, under the chin, under the collar bone, under the armpit (all at meridian point) (see diagram below). You keep doing this tapping and repetition until the pain or the issue subsides - checking in with where you are on an intermittent basis.
I love EFT (Tapping) used in conjunction with other therapies, as it gives the client relief and also, a tool they can use while you are getting to the triggers and resolving issues. It can be used without the client ever talking about their story or initial traumas and can be used with very private issues without the therapist ever even knowing the details. Re-traumatization, which can be a factor in PTSD, can also be avoided.
There are other and more advanced techniques in EFT, such as, 9-gamut, and matrix re-imprinting, but here I just wanted to give you a basic overview and understanding of how and why EFT works and has become a standard modality for working with clients on a variety of issues. It can seem a little weird at first but has a high success rate and since it can also be done at home by the client, as a self-help tool, it has gained great popularity.
There are many online resources and videos on EFT (tapping) that you can watch and get a good idea of how it is done. Anyone can do tapping and you might want to give it a try by linking to one of those resources,
A trained EFT practitioner can be helpful in guiding clients through issues and resolving specific problems quickly and permanently. I find it has become a regular part of my work with clients and an addition to coaching, hypnotherapy, NLP and sometimes, Reiki. Have a bright and beautiful day and tap into the positive side of life!
Hypnosis is a heighten state of suggestibility and therapy modality, as well as, a self-help technique and a stage entertainment. It has been around for a long time and there are many methods of use for hypnosis. It is actually a very natural state that we have all experienced. It can be used in a therapeutic setting to help us in dealing in many ways. Over the years, the portrayal of hypnosis in stage shows and in movies and television or books has led to many myths and misconceptions about hypnosis. It has a mysterious reputation in many regards that is not deserved.
I would like to clear up some of those myths and provide a better idea of what hypnosis is and what it is not. As a double certified Master Hypnotherapist, hypnosis is one of the most valuable tools I use in helping clients to move forward and make the changes they want to achieve their dreams and goals or find a sense of peace in their lives.
#1 – Only those who are weak-willed or gullible can be hypnotized.
False: Anyone with an IQ over 70, a willingness to be hypnotized and the ability to focus and follow simple instructions can be hypnotized. Recent studied have confirmed that different people may need different methods to induce hypnosis, but if they are willing they can be hypnotized.
#2 – Hypnosis is mind control and may cause you to loss conscious or have amnesia.
False: In hypnosis, the client is never under the control of the hypnotist. They remain totally conscious and generally have a heightened sense of focus and awareness. The hypnotist is simply a facilitator guiding the client through the process. It is extremely difficult to get someone to do something under hypnosis that they do not want to do. That being said, stage hypnotists do get people to do some strange things. The explanation for this, is that those who volunteer are generally inclined to be more extroverted and in a state of exhilaration caused by the show and stage excitement. They are inclined to go along with silly suggestions, much like those who behave out of character when intoxicated of in a party atmosphere.
#3 – Hypnosis is like a truth serum and you cannot lie while hypnotized.
False: This is blatantly false. People can and do lie as easily when hypnotized, as not and cannot be made to confess or tell the truth, if they are otherwise inclined.
#4 – Hypnosis is dangerous and you might get stuck in hypnosis.
False: Once again, blatantly false! Hypnosis is a natural state that we have all experienced and go in and out of every day. Just before falling sleep, upon waking and while watching TV, movies, sometimes while driving on the highway or reading a book are common times when people enter an “environmental hypnosis”. It is not possible to get stuck in hypnosis even if the hypnotist does not count you out, you will emerge from hypnosis as soon as your body and mind enter a new state and can be done by yawning, stretching or move to a new position.
#5 – Hypnosis is a “Miracle Cure” that works for everyone and everything.
False: While hypnosis is very effective there is nothing that works for everything and everyone and it cannot be guaranteed to work. It is highly dependent on the motivation of the client whether it will be effective.
#6 – Hypnosis is Sleep!
False: Even though the Hypnotist may say “Sleep!” while inducing hypnosis, the client is not asleep! They may have their eyes closed, but they are aware of their surroundings, have a heightened sense of focus and will generally remember everything that is happening.
#7 – Hypnosis is witchcraft or against religion.
False: Hypnosis has no links to witchcraft or black magic and is not mentioned in the Bible or has no connection to any religion. It is a natural state and will with heightened focus and awareness and will not make any inclined or susceptible to any evil or negative influences that they would not otherwise, be inclined toward.
#8 – Hypnotists are flamboyant or weird!
False: While this may be true for some individuals or stage hypnotists, it is definitely not a characteristic or requirement for the field.
#9 – Hypnosis will retrieve lost memories
Maybe: While it is possible to retrieve some lost memories through hypnosis, memories are fragile and “not always even true”. There is no guarantee that memories will be retrieved or that what you recall is exactly how things happened. It is always a recalled perception. Hypnosis is, however, effective in many cases at helping to retrieve desired memories.
#10 – Self-Hypnosis is the same as hypnosis by a professional Hypnotist.
False: While self-hypnosis is a useless state and can be of value, it is not the same and can take you to the same level of hypnosis and professional guided hypnosis.
These are some of the top myths about hypnosis. I hope I have cleared up some misconceptions and you have a better idea of what hypnosis is and feel more comfortable with it. It can be a valuable tool in helping people get past trauma and make desired life changes or build positive habits. It is one of the modalities I use in my Life Coaching and is amazingly fast and effective. Are there any other beliefs you might have about Hypnosis that you are not sure about? I will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you might have or set up a “Discovery Session” to see if hypnosis would be useful for you.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org . Ask a question via the comment form on the blog or call: 206-566-1615.
About the Author
Kate Olson, CPC, CHt, is a Life Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist, NLP Master Practitioner & Certification Trainer, EFT Practitioner and Reiki Master practicing in at Embrace Change Hypnosis & NLP & Soul Fire Wisdom Life Coaching in Seattle.
She offers workshops & classes, as well as, individual and group coaching. Her emphasis is on assisting clients in finding path, purpose and peace. Kate focuses on integration of mind, body, spirit wellness It is her mission to help clients find joy through connection, creativity and change facilitation. Kate is a speaker, writer and radio show host of "Soul Fire Wisdom" on Soul Fire Radio. She previously hosted"Embrace Change with Kate" on Contact Talk Radio, In additional to her private practice, Kate is a retreat facilitator and sells products related to mind, body, spirit wellness. She is passionate about creativity, travel, personal growth and living with joyful purpose. Kate's businesses operate as Dba's under Total Well Resources, LLC