Are you suffering from anxiety issues? Anxiety can linger, ever-present, or it can come to the surface in acute episodes of panic. But it results from a natural response of our autonomic fight – flight – freeze response. This ability to very rapidly freeze or run can be incredibly useful in the right circumstance but not when it takes over like an over-zealous bodyguard, constantly on the lookout for potential but imagined risks.
One way to deal with anxiety is to lean into the worry. Suffering comes when we resist pain; often, simply engaging with the fear can lessen the feeling. If, instead, we try to amputate the feeling, we may initially succeed, but eventually, it will force its way to the surface.
Another way to expel anxiety is to realise that it’s a psychological illusion resulting from our forgetting that we are thinking.
Just for just a moment, imagine yourself back in 1896. You’ve probably heard some version of the story about a film involving a train coming into a station that sent a cinema audience in Paris running from their seats. It was the first time a film had been projected onto a big screen, nobody knew what to expect, and they thought it would drive right into them. They panicked, screamed and ran.
Imagine yourself there now, in this moment, in that cinema in 1896: you’ve never seen a movie before, you are filled with anticipation for what’s coming, and then you see the train as large as life powering towards you as it arrives at the station. I’m willing to guess that no matter how hard you try, it’s pretty hard to become so scared that you could imagine flinging yourself down on the ground or clambering out of the cinema as fast as your legs can carry you.
Try another experiment: imagine watching a modern film in a contemporary cinema: plush red seats, the smell of popcorn, drama and excitement on the screen. Someone points a gun in the story… do you duck and scream to warn others about the danger? Absolutely not.
Why don’t we react today as we apparently did in 1896? Because today, we know it’s a psychological illusion; we know enough about how a cinema film works to know it’s not real. We know there’s a projection room and a recording with thousands and thousands of still images that appear to make a moving image when run very fast together. We know there’s a screen in front that the pictures are projected onto; we know the screen is flat even though the images on it might appear to have depth. We know about actors and computers and animation. And once we know all that, we can never go back to believing that what is on the movie screen is real.
Imagine if you could do the same with your anxiety.
Understanding developmental theory and the model of psychological illusion could be the same as going back into the projection room of your mind, seeing where the images come from, how they are made, and realising that they are no more real than the 90-second film of a train in 1896.
The only time that thoughts feel real is when we forget we are thinking and the thoughts feel like us. Whereas, in fact, they are projections. The things we are worrying about aren’t actually occurring. If they were, we wouldn’t be worrying about them; we would be dealing with the reality of the situation. We only worry about potential risks.
Consider also that the things we are worrying about are never in the now: they are either concerns about things that might happen in the future or memories of bad things that happened in the past. Right now, they aren’t occurring.
And finally, consider that the things we worry about aren’t actually the things themselves. They are our label for those things. Even our memories are reconstructions viewed through today’s eyes. We give credit to our thoughts when they feel like us, but they are just thoughts with labels attached that give them significance.
A dream is the ultimate psychological illusion. We forget that we are asleep and thinking; it feels genuine. The moment we wake up, we realise it is only a dream. Imagine waking up from your anxiety.
How does hypnotherapy help?
We know that people fall in and out of waking hypnosis every day; it is a natural state. We sometimes experience that state when we engage in a repetitive task or find ourselves in flow, wholly engrossed in an activity. But consider for a moment the possibility that anxiety is itself a form of self-hypnosis. Caught in the grips of anxiety, you are hypnotising yourself to feel something which isn’t actually occurring. You are suspending your disbelief, your critical faculty is completely bypassed, and you give credence to your feelings like they were in control of your reality. You are, in short, hypnotising yourself.
My job as a hypnotherapist is, at least in part, to de-hypnotise you from that unnecessary state of anxiety.
When anxiety begins to impact our daily life, it can be an exhausting and bewildering time. An immediate benefit of hypnosis is to develop coping mechanisms that you can use on your own, at will, to calm yourself. You discover techniques to distance yourself from your anxiety and physically and emotionally calm yourself. As you master the ability to regulate your emotions, you regain a sense of control over your feelings and well-being.
Sleep usually also improves as a by-product of hypnosis. This helps build your energy and strength to deal with anxiety differently.
Analytical hypnotherapy leads you to profound new perspectives and interpretations of your life. It can lead you to re-examine ideas about yourself and your capabilities that you thought you knew. You can begin to see that you have more flexibility than you thought. And in the case of anxiety, it can help you see that thoughts are just thoughts.
A mind expanded can never snap back: it brings enduring change and can help you to accept yourself, free yourself and rediscover your zest for life. Together, we create a safe place where your feelings can be gradually examined, considering your circumstances and sensitivities. As you build a greater sense of inner connection and trust, you find new ways to look after yourself and bring about profound shifts in your confidence, strength and ability to take back control of your emotions.
The information on this website should not be considered as medical advice and is not intended to replace a consultation with a medical practitioner. If you suffer from panic attacks or acute anxiety or have any doubts or concerns about your health, you should seek advice from a medical doctor. Hypnotherapists are not physicians and so hypnotherapy does not provide the practice of medicine nor of psychotherapy. Do not rely on any information on this web site in place of seeking professional medical advice.