One of the most powerful approaches we can use in hypnotherapy is helping a client remember the first time they ever experienced their current level of fear or anxiety. The memory of that first time gives them a profound understanding of how it shaped their self-esteem and self-confidence.
My client Michael was an up-and-coming lawyer who could not escape the enormous anxiety he had been carrying all this life. Instead of feeling more confident by his growing success, his anxiety grew and became a deadweight that he felt in his chest, in his digestion, and in his jaw every morning after clenching his teeth all night. It felt to him like a fear of the success that he was determined to achieve. He had tried everything but couldn’t shake it.
By the very nature of a hypnotic trance, Michael’s mind was clear and focused. I encouraged him to allow the memory to come to the surface of his mind and then to delve into it by having him focus on where it happened, and how old he was, and to explore what was happening in the memory. Gradually, the context of the memory came to life. His father was very strict about schoolwork and told him that he would never succeed. It happened enough times for Michael to believe it.
There is a Eureka moment in hypnotic regression when the adult becomes the child and can viscerally understand the context of how that scolding created his lifelong limiting self-belief. There are no words to explain that moment. At all levels, that self-doubt was transformed into self-confidence. Experiencing it is more accurate than any word could ever do. Michael felt a tremendous sense of relief.
He had already proven to himself that he could be successful, and now he felt at peace with it.
Michael’s parents were only trying to help their child succeed. They loved him and raised him the way they were raised. When he failed, his father used fear to motivate him. It worked but left him with a life-long fear that he couldn’t succeed. Now Michael himself is thinking about how to help his own children be confident, regardless of their failings and mistakes.
Michael had forgotten all about this memory. This is how the unconscious mind works. It helps us forget so that as children, we can continue dreaming of who we want to be.
This session with Michael was conducted online.