I wanted to write today about operating in the world with “flexibility” and how hypnosis
can be used to loosen our rigid patterns of thinking and acting. If our adaptability or coping skill is flexible enough, we can handle when stress or difficulties come our way without feeling overwhelmed. When the demand exceeds our capacity to cope, chaos can result and we can become overwhelmed by anxiety or tension. An example of this might be how tall buildings, like the formerly named Sears Tower in Chicago, is built to be able to sway a bit with high winds.
If you have ever been at the top of a tall building like this on a windy day, it is eerie to feel the subtle movement of the building as the “adaptive” expansion joints allow for relief of the tension produced on the structure by the wind. We need to have our own “expansion joints” as if we don’t at least two things can happen. First, we will either have too rigid a structure in our brain/body system, which takes so much energy to maintain and works in a limited fashion with the threat that the brittleness of it could collapse under enough strain.
Second, if the stress exceeds the flexibility, we could feel overwhelmed and experience chaos and disorganization. For example, if you have been in an accident you may have experienced the sense of confusion and inability to temporarily get your thoughts together. Many people operate either in rigidity or chaos with little middle ground that adjusts in accordance to the need or demand.
How can hypnosis help? The brain is capable of what is called neuro-plasticity, which in simple terms, means that our brain, with practice, can actually learn to operate in less rigid ways. So, for example, some people find transitions or change very difficult and resist it or avoid it at all costs. Of course, that is very hard to do as the nature of life demands we change and go through cycles or transitional experiences. Life also demands at times that we are more flexible in our thinking and can change gears or direction when it makes sense to do so.
Hypnosis can be utilized in a number of ways to foster the development of flexibility.
This is in the area of self-regulation, which means our system can adjust from too rigid to too flexible according to what we are dealing with or experiencing. Often in using hypnosis, I will have clients imagine in detail, that they are sitting in front of a control panel. They get to use their imagination to describe the dials, levers, knobs, scales, etc. that are connected to say, an issue with dealing with anxiety. In hypnosis, since a person can be in a heightened state of absorbed imagination as their conscious/thinking mind is off to the side, they can picture or think about their anxiety and begin to use their “control panel” to adjust the intensity of the anxiety.
They are invited to see the anxiety as a color, shape, object, temperature, etc. with dials, knobs, etc. that can make any adjustment they would like. Since much anxiety is imagined anyway, we use the same mechanism that creates the anxiety to regulate the anxiety.
This is just one such strategy that can be used and practiced to train our brain/body system to respond better to our emotional reactions. It is fun and interesting and can be learned and then practiced in self-hypnosis, and applied to many situations, including “dialing down” cravings like with eating issues. If you’d like to give it a try, let me know!!