Understanding fear and resistance to change
New blog added 15/06/17
Fear = False evidence appearing real. Or is it?
Fear however is not the illusion or the false evidence, because in the mind of the experiencer fear seems very real indeed. First there is the illusion we imagine and then there is the emotion created as a reactive element to the illusion.
Our minds can create fear in anticipation of imagining a potential outcome to a situation often untested. This is a reaction to believing false evidence.
Our minds are highly imaginative and our minds are also really not very good a distinguishing the difference between the real and imagined. This is why fear and anxiety are so powerful. There is a good deal of scientific analysis to support the idea that our minds are not very good at telling the difference between real and imagined..
Sometimes hypnotherapy clients will experience resistance and it is the therapist’s role to guide and help the client to identify what the source of the resistance is and then work with it so that the resistance can be overturned in order for change work to succeed.
In my experience of working with people in therapy, from my perspective it doesn't really make a lot of difference whether you (a) either discuss resistance issues or (b) give the client a written document to refer to right at the outset at the consultation pre talk or indeed in further therapy sessions.
Inevitably that information gets forgotten when resistance crops up because most clients come to hypnotherapy with an expectation of hope which is both good and necessary, but for a lot of clients, they also come with an expectation of magical transformation in an instant and even explaining that may not happen doesn’t always make much difference. This may be because of what has been seen on the TV and stage hypnotist shows, or indeed it may also be borne out of exaggerated claims that some practitioners may give the impression of on their marketing.
Yes there are some people out there who claim to fix you in just a single session no matter what and it is indeed unfortunate because we can never really know until we work with a client
Now, the important thing here is those claims to fix you in a single session may well be made in good faith and yes, it’s true that also on stage shows and TV we can see rapid change as subjects seem to become stuck to chairs or forget how to count. However, stage hypnotism and TV demonstrations are usually geared around entertainment with the most carefully selected "suggestible” subjects and the effect will quickly wear off. When we are dealing with rather more complex issues of the psyche in therapy though, then things are somewhat different.
In a lot of therapy situations it is true to say that rapid and permanent change can often take place in one or two sessions, but in a lot of cases because there are numerous layers to the client’s issue, we have to work through those layers in order to help the client.
This can be frustrating for the client who is short on time or money but it is what it is and I have always worked on the principle of discussing all eventualities with my clients so that they know what to expect.
Now, yesterday I was working with a client in therapy for weight management who I have been working with for, several sessions spaced around a month apart, each hypnotherapy session recorded onto CD for use between appointments. To start with, the first few hypnosis sessions we worked with, around issues of stress management, self esteem and learning to let go and like themselves were a very positive success.
My client takes the investment in themselves very seriously and listens daily before bedtime. However, when it came to the weight management hypnosis sessions it has been apparent that there has been some internal resistance happening. There have been successes, my client no longer feels any desire to drink a can of diet coke with each meal, preferring now to drink only water instead and they acknowledge that their portion control is a lot better with smaller servings on their plate. However there complaint is that they are not losing weight. They are staying the same weight.
My client has a medical condition which means that the medications they take will make weight loss slower and this is something we discussed at the beginning. They also have a busy lifestyle as a carer which means that they are on the go with little time for exercise but as I pointed out, to take effective exercise, it takes ten minutes a few times a day. There are challenges here but if progress is to be made those challenges can and must be overcome and it is clear that the resistance is part of the problem
I had identified this in the pre talk just before the last hypnosis session back in early May and so we had discussed it prior to hypnosis and I worked some positive suggestions of overcoming resistance into that session with the hope that something would start to resolve before yesterday’s session. In the interim from May to June I have kept in contact and so before the session yesterday I knew that resistance was still an issue which needed to be dealt with if we were to make positive progress.
That resistance was indeed still rearing its ugly head and with this in mind earlier this week I created a hypnosis script to deal with resistance and emotional eating, but yesterday instead of the planned hypnosis session, having considered the issue very carefully I decided a different approach to dig down deeper and so I just got my client to talk and I listened and I asked questions, knowing as I do all of the elements of their challenges in their life right now.
As a result of the resistance they are experiencing, I already knew deep down inside what the problem for my client was, but I had to get them to that place where they could identify what it was keeping them stuck and then get them to challenge themselves rather than I point out these things to them which would not have created such a strong impact.
That Ah ha moment for them was very important because it was the spark of realisation for them, the inner knowledge that had been suppressed, but once they knew what is was for themselves then they could begin to do something about it for themself
I knew that the client has various resources open to them for exercise as we had talked about it before and they said that they have a cross trainer in the shed.
Can you get it out of the shed and in a place where you can use it?
The reply was centred around a superficial excuse as to the reasons why not, but I knew it wasn't superficial, that there was another deeper driver responsible for that answer.
Undeterred I asked some more positive probing questions about how they could create opportunity for exercise and they were all skirted around.
That resistance was doing its best to protect the client from taking action and at the root of it when I persisted with exploratory questions and asked “why is that?” to all of those questions, “what's keeping you from exercise? “
My client went quiet for a moment and understood that it was fear. They said I’m frightened.... Yes, plain and simple fear.
When they disclosed that fear yesterday, it was something which we had already discussed in detail right at the outset in their medical disclosure and we had talked about them seeking professional guidance from their GP about the importance of exercise and what they could do as their GP was already telling them that need to lose weight. But they hadn’t done that for various reasons some of which are understandable and some because of the subconscious preserving the status quo
Their fear was that in having had a heart bypass several years ago that they may end up having a heart attack and dying through overdoing things.
The reality which we discussed is that the likelihood of an increased chance of heart attack to happen is because of NOT TAKING any appropriate exercise and with this in mind my advice and request to my client is to go and book an appointment with their GP who I am certain will reassure them as I did that in fact taking no action to exercise far more likely to be a problem.
Now that my client has established it is their fear keeping them stuck and understands the nature of that fear and has also agreed that it may well not have any basis in rationality because of one simple fact... they have never been advised not to exercise; there is a very good chance that their resistance can be broken down and indeed that process now has definitely started now the client understands their "WHY"