No, I’m not just talking about hypnosis – that’s just a tool. I’ve been wondering for years whether there’s a pattern to all the therapies, that if harnessed, could provide the most efficient solution for “feeling better”. I think I may have found it, but it will take a little longer to refine.
From what I’ve seen, each individual therapy helps a few people well, but misses the mark with others. Each one seems to give a little piece of the puzzle in terms of what creates lasting change.
For example counselling – terrific for exploring thoughts and feelings, but I’m not convinced it has the power to uncover deep unconscious beliefs or to change them, at least not particularly quickly. Maybe accidentally through emotionally cathartic moments, but that’s about it. Instead, a person can easily unconsciously avoid the true causes by talking around them instead. I think a lot of the benefits come from the therapeutic relationship and the approval/validation that provides – a sense of forgiveness almost that builds self-worth enough to feel better by default.
But obviously it depends on the skills of the practitioner. When a person finds positive results, its normally because they realise a new “truth”, that replaces their old version of it.
Hypnotherapy utilises a good direct channel to the subconscious mind – but frequently practitioners lack the skill to really know how to use it. Instead of decent psychotherapy, many modern practitioners use the relaxotherapy treatment, with positive suggestions. When done properly (e.g. hypnosis as a tool to deliver good analysis, gestalt or psychotherapy) the positive results invariably come from abolishing false associations, meanings, beliefs about events, people and the self. Essentially, removing all the clutter that comes from the stories and meanings we give to things. That’s where all problems, stress and anxiety ultimately stem from.
Meditation, hypnotic trance and practicing mindfulness, the power of now all allow a person to escape the conscious clutter of their thoughts. The false associations, meanings, beliefs about events, people and the self.
Dorothea Brande’s excellent book “Wake Up And Live” explores the idea that without fear of failure, we liberate our true selves to go forward and live positive, successful lives. Fear of failure is, essentially, a false belief about events, people and the self.
Brene Brown’s work on shame is a great cornerstone that ties together all those feelings of inadequacy that most people share in various ways. Shame though, is also really a collection of false associations, meanings and beliefs about events, people and the self.
Byron Katie’s book “Loving What Is” is a fascinating look at how we should detach the self from thoughts (the shoulds and shouldn’ts we apply to life in trying to bend it to suit our wanted reality). It makes perfect sense, and ties into the same pattern I’ve noticed in meditation, hypnotic trance and mindfulness. No longer being attached to thoughts.
Then you hear the best definition of mental illness – when a person’s reality becomes too removed from actual reality. Why is a person’s reality different from actual reality? The difference is down to their false associations, meanings and beliefs about events, people and the self.
When you put all this together, a pattern emerges.
We get stuck in life, because of the false associations, meanings and beliefs we apply to events, people and the self. They aren’t reality – they’re us trying to bend reality with our thoughts. Its the story-telling machinery of the conscious brain. The search and need for meaning. The power of confabulation, rationalising everything to create meaning.
But all of this meaning stuff, these beliefs, these expectations and shoulds and shouldn’ts that we throw at life remove us from reality.
The more it happens, the more stressed, anxious, depressed, addicted, “checked out” we become.
All the things that make us feel peaceful and relaxed – meditation, mindfulness, hypnosis – do so because they take us above the clutter of our “false meanings”, our false realities. In those moments, we see reality for what it is again (or at least, we’re a little closer to it).
If I’m right, then the most powerful therapy would be one that helps bring a person back to reality by detaching them from the tight grip they have of their false associations, meanings and beliefs about events, people and the self. To liberate that sense of peace, contentment and excitement for life that is always buried, deep deep down, by default. The pure awareness beneath the clutter.