How do we learn?
When we learn a new skill or have a new experience, it is initially understood in the conscious mind. When we master the skill or find that our reaction to an event has helped us, we pass that information on to our subconscious mind.
For example, when you learnt to read, you needed to read every word carefully to understand what you read; with experience you can now skim over words, sentences and paragraphs and still make sense of it. If something happened to you that surprised or scared you, you may have run away to somewhere safe, and if you think you may confront the same situation, you may run away before the event to avoid the experience of it happening again. That is because your subconscious mind is controlling your response in both examples.
What is the difference between a habit, an obsession and a compulsion?
A habit is a routine of behaviour that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously.
An obsession is an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters your mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease.
A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that you feel you need to do to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought.
Habits are built in the subconscious, actions that have helped us when we feel anxious, bored or uncomfortable. The habit or behaviour (e.g. biting your nails, pulling your hair, picking your skin, sucking your thumb) becomes ingrained as an automatic, subconscious response through long standing repetition, and the experience of immediate relief, satisfaction, or gratification.
The challenge occurs where a habit or behaviour has negative consequences, perhaps nail infections, bald patches, skin scarring, reduced self-confidence. It then needs to be changed to something more positive, and this is where the unconscious nature of habitual response is one of the keys to change.
Many professionals working in the field of neurological disorders have understood that people don’t have bad thoughts because they feel bad – but more often it’s the other way round. Because they constantly think something awful is going to happen – this generates uncomfortable emotions and a feeling of general discontent.
How can hypnotherapy help?
Hypnotherapy can help you replace the old, unwanted behaviour with a new, positive response that still meets the original need. For example, instead of pulling, picking or biting to relieve anxiety or boredom, you change the habit to something that is more beneficial, perhaps using a stress ball or toy, or focusing on your breathing, or listening to music or playing a game on your phone.
This habit reversal/substitution would be developed in conjunction with a focus on important related issues such as managing stress and anxiety better and improving your self-esteem and confidence.
These behaviours can be successfully addressed through hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy can also help you to improve your concentration and to gain the confidence you need in order to aid your memory and learning ability. Some people have found hypnotherapy has helped with some learning difficulties such as dyslexia. As you begin to really enjoy relaxation in hypnosis you’ll find that your inner mind can create its own solutions to the problems you’ve been experiencing.
In addition, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) techniques such as a New Behaviour Generator, have been successful in changing these types of behaviours. NLP can be used alongside hypnotherapy or as a stand alone therapy.
What sort of behaviours are we talking about?
Behaviours can include but are not limited to:
- Insomnia and sleep problems
- Stammering (stuttering)
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Hair pulling
- Nervous cough
- Hand washing
- Checking appliances
- Checking doors and windows
- Repeating certain words
These are only examples. If there is something else you want to address that is not covered in this list, please talk to me to see if I can help.