The all powerful hidden part of our mind, and how we can help it to help us.
We are all very aware of the thoughts that run through our head. The “what should I have for dinner” thoughts, or the “should I really do that now, or just leave it for tomorrow” thoughts. However, there are many more thoughts that run through our brain, and those thoughts occur in our unconscious mind, they are decisions made on a moment by moment basis. And as the name “unconscious mind” would suggest they occur without you being aware of them. The unconscious mind is involved in the famous fight or flight process, it's the part of the mind that gives you your gut feeling, and that feeling in your heart. Your unconscious mind is never communicating to you via that voice in your head. It's also deciding whether to make you aware that you’re still wearing shoes or just to ignore it while you are sitting and reading this post.
The conscious mind and the critical part of our mind are interconnected. That is partially why so many of us seem to have an internal bully or thoughts that make us feel inadequate or insignificant. However, the unconscious mind is always trying to help us. It's the part of you that creates that feeling telling you to step away from that creepy person at the party. It's the part of you that tells you to turn left instead of taking that right you usually do. Where you then seemingly just spontaneously bump into a friend you haven't seen for years.
The unconscious mind is actually the larger and more complex part of our brain than our conscious mind. One psychological perspective of the way the mind works is that the conscious mind is a jockey, and it's sitting on an elephant, which is the unconscious mind. And that demonstrates how the conscious mind feels itself to be in control and so very important. But no matter how hard It tries to kick or whack the elephant with a stick to get it to move or change course if the elephant doesn't want to change it will keep going in the same direction.
That is part of the reason why people find it so difficult to stop smoking. No matter how many ads or images they see showing the adverse medical effects of what they are doing, there is part of the unconscious mind that sees a benefit to smoking. Social belonging is a potent drug-like draw for people, and that is where the unconscious mind finds the benefit in smoking.
Almost everybody who started smoking decides to take it up due to peer pressure from friends or family. Most people didn’t like their first cigarette, probably even coughed when having it, a totally different experience to when they first tasted ice cream or a soft drink. And yet they keep doing it because of the power of wanting to belong and other gains, like having an icebreaker of offering someone a cigarette. At least that's the way things were when they started smoking decades ago.
And as I mentioned before, in referring to our flight or flight mechanism, the unconscious mind also has a large role to play in how stressed, panicked, and anxious we feel. It is not just for emotional feelings but also through physical responses, such as increased heart rate, dilating pupils, and changes in our breathing patterns. Sometimes our unconscious mind gets stuck in a toxic loop that can create a mental and emotional sensory overload, which then creates a negative thought and feeling spiral that can be totally separate from the stress reaction's original cause.
People with chronic stress and anxiety feelings and physical symptoms do not have to live with that feeling. Working with the unconscious mind to let it know that it's okay to now get back to a normal relaxed state and that there may be an even better way of coping with the stress than the way it did following its first instinct on how to react to a particular situation. That’s what a clinical hypnotherapist does. Hypnotherapists work with the unconscious mind to unravel those negative spirals and remind or inform the unconscious mind of healthier ways of coping with certain situations, such a bad habits, or PTSD causing scenarios. The hypnotherapist does so by getting a client into a relaxed mental state, which is actually a state that you spent a lot of time in as a young child. It is also the state where your unconscious mind is most open to new information. It is not a deep anaesthetic like state, unaware of the outside world, but more like a snoozing dreamlike state. In that state, you can still hear the hypnotist at all times, and even outside noises but they just don't bother you. During this time, the hypnotist works with the client to finally achieve moments of clarity and feelings of peace, through focused, meditation-like visualisation scenarios and metaphors. Clinical hypnotherapy is a very powerful, scientifically backed mental health therapy; however, it can still take a few sessions for a prolonged lifestyle change.
It depends on a number of factors, such as the individual client in their circumstances, but many clients typically only need between two and four sessions to resolve their issues with an appropriately trained clinical hypnotherapist.
Suppose you are curious about finding a hypnotist near you. In that case, I highly recommend you head to the website of the peak professional body in your area, such as the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, Australian hypnotherapists Association or British Society of Clinical Hypnosis websites. For a hypnotist to be a member, they have to have a high standard of training and demonstrate competence to be a member.
Post author, Brad Talbot, is an experienced clinical hypnotherapist and hypnotherapy teacher, with a popular clinic based in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales. You can find out more information about both his practice and hypnotherapy in general, at hypnotherapydoeshelp.com.