by Paul Howard
As a hypnotherapist with a special interest in anxiety, I am aware that there are so many people out there suffering with anxiety that would never consult a hypnotherapist because they feel that it is somehow mystical or a form of quackery. However, there is plenty of research evidence that says the opposite is in fact true. Of course, it is critical that the hypnotherapist is experienced and trained to deal with anxiety effectively.
Part of my hypnotherapeutic work that I do with an anxiety client involves some conscious techniques that in themselves can be incredibly useful in conquering anxiety. These techniques have been developed over the last 10 years of working with anxiety at The Surrey Institute of Clinical Hypnotherapy. In this series of articles I aim to share these with you and my thoughts on each technique and how it should be used.
1) Planning for success
This may seem obvious but it is rarely done by clients with anxiety, yet it is essential for the client to do. So what is planning for success? It is a very simple technique but actually quite difficult to maintain sometimes. Most clients with anxiety plan to fail. For instance, let’s say that you get anxious when travelling, maybe you have panic attacks when the anxiety is at its peak. However, today you absolutely have to go into town by train, your worst nightmare. Normally you will spend days if not weeks before the trip planning and visualising how it’s going to go wrong. Maybe you remember how awful you felt the last time you went on a train, or perhaps you remember the feeling you got, the fear you experienced. All of this is hardly conducive to encouraging you to do it again. In fact quite the opposite, it tells your subconscious that this is something that needs to be avoided. Your subconscious says ‘ok let’s get out of here’ and triggers off the fight or flight response (i.e. anxiety/panic attack) and that’s just when you’re thinking about it. When you think about it you know that this is a bad strategy.
Now at a conscious level you know that going into town involves very little danger and as such it’s not appropriate for you to feel anxious. However, if you carry on doing the same things you are going to get the same result. So why not try something different? Why not create a short video in your mind of how you would like the experience to be. Maybe see yourself getting on the train in a calm and relaxed manner, sitting on the train as it moves reading a magazine and feeling good. Fill this video with lots of detail if you can but don’t worry if you can’t. Having created a new video, notice that when you play it in your mind, you do not feel anxious. Now simply say to yourself in your mind “I’m calm and relaxed and feeling good”. Now repeat the video and the affirmation three times in quick succession. You have just created your first “Plan for success”. Then every time you think about the event in question, simply close your eyes and run the plan for success through three times quickly and notice how your confidence grows each time you do it.
N.B. For those of you that are planning to fail right now by saying “Well that won’t make a difference”, ask yourself, how do I know? Have I tried it? Is my current strategy working for me? If the answer to the last question is no then why not try something different? In fairness this technique used in isolation will not change your world but it is just 1 part of a 5 point plan that I am going to reveal in the coming weeks.
This technique can be used for any event-driven anxiety i.e. anxiety about visiting supermarkets, meeting new people, talking in public, being in a queue, stuck in traffic, on a crowded bus/train/plane.
Paul Howard is a director of The Surrey Institute of Clinical Hypnotherapy based in Wallington, Surrey. He has a special interest in anxiety and has been working with it using hypnotherapy for over 10 years. He sees anxiety clients from all over Surrey and the home counties.
Part 2 – The Guessing Machine how it goes wrong and how to fix it. Coming soon.
All the articles on this site are subject to UK copyright law. If you wish to use these articles in any other content you must respect this copyright and leave links back to this website intact.