We all have them. It begins when we are young, thinking about what we want to be when we grow up. Later it might be academic or athletic achievement in school. Most of us dream about having a wonderful career, a loving family, and surrounding ourselves with caring friends. Our dreams may include becoming rich and famous.
For many people, perhaps even the majority of people, those dreams die. Some die very young and others die slowly in time. Why? Many would say that it is just a result of understanding how the world really works and accepting it. Perhaps that is true. On the other hand, can we say that it is definitely true? If we accept that premise, then how do people such as Oprah Winfrey or Jim Carrey who began their lives with what some might characterize as limited resources continue to strive and achieve the success that they dreamed was possible? Do these people possess qualities or a genetic makeup that is so much different than most people that has allowed them to succeed? These types of stories have fueled biographies and self-help book sales for years and years.
So what really happens? What factors occur when we are young that allow us to dream big? What factors interrupt, postpone, or kill those dreams as we grow up? How are some people able to overcome either inner or outer conflicts or pressures to continue to pursue and ultimately achieve those dreams? That is possibly the ultimate question many people pose to God or the Universe on a daily basis. Why them and not me? Psychologists, philosophers and theologians have all pondered those questions. Abraham Maslow posited that there are several levels of needs that every human has and that those needs are hierarchical in nature. Most of us would agree that our daily needs for food, water and shelter are the most basic. Once those needs are met we move to satisfy needs at a higher level such as safety, love and belonging, esteem and finally to self-actualization. On a cursory basis, this seems to be logical and self-evident. However, some people seem to move from the bottom level very quickly to self-actualization while others seem to stay very much stuck in the lower tiers of the hierarchy. So what keeps them there? Is it the circumstances of their birth, the society or nationality they are born into, or is it something not readily visible? How do we explain the person who has, at least from an external view, appeared to have attained most of what our society values, money and fame, only to lose it all? We have all read stories of wealthy and famous people losing their wealth and fame to such an extent that they become homeless or even commit suicide. So what propels us up and what brings us down? The answer might be “all in your head”. Something being referred to as “all in your head” has typically been applied to someone making something up with the implication that it is therefore untrue. What we are beginning to find out is that everything is “all in your head”. What we think shapes everything; from what we see, what we feel, to how we express ourselves in the world.
For example, if you were raised in a family that openly shows love and respect for each other, it is very likely that you will feel love and respect for yourself and will be able to express yourself to others from that place of love that you have for yourself. If, on the other hand, you were raised in a family that is domineering and disrespectful of you, you will have those same feelings for yourself and will most likely only be able to relate to the outside world with distrust and disrespect. In both cases, the thoughts and actions of the nuclear family are transmitted to the children and those thoughts become the underlying basis for their further development and how they interact with the world throughout their life.
With that premise in mind, logic would dictate that this is a cycle that will not be easily broken. I believe most of the conditions appearing daily on news feeds seem to bear this out. The question then seems to be; do we have any ability to change these thoughts and change the direction of our lives individually and hopefully society at large? I believe the answer is yes. However, I do not believe that trying to make those changes through better education or other overt actions is a comprehensively effective strategy.
In the common sequence of events, thoughts at some point become actions and repeated thoughts and actions become patterns of behavior. Many repeated thoughts and patterns of behavior will eventually become unconscious reactions to situations. This may lead to patterns of behavior that affect all aspects of an individual’s life; anything from eating habits to the ability to maintain jobs and personal relationships. The idea that these thoughts and patterns of behavior are coming from the unconscious or subconscious also gives us a clue as to how to approach a solution to them. Understanding the origins and the process of these thoughts and actions leads us to understand that the conscious mind through the use of willpower is not a solution that works for every situation or every person. However, most people only recognize their conscious mind and their willpower as the only way to get what they want. They often are unaware of the automatic thoughts and behaviors they have developed over time that affect their behaviors. The conscious mind, by definition, on its own, cannot make changes to thoughts that it is unaware that it is having. That leaves us with the need to use an approach that works with the subconscious mind. There are many ways of doing that, but for this discussion, the approach would be the use of hypnotherapy.
Hypnotherapy uses the process of physical and mental relaxation to slow the individual’s brain waves to a degree in which the conscious mind is less actively engaged. This is a state that we regularly enter into when we are going to sleep. We are still conscious, but the subconscious is now more of an active participant than the conscious mind. During this process, the hypnotherapist will describe a scene, often using metaphor to bring the subconscious to a place that is safe and comfortable. This relaxes and enjoins the subconscious even further. At this point, the hypnotherapist can use a variety of techniques to help the subconscious find a pattern that is no longer helping the individual live a productive and enjoyable life and provide a new target, a new goal that the individual wishes to work toward, for the subconscious to incorporate into its process. This use of the subconscious to affect deep and lasting change is much more effective and much less frustrating than trying to affect these changes merely through the use of willpower. Some clients of hypnotherapy will progress very rapidly to achieve their goals, while others may take some time to reach it. What can be said about this process is that it is very relaxing. Imagine slipping into a warm fragrant bath, listening to some relaxing music, and finding as you step out that you are still relaxed, while at the same time, some significant aspects of your life have changed for the better. Just because you relaxed for awhile in that bath. That is the power and delight of hypnotherapy. Think about all that you have tried to achieve in your life, but have been unsuccessful in doing. Consider the option of not trying to “think” things into being, but rather work with your subconscious to bring about those changes.I invite you to find a hypnotherapist you are comfortable with and give it a try!