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Why does using willpower rarely work in the long run?

Don’t try harder, try smarter
Whether you are trying to lose weight or stop smoking, most people find that using willpower just doesn’t work. It is a simple fact of human behaviour that if a person struggles to achieve something which they consciously desire (and are capable of), their subconscious mind is, for some reason, against the idea and is sabotaging their conscious efforts.
To understand why it would do this, we need to know three things about the subconscious mind.
    1. Its fundamental purpose is to ensure our survival. It really is like a computer – we are born with certain programs pre-installed, and we inadvertently add further programs as our life develops. These new programs are mostly acquired in our childhood, but we can also acquire them as adults in certain circumstances. Unfortunately, many of these acquired programs are actually not in our best interests at all.
    1. The subconscious mind is immensely more powerful than our conscious mind, and consequently we almost always lose when we pick a fight with it.
  1. By definition, we do not consciously know what programs it is running, or why.
You might wonder why your subconscious mind would consider it a good idea to be overweight, for example. There are many possible reasons, but one of the easiest to understand is where there is a history of sexual abuse. The subconscious mind may have decided that this extremely unpleasant experience is probably less likely to re-occur if your body is seen as ‘less attractive’. I repeat that there are many other possible reasons, but this is one that makes obvious sense.
One of my favourite maxims is ‘don’t try harder, try smarter’. So the ‘smarter’ approach in this scenario is to change the subconscious program which is thwarting your desired outcome. So rather than fighting the powerful subconscious mind and trying to lose weight that way, you bring it onside so that you are working with it, not against it.
Realistically, it is much easier to seek out a hypno-analyst than to try and do this yourself. Although I can hypnotise myself, I would still seek help to achieve something like this. The hypno-analyst would first need to help you to uncover the event in your past which caused the program to start running, then when you have released it, install a new belief which is in line with what you seek to achieve. It is a fairly simple process, and highly effective.

Can hypnotherapy help with anorexia?

Hypnotherapy for anorexia

In my experience, hypno-analysis is more helpful with anorexia than hypnotherapy. Anorexia is generally regarded as a control issue. The client takes an excessive control of their eating habits because of a perceived lack of control in other areas of their life. The lack of control may be felt because of excessively controlling parents, or because of one or more unexpected life events. It is also suggested that, at a subconscious level, there may be a desire to stay child-like. But how can hypnotherapy for anorexia help?

I believe that any behaviour, including phobias, obsessions, compulsions and addictions, which is not what the client consciously wants to do, is driven at least in part by the subconscious mind. Most anorexics want to be well, but they feel a compulsion to control their food intake. At a subconscious level, they will know why this is, but consciously they do not.

Under hypnosis the client has access to their subconscious thoughts, and these can be very revealing. Hypnosis is nothing more than a state of deep relaxation, and in this state the anorexic client can address the issues which triggered the behaviour, and resolve them. There are also simple practical steps which can be taken to aid and speed up their recovery.

I have recently helped an anorexic client who I will refer to as Sally. In just six sessions she felt that she had really got to the bottom of the life events that triggered her eating disorder, and she now feels well on the way to recovery. Read her story in the testimonials on my front page.

How can hypnotherapy help with anxiety and/or a lack of confidence?

Hypnotherapy for anxiety

It seems very unlikely to me that anyone is born anxious, or lacking in confidence. These are ‘learned’ behaviours, and hypno-analysis is an excellent tool for helping people to ‘un-learn’ them. The way that they are learned in the first place is that at some time, usually in childhood, an event occurs which causes the child to feel a specific emotion – let us say fear.

What should happen is that the emotion should be expressed – and that is usually what happens. However, if the child is for some reason prevented from expressing the emotion, it becomes repressed instead. Repressed emotions become trapped in the subconscious mind, and when that happens the person then feels them frequently or even constantly. Once this has occurred, expressing the emotions no longer releases them, and the person has then become chronically fearful, to use our example.

We all know people who feel one specific emotion frequently or constantly – anger, guilt and fear are probably the most common. In fact most people have trapped emotions, to a greater or lesser extent. We regard people who do not as being ‘emotionally mature’. So how can those trapped emotions be released?

This is where hypnosis comes into it’s own. When a person is hypnotised, they are deeply relaxed, and in this state they have far greater recall of events from long ago. Usefully, they are also far more aware of how they felt at the time the remembered events occurred. If they then express the emotion they felt at the time, it is released from the subconscious mind, and the event will no longer affect them. The repressed emotion will cease to have any further influence on their day to day behaviour.

Many clients tell me that even after one session it feels as if I have taken a burden from them that they did not know they were carrying. If you’re interested in hypnotherapy for anxiety, read the testimonial from John for an excellent example of how this therapy worked for him.