Written by: Olga Willemsen, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
What picture comes to your mind when you hear the word hypnosis? If you immediately imagine weird scenes from a stage hypnosis show then you are not the only one. But did you know that hypnosis is a powerful and scientifically proven method for improving your health as well as an excellent tool for raising your emotional intelligence, personal development, and growth?
Hypnosis, or hypnotic trance, is a natural state of your mind which is calm, focused, and highly suggestible. In hypnosis, you deal with your unconscious mind and you can use hypnosis for therapeutic or coaching purposes in order to generate fast and permanent changes in your mindset.
Conscious versus unconscious mind
Your conscious, or rational mind is responsible for a limited range of your decision decision-making. Most of the work is done by your unconscious mind.
Your unconscious mind is pre-programmed based on your previous experiences and learnings and is fast, vast, and highlycapable.
For example, if you drive a car, during the driving exam, you may have experienced the limitations of your rational mind showing up in stress and panic. But after you’ve become experienced in driving and the unconscious mind has taken over the task, you’ve started enjoying effortless driving on familiar routes.
Or, if you speak more than one language, you can compare the focus and the efforts to consciously memorize just a few new words with the effortless fluidity of your speech after you’ve gained a certain proficiency in the new language.
Both examples illustrate the fantastic learning potential of your unconscious mind. But some unconscious programs are maladaptive and with time they may disturb you increasingly.
Rationally you might not even understand what is happening. For example, you might find yourself eating chocolate right after you promised yourself you would not have any. And even if you do understand rationally, it is hard to influence unconscious programming with rational efforts.
That’s why you can benefit from using a method to work directly with your unconscious like hypnosis. The most efficient is working with a qualified therapist who uses hypnosis to help you achieve the changes you desire.
The human brain stays capable of learning, changing, and adapting to new environments and new requirements throughout the whole life. It does so due to its plasticity mainly through creating new connections (synapses) and decoupling the old unused connections between neurons( nerve cells).
The conditions required for neural plasticity are alertness and focus on the topic of desired change, followed by deep sleep or non-sleep deep rest when the neuroplasticity is actually taking place.
Hypnotic trance represents a unique combination of ideal conditions for neuroplasticity. During a hypnosis session, your mind can easily stay alert and sharply focused on your inner experiences for a prolonged time and hypnosis leads you into a state of deep non-sleep relaxation. So, you can use hypnosis to create fast and permanent improvements in your health and mental state.
1. Letting go of the past
The unconscious mind has nearly unlimited capacity. It stores information and programs from the beginning of your life. But over time some of these programs may become unnecessary and even disruptive, causing emotional pain, anxiety, fear, blame, guilt, helplessness, or inadequacy. This can hold you back or harm you in various areas of your life, like lifestyle, personal and professional relationships or development, and finances.
Using hypnosis you can release the emotional burden of a painful or traumatic past and stop living in the past and viewingyour current life through the lens of the past. This will allow you to live in the present and build a better future for yourself.
2. Unlearning habits
Habits can make our thinking and actions fast and efficient because they require neither thinking nor focus, like speaking a language in order to communicate or driving a car in order to get from location A to B. But certain habits can be undesired and even self-destructive.
For example, smoking ‒ at some point in life a person acquires a habit of smoking but later it becomes addictive and hard to unlearn. Smoking is the numberone issue that hypnotherapy is applied and known for.
Other examples of bad habits that can be treated with hypnotherapy are food cravings leading to overeating and excess weigh tor procrastination leading to failure. Those as well as any other unwanted habitual behaviors can be eliminated using hypnotherapy.
3. Breaking through negative beliefs
A negative belief about yourself, your abilities, and your life is also a habit and can be changed when you work with your unconscious mind. Such negative beliefs form already in childhood under the influence of your parents or caregivers or circumstances at home, but also in the educational system and social norms.
Maybe you witnessed the break up of your parent’s relationship, and created an unconscious belief that relationships do not last and now your own relationships are falling apart again and again.
Or perhaps your parents struggled to earn money and you grew up hearing that money is not easily available and that poor people stay poor whereas rich people get even richer. And now you wonder why you struggle to earn and save money...
Or perhaps your parents or teachers kept repeating that you are stupid and now you seem to be incapable of pursuing a suitable career, you procrastinate and keep sabotaging yourself.
We all acquiresuch negative limiting beliefs, but the good news is that you can get rid of them, and replace them with new empowering beliefs that will better support you in all aspects of life. Working with a qualified hypnotherapist makes it so easy to create such beneficial change.
4. Improving focus and concentration
After reading about the emotional load from the past, limiting beliefs, and bad habits, you can see how your mind gets caught up in them and how this can lead to confusion and distraction from your goals. As a hypnotherapist, I observe that whatever the client’s struggle, compromised focus and difficulties with concentration always accompany them.
When you resolve the struggle, you can also become more focused and concentrated, and therefore improve your performance and results. Improvement in focus and concentration is a positive side effect, an attached bonus that you get when you work on your main issues using hypnosis.
5. Developing new habits and skills
Learning and changing can be challenging. I already mentioned an example of a stressful driving test.
Learning a new language can also seem to be an unattainable goal and be experienced as a blockage on your path.
A process of learning is directly related to neuroplasticity. And as explained above, hypnosis helps you to mobilize your available neuroplasticity resources. You can overcome the blockage and make the learning process and skill acquiring easier and faster. For this purpose, it is especially helpful to exchange limiting beliefs for new empowering and inspiring beliefs about yourself and your abilities.
From the earliest days of your life, you keep learning and creating certain ways of thinking and behaving. Those become so habitual that unconsciously you might even identify yourself with them.
Some of those habitual ways still perfectly serve you (like speaking your native language or driving skills)and others were an adaptation that is now holding you back in your current life situation.
But those habitual ways are not permanent structures. They can be changed and adjusted to your current needs and according to your current resources. A fast way to change is by making use of the brain's neuroplasticity, the capabilities of your unconscious to unlearn old outdated and create new, useful, and purposeful behavioral patterns.
Hypnosis is an excellent tool to tap into your brain’s resources. It can help you be aware of who you truly are, identify your values and purpose, develop and grow to achieve your goals, and live the life you truly want and deserve.
Olga Willemsen, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Olga Willemsen, Ph.D. is a hypnotherapist and transformational coach certified in Neo-Ericksonian Hypnosis, Rapid Transformational Therapy, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. She combines her knowledge and experience of hypnotherapy, neuroscience, psychotherapy, NLP, and CBT to create a unique practice, and she can help with anxiety, panic attacks, burnout, sleep disorders, and childhood trauma. Her number one priority is empowering clients to live up to their highest potential. Working online or in-person in The Hague ‒ in English, German, Russian, or Dutch.