Reviewed by Phillip Waite, Ph.D.
Why can't we succeed? What exactly is holding us back from reaching our goals? What makes us grasp onto our habits and phobias and not want to let them go? Our self-esteem.
I can't count how many times I've heard "I just can't do it by myself," or "I'm just not strong enough." In most cases, that same client has the intelligence, willpower and strength to do by themselves what they are asking the hypnotherapist to do for them. The thing holding them back is simply the way they feel about themselves, their self-confidence or self-esteem.
Let's take a step or two back and ask what happened to damage that client's self-esteem. Let's say we have a fictitious client we'll call "Jamie." We'll picture Jamie around two years old. Little Jamie is pulling on her mother's leg, and mother is saying "Go away, I'm doing something important right now." (Message #1:You, Jamie, are not important.) Jamie is now about four years old... the messages are making their own place in her mind... she breaks a vase... mother screams at her... tells her she is stupid and clumsy (Messages #2 & #3).
Jamie is in first grade. The boys taunt and tease (as all children do). They tell Jamie she is ugly and they don't like her (Messages #4 and #5). Now imagine for a moment that you see Jamie growing up (remember yourself as a teenager). Think about all the messages we all receive throughout our life; not only messages we hear from others, but ones we bring to ourselves along the way. Every struggle, every step we take, every person we meet, every day of our lives, we create messages.
It takes 10 positive messages to "over-ride" 1 negative message in our mind. So, now Jamie is 35 years old. She is unable to complete anything she starts, has a severe lack of motivation, and she is depressed a lot of the time. Jamie is 35 lbs. over-weight and decides to seek the help of a hypnotherapist to help her lose the weight "since she can't do it herself."
During the client interview, the hypnotist realizes (as usually is the case) that Jamie's problem is not that she overeats, it is her self-esteem. Jamie feels terrible about herself, and whenever she has to confront a difficult situation, the old messages start to play in her mind... you're not important... you're stupid... you're ugly... you can't do anything... and on and on it goes.
So how can we help Jamie using hypnotherapy? The little child inside of Jamie needs to feel loved.She needs to be told that she is worthwhile, intelligent, and beautiful. It is the adult side of Jamie that needs to do this work.
I usually take my clients into hypnosis using progressive relaxation (relaxing each body part, starting with the head and moving all the way down to the toes).The next step is creative visualization...
I want you to imagine yourself now in a beautiful field of flowers... a stream runs beside you... you can hear the water running over the rocks, making the most beautiful bubbling sounds... and you relax even more... you sit down near the edge of the water... you feel very safe here... as you gaze across the field of flowers, you see a small, six year old child walking towards you...
As the child nears you, you recognize her as yourself... you realize that she looks very sad... I want you to hold your arms out to this little child... she may be timid at first, but she will come to you... when she does, I want you to take her in your arms... hold her and rock her... now, I want you to tell this beautiful, little child that you love her... let's make her feel safe... and tell her that she is beautiful... look into her eyes...
You see a ray of hope shining there... I want you to tell this little child that she is so smart and that she can do anything in the world that she wants to do... tell her all the things you wish you had heard when you were a little child... (at this point, I give the client a minute or two to be with their inner child)... I want you to spend some time now playing with and nurturing this precious child...
It's time for your child to return to her home now... deep inside your heart... I want you to keep with you her strength, her fire for life, her positive energy... keep with you the love you feel for her... take care of yourself now so that this little child doesn't have to be afraid and sad ever again...
At this point, I bring the client slowly back to the present and awaken them. It is a good idea to have a tissue handy.
This is a powerful exercise that you can definitely do yourself anytime your inner-child needs a little nurturing. Sometimes I just go in and play in the field of flowers with my little girl.
Darlene Cheek is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Reiki Master with years of experience in Holistic Therapy methods, including Reflexology, Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Crystal Healing and more.