MidoriLei is a fashion and beauty blogger at Midorilei.com. She has used the science of neuroplasticity and habit change to overcome a lifetime battle with binge eater disorder and believes you don’t have to be an hourglass or spend a lot to look good and feel good.
My preconceived ideas about hypnosis
When I first met Stephanie at a gymnastics tumble time for our sons, I asked her about her blog. Eventually we got on the topic of hypnosis. Growing up in a fundamentalist Christian background, I realized I came into the conversation with preconceived judgments.
Voodoo. Subliminal messages. Manipulation through the use of mind control. Entertainment hypnosis where you make people say and do what you want them to do.
What hypnosis really is
I shut down those words that automatically entered my mind and tried my best to be open-minded as she explained what she really does. She deals with the subconscious, a powerful area where change is concerned. After many years as a licensed therapist using traditional methods and then discovering hypnosis, she realized tapping into the subconscious (hypnosis) was more effective than just dealing with the conscious mind (traditional therapy).
Traditional therapy versus hypnosis therapy
In traditional therapy, a lot of people made excuses, lived in their past, and therefore stayed focused on the negative aspects of their lives. Hypnosis was completely the opposite. It allowed her to get to know her client’s goals and dreams and made the shift to positive change and future possibilities. Hypnosis was so effective that she would see progress in her clients quickly; one hypnosis session was equivalent to ten therapy sessions. With this discovery, she began to switch gears to focus more on hypnosis sessions.
Attention all control freaks
She explained to me that she couldn’t force anyone to do anything they didn’t actually want to do. The person’s subconscious will either accept or reject the hypnosis. And because she individualizes and customizes each hypnosis session based on a client’s desired outcomes, and delivers them in a positive framework, she saw client’s lives change.
Hypnosis and neuroscience
After our conversation, my mind started opening up to the possibilities. Soon enough, I was a convert myself. From my research on neuroscience, here are two reasons why I believe in hypnosis as it relates to the science of neuroplasticity of the brain.
The brain has a natural negativity bias which is a weak force for behavioral change, and hypnosis counteracts this with positive present moment language which is a strong force for behavioral change.
What I mean by negativity bias is that the brain automatically notices negative feedback from the world for survival purposes.
- People will notice and pay attention to a changing and weirdly shaped mole on their thigh much more than the fragrant smell of magnolias they discovered on their run in the morning.
- The same thing goes for rejection and criticism versus admiration and compliments. People notice the former much more than the latter.
- This negativity bias even plays out in our intimate relationships. Findings show that people who perceive their marriage as good experience only one negative interaction with their spouses for every five good interactions. We notice the negative much more.
Negativity bias doesn’t support behavioral change
Unfortunately for people to change behavior, what is more affective is positive thinking. The positive makes a stronger and more lasting impact than the negative. This is where hypnosis proves powerful.
Hypnosis helps us see things in a positive light and therefore supports change
Since we are bombarded by negative thoughts constantly, both from our own minds and from our negativity bias needed for survival, hypnosis provides positive present moment language to counteract this. Naturally we think of our goals in a negative light.
Instead of this:
It comes natural to think, “My thighs are too big and I feel embarrassed in a bathing suit so I should lose weight.” This negativity is a weak force for long-term behavioral change.
We think this:
Instead, hypnosis states our desired outcomes which speak to the mind as if we have already achieved what we want. For example, “I am at a weight that makes me feel energized, healthy, and beautiful.”
These simple positive words spoken repetitively to the subconscious will cause the brain to rewire and escape the negative programing.
Neuroscience has made it a fact that it is positively truly under our control to actually change and rewire our brain to create physical new neural pathways, which means with new data entering our minds, we can actually change how we think.
Hypnosis and other practices that use neuroplasticity to change thoughts and behaviors
Hypnosis works because it speaks to the mind. Whatever we hear, listen to, say to ourselves, think, view—all of this affects the neuroplasticity of the mind. This is why affirmations, and daily gratitude journaling, and guided meditation make change a reality.
Outer change begins with inner change
It’s why most people who make radical changes in the world went through a big period of self- development and growth. They read books, listen to podcasts, go to mastermind meetings, and the messages that stick are the messages that get repeated over and over. Hypnosis does the same thing.
Neuroscience and habits
I once heard on a podcast that when we are born, the mind is like a hill with freshly fallen powdery soft snow. The first time we say something, do something, or hear something, is equivalent to the first kid sledding down the uncharted hill. He creates a path. The path is there, but the next kid who slides down can easily choose a different path. The more times the same path is used, the harder the snow on it becomes and the harder it is to take a different path. The snow around the path gets harder because the ice compacts. It becomes hard because it is unused.
What happens when you hear something all your life
That’s how it is when we create good or bad thought patterns which eventually become actions, which eventually become habits. If your father called you a loser the whole time you were growing up, he created a neuron pathway in your mind. Maybe he’s changed his tune and wants to make your relationship better, but somehow you’re having a hard time believing what he says is true. There’s still that voice echoing in your head, calling you a loser. When you get a bad review or don’t get the promotion, you hear it. It’s an actual neuron pathway; you’re not just hearing things.
The best way to get rid of a negative thought pattern is to replace it with a new positive thought pattern
Truly, the only way to create a new neuron pathway to stop believing the things we believe that aren’t true or helpful in our lives is to replace those repetitive habitual thoughts with new ones in favor of our goals and aspirations. Hypnosis, especially daily or repetitive sessions, help to create new neuron pathways so you can see yourself differently. When we see ourselves differently, we act differently.
It’s important to understand when we approach hypnosis; we may be coming in with a myriad of preconceived judgments. I know I did. But after looking at how hypnosis supports the evidence behind neuroplasticity and behavioral changes, neuroscience trumped all those judgments. Behavior change in hypnosis uses repetition, positive present moment language, and the power of the subconscious to create new neuron pathways in the mind to replace old thought patterns.
We are what we think because it is our minds that push our bodies to act.
Have you tried out hypnosis or any other repetitive mind disciplines like affirmations, writing in a gratitude journal, or guided meditation? What were your results? To learn more about neuroplasticity, check out the link below.
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