I don’t work with habit control. Neither should you. Here’s why. If you want to create a habit, you need to get it into the subconscious mind powerfully. Then the behaviour becomes unconscious, right?
So you don’t have to think about it anymore.
Take driving a car, for example. Or tying your shoelaces. Or riding a bicycle. At one time you had to think about it. Now you don’t. So, it became a habit.
The same thing is true of any bad habit.
A habit of smoking or over-eating or biting your nails is a learned behaviour. If you want to change it you need to do the same thing you did to acquire it – get it into the Subconscious Mind powerfully. Then it becomes unconscious.
Get it into the subconscious mind you don’t have to think about it, anymore. The behaviour becomes something you do automatically.
The problem is that you can’t just overwrite the old programming.
If you want to change a program you need to remove the old programming, first. If you don't, you're going to create an internal conflict between the old programming and the new programming.
Anyone who has tried to stop smoking knows this. You can't just over-ride the existing programming.
You can’t just over-ride the existing program because it’s there for a reason. The old “smoking” program actually serves a positive purpose. So does over-eating, or chewing your nails to the bone.
If you don’t satisfy the original purpose for the behaviour, any attempt to change it is destined to fail. Every dieter and smoker knows it’s easy to quit. After all, they’ve already done it a dozen or more times.
The problem isn’t acquiring a new habit. That’s easy. The tough part is making it stick. The way to make it stick is to get rid of the old habit. That begins with finding out what purpose it is serving.
Most bad habits got started as a way to cope with stress. The habit is always based in a life-experience. Usually, the person found themselves in a stressful situation, and the behaviour provided a solution. Habits like smoking and drinking and nail-biting and hair-pulling and overeating offer a way to self-soothe. They provide some stress-relief.
Ask a smoker why they smoke and they’ll tell you, “It helps me relax.”
The truth is that cigarettes do anything but relax a person. It’s the behaviour that has a calming effect because that’s what they learned. What they learned is … Feel stressed? Light up. Feel stressed? Have a cookie. Feel stressed? Pour yourself a stiff one.
These habits began as a solution to a problem. They were a way to feel better by reaching for something that helped to reduce the stress. And it worked. As a result, the behavior got stored as a Subconscious Solution for dealing with that particular stressor.
That’s the program.
The problem is that now the person can’t choose their behaviour. When they reach for another cigarette, drink, or bite it’s no longer a conscious choice. The behaviour happens unconsciously.
They're driven to reach for the Subconscious Solution. They feel powerless to it because every time they feel stressed the program kicks in. Automatically.
Every body has stress.
Everyone is dealing with some kind of stress in their life. It’s just that stress affects each of us differently. For one person, it may express through unwanted habits of behaviour. For another, it may surface through uncomfortable emotions like:
One person might have blocks to their performance at school or in sports. Issues like test anxiety or difficulty concentrating are pretty common stress-related problems.
Another might have physical complaints that won’t respond to conventional treatments. So stress has many names and many faces. And how each person responds to stress depends on what they learned.
The way to get rid of a bad habit is to unlearn it.
What has been learned can be unlearned. But merely treating the behaviour won’t get rid of the problem because the habit isn’t the problem. The habit is just a symptom of the problem. That’s why attempts to change habits of behaviour are so often short-lived.
Habit control is like clipping off the head of a dandelion. It gets rid of the problem for a while. But before long, it’s b-a-a-a-ck. Anyone who has ever been on a diet knows this. And when a habit comes back it usually invites a few of its friends over. So, the problem tends to get worse over time.
Any kind of behavioural habit – like smoking, overeating, or nail-biting – brings unwanted side-effects. And it’s these unwanted side-effects of the habit that motivate a person to change. The “bad” habit makes them look bad. Smell bad. Feel bad. So they want to get rid of the behaviour.
But the behaviour isn’t the problem. It’s a Subconscious Solution to the problem. Try to get rid of the Solution and you’ll find yourself in a wrestle with the Subconscious Mind. That's not a battle you're likely to win.
While the behaviour may be unhealthy – destructive even – as far as the person’s Subconscious Mind is concerned the behaviour serves a positive purpose. The bad habit is satisfying an internal need. That’s good. So if you try to convince the Subconscious Mind to give that means of fulfillment up, guess what happens?
If you try to change the behaviour without resolving the underlying drive you’re going to end up wrestling alligators. The bigger the swamp, the bigger the alligators.
Some people call this "resistance."
The stronger the internal drive to seek relief, the more it inhibits a person’s conscious choice. The more control it has over them, the more pain it causes them. When they’re in enough pain, that’s when they’ll call you, their friendly, neighbourhood hypnotist.
When they call you, it’s up to you to recognize that the real problem is whatever caused them to smoke, or overeat, or bite their nails in the first place. When a person is Subconsciously driven to act in ways they don’t like, they can’t choose their behaviours. They’re not consciously in control.
They know what they should be doing but they can’t stay conscious enough to say “no” to the behaviour when it arises. They’re stuck in a swamp of conflicting emotions. So, the goal is not to get rid of the behaviour. The goal is to release the internal stress that drives the behaviour. Then it no longer serves any purpose.
The question is – What is the Subconscious need behind the unwanted behaviour?
The goal of therapy ought to be complete resolution of the problem. The solution lies in finding out how the programming got installed in the first place. Then you can remove it and replace it with something healthier.
Your objective should be to drain the swamp.
Draining the swamp will allow you to get to the bottom of the problem. Find out what’s driving the behaviour.
What's the unmet need? Uncover that. Then you can find a better way to meet it. Releasing the Subconscious need for the behaviour will remove the blocks to change. Releasing the blocks will put the client back in control of their choices. When that happens, the Mind is wide open for learning. That's when you can use your surface techniques to install newer, better programming.
Once you have cleared the resistance to allowing change, all you need to do is reinforce whatever healthier behaviours the client wants, instead. Make that their new habit. Simple, huh?
The secret to healing is no secret at all.
Simply create the right conditions and healing will happen. Nature heals. So when you release an emotional block the mind-body system will come back into balance, as Nature intended. As a result, unhealthy thoughts, feelings, and the behaviours they drive will naturally fall aside.
It’s not magic. It’s one of nature’s ordinary miracles, what Hippocrates called ‘the healing power of nature.’ This healing power flows through the body’s energy system.
Stress creates blocks in this flow. For example, under stress the endocrine system produces more cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone which, in excess, disrupts every system in the body. Over time this can develop into chronic health conditions.
The American Institute of Stress estimates that 95% of all visits to primary health care workers are for stress-related conditions.
- Sleep problems.
- Skin problems.
- Problems with the digestive system.
- Immune disorders.
- Persistent pain.
Two kinds of hypnosis
Really, I don’t think that there is any physical problem that doesn’t have an underlying stress factor. The good news is – anything that is made worse by stress can be made better by hypnosis. But it's important to recognize that there are essentially two kinds of hypnosis. There's conventional hypnosis ... and then there's regression hypnosis.
The conventional approach is what most of us learned in basic training. We learned how to:
- Guide a person into a relaxed state.
- Verify that the client is actually in hypnosis.
- Then formulate and deliver suggestions based on the client’s goal.
When suggestion alone fails to produce the desired change, or lasting results, you need a deeper approach. That’s when regression-to-cause therapeutic hypnosis can help.
Regression-to-cause hypnotherapy focuses on accomplishing 4 objectives.
This approach will get you lasting results. And you don’t even need relaxation. In fact, you don't even need to do a formal induction. You can do all 4 steps by simply keeping the client focused on the body.
Hypnosis requires focused concentration. Awareness of feelings and emotions will get you deep hypnosis. And deep hypnosis will give you access to the underlying cause of the problem. Cool, huh?
1. Regress to the Causal Event.
Locate the event in which the problem first got started. Usually, this is an event in childhood.
2. Resource the client.
Once you have located the root of the problem, you need to find out what's driving the habitual behaviour. The uncovering process focuses on identifying the underlying need that is being satisfied by the unwanted response pattern.
3. Release the internal stress.
Once that underlying need has been identified, the next step is release the internal stress that is driving the unwanted behaviour. This restores the client's ability to choose their responses consciously.
4. Reprogram in new behaviours.
Once you have released the internal drivers, the client is free to choose newer, better behaviours to replace the old pattern. You can then install and reinforce healthier patterns which are aligned with the client's Therapeutic Goal.
So that's it.
If you release the stressful feelings that drive the client to think and feel and act in ways they don’t like, the behaviour will take care of itself. The client's Subconscious Mind will have no further need for the behaviour. That’s when your suggestions for change will be accepted powerfully into the client’s Subconscious Mind. And they'll act more as an internal reinforcement than instructions to create change.