I will be completely honest with you, when I first decided to study Clinical Hypnotherapy, it was because of my own rampant problems with anxiety and addiction. However rather than face, what I perceived at the time, as the stigma of a mental health problem I decided to learn about my experience rather than take the shorter and more cost effective approach of therapy.
I was in denial, other people had problems, not me. I couldn’t have problems because I had a persona of professional working mother, provider and modern educated woman. Anxiety riddled addict didn’t really fit the image I was going for back then. I carried A LOT of shame about my addicted behaviour which only added to my inner experience of anxiety, which in turn fed back to my addicted behaviour, which then led back to – yep you guessed it, more shame.
My feelings were, I felt, totally unacceptable. I had no vocabulary to describe what I was experiencing, the cyclical nature of it. Studying hypnotherapy was the start of understanding anxiety and addiction but I, if I am honest, I still felt that other people had problems, not me. Moreover I viewed these shameful problems as things to be ‘fixed’, ‘corrected’ or ‘mended’. When I actually started working with clients it very quickly became apparent that this attitude was a huge barrier to therapy.
I still managed to spend quite a bit of time in ‘Fixer’ mode as a Clinical Hypnotherapist but luckily at around the same time I started to receive coaching myself. I worked with several different coaches, primarily and ironically with the aim of helping me in business. This was another layer of learning to what I experienced training as a hypnotherapist. I was finally forced to confront how anxiety was self sabotaging me and how it was fuelling my addictive behaviour too. I began the long and ever continuous process of acknowledgment, self compassion and acceptance. I began a regular practice of reflection (journaling) and mindfulness (rooting out wonky beliefs) and meditation (stepping outside of my mind) that has been a game changer in many areas of my life. It’s helped me a lot personally and brought a lot of peace but professionally the biggest win was that I stopped being a ‘Fixer’. I stopped seeing ‘problems’, ‘repair jobs’ and broken people and started seeing others who needed acceptance too. From me and from themselves.
None of this evolution in my relationship with myself would have been possible if I hadn’t began to understand what I was experiencing internally as anxiety. If you don’t know, what you don’t know then moving from that point of pain will always be difficult. Studying anxiety as part of hypnotherapy training enabled me to understand the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual impact of experiencing anxiety. It was the first set of keys that I was handed.
Nowadays I am no longer in denial of my feelings or emotional experience and the freedom that brings feels like an amazing gift after 35 years of running away from myself. I no longer fix people because I do not need to be fixed either. This makes therapy so much more effective and meaningful to people and to me. I simply share information and in a relaxed state folk easily find their own healed state.
Nowadays, I am mostly guilty of being a ‘Freeloader’ when working with clients. The benefits of a job where you get to witness transformation and awaken peace are absolutely huge but perhaps the biggest ‘perk’ I enjoy is all the relaxation practice that is always a necessary part of hypnotherapy!
If you are a birth professional or pre & post natal specialist with an interest in how anxiety impacts on women and families at the perinatal stage then you maybe interested the online course: Understanding Perinatal Anxiety and Building Resilience in Ourselves and Others which opens for enrolment in January 2020.
I will be sharing what I know about anxiety, the nuances of how it impacts new parents and sharing strategies that can help bring peace and build resilience.
Join this quiet revolution in perinatal mental health soon.