Did you know that our brains can't tell the difference between what we call real and what we imagine or visualise?
It's probably something that most of us haven't stopped to consider, yet this is a fact worth knowing. Especially when it comes to learning or developing new habits, which we could call programming the brain.
It turns out that the brain can be programmed equally well by practising an activity just in the mind, using our imagination and visualisation, as by physically practising the activity. Dancers, actors and instrument players have known this intuitively for centuries as they are used to rehearsing by running a piece through in their mind or by 'marking' things through. In fact, we probably all know this intuitively because almost everyone has experienced waking up from a dream feeling emotionally moved by how real it felt. What most of us have sensed to be true through experience has now been proven, through scientific study, to be a measurable fact.
A study, published in the Journal of Neurophysiology in 1995, tested this by asked two groups of people to practice learning a 5 finger piano exercise over 5 days. They found there was almost no difference in brain changes between the group which practised the exercise physically on the piano and those who practised only in their mind, using their visualisation.
The significance of this study is that it showed the brain was just as plastic—meaning just as able to learn and change—with mental effort directed at learning something specific as with physical effort to do the same thing. This suggests that if a person spends time visualising in detail something that's practically doable, the brain develops in a very similar way as if they were to actually do it physically.
This has huge and far-reaching implications because it means that when we focus our mind and repeatedly imagine doing something well, we'll get better at doing it well. The reprogramming of the mind could be applied to many areas where people sometimes struggle in life, it could be to improve confidence in work or social settings or public speaking, it could be getting better at getting up on time in the mornings or it could be retraining yourself to be calmer or kinder to yourself or other people in your life. If you can simply imagine yourself in the new way, you are already starting the rewiring for that change of habit to happen easier. Conversely, what it also means is that if you don't see yourself changing and improving, if you don't see yourself as overcoming your anxiety or lack of confidence or if you cannot see a realistic path to uplifting yourself, you make it harder for yourself to put these changes you want into practice. And worst still, if you practise giving yourself negative messages, such as “I'm no good at...”, “I'll never be able to...”, “I'm such a...” all you do is teach and train your brain to get very good at thinking and being what you don't want to be.
Moreover, as your brain can't tell the difference between what you're really experiencing now and what you're imagining or remembering, whatever circuit you light up in your brain will be real for you. Even if it's an old feeling from years back or something completely imagined, you live it as though it's real in the present moment. This alone is reason enough to learn to choose your thoughts with care.
Ultimately, what this study proves is something I have seen a great deal of evidence for in my own Clinical Hypnotherapy practice. This study has proven both how powerful visualisation is and how a person's mind is plastic; able to change and create new patterns. At Clarity Flow Hypnotherapy, we use the power of visualisation within hypnosis to help individuals make significant important changes and take great leaps forward in many areas of their lives. In the process, a person learns to consciously choose their thoughts with care and become very mindful of the movements of thought in their mind.
If you'd like to teach your mind to practice you preferred thought and make positive practical changes in your life, you can book a free Initial Consultation to get started with this rewarding process.
TO BOOK A FREE CONSULTATION FOR CLINICAL HYPNOTHERAPY CLICK HERE
Maral Kojayan MA HPD
Pascual-Leone, A. et al., 'Modulation of muscle responses evoked by transcranial magnetic stimulation during the acquisition of new fine motor skills', Journal of Neurophysiology, 74(3), 1995 Sep, pp. 1037-45.
Hypnotherapy for Confidence can transform a life
Confidence is one of the most common issues people come to see me for as a Clinical Hypnotherapist.
In fact, low self-confidence is also one of those things that many people have struggled with at one point or another in their lives, regardless of levels of success, intelligence or competence, because confidence or lack thereof, is a state of mind.
Sometimes low self-confidence can seem manageable, because it is mild or very specific, for example, related to taking a particular exam. But other times, these small self-confidence issues can accumulate, become more significant or prevalent and can cause a person a great deal of anxiety and problems in may areas. Social life, dating, relationships or work can all suffer leading to more loss of confidence and can begin a downward spiral.
Only recently I had two very different clients who were both objectively high performing, bright and capable individuals. They were even appreciated by their bosses, yet their lack of confidence at work had got each of them into such a state that one had developed insomnia and depressed behaviours and the other had looping thoughts, anxiety, a panic attack and had even got to the point of quitting her job before contacting me. The good news is that for each of them, in different ways, we were able to stop the downward spiral immediately at the very start of our sessions, and within a short period of time using Solution Focused Hypnotherapy (the Clinical Hypnotherapy I practice at Clarity Flow Hypnotherapy) both clients had turned their beliefs and experience around to enjoy peace of mind and a healthy confidence once again.
You can imagine they were very pleased with themselves and relieved to be over that period in their lives. And so they should be, because the knock on effect of their low-confidence had been very difficult for them, effecting their health, their relationships, their willingness to socialise, their finances, their sense of self-worth and much more.
And the subject of self worth brings us to the difference between confidence and self-esteem. Self-confidence is related to how we think and feel about our skills and abilities whilst self-esteem is to do with our sense of worth or value. They are different, but the two often come hand-in-hand and influence each other.
A person can be said to have low self-esteem when they believe others are better than them or they constantly focus on their weaknesses, when they always find it difficult to express their needs or to say no. Having a lot of self-doubt, always putting other's needs before their own or having trouble accepting positive feedback can all be signs of low self-esteem.
You can see how it would be difficult to demonstrate high self-confidence if one has low self-esteem. Conversely, if your confidence in your skills and abilities is low, it will very likely have a knock on effect on your self-esteem.
So be it a self-confidence issue or one of self-esteem it's very important to address it as soon as possible because if left unchecked, those subjective feelings and thoughts will effect a person's objective reality.
Hypnotherapy for Self-confidence and Self-esteem
So how does Hypnotherapy help overcome low confidence or low self-esteem?
Firstly, hypnosis (i.e. entering a state of trance) give us access to the subconscious mind, something that we find difficult to do for ourselves during normal waking state. This is why you can try to change your behaviour over and over again, without seeing much real-life change at all. You see, much of our thoughts about ourselves and our behaviours have been programmed in as a result of our past experiences, so our responses are often automatic, which is very useful for running away from danger etc, but not so useful if what's got programmed in is a negative idea about ourselves or our abilities. Those are programmings we don't want to have any more but we find it difficult to change.
What hypnosis does is help you to access you subconscious mind. It is a gentle way of bypassing the critical mind and, through the power of suggestion, have your conscious wishes reach the subconscious to programme in new, more desirable messages, thoughts and behaviours for yourself. And, it's important to understand that we are born confident, so what we are doing during the Hypnotherapy is reminding your mind and returning your thoughts to your natural healthy state.
As a result, hypnosis works much quicker than working on the conscious mind alone, because when the two are connected you have access to the power of your mind and you can make lasting changes quickly and comfortably.
In addition to this, what Solution Focused Hypnotherapy does is empower the client by having them make the most out of the conscious mind to come up with their own solutions, rather than by focusing on a problem (there is a big difference). It is also not prescriptive, it is not about putting on a generic hypnosis audio about confidence or telling you how to become more confident. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy teaches a client to move themselves from where they are to where they choose to be, so it is not only a therapy but a real education, a life skill that will serve a person not only in overcoming issues of confidence and self-esteem, but many other challenges they come to face in life.
Solution Focused hypnotherapy is the opposite of what most people think hypnosis is, it is about putting you into the driver's seat of your mind and that is the biggest boost to confidence and the best feeling of self-esteem one can have.
The takeaway messages from clients who have had Hypnotherapy sessions with me at Clarity Flow Hypnotherapy are that:
“Because of her, I learned how to take care of myself, love myself, appreciate myself, and most importantly, keep myself happy. Overall, she helped me improve my self-esteem. Now I have the confidence to move forward with my life. I cannot thank her enough.” Zaw
“I am beyond grateful to Maral for her support in helping me manage my anxiety. While I was not 100% convinced about the hypnotherapy approach at first, it really worked for me. After a few sessions, I was able to see marked improvements... Thank you sooo much Maral for helping me regain my confidence” Claudia
TO BOOK A FREE CONSULTATION FOR CLINICAL HYPNOTHERAPY CLICK HERE
Maral Kojayan MA HPD
Photo Credit: Drew Graham
Clarity Flow Hypnotherapy Blog