We all have certain traits that could be construed as a habit. Maybe leaving the toilet seat up, leaving the milk out of the fridge or not putting the lid back on the toothpaste. Most of these traits are totally forgivable, and other than perhaps a telling off from your spouse, are not really likely to land you in any long-term trouble!
However, certain habits can have a dramatic impact on a person’s life. Modern day living creates a haven of temptations that are open to becoming an uncontrollable habit and spiralling out of cognitive control.
Alcohol, sugar, nicotine, recreational drugs-are all things that create a reward sensation by activating the neural pathways associated with pleasure and reward in the brain. They release chemicals and hormones to make us feel really good when we’ve just eaten that chocolate cake or experienced that high (most of us know that feeling).
Habits are not just related to reward. We can also form habits known as Body Focused Repetitive Behaviours, like hair pulling (trichotillomania), skin picking (dermatillomania), nail biting (onychophagia) and thumb sucking. Originally the behaviour may have been created to break the path of anxiety, but now serve as nothing other than an embarrassing reminder of the ongoing habit, increasing anxiety and destroying self-confidence.
Habits are created through repeated patterns of behaviour and formed in a very primitive part of the mind; the Hippocampus. This is an internal library which stores all our past primitive experiences and patterns of (sometimes inappropriate) behaviour. The hippocampus is designed to create a template to link experiences to memories.
Imagine a child touching the oven door and burning themselves? The template links that memory and reminds the child not to touch that oven, it will be hot and burn you. Perfect, that’s exactly what we want the hippocampus to do, to throw a warning to our mind and dodge the danger.
However, imagine now a long day at work. You come home exhausted and tired and all you want to do is just kick your shoes off and drop on the sofa. However, you notice in the fridge the leftover wine from the weekend, and you know there’s just enough for one glass. You pour yourself a drink before kicking off your shoes and flopping on the sofa. You have just created a template in your mind, so that now every time you feel stressed your mind thinks “a glass of wine will help.”
This behaviour is repeated and repeated and all of sudden you find yourself having a glass or two every night regardless of how you feel. You have created a habit, a behaviour pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.
The habit manifests, you may put on weight or find your sleep affected, impacting on your home or work life, increasing anxiety and stress.
That’s where hypnotherapy can help you.
Hypnotherapy can help you replace the old, unwanted behaviour with a new, positive response that still meets the original need, creating the reward naturally in the mind without the need for other stimulants.
In a deeply relaxed hypnotic state, the subconscious mind (where the habit is stored), becomes accessible and more receptive to change.
Hypnotherapy will regain control of your focus, so you can tolerate thoughts and urges more readily and consistently.
The psychotherapy used in each session will create and rehearse a new, personalised response that is incompatible with the habit or behaviour and identify trigger situations and people, and rehearse using your new response in these situations. And of course, hypnotherapy will increase your calmness, confidence and relaxation, reducing the need for the habit or behaviour.
Reach Out if you would like any further information on how we can help you further