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How the Mind Works

Hypnotherapists get to see the mind in action everyday, the mental blocks people build, and the habitual mental patterns that form across races, genders and age groups. As a practicing hypnotherapist I see these patterns, or "Rules of the Mind," about how the mind works in practice. Here are some of the insights I can share with you.




In the battle between emotion and logic, emotion always wins. Fear is a big one, if the mind fears what you want to do for some reason, it will find every roadblock it can to throw in your way. Sudden urges to clean and sort your cutlery draw, fold laundry, anything, rather than do what it fears and believes will cause you harm. This is not helpful if a client has set herself a long to do list of career goals but finds herself procrastinating to a debilitating degree, where no amount of logic, no amount of special scheduling tools and apps seem to help. Logically no harm will come from doing these tasks she's set herself. I mean come on, a laptop and a cup of coffee isn't going to kill you right? But what of the subconscious fears? What if she she was successful at her goals? How would her life change? Would her partner stay with her? She may not even have consciously thought of this, and it may come as a surprise in hypnotherapy to be faced with this fear, yet it resonates with her and she feels, yes, she fears that greatly. In fact she believes that is what will happen, so she doesn't take action on her goals.

Which brings us to another rule of the mind: You make your beliefs and then your beliefs make you. Yup. So true. See that every day, all the time. You can see that in the quick and simple example I shared above. And here is another, The strongest force in all of us is that we must act in a way that is consistent with our subconscious beliefs. We truly dont seem able to act against our subconscious beliefs in a consistent and reliable way. It appears we must change our subconscious beliefs if we want to change our behavior and by extension our lives.


How you ask, do I change my beliefs? Well, here is another rule or two, the mind learns by repetition and it responds very well to the pictures and words we create for it. So we have to think the new exciting and powerfully described beliefs consistently and repetitively for 21 days as that is how long it takes to build new neural pathways. That's a long time, yes but that is how its done. The subconscious beliefs you currently hold were formed that way. They are a random and bazaar, seldom truthful, view of the world and they define your current reality as you know it, because they drive your behavior. I'll give you another quick example. Say a women is wanting to start dating again but can't understand why she keeps putting it off and now its many years post divorce and although she really wants to be a relationship she makes zero effort to start one, and in fact actively blocks and moves away from potential suitors. In hypnosis it was revealed that she felt extremely guilty about how she ended a serious relationship 3 decades ago, before her marriage, and this guilt is so real that she feels she should punish herself for behaving so badly, and so she is blocking new love. Consciously the whole notion of punishing herself is bazaar yet it resonates with her and her own mind told her that. Is it a honest account of reality, that she deserves punishment? No, the ex-boyfriend is happily married and has told her directly he bears no grudges, and is not hurt. So, right or wrong, her subconscious formed this notion maybe over 21 days of feeling bad, after the bad break up, and now decades later has come to define her behavior in a way that is hurting her happiness, so is not for her highest good. The mind doesn't care if what you are telling it is true, false, good, bad, healthy, unhealthy, on track or misguided. If you repeat it enough it simply acts on your words regardless. Changing these unhelpful and untrue beliefs has to be done consciously, you need to choose the opposite belief and install it in the same way the original one was installed, by repetition, and by using powerful descriptive words and pictures, metaphors, because for the mind imagination is more powerful that knowledge. So do that and retrain your thoughts, to create a different reality for yourself. Meditation, and the use of positive mantras, or affirmations, repetitively for a number of weeks is highly effective in doing this, as the meditative state drops you into an alpha brain state or deeper, and this speeds up the building of new beliefs in the sub conscious.


Another way to change sub conscious beliefs is with visualization meditations. The mind responds to the pictures and words we create for it and it prefers imagination to knowledge. So slamming your mind with facts won't change its mind oddly enough, but tell it a descriptive and colorful story, or paint it a beautiful blissful picture, and sing it an catchy song, and bam you'll have a new subconscious belief. Spending five minutes a day at the end of your normal meditation routine, while in a meditative brain state, and adding on a positive visualization of how you want your life to be next year, or in six months time is a quick and easy way to retrain your thoughts. It is not a gimmick, it is really how the mind adopts new thoughts. It is how you got the ones you have. If those ones are faulty and not serving you well, then go ahead and replace them, it's your mind.




Another interesting thing about how the mind works is that what you focus on is what you tend to get more of, or put another way, what you expect to happen tends to be realized. This is partially because out thoughts drive our feelings, and our feelings drive our actions, and our actions have consequences. The other reason that this works this way is because as it says in The Course In Miracles, "all minds are joined". A way of thinking held by one person affects those around them. One way to shift a relationship dynamic is to change the beliefs you hold about the other person without even talking to them. I have an example for you. A mother was having trouble with an adult daughter relationship. The daughter wanted space. The mother was coached to hold the notion that her daughter was complete and didn't need help. She was to try to see the daughter as accomplished and succeeding at life, and that she was proud of her. The ways that the mother wanted to help were not needed, the daughter was entirely able to figure it out on her own. Within a week of holding these beliefs consistently the daughter invited the mother to spend the day with her. The first time in a year and has done this roughly weekly ever since. There was no talking it through, ever, but the relationship healed and resumed. We all know this is not how to manage say an abusive or narcissistic relationship, but that doesn't mean there aren't many instances in daily living when this can create just the shift we need to heal and move on.


Your thoughts form a blue print that your mind and body work hard to make a reality. Every single thought you create, causes a physical reaction in the biochemistry of your body and an emotional response. This is how a lot of illness shows up in the body. I had a client who's eczema was caused by a childhood need for attention from his mother. He has plenty of attention now, and is in a loving relationship, but the subconscious belief that this condition will get him the attention and love he craves, had not been reset yet. We reset it and symptoms subsided. A subconscious belief doesn't just fade out when its no longer needed, the only way to change it is to consciously replace it. This is a lot more common than one would imagine. I had a fellow hypnotherapist do a hypnotic regression on myself, on the possible cause of my own environmental allergies and it appears that I was irritated by a number of curious but harmless, responses by strangers in my environment, to my accent when I first moved to California from Toronto over 20 years ago. This irritated me in a way I couldn't express adequately and so I must have dwelt on it for at least a number of weeks at some level and here we are today, voila, irritated by my environment in a subtle way.


It is all very fascinating how the mind works. It is extremely helpful to all of us to have a somewhat basic understanding of how our own mind works so we can work with it to bring about the reality we want to create. Why leave it all up to a random and hodge podge set of untrue and unhelpful beliefs that have some how got stuck in there, and call the outcome "fate"? We can with a little effort replace all that with life affirming, positive beliefs that bring us closer to friends and family, and make us happier. We really do create our own reality with our everyday private thoughts. Our thoughts really do matter greatly, so think carefully and wisely. We are masters of our own universe in every way.

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