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inappropriate behavior patterns

Stopping inappropriate behavior patterns

High expectations is often what drives inappropriate behaviour patterns. I had a client yesterday who is a successful businesswoman. She came to see me because she has become aware that she is getting trapped into a pattern of behaviour that she doesn't like, doesn't want, and that is threatening her marriage.
What she has is a pattern of sudden aggression towards others. She runs a successful hairdressing salon and manages 10 staff. Over the years she has learned to control her aggression with respect to customers and staff. But her problem now is that she's being aggressive towards her husband over real or imagined incidents.

The origin of the problem

Her mother had married a very argumentative man. They separated when my client was four years old. My client remembers even at four years old asking mommy "when is that bad man leaving?" Her mother then remarried, this time to a man who was physically abusive, as well as being verbally abusive. My client grew up in this dysfunctional household and remembers many occasions when she had to intervene between her stepfather and her mother. Her mother was passive and always tried to calm the situation down, but usually was not successful.

My client described an incident that was typical of her behaviour. One day she came home to find that her husband had thrown out some spring onions. She had been expecting to use these for some diet that she was on, and now could not.
This triggered an immediate rage. She accused him of trying to sabotage her, of having no concern for her feelings or her needs, of being totally selfish. But strangely enough, even while she was going through her rant, part of her mind was saying "why are you doing this?"

Indication of inappropriate behavior patterns

This "split attention" indicates an inappropriate behaviour pattern in action. All behaviour is designed to keep you safe. The sudden aggression is designed to back off danger and keep the person safe. My client learned in childhood that the only way to be safe, to keep the threat away, was to go full at it.

My client's stepfather was manipulative, abusive and constantly trying to put others down. Over several years she had learned to recognize the signs of a dangerous situation before it even happened. She discovered that what worked to stop it was to unleash her own aggression. Over time, this became her default behavior.

What is happening now is that she is identifying or imagining situations in her current life which matched the threat that came from her stepfather. And that then causes her to fire off her own defence mechanism. Unfortunately, it is now being directed at people who are completely innocent. And of course these people resent it deeply because they don't understand where it's coming from. In particular it is affecting her marriage. Her husband is quite baffled as to why she suddenly flies into a rage and then five minutes later acts as if nothing had happened.

Therapy to get rid of inappropriate behavior patterns

NLP pattern interrupts depend on being able to recognize and stop the behavior. The problem is that very often the damage is done by the time the pattern is recognized. What I try to do is isolate and destroy the trigger first. And then substitute a different behavior.

In this case I got the client to put itself back into the feelings that she had with the spring onions incident. What we were looking for was the initial feeling, and not the reaction to that feeling. I then used metaphor replacement to allow her to deal with that feeling.

After considerable prompting, she said that the feeling was like a red square with grey smoke coming out of it. I then explored all the different aspects of that red square. For example where the sides straight with the corner shop are thick was it? And so on. She quite rapidly transformed the square into an outline. Then she successfully made the outline disappear.

The next stage then was to remove the inappropriate behaviour pattern. I took into a fairly deep trance and told her that she was in charge of her inner mind. I got her inner mind to search for the thing that was causing that aggressive behaviour. Eventually her mind found it, and with my prompting, she was able to take it out of that place. It appeared to her as a wooden ball. This ball shattered and released all of its contents as a liquid. I got this liquid to drain down her body and then run out through the soles of her feet.

The final stage was to go back to the place where that wooden bowl had been, and fill it with something else. I asked her to think of something good that she could put in that place was represented a different feeling. This meant that if the feeling was ever triggered again the inappropriate behaviour pattern would be replaced by a different feeling.

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Induction Styles

Fixing the ‘Perfect Life’

I had an interesting case today. The client was a young woman who was successful at business and had a good marriage. But she was so wound up all the time that she couldn't enjoy them.

She said she used to be carefree and relaxed, but now was stressed about everything. She had high expectations of herself, was driven all the time, was always looking for things that could go wrong.
She said she had been brought up in a family where her step father was a drunk. She felt that had to be a provider from an early age. She felt that it was always up to her to save the day.

Metaphor therapy

When describing how she felt when things were stressful at the business she owned she said 'I feel the walls are falling in'.
I used this as a starter for metaphor therapy. I put her into a light trance and got her to associate into that feeling. She reported that she felt two walls around her: hard and cold, smooth, grey concrete, like a tunnel, ground smooth. I got her to imagine changing the walls little by little and finally,  getting the walls to crumble.  Now that the walls were gone she could enjoy the ride.

Then I did another metaphor release on her feelings of panic. She said she felt it everywhere. I asked her where she felt it most. 'In my arms'. I worked on that and she reported that she felt it as black rectangles in her arms. They were giving a tingly anxious feeling. The edges were soft, light warm. I asked her to imagine a a potter, and how the potter moulds and stretches the material. That metaphor allowed her to think of change and she was able to get rid of the rectangles.

Learnings 

We ran out of time, but I was left wondering about her high standards and if it was actually perfectionism and black and white thinking. 

I usually make the client sit up properly in the chair and do an induction that at some point usually includes a progressive relaxation from head to toes. This client was a young woman, and she clearly felt comfortable curled up in my big leather chair. So I decided to go ahead with her as she was. I did a breathing induction and she went into trance normally.

Maybe in my training I picked up that an induction should be a formal thing, and I need to loosen up a bit?

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difficult client

Hypnotizing a difficult client

It is said that there are no difficult clients, only unprepared therapists. Well I had a difficult client today.

She presented with social anxiety. She had the usual feelings of getting panic attacks when talking in company, embarrassment when she thinks people are looking at her. In addition she complained of getting a pain in the neck when she thinks people might see her. Clear evidence of psychosomatic reaction.
She blames it on bullying at school. Everything was good in primary school but when she went secondary school she felt not as good as the other girls and shy and got bullied.

Try the standard approach

The obvious way forward was regression to deal with the old bullying. Started to get her into trance. No way. I decided to be subtle and tried to teach her self hypnosis.
We had to stop because she said the light was too bright.
So I tried hypnosis. Said she didn't feel anything with a countdown.
She said she couldn't visualize anything at all.
Then I did a kinesthetic induction, since she couldn't visualize.
I succeeded in getting eye closure.
I took her into regression but she said she couldn't get any feeling and couldn't remember anything.

She couldn't visualize anything. Nothing at all.
I tried talking to her unconscious mind. From her answers it was clean that she was not in trance.

Clients don't come more difficult than this. She gave absolutely no cooperation, no visualization, no feelings, no memories. I was baffled.

So try something else

I wasn't going to give up. I tried eyes open non-trance Metaphor Therapy. Still said she said she couldn't feel anything. Nothing came to mind no matter how much I tried to prompt her. Then got her to talk about what was worrying her. Finally we got it down to the cause. She is over critical of herself and thinks that everyone else will be critical too. Tried to work with that. Then started going round in circles.

Finally, the truth

Then she said she had very high standards.
And procrastination.
After two hours I finally realized: she has depression.
I tested for the classic symptoms of depression and confirmed that she has it.

That is why nothing worked. She has all the symptoms, but doesn't have an emotional problem. She is one of the millions of people with undiagnosed depression who have no idea of the real root of their problems.

I wonder how many other 'difficult clients' are actually just not aware of their real problem?

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spontaneous hypnotic regression

Spontaneous hypnotic regression

I had an interesting client at the weekend. This man had a very powerful job in a major company. He gave presentations as part of his job. He is confident about how to do them, he has never had a problem with one, he is good at them. Yet he gets anxiety about them. He has had this anxiety for years.

Logically he knows that there is nothing that he fears about giving presentations. Logically he knows that even if it all turned out wrong he could still recover and do a good job. And yet he is struck with chronic anxiety.

Looking for the initial sensitizing event

I put him in trance and got him to focus on the anxiety. I asked him to imagine he was about to give a presentation and to allow the feeling he gets to come into his body.

He had difficulty getting a strong feeling. The feeling was there but very diffuse.

I decided to deepen him to get down to a really profound level of trance. I used a new deepener I have developed. You imagine that as you relax yourself a cloud in the sky gets thinner, and keep relaxing more deeply until the cloud has gone.
A few iterations of that process got him very deep. I told him to look for the feeling and turn it into an object. He struggled to sense anything but then became aware of a cloud. I tried to get him to develop the cloud, but it was just a cloud. And then he said, 'I sense there is something else'. I followed that idea and then said he was getting a feeling of something detaching. I encouraged him to let that happen, to just let go and allow it to progress any way it wanted. At this point, I was very careful not to pressure him or suggest anything that he might do or see or feel. I used careful clean language all the way.

Finding the initial sensitizing event

Then he got various images. He couldn't quite make then out, like a gallery of photographs. I suggested he just let them go and see what happens next.
Then he got a feeling of a picture of himself as a boy in school uniform and a cap. We allowed this to develop for a while. He couldn't determine whether it was a feeling or a picture. Then he got a memory a teacher, of being hit with a ruler by the teacher for using his left hand. He is left-handed and he remembered being hit on his left hand to encourage him to use his right hand. He then went into this memory and felt the fear of that child, the unfairness of it, the feeling of not being able to get away, or to able to do anything about it. And the anxiety. He hated going to school after that. He had a memory, or maybe it wasn't, of his parents talking to the teacher, but he could not see the teacher's face, or anything else about it, so he wasn't sure if it was a real memory or not.

Spontaneous Hypnotic Regression

He had developed spontaneous hypnotic regression. It was never suggested to him that he go back in time to find the source; this arose completely from his own mind. He had found the source of his anxiety.

He was clearly in a regressed state, so I used the standard method of dealing with it. I asked him to find some way to make it right for that child, to make the child triumph in the situation. "Find some way that the child can get out of that situation and be a winner". Again spontaneously, he put himself into the situation as an adult, helped his own child-self deal with the problem, effectively did the INNER CHILD work himself by going back and making it right.

I then added a part of leading the child out of there and growing him up the current age with that success in place and that was it. Problem fixed.

I had heard of spontaneous regression to the initial sensitizing event but I have never seen one before. This was probably how the technique was discovered originally.

Accidental links to spontaneous hypnotic regression.

This case shows that many of the problems that arise in later life are actually caused by accidental linkages back to unresolved problems earlier in life. Fear of Flying clients usually know that there is no real danger in a flight, but at some point they felt afraid in an aircraft and that linked back to an earlier unresolved fear. From then on every flight triggers, not the fear of flying itself, but the original childhood fear.

I think this client was the same with his presentations phobia. At some point in some presentation he had felt a tremor of fear, and that had triggered the school room fear, and from then every presentation linked back to the childhood fear. I believe that clearing the childhood fear will have cleared his adult fear.

 

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hypervigilance

Hypervigilance

Hypervigilant client

I had an interesting client today with Hypervigilance. Even though I have done thousands of hypnotherapy  sessions I find there is always something new to learn.

This client was a man in his late twenties. He said "I lack the confidence to assert myself. My wife says I always gives in too easily. It is costing me salary and promotion. I just cannot stand up for myself". In the interview I learned that he will do anything to avoid aggression. He feels he has to keep people happy and never put forward his own views in case he causes aggression. He has to tell people what he thinks they want to hear.

It was obvious that he was afraid of confrontation but I couldn't find anything in his life that caused him to want to avoid aggression. Like many people he feared rejection and wants to be liked. But I noticed that every time I asked him about how he feels, he tells me what he thinks. This is the typical behaviour of the over-analytical person.

Symptoms of hypervigilance

One probing further I found that he has many symptoms of hypervigilance. Hypervigilance starts when a child feels that their environment is unpredictable and they become afraid of what is happening to them. The child then withdraws and puts up barriers to intimacy. The child's reasoning is that if they don't feel anything they can't be hurt. This client confirmed that he has no real feelings about anyone.

The client said he felt that he had a shell around him. That is the cue to start using a metaphor therapy technique. When I started with this client it did not work. He would not open up to his emotion. Instead he kept talking about what he thought of it.

Hypervigilant clients are hard to hypnotize because they analyse everything you say to them. Instead of reacting to your suggestions, they analyse the structure of the sentences or wonder about why you used that particular word. They are so busy analysing that you can't get through their defences.

Hypnotizing Hypervigilance

I thought that he would be hard to hypnotize and he agreed.
So I started the session with a rapid induction, he started smiling, and the impression I got was that he was feeling the induction but refusing to follow what his body was telling him. I then did a breathing induction and to my surprise his head started to nod, an indication of trance. I then did a deepener with a staircase induction, and he was in trance. Surprised me greatly. Tested with eye catalepsy. Worked.

So I learned that this hypervigilant client, at least, could be hypnotised. I think the key to it was using a kinesthetic induction to get him to focus on a feeling he had never before noticed, the feeling of the air inside his head as he breathed in.

The therapy was a long metaphor session.

Did the standard RIVERWALK with embelishments.
When he was looking at the town he saw someone like him at a table with friends doing all the things he wanted to do.
Had people following along the other bank.
Had him and his wife walking towards the town. Started with everything around stale and tired.
Then the little bridge where he says aloud what his problem is.
Then DROPPING THE STONES
CLOAK OF POWER
BRIDGE TO FREEDOM
DIRECT SUGGESTION
CONGRATULATE the mind.
FINGER LIFT CONFIRMATION

good session. What I learned from this is that even a therapy I have used many times can still surprise me. My own unconscious mind came up with a new twist to suit this particular client.

So what I ended up with is a new way of treating lack of confidence.

The power of the unconscious mind never ceases to amaze.

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