So, even though I haven’t talked much about it, I see a hypnotherapist once a month. In fact, I think this is the only post where I’ve mentioned it.
Anyway, so I used to see her–my hypnotherapist–once a week, but a few months ago I went down to every other week, and after last session we agreed to just once a month. It’s expensive, and I honestly don’t get much benefit out of it. It’s hard for me to relax and really get into the sessions. I get much more out of meditating on my own. That said, she is recovering from social anxiety herself, so I enjoy talking with her, as I know she knows exactly what I’m going through. She gives me the empathy that I’m missing from my talk therapist.
Also, she has encouraged me to do CBT therapy, and has provided me with materials, and so she sort of keeps me accountable. I update her once a month on my progress, in other words.
Last week she emailed me, asking me to write down every single social interaction that went well for me. For the most part I’ve been doing that (in the Achievements section), but she had me document everything, no matter how small. So, if I bumped into my neighbor and smiled and said hello or something, I’d make a note of it. It surprised me just how many interactions I had. I am much more social than I thought, even though I still feel isolated. It’s just the social interactions I do have are very superficial, aside for with my girlfriend. I’m missing deeper connections. But that’s no surprise.
So in yesterday’s session, we talked about that for a while, and then we got on the subject of the wedding from a few weeks back, and we decided it would be best to do a hypnosis around it–even though I am feeling much better about it (time heals all wounds, I guess).
Anyhow, she guided me into a relax state by having me focus on my breathing–slow, deep breaths, inhale five seconds, exhale ten. My thoughts are usually elsewhere at that point–e.g., making to do lists, thinking about future social situations–but yesterday, I let them float on like clouds, not letting them take me. I stayed present, in my body.
She then had me visualize my inner self, as a healing light. Viewing myself like this, I pictured the “true” me, not the me with anxiety, not the me happy or sad–but the me, that just is. The me that has worth for just being me.
Next, she had me visualize a specific social situation from the wedding that didn’t go well for me. I immediately pictured a one-on-one conversation I had with my girlfriend’s brother-in-law. We talked for like thirty minutes at the dinner table. It was very awkward. I was a mess. I was sweating and slightly shaking. I couldn’t sit still. Meanwhile, he looked as if he didn’t want anything to do with me. He kept looking around (maybe trying to find someone else to join in or for him to escape to) and he didn’t really offer anything to the conversation. I don’t know. It’s hard for me to describe. He just didn’t give off the vibe like he wanted to talk to me. But then again, I probably didn’t either, because I didn’t want to be there in the first place.
Anyway, in the hypnosis, my therapist had the present inner me–this healing light–approach myself, in that awkward social situation. This light pulled me aside, taking me away from the conversation and the wedding itself.
“What would you say to yourself now,” she asked rhetorically, “to calm yourself down and make yourself feel better in that moment?”
She paused for several minutes to let the question sink in. Eventually, I answered it internally–
“It’s okay,” I’d say. “It’s not the end of the world that you’re feeling so anxious; everybody probably feels a little anxious–but it’s okay that you’re feeling more anxious. People are so wrapped up in there own anxieties and issues (and the bride and groom) that they probably don’t notice you, or your anxiety, at all. I know it’s hard, but you’re here. You’re not hiding in the bathroom or fleeing. You’re here, facing your fears, and that’s an accomplishment in itself.”
Afterward, I kept visualizing this inner, healing light. I could almost feel it all around me, touching me. When she brought me out of the hypnosis, I felt calm, collected, and grounded. I felt at peace.
Over the next few days she wants me to continue to think of those rational thoughts I told my other self at the wedding, to help them sink deeper into my brain. I wish I would have seen her directly after the wedding, when I was really depressed and could only see the negative aspects. Maybe next time I’ll be able to use this strategy in the event. That is, I’ll be able to step back and gain perspective to help ease some of the anxiety.
Makes want to try if hypnotherapy is good for me.
If every session were as good as this past one, I’d be going a lot more. 🙂
I’ll let you know if it went well for me. I’ll go after the holidays. My insurance pays 4-5 naturopathy sessions yearly and I never use them so free hypnotherapy is not a big leap of faith… 🙂
That’s great that your insurance actually pays for alternative types of medicine, like naturopathy and hypnotherapy and what not. What about yoga–would they cover that? Lots of insurance companies only work with Western approaches. That is, objective approaches. It’s a shame.
Do you always know what is going on during your sessions or do you ever have a session where it is entirely unconscious (well not unconscious, but you know what I mean) ?
Yes, I’m always conscious. Sometimes I can get lost in her words, and sort of move away from my thinking consciousness. But, for the most part, I stay conscious. That said, this past session was probably the first time where the majority of the time, I spent totally present. I guess I was still conscious, but I wasn’t elsewhere–like thinking of other things. I could totally focus on the hypnosis and her words.
Yoga… Well if a get a legit naturopath receipt, I guess… I also get massage therapist coverage. And a few more things. I could go see a shrink for a few weeks for free. But I suspect they cover that to target the nuts that should get fired.
That sounds very intense. You must trust her a lot! I don’t think I could even close my eyes with a therapist of any kind. It sounds peaceful though. If I could ever trust anyone enough I would like to try this.
Yeah, I do trust her a lot. Regardless, though, closing my eyes is easy during therapy–I prefer it, in fact. With them closed, it’s like I’m not there. If you have trouble closing your eyes, you can def. keep them open. Whatever you prefer. It can be really relaxing.
That’s awesome that you have support from someone whos educated in hypnotherapy that has gone through the exact same thing and knows how to overcome it. I envy you man, keep up the good work!.
Thanks, Mike! Yeah, I am pretty lucky. Now, if only she’d get her MFT so she could do talk-therapy ..