Thursday, November 30, 2017


(This blog was originally posted on November 8, 2016)

Image courtesy of Microsoft

It started as a parasite or even a grain of sand, irritating the sensitive flesh of the oyster in which it is embedded. To ease this discomfort and defend itself against this intrusion, the mollusk secretes a substance that covers that granule until, eventually, a pearl is created. The pearl stays there throughout the host’s life, but at least its smoother contours are more comfortable for the shellfish. Over time, this tiny irritant can even become a valuable gem.
I like to use the creation of a pearl as a metaphor to illustrate how unpleasant experiences often become valuable learning experiences and even cherished memories. Think about a challenge you are enduring or recently faced. Consider what you are doing or the actions you had to take to overcome it. Did you have to change a behavior or replace a belief system? What kind of discomfort or inconvenience (pain) do/did you have to deal with during this ordeal? If the situation is resolved, what positive aspect or lesson did you take away with you? If you are still dealing with the conflict, what is the ideal or desired outcome for you, when it is over? For example, one or both partners may experience emotional pain and anxiety at the end of the romantic relationship. Hopefully, over time the individuals will be able to overcome these negative emotions and form successful, loving relationships with other people and be able to look back at the former partner in a positive light. Even if a truly positive “spin” can’t be associated with the former partner, the lessons the couple learned about themselves and what they want and need in a relationship will prove valuable tools in the future.
Let’s go back to the image of that original pearl. Now harvested, it is has been attached with many other pearls to create a necklace. The natural luster of these gems is breathtaking, and the owner of this string of pearls wears the jewelry with considerable pride. Over the years, this item of jewelry is handed down through the generations as a gift to the first daughter to get married, on her wedding day. While the individual pearls maintain their value, the string that links them together start to decompose. Unless the pearls are restrung, the slightest tug could easily break necklace and the pearls will fall dramatically away.
This image is another useful metaphor for how ideals, beliefs and behaviors (subconscious mental script) can change over time. Sometimes these changes occur, or evolve, naturally. Perhaps that third-generation bride really isn’t interested in wearing her great-grandmother’s necklace in its current form, but would like to reconstruct the pearls as a couple bracelets and some earrings. Times have changed, and this woman has very different ideas about what kind of jewelry she likes. Whatever she ultimately decides to do with the pearls, it is definitely past time to do some maintenance work and replace the disintegrating string. Her relatives might not be too happy about her plans to deconstruct the original necklace, though…
Similar maintenance is often needed for long-held beliefs and behaviors. Over time, many of these principles become outdated and even incompatible with current social and cultural values. I liken hypnotherapy with the metaphoric “restringing” of Grandma’s pearl necklace. As the original string is cut, the pearls (old beliefs and behaviors) are allowed to just fall away to be reassembled or even redesigned to complement the owner’s preferences and style. Maybe some of the original pearls have become discolored or cracked or a flaw is discovered, and those specific jewels are not included in the new design. Or, the person likes everything about that necklace and wants to keep/wear it as it is, but just wants to restring the pearls to prevent accidental breakage. Hypnotherapy can be like that, too: an opportunity for maintenance and tuning up of current beliefs and behaviors by strengthening the metaphoric jeweled foundation (self-confidence and self-esteem, etc.) upon which they are based.

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified clinical hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit
© 2017

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Pack It Away

(This blog was originally posted on November 22, 2016)

Photo by Rick Hustead

In my blog titled The Red Box, I described how Great Britain’s Queen Victoria liked to place important documents in a red box on her desk. This box served as a “to-do” box/in-tray; anything that made it into this container was considered urgent and needed the monarch’s attention right away. Of course, at the beginning of her reign all sorts of papers and petitions found their way in, which overloaded and frustrated the queen and her husband, Prince Albert. It turned out that comparatively few of the items in the box were truly urgent or even deserved her attention, at all. However, until the documents were sorted and prioritized, she had to treat them as if they were.

A similar process happens to most of us at some time or another, when stray thoughts, memories, daydreams/fantasies or worries drift into the conscious mind when we are—or should be—busy handling something else. Suddenly, the mind is filled with these distracting ideas that prevent us from focusing on the task at hand. Of course, the more we tell ourselves to focus and ignore that pesky idea that is starting to blossom in our imagination, the more difficult it is to do just that: Did I buy enough cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving dinner? I need to rent more chairs from the party-supply store. Should there be a separate kids’ table, or do the children get to hang out with the grown-ups this year?

In cases like this, I like to suggest that the intrusive image or thought is being moved into a metaphoric version of Queen Victoria’s red box, in the subconscious mind. This suggestion will be literal and direct or metaphoric, depending on the person’s suggestibility. I remind the individual that this box is only for temporary storage to allow him or her to continue to work (or play) without interruption. The information can be easily accessed and retrieved whenever the time is right to address this issue. Meanwhile, it is being stored safely out of the way until the client can and wants to deal with it.

The great thing about this kind of imagery is that even the concept of a red box can easily be replaced with an object or even an element the person likes better. If you do a lot of work with computers and on the Internet, perhaps the idea of storing this information on a cloud or even invisible strands of energy around your head is more effective. If a memory of a previous family celebration or a fantasy about who you want to sit beside is particularly distracting, it may feel more comfortable and safer to metaphorically lock that thought in a metaphoric iron box. To strengthen this concept, you can even make a motion with your hand to turn a key in that lock to keep it out of your conscious mind until you want or are ready to address it.

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit
© 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Red Box

(This blog was originally posted on November 16, 2016)

Photo by Rick Hustead

Queen Victoria is known for many things. Until very recently, her reign was the longest of any British monarch. During that time there were considerable industrial and scientific advances, including growth of the railroad and building the London Underground, and development of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolutionary development. Her strong work ethic and public persona of prim behavior and proper etiquette became legendary. But when I think about this queen, what comes first to my mind is the Red Box.
The queen reportedly kept a red box on her desk in which urgent documents and communications were supposed to be placed until she could deal with the issue. As it turned out, less important papers such as generic requests for an audience (appointment) with the queen also found their way into that box. Of course, over time the box got very full. The monarch became frustrated and more than a little stressed out about all those things she had to “do.” Finally, her husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, looked inside the box and pointed out that a lot of the material inside didn’t belong there at all. Queen Victoria could lighten her work load by addressing only the most urgent matters and postponing or even delegating the rest to him and/or her ministers, secretaries, etc. to handle. Long story short, the queen took his advice and adopted a new and more efficient strategy for managing her monarchy.
Whether she vocally resisted (argued) adopting the new system or immediately accepted her husband’s suggestion to reorganize the contents of that box is probably unknown. However, it is likely that the queen initially found this task daunting and even annoying. Suddenly, she had to change a familiar, relatively simple behavior of putting documents in one place and take more time separating and classifying each item based on specific criteria. Once she got the hang of it this process would prove simpler and more efficient, but she would have to get used to it, first.
Call it what you will, but Queen Victoria’s new and even the intention of her original organizational system sounds an awful lot like the Neurolinguistic Programming technique of “chunking it down.”
If aspects of this tale sounds familiar in your own life that is the point I am trying to make. From time to time, a lot of us—including monarchs!—need help prioritizing assignments, jobs, projects and even relationships to be more efficient and productive in other areas of our lives. We are used to doing things a particular way, and every time we repeat that behavior (“way”) we reinforce it. However, it becomes easier to adopt a new process as we practice doing it for a while—i.e., incorporating these new actions (“knowns”) into the behavioral repertoire to create your new subconscious mental script. It is also easier to make a change when someone we respect or admire (hypno-modality) encourages/helps/teaches us what we need to do to implement the behavior/belief system, as Prince Albert did for his wife in this instance.

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit
© 2017