(This blog was originally posted on May 25, 2016)
|Photo by Rick Hustead|
It had already been a long day, and by the time I finished my errands in Panorama City I was more than ready to call it a day. So did my GPS, apparently, because it never gave me directions for my route home. Meanwhile, I was so caught up in my thoughts about what still needed to be done that I lost track of where I was for a moment, missed my turn for the freeway (environmental hypnosis) and basically got lost. Ten years ago I probably would have started hyperventilating, but not today. This time, I did not panic about my predicament and actually got very relaxed.
Those of you who have followed my blog know that I used to have a huge anxiety about driving—especially, freeway driving. But as I explained in an essay titled How Hypnosis Has Helped Me, having spent more than eleven years training and working in hypnotherapy has helped me overcome anxiety about a lot of things. And it isn’t just applying the theories and models that I studied, learned and now regularly use to help clients achieve their vocational and avocational self-improvement goals. Exposure to hypnosis—whether I am giving or receiving it—has increased my tolerance for stress and improved my ability to relax in just about any situation. Today was a perfect example of how beautifully my knowledge, experience and planning helped me find my way home.
· As soon as I realized that I had missed the freeway ramp I needed, I immediately started paying attention to my breathing, focusing on taking slow, deep breaths through my nose and releasing the air in slow exhales through my mouth. This kind of diaphragmatic breathing kept my heart-rate slow and steady and my physical body relaxed. Remember: opposite emotions cannot exist in the same space, so when the mind and body are calm and relaxed stress cannot take hold.
· I reminded myself that everything was Okay as I kept watching for familiar landmarks and street signs. I used to drive to and from work in this neighborhood about 25 years ago; I was confident that my subconscious mind would recognize some of these streets even if my conscious mind did not. I also reminded myself that the way streets are laid out in Los Angeles I was bound to eventually find a freeway entrance that would take me home. Even if I didn’t, I could always pull into a gas station and ask directions; and gas stations are usually, strategically very close to freeways.
· Fortunately, I had eaten lunch (with protein) before I started running around this afternoon, so I didn’t have to worry about hunger/symptoms of low-blood sugar levels exacerbating my anxiety. I know through my hypnotherapy training and helping clients overcome fears and phobias that the best way to control and avoid anxiety is to eat protein, which I now take great care to do.
· You may have heard and practice the saying, “It is about the comfort of the driver” when you and your family or friends head out on long road journeys. In other words, is there enough gas in the tank? Are the tires full of air and the vehicle in good operation condition? Is the heat/air-conditioning on? Is music playing or is it quiet in the car? Is a supply of water and snacks (preferably protein snacks) available if the car breaks down or there is a long delay on the road? (In California—or any other state vulnerable for earthquakes—it is always a good idea to keep these items in the car for just such an emergency. I knew I was set on all of those counts.
· One of my favorite affirmations is, “I handle 1,000-pound stallions; you/this is not a problem.” And, it wasn’t. Being at the end of the lead-line when my trainer’s Lipizzan stallion snorts goes up into a perfect levade to intimidate another other stallion is much more intimidating than looking for a freeway. Fortunately, I didn’t have to use this affirmation today because I eventually spotted a familiar landmark and knew I had somehow found my way into my mentor’s neighborhood. Driving home from Cheryl’s office has become part of my muscle-memory, a subconscious known.
I did breathe a huge sigh of relief to finally be able to join rush-hour traffic on the Interstate 405. But I got home safely (albeit very slowly) thanks to my training and experience as a certified hypnotherapist and none whatsoever from my GPS, which continued to give me the silent treatment all the way home.
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 http://www.calminsensehypnotherapy.com/.