Monday, September 11, 2017

The Day the World Changed

(This blog was originally posted on September 11, 2014)

Photo courtesy of Microsoft

                September 11, 2001.

                I remember where I was and exactly what I was doing when I first heard that a commercial airliner had crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Less than 20 minutes later, a second jetliner hit the South Tower. By the time a third jet barreled into the Pentagon and a fourth went down in a remote field in Pennsylvania, it was obvious that the United States was under attack and the world as we knew it would never be the same.

                Gone are the days when we may walk our grandparents down the jet way and escort them right to the door of an airplane to wave goodbye when they go home after Thanksgiving. (We can’t even walk through airport security with our shoes still on.) Gone are the days when the only things we had to worry about when we traveled were weather delays or mechanical problems on the jet, coach or train we are traveling on. Oh, no: that is our old (now largely untenable) subconscious mental script. In the past 13 years, the bigger concern and occasional reality is whether the person seated beside us is carrying a concealed weapon such as a bomb or blade. Thirty years ago, hostages on a hijacked plane or ship could usually rely on eventually being released to survive their ordeal when the bad guy(s) were caught or left their human collateral behind in their escape. Since September 11, 2001 most people seem to know—believe?—that we may not escape such an attack with our lives.

                Now, let’s turn that mind-set around. As a species, humans are very good at surviving, enduring and adapting to the physical and social environment in which we live. While I lived in England during the 1990s, everyone knew better than to ever leave bags, packages or luggage unattended anywhere, or else the police confiscate and destroy (blow up) the bag in case it was a bomb. Precaution, observation and adherence to the new security motto if you see something, say something have become our new subconscious known in the United States, too. We do not take our freedom or security so much for granted anymore, simply because we can’t afford to do so. Our metaphoric antennae are ever on alert, ready to raise the alarm if something doesn’t look, sound or seem right. By the time the passengers and crew aboard United Airlines Flight 93 realized their flight was doomed, they likely knew from phone calls to loved ones that they were heading toward a similar fate as what had already happened in New York City and Washington. Armed with the knowledge that they would not survive the hijacking no matter where the flight ended, they reportedly confronted and fought back against the terrorists. Their heroic actions not only saved thousands more lives by crashing the plane into a Pennsylvania field instead of the Capitol building but also created a new subconscious known for the rest of us: it is okay to fight back. Indeed, since we know and acutely remember that what happened thirteen years ago could happen again, we are more ready to jump right into the fray and prevent a fellow traveler from igniting explosives in his shoes or underwear. Even though we may grumble about the inconvenience, we submit to the extra interview, x-ray and pat-down at the security gates before boarding a plane or even entering a landmark building.

For me, our ability to endure even after those terrorist attacks proved that the capacity of our subconscious mind is a major key to humanity’s ability to survive extreme tragedy and bear almost unbearable loss. If not for the SCM’s ability to translate, store and retrieve those danger message units from the environment and anchor that perception to a fight/flight response, countless more people would likely have perished on and since September 11, 2001.

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and friends, and the first responders who sacrificed and lost so much sixteen years ago today.

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
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