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
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