(This blog was originally posted on December 19, 2016)
|Photo by Rick Hustead|
This afternoon, someone told me an interesting anecdote that I would like to share with you.
In 2008, after years of violence and discord, Ulster unionists and the Irish Republican Army declared a cease fire. Northern Ireland’s Ulster Defence Association disbanded its paramilitary group and said the war between the two countries was finally over. Both sides promised to work toward a lasting and productive peace, and citizens in Ireland, Northern Ireland and even England breathed a sigh of relief. For generations, citizens in Great Britain had lived with a constant threat of IRA-related terrorist activities; but now that “peace had broken out” everyone could go about living their lives without fear.
That expression—now that peace had broken out—was so interesting to me. Usually the words “had broken out” conjure negative images: disease, physical/emotional pain, social discord, war or even bad weather. But if the only thing you knew was a sensation of constant physical threat or danger, and verbal and written rhetoric to incite or condemn violence is always around you, these experiences become known and familiar. It could even be suggested that this situation was a kind of comfort zone. Of course, this doesn’t mean you felt comfortable. But you knew what to do if and when a terror alert was raised and had adapted your other behaviors to basically live your life as normally as possible in the meantime. It was not surprising, then, that even after the cease-fire was declared and the hostilities between these nations was over that many people remained vigilant for a while longer.
The perceived mutual animosity, hostility and distrust had been going on so long that it was difficult to know what to do with and in the new status quo. They were used to following a specific subconscious mental script that kept them safe all those years, and it took some time to write, reinforce and believe a new one that the danger was past. But maintaining that high state of vigilance couldn’t go on forever: The physical body simply can’t and wasn’t made to handle this constant flood of hormones coursing through the bloodstream, non-stop. Eventually, something had to give, whether that was an emotional reaction (or over-reaction) or, equally likely, going into a trance-like state to escape the sensory overload (environmental hypnosis).
Hypnosis Motivation Institute founder John Kappas, Ph.D.’s Theory of Mind concept exemplifies this phenomenon. According to Dr. Kappas, we all start learning and adopting various beliefs and behaviors at a very young age. Every time we repeat an action or express/observe one of those beliefs, we reinforce that subconscious “known” until it becomes an established subconscious mental script. While this script can be rewritten to accommodate a new social norm, initial efforts to modify previous beliefs and behaviors are also likely to be met with considerable resistance. After all, even desired change can be uncomfortable, inconvenient and painful as we learn a new way of doing things and living our life, which can be very different from the comfortable and familiar patterns of the past.
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/.