As an acupuncturist and hypnotherapist in a large city like Quincy, just outside of Boston, I see a wide variety of issues come through my door. What I’ve learned in nearly 20 years of practice, is that when a patient comes in with what may seem on the surface to be a simple issue, many times we need to dig deeper, and find the hidden blocks that are contributing to that problem and preventing that patient from making progress.
Recently I have been working with a patient around using hypnotherapy to break some unhealthy addictive habits. While hypnosis is tremendously effective at correcting negative thought patterns and behaviors, it’s not always the miraculous overnight success it’s made out to be in the movies. For many patients, it can take between 4-6 sessions, and if what we are working on is a particularly stubborn, lifelong pattern, we may need to add other treatments like acupuncture, herbs, meditation, behavior modification, and spiritual work.
This particular patient is progressing toward her goal, but more slowly than she’d like. She’s frustrated that this particular bad habit is so tough to break, and mentioned that she felt like a “loser” that she’s been unable, after only 2 sessions, to put a stop to this habit altogether. Coming in for a third session, I asked how things had gone over the past week, and was greeted with a “Meh.” She was once again feeling really down that she had been unable to 100% eliminate this behavior, and she was beating herself up so badly that she’d not noticed that she had made a TON of healthy progress in identifying the triggers for the behavior, using other strategies to cope with these triggers, and that she’d actually made a lot of progress toward reaching her goals in only TWO SESSIONS.
This really made my heart hurt for her. Here she was, working SO HARD to create change in her life, and she was so frustrated, that she was only able to see the parts where she’d stumbled. She was so focused on the moments when she’d “blown it” that she was unable to see her overall successes and progress toward her goals, and this outlook was only serving to reinforce the negative behavior.
Think about it for a minute. If you had a child who was a poor student...let’s say they got all D’s last quarter, and this quarter, they had worked really hard and brought home a report card with C’s on it, would you berate them for not having straight A’s, or would you congratulate them on their improvement thus far, and encourage them to do even better this time around? If you were to tell that child that they are capable of success and that they’re great at working hard, then they’ll internalize that they ARE a hard worker with great potential. If you were to tell that child that the C’s weren’t good enough, and clearly they were either lazy, irresponsible or stupid for not bringing home all A’s, then you’ve just programmed them to see themselves through exactly that lens.
We all screw up. We all blow it sometimes, but it doesn’t mean that we’re terrible people and it damn sure doesn’t mean that we throw in the towel and just give up. Think about it...If you went out right now and saw that you had one flat tire on your car, would you go and slash the other three? Would you just shrug your shoulders and have it towed to the junkyard?
Is there a time and a place for tough love? Absolutely, but tough love needs to come from a place of positivity. Shaming and berating is an entirely different matter. If you wouldn’t talk to a child the way you speak to yourself in your own inner voice, you should probably take a close look at learning to reframe your narrative.
What tone of voice do you speak to yourself in? What negative internal messages can you let go of RIGHT NOW to make space for more gentle nurturing of your true potential?
Allison Blaisdell, MSTOM, Lic.Ac. is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist in private practice at Fitchburg Acupuncture, and also at Massachusetts General Hospital. She offers Acupuncture, Hypnosis, Nutritional Response Testing, and Frequency Specific Microcurrent, as well as online holistic health coaching and consultation. Her mission is to educate and empower her patients to achieve their best possible health.