Changing Negative Thinking and Unwanted Habits:
Understanding Motivation for Self Care
At one time or another, we all have some aspect of repeated behavior or reactions that we want to change, although research has shown that only 10-20 percent of people successfully create persistent, lasting new habitual behavior. One of the main reasons for this is that most people are unaware of the principles of change required to re-program the deep parts of the brain responsible for automated behavior that drives much of our daily lives. Hypnotherapy focuses on those very principles of change, using altered states of consciousness to access the subconscious mind where the programs within our neural networks operate beneath ordinary awareness.
The conscious mind is the seat of our logical, analytical reasoning, utilizing about 5 percent of our physical brain. The remaining 95 percent of our brain is called the subconscious and unconscious mind that manages everything else including bodily autonomic functions, emotions, feelings, memories, belief systems, sensory perception, imagination, intuition and learned skills. We are usually aware of the activated parts of our personalities, or ego, but may not be familiar with other aspects of personality and identity that lie in the shadows of our mind. Automated behaviors like language, getting dressed, driving a car, or playing particular sports make life easier in most situations but also can take the form of undesirable habits.
We think, communicate and understand the world with words in a system of language. We create new things by putting words together with writing. Words form the link between the physical, psychological and spiritual worlds, even if non-verbal. How we use words shapes our reality, primes our actions and controls our behavior because they instruct the subconscious mind as to what we want to perceive and experience. Images and other sensory input are converted into words by the mind as meaning. And when we see or hear words, it automatically triggers images. This is why what we think, in words, is what we create and act upon.
The subconscious mind will act upon what we repetitively say to ourselves, or the dominant content of thoughts, whether positive or negative. So if a person continually thinks to themselves that they are not good enough, or are worthless, the mind will direct your behaviors as if you are not worth caring about. Most of the time, negative core beliefs about the self are determined during childhood, when we lack full wisdom and experience to correctly respond to and cope with stressful situations that inevitably arise. Before the age of seven years, children download everything their parents say to them without a critical filter. So if a parent, even once, angrily speaks in a moment of fatigue that you have not meet their expectations, you may come to a not good enough conclusion that affects the rest of your life until you change that subconscious belief.
It is normal and necessary to assess the consequences of our choices and actions; otherwise we would just plunge blindly and unsafely through life. However, sometimes the inner judgmental part of us can become overly critical, harsh, shaming or moralistic with misguided intentions to hold you to a perfectionist line of social norms and expectations. Bossy parts can become too strong as a result of experiences being taught what we should and should not do as children. Eventually we add to those expectations from a wider community that may make them worse or create internal conflicts. Those with sensitive, introverted temperaments are particularly reactive to stern parental voices. Perfectionism is often an indicator of having a powerful inner critic, which can cause difficulty in forgiving yourself for small mistakes or being angry enough to call yourself a loser or lazy, for example.
The above negative inner dialog inevitably results in unhealthy habits in which we don't honor and take good care of ourselves, such as with unhealthy eating or lack of exercise. Hypnotherapy can help to increase awareness of limiting core beliefs and emotions plus deliver positive suggestions directly to the subconscious mind. Although emotions and core beliefs in the subconscious mind eventually always wins over will power, mindful intentional thought does help because the subconscious mind seeks guidance from the conscious mind. Precisely defining the positive, opposite outcome of a negative behavior and repeating it consistently will re-program the subconscious mind.
On average, it is necessary to tell yourself what you do want to do repeatedly for about 2 months in order to create new neural networks and automated behavior. Habits are triggered by certain emotions, thoughts or experiences but will begin to change as soon as you interrupt the old pattern, even if it’s only a minor, different activity. Each positive change builds on the previous changes. New outcomes require new thoughts and actions. Following up your hypnotherapy with self-hypnosis, performing certain energy exercises, and repeating the suggestions will carry you forward to a successful outcome.