The Black Box

black box

As a child I discovered a little black box in my head.

I was trying to find somewhere to escape – a place I could go to hide that was away from everything. A place that was safe for me and where no one could find me, touch me, hurt me. A place where I didn’t have to feel anything, physical or emotional.

I found a little black box.

When I needed to I would go into my head and climb into the little black box. I would stay there until it was safe to come out again. As time went on I spent more and more time in the little black box.

Anything could happen to me physically, but it couldn’t reach me in the black box.

Eventually the real me hid there most of the time.

I liked my little black box. It was safe and no one knew about it.

One day, when I was at University, when I had just got together with my hubby he decided he would try a sort of hypnotic relaxation on me (what a charmer!)

I lay on the floor and he talked me through relaxing.

Within a minute or so tears were streaming down my face. Not the result he was expecting. Needless to say we didn’t do it again.

Many years later I began training as a Cognitive Hypnotherapist – something that often requires going into a trance state. On weekend 2 of my training, we were doing an exercise to go back to a positive memory. I was working with a partner. I found myself freaking out as my partner tried to take me into a trance state. I left the room confused, upset and shaken.

Eventually, after working with Trevor Silvester (founder of Cognitive Hypnotherapy) for a few sessions, I reached a point where I was happy and was able to feel those emotions I had kept locked away for my whole life. I was able to be myself.

I visited the box less and less. In fact, I almost forgot it was there.

Then, one day, once I had qualified, I attended a course on how to use Cognitive Hypnotherapy to help with childbirth. One of the things we learnt was how to teach a client to get themselves into a relaxed state. We always practice these techniques on ourselves. As the exercise began, I found myself scared to close my eyes. As everyone else relaxed, I once more found myself crying.

I was incredibly frustrated. I thought I should be sorted by now. I shouldn’t have this sort of reaction.

But in my therapy sessions, we had never been near the little black box.

One evening I was chatting to a friend and fellow Cognitive Hypnotherapist. She made a statement that maybe for me going into a trance state had a different meaning/purpose. And whoosh! just like that I returned to the time I first went looking for and found my little black box. And I realised that every time I had tried to go into a trance state it had reminded me of going looking for my little black box. For needing to escape.

I have done work on that black box since then, and it’s been profound. Actually it’s been life-changing. There is a calmness without the need for that. Although that black box felt like a safe place, I was only going there because everything else didn’t feel safe. The work I’ve done has been to see the rest of the world, the world outside the box, as safe.

That makes for a much calmer life.

I still have the box. When I took my abuser to court I went there a lot. I’m not sure that I will ever lose that space. I just hope, eventually, to never need to go there again.

Often I work with my clients on their version of a black box. Those who have had bad childhood experiences, or traumatic events later in life, usually get by through some sort of black box strategy. It might be a wall, or a black hole, but what it does is create a numb part in their head that feels safe. Unfortunately, this means that everything outside of it is unsafe. It can lead to a permanent state that might be described as hyper-vigilance.

I help them blur the boundaries between safe and unsafe so that everything becomes safe. As a result, my clients get to be present and to live their lives without the fear.

If you feel you have your own version of a black box, I can help. Nothing needs to be the way it’s always been.

Email dawn@thinkitchangeit.com 

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