When your subconscious thinks something is going to hurt you, the first thing it does is switch off your ‘thinking’ brain. Thinking is simply too slow. The best chance for survival is to know the best way to instantly react. Most of us know this as the fight, flight and freeze response.
In the first session with a client, I work with them to show their subconscious that they are not under threat. There are no sabre toothed tigers. Their survival is not dependent on them being in a state of fight, flight or freeze.
This means, by the time we meet 2 weeks later, my clients are beginning to experience an unfamiliar sensation – the ability to remain present. The ability to think and not react.
And yet, the thoughts are still there.
Most of us are used to believing our thoughts. After all, it’s a thought, so it must be there for a reason right?
Because your subconscious is in charge at least 90% of the time, at least 90% of your thoughts are what I call ninja thoughts. They are defensive, protective thoughts with no rational basis.
And it’s not the thought that’s the problem, it’s that we don’t separate who we are from what we think,
I think therefore I am is actually I think therefore I do
So in the second session I give my clients a small task to learn how to identify and dismiss thoughts.
It’s a challenge for most to do this.
Over the weekend I attended a conference with fellow Quest Cognitive Hypnotherapists. One of the speakers at the talk was a very entertaining guy called Sandy Newbigging, He talked about his approach to mindfulness which he calls MindCalm. It was interesting to listen to his approach to separating ourselves from our thoughts
He talks about a space outside of thoughts, where we can be aware of thoughts. He represents this as an infinity symbol. He then talks about thoughts as being like birds that appear around the symbol. The thought itself is not a problem, it’s the judgement of the thought and the belief in the thought being true that causes the biggest problem.
So how do you step away from your thoughts and see them as separate from yourself?
Option 1. I guide clients to identify a thought, allow it to enter your awareness, and then visualising it being sent away again straight away.
Option 2. Do you remember those ‘magic drawings’ where if you de-focussed your vision you could see an image (I never really managed)? Well Sandy teaches us to stare ahead and then de-focus our vision; to become aware of the sides and above and below whilst not directly looking at them. By doing that you can enter a space outside of your thoughts where you can observe your thoughts.
Option 3. Combine Option 1 and 2. Use the defocussing to become aware of the separation between self and thoughts and then see the thoughts as object (birds or something else) and then dismiss those objects rather than owning them