It's never too late to have a happy childhood
(using hypnotherapy and NLP)
by Jack Elias,
American Institute for Transpersonal Hypnotherapy/NLP
"Time heals all wounds."
This aphoristic bit of common sense contains very little usable information about the relationship between time, healing, and woundedness -- about how time heals. However, we all probably can recall situations where this apparent dynamic seemed to hold true. An old enemy now is a great friend; an old injustice we swear we'll never forget becomes a source of humor and wisdom.
But was it just the passage of time that caused these changes to occur? And if, without contemplation, it seemed so, what about all the old wounds that haven't healed, and are managing our lives through habitual avoidance patterns?
The secrets of abuse, the dynamics of shame, and the hollowness of the elaborate strategies of co-dependency are all being revealed as we work on ourselves and share our learnings. Why hasn't time healed them without all the work? As we become aware of our past, peeling back the layers of romanticism ("I had a happy childhood, my parents never abused me"), those of us who find that such cheerful attitudes are part of the spell of denial are faced with some sense of the irrevocable nature of the past. We may deeply sense that these things happened and we are stuck with them -- forever deprived and deficient.
This attitude to a varying degree is incorporated into some older forms and philosophies of therapy. From their perspective the best we can hope for is to become reasonably neurotic and accept some sense of bleakness about the human condition. And, of course, it is necessary to spend years of time and great sums of money to arrive at this version of sanity.
Fortunately, Eastern religions infiltrated our culture, fostering the formulation of more holistic philosophies and therapies, and validating the rediscovery of the Western mysteries and magic. (For anyone averse to the suggestion of such a causal relationship between the arrival of Eastern wisdom and our own awakening, it's perfectly acceptable to consider the process as auspicious coincidence -- synchronistic).
With the help of Eastern concepts that elevate the regard for our humanity, we have come a long way in redefining our potential, who we are, and what we can be. The conviction that we can reveal the truth of our past and heal our past grows daily. But -- change our past? -- even those at the forefront of the consciousness movement are shaken by such a concept. I have seen a room full of therapists bridle at the thought of tampering with our sacred past. (Check in for a moment here -- doesn't it make you a little queasy to think of changing your past? Doesn't the ground suddenly feel a little less solid underfoot? And do you get a new sense of your past, your bundle of memories, as just that -- a bundle, a commodity -- the referent package by which you navigate into the future?)
But for a moment, let us disassociate from personal histories, and reflect on general history. It is very apparent upon reflection that history is not "real" -- it is a story told by some of us to the rest of us. The "some of us" most certainly discriminates, or has an axe to grind, regarding what facts to include and how to include them, and the "rest of us" have our attitudes, discriminations, and axes that determine how and what we hear.
Now, we say, personal history is different, I was there, I know what happened, it happened to me! But, were you, do you, and, did it? Reflect on the selectivity of our own function of memory and how it is affected by attitudes and beliefs. Haven't our memories contained our shame and guilt because of the way we remembered them. Can we not read attitudes and beliefs as "self-or-other induced" hypnotic suggestions about what was real and what it meant? We all have witnessed the insidious side of efforts to change history -- the holocaust never happened, Stalin was a saint, and Iraq was to blame for 9/11. Those not fooled by such misinformation are disgusted by it. And it is the element of intelligent discrimination that rebels against the possibility of a similar inner violation.
But changing personal history, using hypnotherapy and NLP, is not such a denial strategy. Hypnotherapy and NLP, recognizing the pervasive hypnotic quality of all communication and that it is happening unconsciously with largely unsuitable results, have elucidated the structure and dynamics of how we communicate so we can communicate more clearly for more beneficial results. To change personal history is not to deny your existing memories or to suppress them. The goal of changing your personal history is to free your life force from the frozen emotional crystallizations attached to your memories so that this life force -- your very being -- can be available to you, to live as you, in present time. Dissolving these crystals, breaking up the patterning of how you identify yourself, your limitations and your potential, is the goal of changing your personal history.
Consider for a moment the possibility of changing your personal history without seeking self deception, or denial, or new avoidance strategies. In such a process, you are not assuming the internal posture of a victim acquiescing to doublespeak for survival imperatives. Rather, you are empowering yourself to be at cause over your life -- even over your heretofore irrevocable, past.
To be "at cause" over every aspect of your life is tremendously empowering. To understand it and do it properly (we are not talking about taking the blame for what happened to you here) amplifies and accelerates the healing process. Your unconscious mind gauges the reality of what it contacts by its vividness, and the unconscious assessment of reality determines your emotional relationship to experience.
If you re-image a past situation with enough conviction and power, you send instructions to the unconscious to break up the patterning that has held your emotional energy captive, freeing yourself from the fixed limiting ideas that were sustained and perpetuated by that captivated, "frozen" energy. You gain new insights into the situation, new perspectives on yourself and your past. You do not lose any learnings you had gained or any of the information. All you do is break up the patterns that kept you restricted, and you learn to challenge a very powerful unconscious assumption we all share to a greater or lesser degree -- that to keep our learnings we have to keep the emotions captive; we have to hold on, to be in a sense unforgiving of ourselves and others to keep the intelligence to protect ourselves. This simply is not true.
We learn by learning, not by holding on to our emotions. When you re-image a past event vividly, changing your behavior in that event to include choices you didn't think to have at the time, you reprogram yourself to access such new resources in all similar situations, seeing and feeling yourself acting with your new choices. The more you work with this process, the more you become aware of and free yourself from the subtle sense of irredeemability that has plagued you because of the absolute regard in which you held your memories and your relationship to them. This process can be one of self-hypnosis.
But in the same way that you might talk with a friend about an idea to help give it clarity and power, it can be invaluable, especially initially, to do this work with a skilled hypnotherapist who can keep you focused on what you want to create. They will also help you to find ways to "move" in the realm of the unconscious, suggesting perspectives that might not otherwise occur to you.
For example, many clients have the experience of learning something that makes them feel resourceful in the therapist's office, but lose this resourcefulness when they go out into the world. The simple remedy is to spend a bit of time in the office imagining taking new learnings into future situations -- called 'future pacing.' It is a crucial and powerful bit of work that is generally overlooked in a lot of therapy work. I suspect that a lot of addictive problems would not recur if the clients, having once learned how to change their behavior, were taught how to keep the change by allowing their unconscious minds to prepare them to handle future temptations through the use of future pacing.
I have briefly sketched the dynamics of a powerful concept for change. That there exist procedures today that can give you a happy childhood -- that can allow you to heal and enrich your past in ways you never thought you could give yourself permission to do, is a possibility worth investigating.
Copyright, Jack Elias, October, 2003. All rights reserved.
Jack Elias, American Institute for Transpersonal Hypnotherapy/NLP
P.O. Box 17229, Seattle, WA, 98127
author of Finding True Magic: Transpersonal Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy/NLP.