How Hypnosis Can Help with Traumatic Memories
Trauma is not something we ever want to deal with in our lives. Unfortunately, it does happen. The memories of such events can be extremely painful to deal with. Our brain tends to work as a coping mechanism and store these traumatic moments deep within our subconscious.
Perhaps you have thought there is a way to completely erase these bad memories? Films and television may give you the impression that hypnosis is able to do so, and this is a big misconception. When reality decides to give you a dose of personal trauma, you become faced with the hugest urge to get it out of your head. However, the harder you try, the more the memories end up rebounding back into your conscious mind.
It is during these helpless moments when we feel hypnosis seems the way to go to erase these memories out of pure desperation, to “flick the switch” so to speak. Can we really use hypnotherapy to be free of these traumatic memories?
…No. That being said, what I can do is to help you heal from these traumatic memories and move forward so you don’t have the symptoms that the traumas created. Here’s some more information on how that works.
As much as we would love to have the ability to erase trauma, no modern therapy is able to do so. If memory erasing did exist, it would be against all codes of ethics that any health practitioner follows. When it comes to the fictional depiction of hypnosis, taking away memories is at a desperate time of need.
This is your health and safety we are talking about. Messing with the mind means messing with the body. I want to ensure you are well taken care of physically and mentally. Your trauma can affect all aspects of your life. Let us take back control.
The Irony of Trying Harder to Forget
Memories are complex, containing more than mere subject matter. One memory can open other memories and associations such as other people, places, thoughts, and feelings. By erasing a memory from your mind, you would be erasing such connected compartments of information in the process.
What your mind does as its own form of coping mechanism is it takes your negative, emotionally charged memories and pushes them into your subconscious as a means of protecting you from re-experiencing the pain and trauma. This is what is commonly known as repression. As we may know from experience, the emotions from these memories can be resurfaced from a trigger connection, which causes us to feel upset or create complete paralysis in our minds.
When you force yourself to suppress a recent painful memory, the memory is recalled. You then add more importance to the memory as the emotions are being re-triggered. Adding additional emotions such as frustration and anger will cyclically keep the bad memory active.
Instead of trying to suppress these memories, or erase them, we can deal with them, and manage them in a more productive and healthy way.
Reframing the Context of Memory with Hypnotherapy
Memories, with their associated thoughts and emotions, are adaptable and flexible, making us open to suggestion and more able to accept small changes to some of their original meaning. Each time your mind replays a memory, minor details of the memory are constantly being remoulded. Most of the time we don’t even realize it.
You can change what a particular memory means to you, how you feel about it, and how you respond to it when you create and attach new associations and narratives to that memory. When these changes are applied, they do not have to have happened in reality, but should be “reasonably acceptable.”
Hypnotherapy is your reframing tool to “re-edit” the emotional clay in your mind and your negative associations with a memory. They can be reinterpreted toward your hypnotherapeutic goals. As you change the way you feel about the memory, you change your entire perception of it, including altering your mental discomfort and the negative physical reactions.
You may not be able to erase the memories, but you can change specific thoughts, emotions, and behavioural associations connected to the memory with the help of hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy changes how you remember rather than the “raw” memory itself, by releasing the emotional response to the memory you release the symptom.
As mentioned earlier, messing with the mind can be thought of as unethical. So how is it that using hypnotherapy to change something in your memories is not?
Here are some things to consider:
- You are in control. Nothing is done against your will and cannot be changed without your cooperation.
- All hypnosis is self hypnosis.
- Change is for YOUR emotional benefit. The decision to seek out any kind of help is a rough and personal step. Your first goal is finding a professional you trust and who you believe will guide you toward the emotional positivity you seek.
- Trauma can weigh in on your quality of life and make it hard for you to function. The benefits of making the change to these memories helps to lift the weight off your shoulders.
- Every time you look at a photograph, engage in conversation, watch television, read a newspaper, etc. memories are being altered in some way. Your past is happening naturally and informally without even trying to change it. When self-help methods of trying to break free of painful memories, seeing a professional may be right for you.
- All therapies, including hypnotherapy, are designed to help reshape your memories, though the approach may actively delve into those memories when looking at what you wish to accomplish.
Hypnotherapy regression techniques and/or rewind techniques are the most used in a trauma treatment session, which may or may not be combined with solution-focused hypnotherapy, which tends to “leave the past behind.” Hypnotherapy helps to reduce the intensity of the pain connected to the bad memory by taking a tiny peek back into it to work through it.
Conditions and Areas of Treatment That Can Benefit from Reinterpretation of Memories
There are certain conditions or areas of treatment which can benefit from reinterpretation of bad memories.
Fears and Phobias
We know many things can cause phobias. These are learned during childhood when traumatic experiences can shape our beliefs about the phobic object or situation. Along with progressive desensitization, reinterpretation of the “casual” traumatizing event can help release the emotions which are connected to the phobia.
Traumas you experience from your relationships with family and/or your own previous romantic relationships can intensify vague emotions, which can continue to contaminate your current and future relationships. The effects of past abuse, infidelity, and parental divorce may cause deep insecurities and jealousy to form towards your current partner. Also unhealthy relationships modelled lead to a level of comfort in dysfunction.
Lack of Self-Confidence
Fearing failure and avoiding new challenges can be connected to past events, which shape the belief things may go wrong again in the future. Your confidence suffers without your taking risks. By releasing the emotion from these memories, you can change your path of negative self-fulfilling prophecy.
The definition of self-worth can be internalized as past criticism, abuse, bullying, and neglect. These memories can be stuck onto your beliefs like a glue, moulding your thinking that there is something wrong with you without realizing you have held onto the memories. By reframing your memories, you challenge your beliefs and rebuild your self-esteem.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Your mind presents your traumatic experience as fragmented and “misfiled” when submitted for memory storage. Symptoms such as distressing flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, and sudden fits of rage are caused by triggers and reactivate traumatic memories of the experience. Hypnotherapy can “refile,” so to speak, the traumatic memory safely, thus helping reduce your PTSD symptoms.
As we know, there is no real erasing of trauma or memory. That being said, this doesn’t mean your trauma should affect your quality of life. At Healing Soul Hypnosis, I offer a safe environment to everyone in need of changing the way their memories affect their lives. If you have any questions or concerns about hypnotherapy, don’t hesitate to contact me.
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