Running late for supervision I pop into the coffee shop for a cappuccino.
“Do you want chocolate on top?”
“No thanks, no chocolate”
I always give the same reply. I’m aware the “No” alone is insufficient and needs bolstering by the statement which follows, clearly underlining my wishes.
Moments later, as I watch her shake the silver cocoa pot over the top of the milky froth, I’m neither surprised or annoyed. It nearly always happens. They ask I reply, they ignore.
When we hear the answer we don’t expect we rarely listen to it. That’s why changing destructive habits is hard.
In “There’s A Hole In My Sidewalk” Portia Nelson writes about falling into holes we don’t see, and then continuing to fall into them even after we become aware that they are there. Our unconscious scripts continue to play even when, consciously, we want to change.
More than once in my past I wondered why I had such a tendency to choose unsuitable partners. Why was I always willing to accept poor treatment? What was it about me that attracted such disrespect? Only when I realised my complicity in the maltreatment did things change.
Just like the barista, my response to the question “Do you want to feel valuable?” was “Yes”, but I went straight ahead into situations which would prove I wasn’t really listening, preferring instead to play the existing belief of relative worthlessness.
When I say “No chocolate” the problem arises because the barista consciously hears my request but is already in an unconscious hypnotic state which suggests to him that cappuccinos come with chocolate sprinkled on top. In order to break this pattern, he has to break the hypnotic trance, and that’s hard when you don’t realise its happening.
Anxiety is like this too. The repetition of it makes further repetition almost inevitable unless you can break the unconscious script.
Every time there is a conscious suggestion to stop feeling anxious, for example, “Nobody is watching you or judging you” it is blocked from accessing the habituated belief you’ve developed that the reverse is true.
By imagining the things which we know have a tendency to create anxiety in us we bring about the very anxious reaction that we are trying to avoid. By attempting to think our way out of anxiety we serve only to strengthen it.
Imagine the remarkable change possible if you could just get past the barrier which guards your unconscious beliefs about yourself and the world. That’s hypnosis.
So if you ever wonder if hypnosis is really “a thing” just try asking for a cappuccino with no chocolate and see how many times your barista is unable to fulfil your request, bound instead by his own powerful inner hypnotic state.