My relationship with wine has been a long one with many ups and downs, makeups and breakups. I have always been fit and quite health conscious so I’m sure most people wouldn’t imagine that I have had an issue with alcohol. But I have always known deep down that it’s an issue. In between binges, often drinking alone, I would abstain for awhile, then moderate by putting rules in place like not having alcohol in the house, not drinking during the week, not drinking alone… but soon I would find myself being uncharacteristically sociable, going out for dinners, visiting friends, anywhere there would be wine… The mind has a funny way of getting around the rules and the bottom line is that “where there is a subconscious will, we usually find a way”. Otherwise known as self-sabotage!
And the Subconscious, which according to neuroscientists makes up more than 90% of the mind, is the key to all of this. A few years ago I started studying Hypnotherapy (non medical) and it has been the most enlightening experience. Part of the course involves personally experiencing everything that is taught which means plenty of opportunity for facing one’s own demons and subsequent healing of old wounds. After attending the World Without Wine Workshop a while ago, I was inspired to share my experience as it compliments perfectly everything that the workshop is about.
From birth and even before that, our memories (real and imagined) are stored in our powerful subconscious minds and this is where our belief systems are formed. As children many of these beliefs are created before logical intellect is fully formed and as we grow up and process them with our critical conscious minds we can experience inner conflict when things don’t add up. These faulty beliefs can be around self-worth, deservability, intelligence, body image, sexuality, abilities, spirituality etc. Anything and everything that affects our behaviour and ability to lead a fulfilled existence and have healthy relationships.
Our subconscious develops these beliefs in order to protect us and help us make sense of the world. It is also where our emotions and intuition reside and where learning and reinforcement of habits takes place. These beliefs and habits are often hidden and protected from conscious influence, which is why processing at a subconscious level is key to changing any unwanted behaviour, feelings or habits. For example many of our subconscious minds have the belief that we need alcohol to relax or have fun and that it is a normal part of life (rather than a belief that it is an addictive, damaging drug). From a young age we observe our parents, family and friends drinking regularly. In real life, as well as on TV and in movies it is associated with most social interactions, special occasions, romantic dinners and even wakes and sporting events. We are continuously being (subconsciously) programmed to drink alcohol in the same way we are programmed to eat ice cream and chocolate when we are happy and sad.
Using hypnosis to facilitate change is a very intentional, focussed way of exploring the subconscious and effectively modifying or reframing faulty beliefs or beliefs that no longer serve us. During the therapy you start to build new neural pathways which makes the whole process that much easier (neuroplasticity). The more attention you give to the benefits of your healthy and more desirable choices the stronger these pathways become. This means that every time you choose the alcohol-free option, the better you feel which creates a positive feedback strengthening those neural pathways.
It’s not magic but it is logical, simple and magical.
(A version of this article posted in World Without Wine, to read click here.)
(Part of this process was a goodbye to alcohol letter, to read click here.)