Why is it that every time I sit down to record a carefully designed and well-thought out therapy MP3, the good-old Royal Air Force decide that it is also exactly the right time for their Typhoons to practice dog-fights above my house? And just in case you haven’t been fortunate enough to be subjected to this display of technological military might, those buggers are really loud when they get going; I mean proper loud. I understand that practice makes perfect and all that but why is it every time I sit down and switch on my digital recorder the air becomes a pilot’s playground?
The more astute ones amongst you may have noticed a certain use of language in that little rant of mine because obviously it’s not every time I try, otherwise I’d never get anything recorded at all, would I? And I have, obviously. There’s four of them sat in my shop, not to mention all those bespoke ones I’ve sent off to clients following their therapy sessions. Although, now I mention it, on those rare occasions when combat isn’t the order of the day, children play outside the house or the neighbour’s decide to start the car and leave it running whilst discussing whatever it is loudly enough to be picked up on the recording. Strangely though, the birds go quiet. The one noise that actually works quite well, birdsong, becomes mysteriously absent.
It’s strange just how much something turns up when you get tuned into it. Once something is on life’s sonar, it keeps on pinging its presence no matter how much you try to ignore it. This only becomes a big issue if your personal sonar keeps alerting you to the fact that everything around you is negative and out to disrupt your plans. Therein lies stress and anxiety, phobia and pain, throwing your life into protection mode. After all if everything around you is negative, priority needs to be given to staying safe.
Once that switch gets flipped, the spiral twirls its way firmly downwards. Being on high-alert is more effective. It means you get to know about dangers sooner. So you go ahead and get your alarms set on extra-sensitive and guess what? All of a sudden, you notice even more of those negative whatsits which in an odd way is strangely reassuring because it would be quite unsettling to feel as though everything were going wrong but when you looked you couldn’t see anything bad at all.
If you look at life through alarm filters designed to spot bad things, that my friend, is exactly what you’re going to see. It makes perfect sense. Alarm filters are absolutely not going to alert you to life’s little wonders now are they? It would be crazy to want to need to know when something bad was about to happen if all your alarm system wanted to tell you was that the wild-flowers are looking particularly lovely today. It’d be like something out the HitchHiker’s Guide, good book(s) though it (they) may have been in its (their) day. Douglas was definitely odd in his outlook on writing which was after all his appeal. It’s a real shame he didn’t stay around to do even more. I particularly liked the free-fall whale and the petunias. Not to mention cricket.
We could, of course, now choose to spin off into all sorts of geopolitical equivalence and how the powers that be may not actually be the powers that we elect, for those of us with the apparent ability to actually vote for those we are told hold the power. But conspiracy theory and purple lizards aside, I think we’ll stay in the realm of the individual.
One of the keys to successful therapy is to retune those high-alert alarms so they return to their correct role of letting you know when something actually harmful is on its way, whether this be the physical modern-day equivalent of the toothéd beastie or indeed that all-consuming issue of any creature living amongst its kin, the social faux pas. What alarms ought to do is to protect you when there really could be some harm coming your way, not spook you with every single negatively nuanced interpretation of anything at all that could possibly be construed as not quite as good as you might have wanted and then clothe it as truly villainous.
As well as retuning the alarm system, the other delightful focus of therapy is to show you how, without even really being aware of how you do it, to start to notice all those things which really do begin to show you that the world which has been scaring you to death, almost literally, really does hold increasing volumes of worthwhile stuff (sorry for the highly technical terminology) and despite your best efforts, once you start to notice it, worthwhile stuff turns up all over the place.
Pretty soon, without knowing quite how, you aren’t under such constant threat any more. Without knowing quite how, you begin to realise that you’ve been noticing things that keep hinting to you that you’re actually feeling little bit better. Without knowing quite how, you went for that interview and something tells you did well. Without knowing quite how, the pain well, isn’t. And without knowing quite how, you revised successfully for that exam in half the time and with none of the stress.
And the truly weird thing is, you do it all by yourself. All the therapy does is show you what you’re already capable of doing. And once you’ve seen it, or to be exact, once your unconscious mind has seen, heard, felt, understood or other mode of representational filter, it, a sentence which does work, re-read it if you don’t believe me, you just can’t help but go right ahead and do it, like those mythical sisters of old, for yourself.
And if you’re still not convinced, it’s just possible that quite soon, looking back and thinking about it, you’ll realise that you noticed a few things which let you know you felt a little better. And later on, you might find that without really meaning to look, there were even more that you could have noticed but didn’t at the time…
I just thought of one. It made me smile.
Tony Burkinshaw: Hypnotherapy MP3s