Roots of a Phobia
Self-hypnosis can be used to understand a phobia by helping you search for its beginnings. You can use the affect-bridge technique, the calendar technique, or both of them to provide information to help you resolve the phobia. If you can dissociate from the emotions of the phobia, it may help provide a clearer image of its roots. Television, video, movie, or book regression methods can also be an effective way to produce regression results. (You can find out how to use these methods in Chapter 17.)
Affect-Bridge Regression for a Phobia
The affect-bridge regression technique uses sensory recall to go back over events in your life, to find the beginnings of a phobic trance. The images can be recalled in one or more of the five senses. You may be able to experience the images directly, to dissociate and watch the experience, or you may possibly do both. The purpose of the regression is to determine, as best as possible, when, where, and how the phobia began.
Whenever you experience self-hypnosis, always give yourself the suggestion that you may end your trance at any time. This is especially important when you are revisiting unpleasant or traumatic situations in your life. Contact a certified professional if you want help dealing with any overwhelming feelings you might experience.
When you are ready, find a comfortable location, loosen your clothes, take a deep breath, and exhale. Continue breathing slowly, allowing yourself to relax more and more with each breath. Let your eyes go out of focus, and when you are ready, let them close and allow yourself to go deeper into self-hypnosis. You may be aware of many of your muscles, some of which are tight and some relaxed. As you relax each tight muscle, let yourself relax more and more, going deeper and deeper into self-hypnosis.
In a few moments, count yourself down from five to zero, telling yourself that your unconscious mind will respond to your suggestions. Suggest that you may end your trance anytime you want to by opening your eyes or moving your body. You may feel calm and relaxed in your trance regardless of the images you experience. Suggest to yourself that when you get to zero, you will be able to experience just a very small image of your phobia, the way it was the last time you experienced it. You will feel just enough so the image will be nonthreatening, and you may feel positive about beginning to understand your phobia.
As you count slowly down from five to zero, suggest to yourself that you may go deeper and deeper into self-hypnosis with each number. You may go at a pace that is comfortable for you. If you are ready, you may begin slowly counting. Very slowly, relaxing more and more, go deeper and deeper into self-hypnosis with each count. You may look forward to going deeper and deeper until you reach zero.
When you reach zero, you will be able to end your trance anytime you want by opening your eyes or moving your body. At zero, experience a small image of the last time your phobia was present. You may see a picture, hear voices or sounds, and feel, taste, or smell anything that helps you get a clear and accurate image of your phobia.
If you can watch yourself experiencing your phobia, do so, but only to a point that is manageable for you. If you can feel your emotions while you experienced your phobia, only do so to an amount that is manageable for you. Develop as clear an image of your last phobia experience as possible.
Find Your Phobia's Beginnings
Now that you have a clear image of your last phobia experience, go back to a similar one within the last month or two. Experience that situation the same way you did the more recent one. Now go back to an earlier one, perhaps six months ago. Experience this image in the same manner as the other two. Go back a year, and do the same thing.
Go back to a similar experience two years ago. Then go back three years and then five, always experiencing the images at a level of intensity that is manageable for you. Keep going back until you have gone as far as possible. Always remain open to other images that might come from your unconscious mind; these may be different but somehow related to your phobia image.
Go back to the very first phobia image that is in your mind:
How old were you when you first experienced the phobia?
Where did this experience take place?
How did it happen?
Who was with you at the time?
Can you feel a manageable amount of the emotional image?
If you can watch yourself experiencing this early image, notice whether your emotional experience matches your visual image. Does the image match the fear that currently accompanies your phobia? Can you compare two different images?
What is actually taking place as you watch the image of your first experience of the phobia? Watch it as you are now, as an adult, and then experience the emotional image of the situation you had when you were a child. What is the same in both images, and what is different?
Once you have gathered as much information as you can about your phobia, suggest to yourself that you will slowly count up from zero to five. You will come back to the surface of your mind, relaxed, calm, and refreshed. You will have a new, positive understanding of your phobia that may help to resolve it. Slowly count back to five, open your eyes, take a deep breath, and exhale, feeling calm, comfortable, and very relaxed. Take a few moments and assess the information your have just received from your unconscious mind.
Usually a child's view of a situation is very different from an adult's perspective of the same situation. To a child, everything is bigger than life. Adults often look back at their childhood memories and wonder why similar experiences seem so different now.
What was the comparison of your experiences like? You may not have been able to develop comparable images, or you may have had images that made no sense to you at all.
You may have gotten images related to different and seemingly unconnected situations in your life, or from a different period of history. You could have pictured symbolic imagery, like in a dream. Do not dismiss the things that you do not understand; you need not make them fit. You are, in a sense, putting together a puzzle. The pieces that do not fit at the moment may be useful later, as you focus on larger aspects of the puzzle.