I was speaking to a friend a few weeks ago who admitted he was struggling with events that happened many years ago.
He told me, “my father was an alcoholic bully and would beat my mum and me black and blue when he got drunk. He died many years ago but I still have not been able to forget the things he did to us both. The bastard has gotten away with it and left us to pick up the pieces of his wickedness. I have tried all kinds of therapy and been prescribed anti-depressants, which help a little, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life being reliant on these pills. I have watched my poor mother’s health deteriorate in recent times and I know that she has struggled terribly over the years because of what that bastard did, and yet she has never told a soul”, and until we spoke, neither had he.
There are very few humans on this planet who have not be subjected to various forms of bullying, whether it be from parents, siblings, friends or complete strangers, but in most cases the gravity of the attack is such that it doesn’t cause long term issues. It might make us more cautious or distant from the perpetrator but then that can’t be a bad thing. Indeed that is exactly how mother-nature designed it to be. But of course there will be those, like my friend, let’s call him, Mark, who was subjected to a torrent of bullying for such a prolonged period that it has become ingrained into his subconscious, and hereby lies the problem.
The subconscious role is to store information and trigger various protective reactions when it senses a threat.
In the case of Mark, when his father was attacking him, his body would have been filled with stress hormones, which the subconscious releases to provide either the energy to fight back or flee.
As it transpired, Mark was very young when his father started these attacks so he was neither strong enough to fight back or run, so he took the blows. All he remembers is feeling terrified for himself and his mother and he says he has never been able to lose the dreadful feeling that continues to gnaw away in the pit of his gut. And it is this feeling that has made his adult life miserable and why he continues to seek help.
There can’t be many of us that do not know the feeling that Mark talks about. It’s that feeling in the depth of our gut that ensues when someone aggressively blows their car horn when we make a slight error whilst driving; it’s that feeling when our first love runs off with another; it’s that feeling when some pissed idiot wants to punch our lights out; it’s that feeling when our phone rings late at night or when we are awaken by an unfamiliar sound; it’s that feeling when our boss sends an email on Friday night summoning us to his office first thing Monday morning; and it’s a feeling that for no apparent reasons decides to screw our day up when nothing apparent has triggered that reaction. “I used to have that feeling daily. I could leave my home early morning on a high and for no obvious reason arrive back later feeling totally shit”.
So what the hell is going on?
The principle role of the subconscious is to protect us, and therefore through our 5 senses every second it is filtering millions of pieces of data, looking for anything that could cause us harm. Now this is where nature screwed things up.
Primarily, the subconscious does not have time to consider the best option when sensing a threat, if a tiger is charging towards you there is only one real option to take, once you have filled your pants (normal behaviour) and that is to run!! Likewise if you place your hand on a very hot surface instantly you will remove it, long before your conscious mind twigs that you are severely burning yourself. So one would rightly argue that the subconscious is an absolutely amazing piece of kit…because it is.
But it is also flawed.
Let me explain.
The subconscious works in the now, as far as it is concern any uncomfortable psychological or physical feeling that it registers is a result of what is happening at that instant. The subconscious has no sense of proportion…it is either on or off, so when it triggers our survival at all costs ‘fight or flee’ receptor the severity of our reaction is exactly the same whether a real life threatening event exists or not…
So how does this work with Mark?
The subconscious mind is working 24/7 and revisiting programmes that have been stored and as the bulk of these programmes are negative then it is continually revisiting those that have caused us consternation throughout our lives. So in the case of Mark, even if he were to dwell on those horrendous past experiences for a millisecond, his subconscious will instantly sense his discomfort and BAM, Mark’s body will be flooded with a tidal wave of toxic hormones (‘fight and flee’) that will feel exactly the same as they did when his father was hitting him…or his mother.
Furthermore, there could be a single object, expression or smell that the subconscious associates with the ‘beatings’ that consciously, Mark has no awareness off. So he could be calmly minding his own business, when ‘BAM’, his subconscious homes in on one of these ‘triggers’ instantly flooding his body with toxin, for no apparent reason.
And this is why Mark still struggles and why pills and most therapies might dull the pain but do not address the problem.
While studying hypnotherapy, I read about a woman who had a vicious reaction to the colour red…tough going through life when red is so dominant so as you can imagine her life became an absolute nightmare and she was forced to wear special glasses to reduce the reaction. Through sheer desperation she was referred to a hypnotherapist who using a process called ‘regression’ they discovered that when she was very young, she had witnessed a cyclist being hit by a red car, and from that moment onwards, even though she had no conscious memory of the incident, she developed a fear of anything RED…the subconscious FORGETS NOTHING…and therefore in this case by default, programmed anything RED to be a potential threat…in a few sessions the programme was neutralised.
So has hypnotherapy or any other alternative therapy worked for you?
Tell us your story.