It’s nearly the end of January, and it’s around about this time that our resolve, when it comes to News Year resolutions, seems to wane with the waning month!… But why is that? Why is it so hard for us to keep going with our resolutions, whether they be to give up smoking, lose weight, exercise more or eat more healthily? There is a clear explanation.
Did you know that you actually have three minds?
The unconscious mind looks after all the automatic functions in your body. It keeps your heart beating and your lungs breathing. It triggers you to sweat when it’s hot and to shiver when it’s cold.
Your conscious mind is where logic, reason, decision-making, judgement, the short-term memory and will-power reside.
The subconscious mind is the real you and it’s where habits, beliefs, feelings, associations, the long-term memory and something we call the ‘protector’ exist.
So what has all this to do with difficulty in maintaining New Year’s resolutions? Well, when you try to change a habit using will-power, which is usually what happens when you make a New Year’s resolution, you set up a conflict between your subconscious mind (habits) and your conscious mind (will-power).
The ‘protector’ in your subconscious mind is incredibly powerful. Its role is to protect you from harm at all costs. When you develop a habit, whether it’s smoking or having a pastry with a cup of coffee in the morning or a bar of chocolate with a cup of tea in the afternoon, your subconscious mind believes that you need that habit and that without it life would be harder, you would be less relaxed, in short, that you would be at risk! It is as if that habit is programmed into your subconscious mind.
There is a mechanism for over-ruling the protector’s programming in the subconscious mind and it’s will-power. But here’s the thing… Will-power is designed as a temporary over-ride, not a permanent one. We all know, for instance, that fire is dangerous and that despite it looking soft and pretty it will hurt us (a lot!) if we put our hand into it. Our protector has this programmed in too. But if (thankfully very rare!) our house was on fire and we had to run in to save a loved one, we could do it, by over-riding the protector. However, it wouldn’t be helpful, if that temporary over-ride became permanent. That would make us dangerously suggestible. We might then believe that fire wasn’t as dangerous after all… not a good belief to hold onto!
So, that’s why after a short while, it becomes very difficult to maintain a New Year’s resolution, if that New Year’s resolution pits the protector in your subconscious mind against the will-power in the conscious mind. The protector will nearly always win… Eventually.
There are several ways to work with your subconscious mind to elicit positive change; psychotherapy, meditation, mindful movement and the approach I use which is Clinical Hypnotherapy. Unlike what you may have been led to believe by stage hypnotists, Clinical Hypnotherapy is a 100% consent treatment in which you are in complete control and can accept or reject any suggestions that are given to you by the hypnotherapist. In fact, it is used throughout the NHS health system in the UK as a recommended form of treatment in clinical settings.
It is a different state of consciousness to the one you are in right now as you read this article, and it brings you into a deep relaxation state – both physically and mentally and yet, at the same time, hyper-alert, about 200-300% more alert than you are right now in fact. This combination of deep relaxation and mental alertness opens the door to the subconscious mind and enables you to make the permanent changes you want and keep those New Year’s resolutions easily and effortlessly.
So, if coming towards the end of this month you are finding it hard work staying a non-smoker or continuing to maintain that exercise or healthy eating regime, you may wish to attend Hypnotherapy to elicit the positive change you want.
Tim France is a clinical hypnotherapist and is based Wicklow Mind-Body Health Centre, 1 Fitzwilliam Square, Wicklow T. 086 1731963
Irish Hypnosis Wicklow