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Hypnosis and the Treatment of the Agoraphobic Eleven
Agoraphobia: fear of the market place.
?not, as many people imagine, a fear of open spaces.
There are no phobias that are fun to have, but agoraphobia is one of the worst, simply because it's almost impossible to avoid the object of fear on a day to day basis. This is because the object of fear is Life itself. Fear of Life manifested as a fear of social encounters; a fear of being trapped; a fear of feeling foolish; a fear of looking foolish; fear of humiliation?
Another deadly aspect of agoraphobia is the speed with which it develops to the point of the sufferer being afraid to leave the house alone. Often its onset is started by a panic attack - in itself frightening enough, without this possible consequence. The closing in of a personal world within a matter of weeks is a terrifying experience, and one that friends and relatives find almost impossible to understand and to cope with.
I have observed eleven factors that are frequently present with agoraphobia:
1. Low self-esteem
Addressing these items under hypnosis and working towards bringing about change in The Eleven is the key to releasing the imprisoning fear.
Now, if you think you are about as important as a worm (I'm a gardener so I, along with Charles Darwin, happen to think that worms are hugely important), you're not going to want to mix with anyone else, because they'll be able to see how unimportant you are. You can see it, so it's got to be clear to everyone else. This alone is a good reason to avoid others. But I'd like to point out that just because you can see it doesn't mean everyone else can. You can see your dreams - but no one else can!
Everyone wants to feel important. From a Mum getting a spontaneous hug from her child, or a thank you for a well-cooked meal, to a degree ceremony with a huge audience - we all like to have at least someone recognise and honour our worth. Consequently we will avoid circumstances that make us feel unimportant. If we feel less important than everyone, then we will avoid everyone. If we need an excuse, because our avoidance behaviour itself is socially unacceptable, then our wonderful, self-protective subconscious mind will come up with a solution - it might even create a socially acceptable (i.e. medically identifiable) health problem.
Lack of Job Interest.
Work is often a trap. An individual somehow ending up doing what they do without knowing quite how it happened,, it pays well, they used to like it, now they don't, but as the salary increased the lifestyle improved with it and the financial outgoings increased to keep pace until life is lived in a certain amount of luxury. So the job is tolerated, but the pressure and stress increase because the financial pressure is too strong to give it up and do something fun for a lower salary. Again you are trapped trying to survive; probably at this point with a spouse and children who would not be pleased were you to substantially reduce their affluent life-style.
Lack of Creative Outlet.
This lack of encouragement for demonstrating our unique view of the world; the lack of praise for an effort that is the very best we could produce given our personal skills abilities, and eyesight; the lack of being lovingly shown, without criticism for what we've already achieved, a better way to achieve what WE want to achieve, rather than what someone else wants us to achieve; is the source of much pain and failure in later life.
I've since discovered that with the right teacher anyone who wants to enough can be an artist at an acceptable level. And the right teacher is one who demolishes the barriers to success that we carry within. The right teacher is one who knows that we can do what we want to do, but we are afraid to do it. The right teacher allows, praises, and encourages pure expression of self.
Creativity isn't just about art. Art is just an example. Cooking a meal with love and arranging it beautifully on the plate is a work of creativity. Planning or planting a garden or a window box is a creative act. Walking down the road and daydreaming is a creative act. Starting a business is a creative act. Putting together a jigsaw, or solving a crossword puzzle are creative acts. Writing an article for an ezine, or designing a web page, are creative activities. Creativity is putting you out into the world and changing that world, making that world different, either in your dreams or for real. Your creativity doesn't have to be better than anyone else's. It just needs to express YOU.
If you do nothing else after reading this, add a few moments of creativity to your world every day.
Lack of Individuation.
Insecurity In Relationships.
This is what the fear says. And while you believe what it says it's perfectly true. You will be alone if you give up what you've got. Not because you aren't loveable, but because you believe it. Beliefs aren't truths. But if you believe you aren't loveable that's what the world will see, someone who doesn't love themselves. And if you can't love yourself no one else will. But you might be seen as vulnerable and consequently find yourself being used when you thought you were being loved.
Seems a bit harsh that, but agoraphobia is what you do to yourself when your world becomes so intolerable that you'll go insane if you don't find a way to escape from it. And that's exactly what your subconscious mind does, without your permission; it creates a way for you to escape. What it creates isn't pleasant, but it means you don't have to face anyone who might see the truth of you - that you aren't loveable, or clever, or artistic, or have any value whatsoever.
This problem is again born from your childhood if you were raised with:
- Parents who, because of their own beliefs about what was in your best interests, failed to ensure that you experienced the world in safe ways - on your own.
- An early life that didn't provide you with challenges to overcome.
- Parent's, teachers, significant adults who found it difficult to watch you fail (and learn) and gave constant correction or took over when a task wasn't being completed fast enough or accurately enough.
- Adults who were over-critical, creating this feeling of inadequacy that leaves you with a sense of 'I can't do it on my own' I need you there 'just in case?'
Fear of the Cure.
Right now, in the safety of the fear, all of those things seem horrific and just thinking about them will produce an intense anxiety re-action simply because you can't see how you can get from where you are to where you want to be without lots of pain. So it's probably safer to stay where you are.
Nothing to Live For.
Lack of Play/Fun.
Lack of Regular Exercise.
Healing with Hypnosis.
A course of treatment for agoraphobia, with a hypnotherapist, should deal hypnotically with each of the areas that I've addressed. Because without bringing about change to the underlying causes, you haven't affected a cure, you've just treated the symptoms - the way many drugs do. And the problem will re-emerge at some point; maybe in a different form such as a physical illness.
None of the problem areas that I've highlighted can prevent you from getting better if you really want to get better and are willing to do what is necessary to get better. This might mean taking a risk like going on your own to visit a good hypnotherapist. And even if you can't do that initially and need to start with home visits, it would be a goal to hold in mind.
Whatever is going on for you is going on because your subconscious mind believes it to be in your best interest. With hypnosis we gain direct access to the subconscious and can suggest that what it is doing is actually not as helpful as it thinks it is and that we wish to enlist its support in bringing about change.
Curing agoraphobia is not a rapid process. It takes many hypnosis sessions and progress is slow - but easy. It is slow because with each change you have to re-adapt and become comfortable with that change in order to be ready for the next. Each step is a small one so there is never any sense of being overwhelmed. This is why we don't focus on the end result because that's too frightening. We focus on today and what we can change today in line with experiencing a freedom for the future. During treatment you are in control. One of the problems with agoraphobia is a fear of loss of control. You control the pace of improvement to one that you are comfortable with.
Hypnosis isn't a magic wand that will make everything go away in a flash. But it is a magic wand that makes the process of healing gentle and caring and never takes away your sense of achievement at having accomplished the shift from hiding away at home to being free and comfortable and confident out in the world.
Michael J. Hadfield MBSCH is a registered clinical hypnotherapist. You can experience his unique style on a popular range of hypnosis CD's and tapes at http://www.hypnosisiseasy.com. Here you can also obtain treatment for a variety of problems and explore his approach to health, healing, and hypnosis.
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