Having fear as a constant companion is no way to live. However, fear is a built-in survival mechanism with which we are all equipped. Fear is a peculiar emotion. Almost nobody likes the feeling of being afraid, but in a way, fear is what keeps us alive. The unconscious mind is programmed to make self-preservation its highest priority. It accomplishes this with the aid of powerful aversion programming. In other words, it scares us away from things that might harm or destroy us. And that’s okay unless you’re a professional bungee jumper or lion tamer!

Humans need fear to survive.

This personal warning system has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years and it is very sophisticated, but it is far from perfect. It has been referred to as the “fight or flight” instinct. However, sometimes this inner warning system can fail to detect legitimate danger and leave us with neither adequate warning nor defense.

At other times problems arise when the unconscious mind over-protects us and triggers a fearful response unnecessarily. This not only makes us just plain uncomfortable but over time, a pattern of knee-jerk fear responses can lead to physical and emotional illness. An inappropriate fearful response can progressively restrict clear thinking and makes us avoid new experiences. Phobias, Anxieties, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are the result of this kind of confusion.

The reason all this happens is that modern life is highly complicated and the architecture of our brains (as sophisticated as it is) has not yet adapted to this level of complexity. Consequently, confusion and errors in perception can far too easily be accepted, absorbed and ultimately compounded.

These responses occur through a process called “pattern matching.” Pattern matching is just what it sounds like – the matching of our behavior and actions to the patterns we encounter around us. As children, we learn a language this way; we learn to walk, to eat, to do everything we do by matching our patterns to the patterns of others. And this is all fine as long as our pattern matching process is solid and useful.

It is when the matches become corrupted that the process turns against us. Smoking is a good example of this. As odd as it sounds, many people subconsciously equate the act of cigarette smoking with breastfeeding – a source of genuine physical and emotional sustenance. When you add to this the social pressure to conform (smoking typically begins during the teen years), a powerfully seductive mix emerges and our natural sense of self-preservation is overwritten. The result: a “bad habit” is born. Because the threat is not immediately clear to the unconscious mind, it misses the danger and a very legitimate fear gets put on the back burner – not good.

The bottom line is that we can never eliminate fear entirely nor should we, but it is critical that we keep the fear response working gracefully on our behalf rather than letting it run out of control.

Hypnosis allows us to do this by providing gentle access to the unconscious mind and in doing so, provides a method by which we can painlessly and efficiently restore the boundaries between the illusion of danger and genuine threat. Balance is the key. We must keep the fear response in its place.

To find out more about how hypnosis can help contact Robert Dean, CH, NLP, LC at Solutions