When I snap my fingers, you will feel no fear

ugly dolls This is a follow-up post about the Hypnotherapy Project, which I collaborated on in July and August of 2007 with Los Angeles-based hypnotherapist Greg Beckett. You can read more about this experiment, what motivated it and what we hoped to accomplish here; you can read all of the entries in chronological order here.

I have had a couple of follow-up meetings with Greg, debriefings of a sort. We did some tweaking, he tried out a few new tools he picked up at a recent convention (topline: they're way cool, and Greg is slowly but surely turning into an unstoppable force.) Both times, he tiptoed around the issue of me following up, mainly, what was happening with me and why I wasn't.

I could blame it on the heat, you can blame a lot on 96ºF weather, especially when it's happening in your apartment*.

I could blame it on a busy work schedule, or the necessity of attending to various items that were somewhat neglected as I devoted up to four hours per day, 30 days in a row, to plumbing the depths of my psyche.

I could even blame it on mental exhaustion and it would be true: you plumb the depths of your psyche and expose it to the world 30 days in a row and see how sprightly you feel.

But the truth is, another big reason I haven't written any follow-up analysis of my 30-day hypnosis experiment because I was afraid.

Afraid that my analysis would be wrong, how can I know what really happened to me, and how it's affecting me now?

Afraid that my writing would be inadequate, how could analysis of something after the fact be as compelling as writing made raw and present by exposed nerves and immersion?

Afraid: isn't that why I agreed to try the experiment in the first place, to deal with my fear?

Well, no. No, it wasn't. I got into it to see what would happen. What I found out was, big surprise, there was a lot of fear under there, gumming up the works. We put names and faces and events to the fear, but hoo boy, was it startling to run up against so much of it.

Did I think that it was all going to evaporate once the 30 days were up? Once I could put names and faces and events to it? Apparently, a part of me did just that, and was astonished when, oh! there it is, it popped up again here, when the phone rang, or there, when I opened my checkbook register.

The bad news: the fear does not just evaporate when you turn the lights on.

The good news: it is easier to look at it in the light than imagine it in the dark.

Some examples:

  • While I still feel a bit of resistance come Thursday, when Toastmasters rolls around, it is nothing like the paralyzing fear I had (even if I was good at hiding it) when I first took over as President back in June.
  • I've had the money my father left me sitting in a low-interest holding account since he died three years ago this fall. I mean crap interest, personal savings account-level interest. It's my last tie to him and I guess I was afraid to let it go, a not-uncommon thing after a loved one dies, apparently. This week, I wrote a check for the whole shebang and closed it out. The writing was a little shaky on the check, and I felt a little sick and nervous walking to the bank, but I did it.
  • I've started keeping a daily calendar where I actually slot out everything that must be done that day so I can see how much I've committed, and over-committed to.
  • As a result of the above, I am actually taking on less. At least, I think so.
  • Heaps of books, clothes and other goods have been making their way out of my life, I've made considerable inroads on the mountains of paper to be entered into various accounting programs.
  • For those of you into the woo, I had a pretty amazing thumbs-up from the Universe about 10 days ago. I'm not quite ready to talk about it now, but it went a long way towards validating the public writing work I've been doing over the past three years.

How much of the change is directly attributable to the hypnotherapy, vs. the regular therapy or even the super-regular process of living with my eyes and ears open? It's impossible to quantify, of course. There's no double-blind protocol when you are working on you, no matter how many of your sub-personalities have signed on for the test. But I assure you that great change has been set in motion.

And I will do my best to document it as it happens. Maybe not fearlessly, but openly, honestly and with the great hope in my heart that any step one of us takes moves us all forward a little bit.

xxx c

*As documented by a thermometer purchased 10 days ago to prove to myself I was neither exaggerating nor going mad. And that's with shades drawn, and windows blacked out with foam core and beach towels, and three fans blowing the sad stream of cool air generated by the portable A/C directly on my mainly-naked person. But hey, it's a dry heat.

Image by ffi via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.