Focusing on the Solutions, not the Problem
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy is a bit different from a lot of other therapies – it doesn’t focus on the problem, so we don’t talk about food, weight or diets. Instead, we help the client to identify the changes they need to make in their lives to overcome the problem.
The Solution Focused process encourages the client to envisage how things could be different, how things could be better for them in the future. It can be difficult to imagine a future without the problem or see a time when the problem will not be there – it seems too great a task to undertake. But, with the use of careful questioning, the therapist can help the client to identify where things are not working and take the series of small steps needed to move towards a better lifestyle.
Making better choices
The small steps the client will need to take to get back in control will involve making better choices. When we are stressed or anxious, tired or depressed then we are operating more in our primitive emotional brain. This part of the brain is concerned with our survival and just needs to keep us alive, whatever it takes. It will encourage a high calorie intake for the energy needed for fight or flight via the stress hormone, cortisol. It will also encourage us to do the same things we have done before, because that worked – we survived.
In order to make good choices, we need to be operating in our intellectual mind, the positive pre-frontal cortex of the brain, away from the influence of the primitive emotional mind. Hypnotherapy can help to move the client’s thinking into that part of the brain so that mindful eating is encouraged instead of emotional comfort eating. When we are calm and in control, we can make better, healthier choices.
Changing patterns of behaviour
A lot of the problems we have with eating stem from the influence of old habits that seem hard to break. The patterns of behaviour that are involved in unhealthy eating may have been present for many years and can be difficult to break without help. Those patterns of behaviour are stored in the primitive emotional mind so again, things will be more difficult if we are stressed or anxious.
We associate certain activities with certain foods such as cake on Birthdays; mince pies at Christmas; fish and chips on Friday – these patterns can be difficult to break free from. Family get-togethers usually involve meals and drinking – and we kid ourselves that ‘it would be rude not to’, but if change is needed, then things must be done differently.
Hypnotherapy can help to make new, better habits, again one step at a time. Just change one thing and that will soon become the new accepted pattern. Continue changing one thing at a time and it will soon be a whole different story.
Changing the self-talk
We are our own harshest critics, aren’t we? We talk about ‘being good’, so if we eat something calorific then we have ‘been bad’. We say ‘I ate something naughty’ not ‘I ate something delicious’! This is negative self-talk and it plays directly into that primitive emotional brain.
We might say ‘I’m feeling fat today’ and look in the mirror feeling disappointed with ourselves for not getting a grip of our eating.
It’s all bad news.
But the good news is that we can change the way we talk about food and eating, and we can change the way we talk about ourselves. We can take back control by being positive about ourselves and treating ourselves kindly. Hypnotherapy can help to develop confidence and positive thinking.
Changing the chemistry of the brain
Why do certain foods make us feel good?
Is the food, or is it the associations we have made with that food?
Associations are made throughout our lives, starting in childhood. Perhaps we remember making scones with Grandma; or getting a cake as a treat on a day out with Mum; or a bag of sweets when we had been good. We then associate that feeling of pleasure and reward that we felt on those occasions with sweet food, so that when we want a bit of a mood lift, we turn to scones, cakes, or sweets. But the good feeling didn’t come from the food, but from the loving relationship with Grandma; the feeling of security and pleasure just spending time with Mum; or the feeling of pride in ourselves for achieving something.
That mood lift occurs when we have the right balance of chemicals in the brain. The neurotransmitter serotonin is the positive chemical we speak most about as it is probably the most important. Seratonin helps us to feel happy, confident and motivated. And there are many ways to achieve the production of serotonin and hypnotherapy can help to overcome emotional eating by working with the client to identify and promote new ways to get the ‘feel good’ chemicals.