The Power of Limiting Beliefs
As a hypnotherapist, I fully understand and appreciate the power of the mind particularly, to coin a phrase, ‘mind over matter’. In my work, I rely on the power of my clients’ minds to effect positive changes in their lives. As an adult who happens to have dyspraxia, which was undiagnosed until well into adulthood, I also appreciate the importance of positive thinking if those of us who have the condition wish to function, happily, in society.
Of course, as a hypnotherapist and as an adult who has dyspraxia, I am aware of the power of the mind when used to positive effect. However, our minds and beliefs are not restricted to working in a positive way. There’s no discrimination between ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ where our minds are concerned and beliefs, in particular, can wreak havoc when focused on the negative, making them powerful.
Recently, I’ve been giving a good deal of thought to the power that limiting beliefs can have over our lives. I have noticed, particularly, that this can happen all too easily with regard to dyspraxia and, unfortunately, limiting beliefs can also impact negatively within hypnotherapy.
To be honest, I could probably write a book about the power of limiting beliefs so please bear in mind that this short article is really just the tip of the iceberg. Firstly, I’m going to deal with the issue of limiting beliefs with regard to dyspraxia.
The power of limiting beliefs in Dyspraxia
I was fortunate to have grown up knowing absolutely nothing about dyspraxia and, for that, I’m grateful. That’s not to say my childhood was problem-free; quite the opposite, in fact. My schooldays, in particular, were extremely difficult, as I faced trial after trial, all day, every day, thanks to the fact that nearly everything on the curriculum appeared to have been designed to make life as difficult as possible for a child who has dyspraxia. In spite of that, I’m still thankful that I didn’t know about dyspraxia in those days. Actually, no-one did; certainly not my teachers, who were baffled by the fact that I was ‘bright’ but still struggled with nearly everything I was expected to do. The reason I’m thankful is because there were no limitations placed on me, by teachers, parents, psychologists or anyone else, because I’m dyspraxic. There were no allowances made for me because I’m dyspraxic and, while there were certainly times when I would have appreciated that, it meant that I, like everyone else, was encouraged to believe that I could aspire to be anything I wanted; to do anything I wanted.
It saddens me when I hear well-meaning people exclaim that their son, daughter, niece, nephew etc. will never be able to drive, for example, because he or she is dyspraxic, or that he or she will never be able to play sports because he or she is dyspraxic, along with a myriad of limited beliefs about dyspraxia, because the truth is, they probably won’t. That’s because if we hear something presented to us as fact often enough, we start to believe it. It frustrates me when, after explaining that I have been driving for more than thirty years without a single point or endorsement on my licence, I’m told that their son, daughter etc. must be more severely dyspraxic than I am, in that case. (As a matter of fact, my diagnosis states that I am “severely dyspraxic”). Those who believe it’s impossible for a dyspraxic person to learn to drive, play sports, play a musical instrument etc. etc. are so entrenched in their limiting belief that they have to find a ‘reason’ to justify it, hence, “If you can do that, you can’t be as severely dyspraxic as…”. In fact, anyone who has dyspraxia can learn and accomplish anything they want to. It will probably take longer than it would for their neuro-typical peers, and it’s likely to be more difficult, but it certainly isn’t impossible.
This is the message that my dear friend, and fellow dyspraxic, Matthew Munson, and I work hard to get across, in our roles as The Two Dyspraxics (T2D).
The power of limiting beliefs in Hypnotherapy
I am in the unusual situation of having been brought up by a hypnotherapist; my father, Bob Neill. He was practising hypnotherapy before I was even born, (and I celebrated my 60th birthday recently), albeit it in a small way at that time because generally speaking people weren’t open or forward thinking enough to accept hypnotherapy to the extent that it is accepted today. So Dad was something of a trailblazer, and I’m very proud of him for that.
For most of the seventies and eighties, Dad was the only hypnotherapist in Maidstone, Kent, where we lived, and was in increasing demand as hypnotherapy gained popularity, due in no small way to him and his reputation. In fact, his reputation spread to such an extent that one of his clients travelled all the way from the USA to England, specifically to see him. During the decades that he was practising, Dad developed his own technique. He always aimed for complete success in one session of hypnotherapy and, for the vast majority of his clients he achieved it, because no-one had told them it couldn’t be done. He readily accepted that some clients might need a second and, in very rare cases, even a third session. Because he saw hypnotherapy as a means to empower his clients, (as I do, my clients, I hasten to add), he would always leave the decision to them as to whether or not they felt they needed a second session.
As hypnotherapy has gained in popularity, there are many more hypnotherapists nowadays, (and a very wide variety of hypnotherapy training schools), and we can be spoilt for choice when choosing which one to visit. Perhaps not surprisingly, there are many different techniques and methods used so it’s unlikely that two hypnotherapists will work in exactly the same way. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the techniques employed by hypnotherapists vary widely from one to another. For example, because of my background, I was horrified when I first heard of hypnotherapists who wanted their clients to commit to a series of sessions in order to address one single issue. Regardless of the fact that probably all professions have their share of charlatans, I’m not suggesting, for a moment, that this is the case as far as my colleagues are concerned. In fact, I know several hypnotherapists who don’t aim for success in one session, whose integrity is certainly not in question. I have no doubt that they believe more than one session will be necessary because that is what they have been taught and, in consequence, they have limited beliefs about the power of hypnotherapy and its ability to be successful in a single session.
I asked a number of colleagues, recently, how many sessions they would expect a client to book in order to deal with one issue and the response was incredible. I suspect that particular debate will rumble on for some time to come. I was dismayed to find that those of us who expect success in one session appear to be in the minority. This is where the power of limiting beliefs comes in. Even complex issues can be simplified enough for the mind of a hypnotherapy client to deal with positively, in one session, and it doesn’t have to keep being reinforced; unless that client strongly believes that more than one session will be needed. So what happens, effectively is that the client has heard, be it on the grapevine, from other therapists or wherever, that success cannot be achieved in one session, and then goes on to believe that to be the case, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, the limiting belief would have to be tackled before the therapy itself could begin.
I was saddened very recently, when a client told me that he had been advised that he would need at least four to six sessions. There is no way in the world that any therapist could know that in advance of seeing the client. We are all individuals. Some individuals are so open to the power of their own minds that they ‘get’ how important it is to accept that they can make positive changes quickly and easily and, guess what; they’re the ones who do exactly that.
I have had to make a drastic decision in my hypnotherapy practice because of the power of limiting beliefs. There are now so many people who are being led to believe that they cannot achieve success in one session of hypnotherapy that I have had to make a small change to the way I work, without compromising my values. From now on, when a client comes to see me, at the end of the session of hypnotherapy depending on how they feel, they will have the option of paying for the one session, or booking up to two more sessions (at a reduced cost), if they really believe that more sessions will be needed. There is one thing about the way I work that will never change. I will always aim for complete success in one session, regardless of anyone else’s limiting beliefs.
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