Have you ever wondered why you react a certain way when someone says something to you? It’s like in that moment something just comes up out of nowhere and takes over. You can’t control the arrival of the feeling but you may have gotten good at recognizing the reaction so you consciously hold your tongue as you force the feeling back down.
Here’s an example of the kind of thing people often tell me. They’re working with someone who tells them that they didn’t complete a job in a satisfactory way and proceed to tell them how they would have done it. The person’s initial response is a flash of anger that that bursts up and makes them feel like they want to rip the other persons head off! Luckily in most cases that doesn’t happen but either they tell the other person what they can do with their advice or they swallow the anger and grit their teeth pushing down the response.
It may not be something that someone has said that causes this unwanted emotional reaction, it may be something that someone has done. Recently a client told me that when he’s driving and someone doesn’t use their indicator correctly, he “Goes off his nut!” swearing and cursing and has a strong urge to ram his car into them. Thankfully he doesn’t do that but it takes up to an hour for him to calm down fully and even then he can get angry all over again just thinking about it the next day.
We all have the right to get angry at things but there are those times when its way out of proportion. So what’s going on here?
From my perspective as a hypnotist we are dealing with an unconscious part of the mind that has taken on a role to protect you from psychological pain. This “part” was most likely created many years ago after a difficult experience that caused you emotional pain and your unconscious mind came up with ways to keep you from experiencing it again. Some people have this anger response, others experience fear, anxiety or even sadness. Maybe their thinking shuts down or they just go blank or numb. The reaction can vary greatly from person to person.
However in almost every case I come across, the feeling behind this reaction can be traced back to events and circumstances in a person’s life (often childhood) where their unconscious mind learned to react in such a way as to avoid feeling that emotional pain I mentioned before.
Here’s an example… During a session with the client I mentioned in regard to his anger response while driving, we discovered that the feeling behind the anger traced back to when he was in primary school. He struggled academically and his teacher at the time wasn’t at all supportive. He described that she would single him out by asking him questions that she knew he couldn’t answer and proceed to tell him that he was just lazy and hadn’t studied the work. The other children would laugh at him while he stood there being shamed in front of his peers.
We then worked hypnotically with the unconscious part of him that experienced that shame all those years ago which resulted in significantly reducing the current anger response of today. It’s not clear how his mind was triggered by other drivers not using their indicators correctly but it was clear that the feeling that came with it was linked to the childhood experience and memory.
It’s also interesting that behind the anger, the unconscious “part” responsible was not only seeking protection (avoidance) from the feelings of shame, it also wanted acceptance and inner calm. So the concept here is that we have parts of us that have good intentions and are hampered by the initial pattern of protection that was created. In most cases we have outgrown the need for this level of protection, however the pattern can remain.
On a day to day, simply pausing after experiencing one of these reactions and just sitting with it, not trying to force it down, not treating it like the enemy, can often dissolve it and even bring valuable insight.
- Steve Dodson.