“Do the Work” — Hypnosis as a Daily Practice

Please don’t make me count how many years I nodded along to self-helpy types as they implored us all to “do the work”. Mmm, yes, we must do the work!

I… thought I was doing the work.

Even as a high school student I spent the majority of my free time thinking, reading, and writing about my triggers, wanting to take responsibility for them and forge better patterns. Every career choice I made, I made with these goals in mind. All my relationships became laboratories for, I thought, emotional clarity and enriched self-awareness.

But here’s the thing: journaling, researching, and discussing my issues with friends and therapists actually comes pretty naturally to me. I have this wonderful talent for deep and shameless oversharing — you’re welcome, world!

But conscious deliberation, even list-making and resolution-setting, were failing to budge my needle toward healthier self-esteem. I would have good stretches — one or two year chunks when I looked and felt like an avatar of fulfillment — but as soon as life rubbed up against my wounds, I’d snap back into self-sabotage, self-pity, and self-loathing. And with each crash I felt like more of a fraud.

It wasn’t until I had a full blown middish-life crisis that I realized this type of intellectual “work” wasn’t work at all. It was if anything a playground for my ego.

My rumination was not a total waste, but without “doing the work” it only affirmed the unhelpful stories I had about myself.

So… what is “the work”??

If the work isn’t meticulously diagraming our dysfunctions through books, retreats, podcasts, and webinars, what it is?

Doing the work is participating in the half of healing that you resist.

For myself and most other people raised in a left-brain dominant culture, this is the work of going inward — consistently.

Meditation and other forms of hypnosis round out our rational intelligence with the equally essential awareness of our private world. To develop a useful awareness of our private world, we have to check in consistently.

^^^That^^^ is something I could repeat and explain for years before I actually started doing it. I was a big fan — big fan! — of meditation long before I had the discipline to reserve time for it every day. Oh I would meditate. I would meditate the way I’d drink gin, like, a couple times a season, if someone else is doing it.

The consequence is that I hovered around in that quasi-insightful state.

Let’s face it, I have said some bullshit before. Some of it has sounded really smart — passing off pretty bullshit is one of the shadow traits of poetic souls like moi.

There were times in my life where I was so “in the middle of it” I just had to speak my mind, but my mind was actually in a triggered mode, where the only logic available to me was reactionary, and my heightened sense of emotion distorted my perception of my own wisdom.

At those times, I’d make mini grandstands at parties or post eloquent status updates on Facebook and I would get lots of other triggered and inflamed passions telling me I was on the right track, which kept me on that track for a while.

Eventually though, my elegantly stylized worldview failed me. I had to admit that I was depressed, underachieving, self-medicating, and, based on the lack of progress I was seeing, probably not as smart as I thought I was.

Now I do not conduct sessions with clients — I don’t even sit down to write one of these blog entries — unless I’ve been consistently maintaining my daily practice.

Daily practice of what?

Of self-care and hypnotic hygiene.

What does that mean? It means I reserve time to check my attitude, calibrate my perspective, exercise my virtues, and unpack my baggage before I step into any space where I’m focusing on yours.

Ideally any practitioner you work with — massage therapists, dentists, doctors, food handlers — should maintain this standard. It’s what prevents projection, disconnection, and contagious forms of stress.

Making the time to do the work is a challenge for many in the same way we find it hard to go to the gym and do more than lift 5 reps and hit the sauna. So hiring a hypnotist is like hiring a cognitive personal trainer. When you reserve our time, you invest in your commitment to yourself. We structure exercises based on our expertise, we spot you when things get high stakes, but mostly we keep you accountable to developing your own strengths. And it’s okay to need that.

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