I am not keen on the word “addiction” which implies that we are unable to beat our biology – and I prefer to focus on the word “habit” and conditioned response, which we can control and change with increased awareness, knowledge, skills and practice.
The approach of relaxation, hypnotherapy, and mindfulness (becoming more self-aware) is an effective treatment programme for addictions and chronic habits.
A habit is an automatic way of responding to a given stimulus – an automatic reflex. Usually a positive experience has become associated with a particular action; this is nearly ALWAYS a reduction in stress, anxiety, emotional distress, agitation or boredom – and a consequent feeling of relief. Sometimes pleasure, rather than lowering of stress, is the dominant associated emotion.
Triggers for negative habitual behaviour are usually agitation, boredom, uneasiness, emotional distress, mild or medium levels of anxiety or stress – or sometimes simply not getting sufficient pleasure and satisfaction from other areas of our life.
Hypnotherapy can help with simple habits like nail biting to more serious addictions like drinking too much. Hypnosis enables you to:
Become more aware of trigger situations and emotions.
Explore deeply and experience the costs and benefits – leading to a profound increase in motivation to change.
Learn rapid deep relaxation techniques to lower stress and anxiety. Tension increases reactivity, relaxation lowers it. As negative habits are negative automatic reactions therefore relaxation gives us greater self-control.
Learn self-hypnosis to increase relaxation and build confidence.
Map out challenging negative beliefs and then replacing negative beliefs with positive beliefs, self-talk, images and coping statements.
Develop a daily schedule that avoids trigger situations and learning how to handle trigger situations.
Imagine negative trigger situations and rehearse alternative positive responses.
Develop a more positive self-image and imagine yourself changing and developing the qualities and behaviours you wish for yourself.
Relapse is avoided by making sure that clients have the resources – positive habits and new experiences and understanding – to stay on their chosen path of being free from the habit. My goal is for clients to become ‘addicted to’ positive habits. Deep muscular relaxation gives the ability to accept feelings (rather than try to change them). When one is able to experience deep muscular relaxation at will then the mind is calm and negative habits lose all meaning and purpose. In addition all reflex responses are lowered when our muscles are more relaxed.