Readiness for change can show up in some surprising circumstances. “Bob,” presented with low self esteem, low self worth, said that he hates himself and his life. He reported that he can’t let people get close. He’s never been married, he told me, and he stated quite emphatically, that he never will be.

Bob reported that his dad was physically abusive and that he was also sexually, verbally and physically abused by his older brother for around 3 years. Before the abuse started he remembered being a happy go lucky child. He reported the abuse to his parents but when they didn’t believe him he started acting out and was always in trouble as it was the only way to get attention.

In his late 40s Bob has nightmares about the abuse and the fighting when he was growing up almost every night.

His goal for this session was to figure out how to deal with the abuse. He would also like to feel calm, self confident, improve self-esteem and learn to like himself. A tall order to be sure.

After inducing hypnosis, I regressed Bob to just before the abuse started. He was playing hide and seek with his older brother. The brother trapped him in the garage and started touching him. His dad came in but the brother held his hand over Bob’s mouth to keep him quiet. This was a great time to change history so I suggested that it was time to fight back. I asked Bob to bring in anyone he wanted to rescue him. He said that there wasn’t anyone he could call, apparently not even grown up Bob. Little Bob is crying and said that he felt “dirty.” Rescuing this little one wasn’t going well so I shifted gears and suggested that grown up Bob sit down across from his brother and express his true feelings. His brother laughed but, with some encouragement, Bob spoke his truth. Bob told his brother that he felt guilty, dirty and that he hated him and was still angry. He also told his brother that he would never forgive him. When he was through I asked him to shrink his brother down so small that he couldn’t see the expression on his face. Bob reported that his brother had disappeared. Now that Bob has expressed the feelings that he had kept locked inside for all these years, he began to sob. After he had cried for a bit, he calmed down and said, very quietly, “I forgive him.”

At the end of the trance, Bob wasn’t feeling guilty or dirty. He was no longer angry and he suddenly he realized that he will have a lot of energy now that he is no longer angry and wonders what to do with it. As a start, he decided to plant a garden.

At first, listening to his story I wasn’t sure how much we could accomplish in our initial session. But Bob surprised himself and me with his readiness for change. According to Gil Boyne, there are three primary factors that create this readiness: The price one places on suffering, be it mental, physical or emotional; psychic/emotional boredom and/or overwhelming anxiety, which can cause a total loss of hope that somewhere there are people or circumstances can help fill a person’s needs and realizing that “change is possible.”

I didn’t see anything in Bob that indicated a belief that change was possible. He was open to hypnotherapy but also quite stuck in his negative beliefs about himself. However, I do believe that Bob, as tortured as he was feeling when he came in, is ready to change and has taken the first step toward recovery.

Copyright 2008 Katherine Zimmerman

Author's Bio: 

Katherine Zimmerman is an internationally-known author and speaker, Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, PhD, Reiki Master, and EFT-CC with a private practice. Since 1989, she has taught classes on self-hypnosis, EFT, and other related subjects, along with doing presentations on hypnotherapy at professional conferences nationwide.

Katherine is also the Director of the California Hypnotherapy Academy, a state approved vocational school, a former guest lecturer for the University of California Medical Center, Davis and former guest instructor for Hypnotherapy Training Institute of No. California.