Do you struggle sticking to New Year’s Resolutions? Have you given up even making any resolutions because you’ve always failed in the past? Have you thought about finding out if hypnosis might make all the difference?
Why is it that we start the New Year so fired up, bursting with motivation to take action toward the things we’d like to achieve, only for our enthusiasm to dissipate within a few days (or weeks if we’re lucky)?
In this blog post I’d like to delve a little way into the psychology of goal setting and how hypnosis plays a pivotal role in helping you stick to your intentions – New Year or otherwise.
So, let’s find out how hypnosis can make your New Year’s Resolutions become reality…
New Year – New You! Or is it?
We all do a spot of time travelling in December, reflecting on the year just gone and contemplating the next twelve months to come. Many of us make New Year’s Resolutions, filled with hope and optimism, only for our goals to fall by the wayside just a few weeks into the new year.
I believe most people do want to change at least something in their lives and the New Year seems as good a time as any.
But what happens for most of us is that although we start the New Year with good intentions, old habits soon creep back in. The passion you have on 1st January soon wanes. Before you know it, you are back to smoking twenty cigarettes a day, dunking biscuits in the tea, and have stopped going to the gym or practising the yoga routine you were so convinced you’d stick to this time.
If you are trying a new diet you’ll probably start off full of enthusiasm but by depriving yourself of favourite foods you end up with incredibly strong cravings which you eventually succumb to and then feel like a failure once more (just like you did after your last failed diet).
Indeed, I recall seeing Paul McKenna once remark on TV that “Diets are training courses in how to be fat and feel like a failure.” You might agree with him.
Why do I sabotage myself?
This is a question we’ve all asked about ourselves at some point in our lives. The thing is that human beings are creatures of habit. Repeating a behaviour long enough establishes a blueprint in the brain.
For example, if you smoke cigarettes there is an unconscious expectation that says something like, “Whenever you are holding a pint of beer or a glass of wine (or whatever the trigger is), you will also light a cigarette”. One thing goes with the other.
If you’re a comfort eater, a certain emotion will almost instantly result in you reaching for the biscuit tin or staring hypnotised into the fridge.
If you’ve dieted in the past you may well have started out with hope and enthusiasm that this time you will succeed. But associated with the word ‘diet’ are all the memories of previous failure. Eventually, that unconscious expectation of failure takes over; one biscuit in the tea becomes three; one missed session at the gym becomes a whole month.
Maybe it has become habitual for you to suppress your emotions by comfort eating? Maybe your weight loss/weight gain is a form of self-harm? What are you so guilty of that you feel you need to do that?
The bottom line is that we sabotage ourselves because the old pattern of expected failure in the unconscious mind is more powerful than our conscious wishes to succeed.
Why most New Years Resolutions fail
But it’s not just bad habits that are controlled by unconscious blueprints…
People who suffer from panic attacks and phobias also respond in the same automatic way, i.e. their unconscious mind is triggered and whoosh! – they instantly go into panic mode, before the conscious mind has had a chance to think otherwise.
This is often why traditional counselling and CBT doesn’t give people the outcome they desire. Making changes purely on a conscious level is very limited. See, the problem with habits (and habitual responses) is that you can’t just consciously think nor will yourself out of them.
RELATED CONTENT: The fatal flaw in CBT: why it works against nature
There are very few people who make a conscious decision to quit smoking and are able to stick with that decision. Quitting smoking by using only the conscious mind (i.e. will-power, using nicotine replacement products like e-cigarettes, or using medication) often feels as if you are always fighting the urge to smoke.
This is because you’ve performed the habit in a ritualistic way for so long that it’s become instinctive. You find yourself in a certain place, time or situation – or feeling a certain emotion – and out comes the old habit.
You are not your habit!
When it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, wherever you happen to be on the ‘wheel of change‘, there is one question that will accompany your efforts – and that question is, “Am I really ready to let go of the old ways and welcome in the new?”
Even when you are deeply committed to change, the strength of the habit will sometimes overwhelm your best efforts to sustain a new attitude or behaviour.
The familiar is woven into your identity and pushing it aside (even on purpose) can produce an aching emptiness that can turn cravings into monstrous nightmares.
Habitual behaviours, old traumas and disappointments become part of your make-up, held together by an emotional framework that can easily interfere with the commitment required to sustain a change you consciously want to make.
But here’s the thing…
No matter how strong the habit, addiction, emotion (or whatever the problem is), it does not define you as a human being. You are not the problem – the problem is the problem. There is far more to you than that!
Awakening the hero within
When you separate your core identity from the behaviour that you’re trying to change, you step out of the trance that’s held those old patterns in place.
By developing your Observing Self (one of your most powerful resources) you can see the problem for what it is. You can then use your higher cortex to stay focused on your goals, no longer driven by old emotional impulses.
But this will require a degree of faith and courage…
See, it’s all too easy to slip back into the known world – the chocolates, the cigarettes, the wine, the low self-esteem, the traumas etc. etc. It’s what you know. It’s very familiar territory. But change – and that’s what New Year’s Resolutions are all about – involves stepping outside your comfort zone and doing something different.
It’s about taking a heroic stance, no matter how hard the going gets or how uncertain the terrain so that when someone offers you a cigarette you can walk away. Or when those old cravings try to draw you back in, you can stick two fingers up to them.
Or when those old emotions try to bully you around again – like all those times before – you’re more resilient and defiant. You’re no longer prepared to live life as a puppet on a string.
Now it’s time for you to reclaim control!
RELATED CONTENT: The Hero’s Journey – how to embrace uncertainty
How does hypnosis turn New Year’s Resolutions into reality?
As a hypnotherapist I fully believe that the most effective and fastest way to make changes and break deep-rooted patterns of behaviour (and to make your New Year’s resolutions become a reality) is by reprogramming your unconscious mind through the use of hypnosis.
Hypnosis is nature’s most powerful learning and re-programming state. It uses the same part of the brain where templates and blueprints were laid down whilst you slept in the womb. (1)
Further patterns were developed as you grew up, and other habitual patterns have been added since you became adult.
The key word here is ‘instinctive’ and that’s what we’re really talking about with hypnosis. It’s no good chanting mantras or saying positive affirmations to yourself if an unconscious/instinctive template is still thwarting your efforts to make changes.
If you want your New Year’s Resolutions to become a reality this time round, you have to engage the unconscious mind and re-programme old, instinctive patterns. Using hypnosis is the best way to do this.
How does hypnosis work?
So let me wrap up this blog post by qualifying what I’ve said about hypnosis.
Hypnosis can help you make your New Year’s Resolutions become reality because…
- Hypnotic techniques awaken nature’s reality generator within yourself – the REM state. It is where we have direct access to unconscious blueprints that might have caused you to fail year after year
- Once in the REM state, your mind is more open and suggestible to new ideas, feelings, thoughts, and behaviours
- In hypnotic REM you can mentally rehearse things going well (by using your imagination) which lays down a new blueprint in your brain
- Once in the REM state, you can reinforce these new templates so that they become the norm. In effect, you lay down a new expectation that is in alignment with your New Year’s Resolutions – not at odds with them!
This means that you simply have no need or desire to smoke anymore.
Indeed, New Scientist magazine concluded that, “Hypnosis is the most successful way to quit smoking and is five times more effective than using willpower alone.” (2)
When it comes to a weight loss plan, this is more sustainable because the hypnotic re-programming has helped you develop the right mental attitude and a better, more compassionate self-image. You’re no longer your own worst enemy.
The same goes for changing emotional states like anxiety and depression. Effective therapy raises feel-good chemicals in the brain at least as quickly as medication and without the harmful side effects.
This is YOUR year!
So, what next?
If you find that your resolutions are a breeze and that you’re easily heading toward your goals, that’s excellent. I’m glad to hear it.
But if after a short while the passion and motivation has faded (just like last year) and you’re slipping back into the old ways, you need a different approach.
If you’ve not tried hypnosis before I urge you to give it a go.
There are loads of Hypnosis Downloads and online courses (produced by the people who trained me) that will spark your motivation to get going – and keep going – such as…
Or if you would prefer a more tailored approach and would like to see me in-person or online just get in touch.
Remember, I offer a Free Discovery Session where you can tell me what you’d like to change and ask me any questions about how I can help you.
I’d love to hear how you’re doing with your New Year’s Resolutions and what your thoughts are about this post. Just leave a comment below or email me here.
This really could be your year!
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
1. From around 27 weeks, the foetus spends up to 80% of it’s time in REM sleep, laying down instinctive templates. See The Human Givens – a new approach to emotional health and clear thinking
2. New Scientist Magazine October 1992 https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg13618450-700-how-one-in-five-have-given-up-smoking/
N.B. The featured image on this post is by Dan Gold. See more of Daniel’s work here