Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How I Got My Life Back – Part 2

Written by: Harriet Morris

This is the second in a series of articles detailing how I not only recovered from sexual abuse, but went beyond it to reclaim my life. You can read the introductory article here:

In this part I will discuss the first step: getting past the conscious mind.

You can’t see what you can’t heal, and so the first step for me was to drop the veil of denial that surrounded my abusive past. I didn’t do this directly – the avalanche of realisation hit me while I was trying to figure something else out entirely.
Image courtesy of Photokanok at
I remember it was Christmas, a few months after I’d turned 40. My thoughts turned to why my weight loss had ground to a halt. I'd had hypnotherapy, and had lost a stone (14lb). I have mixed feelings about this as a weight release tool.

Let me briefly explain how hypnotherapy works, as I understand it. In a hypnotic trance - which is nothing more mysterious than deep relaxation – you are able to access the subconscious mind. This is important because the subconscious is a far more powerful force than your conscious mind.

If you want to tap into the full power of your mind to create any change, then you should access all of it, not just the conscious part.

Hypnotherapy works by accessing the subconscious, then instructing it to do what your conscious mind wants.

This approach was very important for me in that it showed me the power of my subconscious. It set me on the road to where I am today. For me, its inherent flaw is that it assumes the subconscious can be programmable. This is a very problematic word.

Programmable implies zero resistance. It gives the impression that the subconscious is a docile little puppy dog, one can be trained at will. The last three years have been about talking to, and working with my subconscious. Sometimes overruling it, and sitting with the emotional fallout that created. It has been about saying 'You are no longer the general manager of me'. This is all far more complex than mere programming. Instead think: listen, understand and overrule as necessary.

My subconscious allowed me to lose some of my weight via hypnotherapy, and I have to say that I never regained that weight. Never in a million years was she going to allow herself to be reprogrammed. To her, this was like asking your local fire service to replace their big sturdy fire engines with bicycles with a bucket and mop attached.

I am eternally grateful for the hypnotherapy I had, because it opened my eyes to the potential of accessing the subconscious. I never felt disappointed that it hadn't solved all my problems. My subconscious was far more powerful than I had realised. I needed to respect that.

So I dived in. Once my course of hypnotherapy was over, I started to get to know my subconscious mind. At the time I called this self-hypnosis, but I want to avoid that label. I am not a trained hypnotherapist and anyway, self-hypnosis is sold as a way to reprogramme your mind. What I am talking about is a much deeper, more exploratory process.

What I lay out here for you is what I call getting past the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper is your conscious mind. It thinks it holds the key to changing your life, but is too full of its own importance to see that the real action is in accessing the subconscious mind. It was a way to ask my subconscious why. Why I could lose some of the weight, but not all of it. It was a daily questioning session. The subconscious would answer back in images. It was all very interesting, like a trail of breadcrumbs leading me somewhere...but the destination was unclear.

At the time, I had just read Stuart Wilde's book Infinite Self. This still stands as one of my all-time favourites. The basic message is that all unhappiness springs from our ego - meaning the part of us that feels broken, incomplete, separate from others and defensive. Wilde places the ego in opposition to our Infinite Self - the wellspring of our personal power. What's brilliant about this book is how light and funny it is - the aim is not to ascend to some lofty realm, floating high above real life and all its attached crud. No, Wilde wants us to dive in to experience the imperfection of existence here on planet earth.

The whole book is basically an exercise in taking the piss out of your ego. He suggests 'doing rain' - get your best clothes on, do your hair - and then deliberately go out in the rain and ruin your appearance. Get up at 4am every day for a week in order to move a few stones around in your garden. These apparently pointless activities are powerful exercises in disciplining the ego. Your comfort zone expands, and with it your tolerance of the everyday things that drive you mad and distract you from your true power.

This whole concept is absolute genius. It liberates you from the prison of 'I need to be comfortable' that modern life encourages us to voluntarily serve time in. For people who are not living in reaction to past trauma, a book like Infinite Self may well be all they need to live a more meaningful life. At the time, it was all I thought I needed too.

Influenced by that book, I started ‘interviewing’ my subconscious. Yesterday I read over my journal from this period. This is one very typical entry:

This morning I got into my usual preparatory state (lie on the bed, close my eyes, deep breathing). I imagined myself lying down, and next to me was an interviewer.

Interviewer: I’d like to talk to Harriet’s ego.

A Victorian dwarf appeared: a foot tall, middle aged, male. He looked like a paranoid undertaker-cum-doorman: shifty and on the lookout for trouble.

Interviewer: Are you the one who is responsible for Harriet’s bingeing this week while she has been ill?

Dwarf: (aggressive, irritable, proud, suspicious, self-righteous, fiercely loyal) Well, of course. I also created the illness. Surface Harriet didn’t know she’d feel wiped out, allowing me to step in. I know she can see what I’m up to a lot of the time nowadays, but the illness has distracted her from seeing me at work.

Interviewer: And how does the bingeing protect her?

Dwarf completely breaks down, his weakness completely exposed. He is terrified, crying. At last I can see he is just protecting himself. As my ego, he thinks there is nothing else to me except the need to protect and defend from the world. He shouts: “She just can’t cope. She needs me to protect her!”

What I get from this is how much the ego is trying to look after me. That dwarf really loves me, and is obsessed with the dangers (as it sees them) that my Infinite Self poses to me.

Interviewer: This is really about you, isn’t it? Not Harriet.

Dwarf can’t answer – he is distraught now.
I can see how different we are and how misguided he is.

Reading this entry, it's clear that what I thought was happening was very different from what was really going on.

I believed that accessing my power and moving beyond my food issues and excess weight was essentially an intellectual process. You get your conscious mind to ruthlessly uncover the weaknesses of those parts of you that don't serve you, then behave in accordance with your higher self. You feel sorry for the dwarf, but essentially you disown him.
Looking back, what was actually happening was this:

The interviewing was the first step in understanding the different forces running my psyche. At the time, I lumped them all together and called them ego vs Infinite Self. What I have come to realise is that we all have far more complex energies within us: Sabotage Self, Primitive Self, Rebel self and so on. (I go into more detail about them in my book ‘Shapeshifting Inside & Out: Release Your Unwanted Weight & Reclaim Your Life’). A long time before I realised they all need a home - and that home is within me. Even if an energy doesn’t serve you, it needs to be acknowledged.

The interviewing also served a really important purpose. I used to see the subconscious as an easily accessible force lying just beneath my conscious mind. What I would later discover was my subconscious exists in layers. The real pain of my past abuse was buried a layer down from the changes I experienced through hypnotherapy, a layer down from the dwarf - and the other characters I met in my 'interviews' that autumn.

By interviewing my subconscious (instead of merely instructing it to do what my conscious mind wanted), I was in effect digging down to that deeper layer where the real action of my healing was. It was just like an escape tunnel, dug bit by bit with patience.

The good news is that, unlike the escape tunnel, I didn't have to wait years to get to that deeper layer.

In the next part, I will discuss the second stage of this process: connecting with my invisible beliefs.

Written by: Harriet Morris
Country: United Kingdom
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