While understanding our thoughts and behaviors is an essential perspective for everyone, those who work in the nonprofit community are often the most stressed and the most challenged because of the work they do in the community with some of the most vulnerable populations. As such, the information shared here may be especially helpful for them as they engage with clients.

This article is part one of a multi-part series on human behavior and thought processes, on hypnotherapy and on mindfulness.

We see patterns throughout the world.  We see patterns in our thoughts, in our behaviors, in the people we surround ourselves with, in the things we focus on and give attention to.  We can usually even predict what will happen next based on these patterns.  It stands to reason then that these patterns are deeply ingrained within us – deeply imprinted in our mind, our subconscious mind. 

These patterns come from our programming.  As you may be aware, our programming affects everything about our world, how we see it, how we act and react, and the emotions we experience.  Basically, our programming predicts our patterns. Many of us have tried to change our patterns through conscious awareness and change.  For some this works, but for the majority, we eventually slide back into our own programming. 

To make true lasting change, we must make the change on the subconscious mind. 

The subconscious mind is only one of three parts of the mind.  We have our conscious mind, which holds our analysis, reasoning, will, volition - basically the running monologue in our head that we are aware of as we go through our day.  There is the subconscious mind, which holds numerous things including the automatic functions of our body, our imagination, emotions, memories, and programming.  The third part of our mind is the superconscious, which holds our problem-solving intelligence, and factors such as our connections and love for others. For many this area of the mind is considered to akin to our soul.  The superconscious lives in the subconscious mind.             

In between the conscious and subconscious minds is the critical factor. 

The critical factor develops between the ages of seven and 11, and after that time, it is our filtering system for how we see and perceive our world.  When an idea comes into our minds, the critical factor checks the subconscious mind to see if this idea matches our programming – that is, what we already hold to be “the truth.”  If the new idea matches our existing thoughts, the subconscious mind lets it in, which serves to reinforce the belief.  But if the idea doesn’t match, then the subconscious mind kicks it back to the conscious mind for more analysis. 

Our critical factor only allows in those ideas that reinforce what we already believe is the truth. 

Our critical factor also influences how we see the world.  It “looks out” for what we tell it to look for, based on our programming.  This is why when we decide to buy a specific car, we suddenly see that same make and model everywhere we turn!  Our mind is pointing out, or highlighting, what it thinks we want to see, reinforcing our commitment to buy that car.

 Our minds attract people and situations into our lives who match our programming. We also project onto situations our beliefs and, because emotions are contagious, we also can create an environment which brings our programming to life.  In this way, our minds create situations that reaffirm our beliefs.   This is why it is so difficult for people to change their patterns without going to the subconscious mind. 

So how do we effect change?

There are five ways that information passes through the critical factor once it is fully developed. These pathways are through authority figures, peer groups, emotional situations, repetition, and altered state.  Often the altered state of hypnosis is used to bypass the critical factor.  What is significant is that in the natural, yet altered state of hypnosis, we can input new programming, uncover the programming that already exists, and change the current programming.  All this is done during hypnotherapy sessions. 

All hypnotherapy is self-hypnosis.

There are many myths about hypnotherapy. For instance some claim that only weak-minded people can be hypnotized, or that hypnosis can make someone cluck like a chicken or rob a bank. Worse the rumor is that those who undergo hypnosis don’t remember what they did. 

The truth is that hypnotherapy is a natural, yet altered state that everyone has the ability to go into and actually many do go into every day.   The result is that the people who actively take control of their mind are able to choose their own thoughts and emotions!  Hypnosis is really just relaxing the critical factor to access the subconscious mind. 

Hypnotherapy involves knowing how our minds work, and applying that knowledge to change our own programming.  But hypnotherapy will only work on those who want to go into hypnosis.  Those who don’t want to make a change in their life simply won’t.  Nonetheless. For those interested, hypnotherapy is actually an amazing way to shape the life you have into the life you want it to be.  Hypnotherapy is a real mind state and has been proven by many scientific studies to effect lasting change on all brain levels.               

If you would like to change your patterns and see the world differently, it’s time to make some changes to your subconscious mind.  Awareness of your own programming and a conscious effort through positive affirmations and reversals of negative thoughts is a great place to start on your own.  To take it to the next level, look into trying hypnotherapy. 

Traci Blank, FIBH, CMS-CHt, CPC is a medical support clinical hypnotherapist who specializes in anxiety.  Her company, Tracing Your Path Hypnotherapy, LLC is located in Somerville, NJ.  If you have any questions about the mind or hypnotherapy contact Traci through her website www.TracingYourPath.com