Last week I completed my Hypnotherapy Practitioner course. I have to work on at least 12 sessions and complete a 5000 word thesis on the subject in order to fully qualify but my course and the practice I undertook within it was certainly enough to whet my appetite to learn more about this fascinating subject.
In one of our sessions, we were shown an old film about a chap called Milton Erickson, an American psychiatrist who specialized in medical hypnosis and family therapy. And after learning more about this incredible man, it really brought home to me how amazing we human beings are. Some people certainly do have an astounding capacity to overcome almost anything.
Here was a man, from a modest farming background, born and raised in Lowell, Wisconsin. He was a late developer and was both dyslexic and colour blind. And at 17, he contracted polio and he was so severely paralysed that the doctors believed he would die. He didn’t and with each passing day, as he laid in bed, lame and unable to speak, he became acutely aware of the significance of non-verbal communication - body language, tone of voice and the way that these non-verbal expressions often directly contradicted the verbal ones. He also started to recall what he called "body memories" of the muscular activity of his own body. By concentrating on these memories, he slowly began to regain control of parts of his body to the point where he was eventually again able to talk and use his arms. With great determination, and still without the use of his legs, he chose to train his body further. Alone, he embarked on a thousand mile canoe trip with only a few dollars. After this grueling and challenging adventure, he was able to walk with a cane. In time, he went on to become world-renowned in the worlds of psychology, psychiatry, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, pedagogics and communications. Watching old footage of this man, who seemed so playful and engaging, I felt like taking my proverbial hat off to this person who had made such a success of life, helped many hundreds of people, inspired a host of others and yet he could so easily have not. He could have just given up way back when…
"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, "I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along." . . . You must do the thing you think you cannot do." - Eleanor Roosevelt
So what makes us strong? Where do we get our determination or courage from? Is it simply the desire to change on a deeper level?
"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do." - Confucius
Perhaps we’re being tested…Sometimes those tests or challenges are small and we can see clearly that we are learning as we progress through them. You can notice this with work challenges for example. Like a project or promotion you’re not too sure you can handle, or a client who demands a lot of your time and attention. But you know that with each box you tick, each trial you deal with, you have learned…you have gained experience. Other times, our tests are far greater, like that of Milton Erickson. They are really big physical or emotional challenges. How do we deal with those?
I believe that it must come down to will, or will-power and a positive, passionate attitude to life. And also to our soul’s desire to grow and learn. If we give up, how can we experience the joys of succeeding? How can we know to do things better than before? How can we appreciate the good times? So often I have heard people share how their most difficult life moments have turned out to be the very experiences that were needed for them to ultimately move forward. Whilst I wouldn’t wish upon anyone to have a troubled or difficult time, I can also appreciate how obstacles contain within their hard shells the pearls of opportunity.
For myself, my current challenges are around time, and making and creating more of it, to complete my Hypnotherapy qualification for example. But hey, I also know that in say 12 months, that time, that effort will be rewarded with every client I help along the way.
“Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” - Joshua J. Marine