Psychology so often is linked to the negative. We are trying to change something, trying to make some thing better, trying to become whole and the list goes on. The word trying features a lot. It’s a function of the psychological process that has become almost a mantra : “you have to do the hard work before you get to the good stuff”. This start often makes a lot of people turn away – they feel, quite rightly, that they don’t have the resources emotionally to engage in a painful process.
Psychologists can also unwittingly turn clients off by starting with big questions and suddenly the client feels like it’s all too much. Suddenly they really don’t feel like coming back because what if the therapist wants to go back into all the stuff that happened in childhood? Too much.
What if we took a different approach though? What if we started with what is right and worked backwards from a place of peace and harmony? This is where positive psychology comes into play. It’s a great way to get good results and keep the client in a place of empowerment and harmony. It comes from a premise that you don’t have to feel bad to eventually feel good. I could write on this subject forever, especially the philosophical and religious origins of the need to do penance, to feel bad and then you can feel good but it would be too much for a blog.
In hypnosis we use positive psychology in all that we do. We always want the client to be accessing their subconscious using a positive framework. In face, in hypnosis, this is hugely important. The subconscious mind takes things literally so we need to always state in the positive and not the negative.
So lets focus on the practicalities of positive psychology. This is the process where we start with what is going right in the client’s life and we build on that and make a really sturdy foundation. Just like the Three Little Pigs we want to build a house of bricks – not straw or sticks. So the “messy” stuff then becomes in comparison smaller and more manageable and the client is better equipped to deal with this using their increased state of alertness, calmness and resourcefulness. It’s important to distinguish here that we are not minimising negative experiences or downplaying real emotions. Rather, we are looking at what the client does that works and setting up ways that the client can do more of what works and stop stressing about what doesn’t work. Eventually what doesn’t work becomes smaller and smaller as the client build their house of bricks. The straw and sticks eventually just blow away – just like in the children’s story.
The first thing we do is find out what works and make a list or if its one thing we find out how that one thing works and what benefit it has. For example, if the client is a kind person we find out how they can make more of being kind and having others be kind to them be more prevalent in their lives. If the client has a hobby how the emotions that hobby evoke can be extended into more areas of their lives. So we take a small, good thing and nurture it and grow it.
What is really interesting about this technique is once the client shifts the focus away from the negative they often find that the negative stuff didn’t really matter as much after all. They gain a perspective and that helps them enormously. Negative stuff is very seductive and that tends to trap a person into it’s seductive beam. It’s just easier to do – so once we bring a mindfulness into play and the client has a clear path to find, explore, grow and expand the little bit of positive it becomes a self -fulfilling prophesy to find more. Once you start on this task it gets easier and easier each day to expand the positive and shrink the negative.
Why don’t you give this a try today?