01 Apr Part Of Me Wants To…
We all have areas in our life where we want to make positive change, things like; breaking an unwanted habit, achieving a goal or learning a new skill.
Very often, the change we want to achieve is well within our capabilities. We want to do it, logically we know we can do it and nobody is physically preventing us from doing it. But we don’t do it.
In this type of situation, many people describe a situation of inner conflict where ‘part of them’ wants to make the positive change, but another ‘part of them’ always seems to sabotage their attempts. It’s bewildering and very frustrating.
So what’s happening and what is this inner conflict that seems to cause so much damage?
The answer, according to many experts, lies in the complexity of our personality. We think of ourselves as a single entity, but in reality, our personality is influenced by different inner forces or ‘parts’.
There are lots of convincing theories about the parts of our personality, but perhaps the most compelling is put forward by Dr Steve Peters in his excellent book The Chimp Paradox (Ebury Publishing]
Peters argues that as humans have evolved, so has the human brain and he focuses on three key areas of the brain which affect our personality and behaviour.
The frontal lobe (which is the newest part of our brain), is the human part of us. It is logical and rational and compassionate. It wants be fulfilled.
The limbic system is a much older and more primitive part of our brain (Peters describes it as our ‘inner chimp’). It is instinctive and emotional and very powerful. The limbic system is concerned about safety and security and comfort. It doesn’t like change which it sees as potential danger.
So, when the human part of us wants to achieve change (e.g. stop smoking, overcome a phobia, run a marathon, learn to swim etc), the chimp part of us likely to oppose the human part of us and, if not managed successfully, sabotage its efforts.
This brings us to the third key area of the brain, the parietal lobe, which Peters describes as our computer. In the computer are good programmes – ‘autopilots’ and bad programmes – ‘gremlins’.
Autopilots allow us to carry out tasks effectively and unemotionally. For example, if you are a good confident driver, the computer part of your brain is likely to have a ‘human-programmed’ autopilot for driving. Gremlins prevent us carrying out tasks by causing emotional distress. If you have made several unsuccessful attempts to quit smoking or lose weight then your inner computer probably has ‘chimp-programmed’ gremlins for stopping smoking or losing weight.
So, when we have unwanted behaviours or unfulfilled ambitions the key to resolving the situation is to replace gremlins with autopilots.
Hypnotherapy is a highly effective tool for replacing gremlins with autopilots quickly and permanently. Brain scan experiments show that when an activity is visualised during hypnosis, exactly the same part of the brain is used as when that activity is actually happening. This suggests that during hypnosis, the brain cannot distinguish between what is real and what is imagined. Thus a skilful hypnotherapist can convince our inner chimp that a change in lifestyle or behaviour is actually the normal existing situation and nothing to be feared or prevented.