As I've mentioned in previous blogs, a common feature of many of the people coming to see me for hypnotherapy and coaching is the limiting belief that change is either impossible or very difficult. It is particularly common in those with a negative view of ageing, when inability to change is seen as a characteristic of ageing.
Such views hold people back from reaching their full potential and much of my work as a hypnotherapist and coach is to challenge such views and enable clients to see just how much they are capable of changing their lives in the ways that they want and then to empower them to make those changes that they've identified as desirable.
That's why, one of my favourite books recently has been The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge. It’s a fascinating book, explaining how all the things we once thought about the brain (and therefore behaviour and motor function) were wrong! Previously it was always held that, once the brain was mapped out for certain actions and behaviours, it was set – like a cast in concrete. However, recent research has shown that the brain is actually very plastic – it can re-map in response to all sorts of things.
In the book, Doidge gives examples of how a range of things – from the use of different fingers in response to injury to the ability to learn in people with learning difficulties, can be changed by working on the brain’s ability to change, rather than on any tendency to remain static.
I always find it refreshing, though sometimes a little disconcerting, when I find out that some of the 'givens' I was taught both at school and university have been overturned. I feel it acts as a reminder of how little we really know -- after all, each generation acts as if it knows everything there is to know about biology and health and states its theories and views as facts, set in concrete. This was certainly the case when I was taught neurology -- the brain was, after a certain (and very young) cast. It did not change or heal.
The whole book is fascinating and provides hope in a world which is all too ready to believe that behaviors and abilities are set. It offers hope especially to anyone affected by learning disabilities, strokes or dementias. It challenges effectively the view that we have to accept mental disabilities and/or decline as inevitable.
For hypnotherapists, it offers convincing evidence to support our belief in the ability of individuals to change and provides some explanation of why hypnotherapy can be so powerful, providing as it does a model of the mind which is adaptable and able to unlearn and relearn.
Whether you’re a prospective client for hypnotherapy, a hypnotherapist, or just an interested member of the public wanting to see how powerful the mind’s ability to adapt is, this is a book well worth reading.