Sometimes it feels as if our problems are ‘hard-wired’. They take on definitions and lives of their own, existing within us as ‘entities’ with which we have to battle or live.
When we somehow stumble across part of the problem, we activate the whole thing – inviting us to become totally absorbed in its actions and outputs and become enmeshed
in our problem.
For example, I might ‘feel’ that little feeling in my solar plexus – and all of a sudden I have invoked the ‘anxiety’ to which it is connected. I then become absorbed in my anxiety, and it may feel like it is overwhelming me.
Or I might I think a negative thought and all of a sudden my sense of self-worth plummets as the whole ‘I’m not good enough’ schematic fires up. I then become completely engaged in having the problem.
In reality, there are many reasons why that thought or that feeling emerged, often with nothing to do with the problem. However, we drop into our common or short-cut patterns (even if these are problems) quickly and easily.
Schemas – these readily accessible entities of thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions – exist in all of us. They allow us to take ‘short cuts’ with our thinking and processing, so that when we find a common situation, we can save effort and energy and simply access a ‘default’ mode around the situation.
You have schemas for your self, for other people and for events. Have you ever noticed yourself thinking how something should be done differently? That is you activating a schema for that event (your ‘should’). Or remember a friend as they were, rather than how they are after a new haircut, new outfit or as they have become older? How you see yourself in your mind – and what this evokes – is also a schema. (as an exercise, think about what you look like, then go and have a good look in the mirror and see how accurate your self-schema is!)
In ambiguous situations, we can access many schemas. We even have a ‘schema of schemas’ – that is, we have a ‘short cut’ to choosing which schema we should invoke and run. We develop a habit of firing up certain schemas in specific circumstances – often when these are problems or not really helpful for us. And yet, we could fire up different schemas and therefore enjoy a different experience.
This is interesting – what if I could choose a DIFFERENT schema to run – instead of my ‘anxiety’ schema, I ran my ‘opportunity’ schema instead? What if I stopped running the ‘depression’ schema and instead let ‘acceptance’ run instead?
The ability to choose which schema to run, how to recognise which schema is running and how to stop and switch are all powerful mental tools that anyone can develop. Using strategic therapy and hypnosis, we can identify the schemas that are run, find out which ones are not helpful, and with the aid of experiential learning in hypnosis, choose new or better schemas to run instead.
What would it be like for you if you ran a more useful, positive schema instead of a problem schema that you now have set as your default?
Contact me to find out what it could look like for you.