One of the worst forms of human suffering is depression and anxiety. Every so often people can fall into black holes and overwhelming feelings of inferiority, sadness, and self-doubt. I have had clients tell me that they wish that they could develop a disease or cancer so they could die with dignity without committing suicide. Many of my clients in United Arab Emirates are anxious, sad and depressed. They come to me with feelings of disappointment, anger, embarrassment. They drown in thoughts of the past and become overwhelmed by thoughts of the future. Many of my clients feel they didn’t reach their life goals or live up to their full potential. Perhaps you or someone you know have had similar feelings. It is one of the most terrible things to experience.
I started out my research at the University of New Mexico medical center and the Veterans Affair with the National Institutes of Health. During my time with these organizations I wondered what really made us depressed. Why did people continuously fall into these black holes? What in people’s mind was causing depression and anxiety? What could we do to boost their moods and turn their thinking in a more positive, healthier direction.
I started out like many young people curious about the mind. I studied psychology, mental health and biology. I had been exposed to a mass belief in my education that depression and anxiety was the effect of a chemical imbalance in the brain. I saw many people being treated with drugs like antidepressants with no real positive outcome. My clients who were on antidepressants were approaching me week after week telling me they want to give up or that they feel worthless. It seemed like no matter how many drugs they were given to improve their mood, for most of them, the drugs did not help at all. I thought there has to be a better way to help these people.
That’s when I started getting interested in hypnotherapy, the mind and how our thoughts and emotions create the world we experience. I was delighted and enlightened by the research I came across. I was eager to learn as much as I could about hypnotherapy because I was convinced that my clients were going to finally tell me “it’s great to be alive,” “I’m so happy,” “I love life.”
When I discovered hypnotherapy, I learned that it’s simple, natural and inexpensive. It has been used for hundreds of years and it has everything to do with how we choose to think.
There are 3 basic ideas behind hypnotherapy.
The first is our thoughts create how we feel. When a person is depressed or anxious, he is giving himself negative messages. That person is blaming himself, creating a story in his mind that he is telling himself over and over that something bad is going to happen.
The Greek philosopher Epictetus living from 55 to 135 AD said “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.” In other words, people worry themselves with the stories they repeatedly tell themselves in their minds. These stories the people tell are not real. We create all of our negative and positive emotions everyday by interpreting the events that are happening around us.
The second idea is based on harmful thinking. Thoughts like “I’m not good enough,” or “what’s wrong with me,” or “I always make mistakes” are not real, they are inaccurate and distorted. Depression and anxiety are frauds of the mind and they steal positive experiences from a person’s life. This harmful thinking is typically all or nothing thinking, leaving people to feel nothing but sadness, and feelings of hopelessness. An example of a harmful all or nothing thought is: “If I don’t succeed today, I will be a failure forever.” This type of thinking is overgeneralized and looks at a simple negative experience as a persistent pattern that will never end. People with this kind of thinking often place blame on themselves for the negative experience.
The third idea is that if you can teach people to change the way they think then you can change the way they feel.
Early on I had a hypnotherapy client for anxiety and depression. She was an expat woman in Abu Dhabi. For client confidentiality, I will call her by a different name of Karen. Karen was a 48-year-old woman from the UK working for a big airline company. She was referred to me by a psychiatrist at the Cleveland Clinic. She had tried to kill herself and was almost successful. Luckily I was able to work with her and help her turn her life around. Once a week for one month we met for hypnosis sessions. From my studies with hypnotherapy I learned that our thoughts create our emotions, so I decided to ask Karen “what were you telling yourself when you tried to commit suicide?” “What were the negative thoughts running through your mind?” While in hypnosis Karen was able to go back to that incident. She told me that she was thinking “I’m worthless and I’ve never accomplished anything in my life.” I decided to push Karen a little. Once again while in hypnosis I had her subconscious mind find all the things she did accomplish in her life. As Karen spoke I began to write down a list. When Karen came out of hypnosis I handed her the list of accomplishments. The first thing on her list was that she raised two beautiful children alone after her husband passed away from cancer at a young age. She had put herself and her children through school, all while working full time. Her eldest son had graduated this past year from MIT at the top of his class with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. The second thing on her list was that she owned a successful online business. When she had down time from her airline job she spent time learning about how to sell things on the internet. Today she runs a successful e-commerce business bringing in enough income to help her family back home and take an extra vacation each year. The third thing on her list is that she can speak five languages fluently. When Karen saw her list of accomplishments she realized right away that the story she was telling herself during her depression was false. Her story was a figment of her imagination. Nevertheless, Karen began to feel better day by day as she formed new stories in her mind to create her life around. Our imagination is so powerful. We must choose to use it for positive reasons instead of negative.
Today many of my depressed and anxious clients come to me after years of failed talk therapy. Many have never experienced real happiness in their life. After a few sessions using hypnotherapy they finally feel joy and have a new sense of pride and high self-esteem. I truly love what I do and I commit myself to bringing joy and happiness to people every day.
I am happy I choose to turn away researching brain chemistry at the medical school. Instead I embraced the power of our mind and focused my efforts on proving how hypnotherapy can be as effective or even more effective than the best antidepressant drug on the market. Now with studies that the National Institutes of Health is doing, it is being scientifically proven that hypnotherapy is a natural, healthy and effective form of therapy that gets real results.
I’m so excited with my life’s work and the thousands of successful cases I have treated. Today I’m in the process of writing a manual for other therapists. I plan on holding workshops and teaching other professionals how to use the power of hypnotherapy to make positive change in their patients’ lives. I also am coming out with a book for the general public. I want to show people how they can take control of their own life. I want to give them tools that they can use to overcome any obstacles holding them back from being happy and healthy. My vision is that people will read my book in between sessions to accelerate their recovery and reach their goals.
My hypnotherapy practice in Dubai and Abu Dhabi is getting even better. I’m developing newer and more powerful hypnosis techniques. The theory of creating a negative story in your head does not always lead to depression. For some it may lead to nervousness and anxious feelings.
One of my most recent clients was a man from Dubai who had to make a big speech in front of his entire company. From the moment he learned he had to make this speech he started making up the story in his head that people would think he was a bad speaker. English was his second language and maybe he would stumble on saying the correct words. He was scared that his superiors would find him incompetent and not worthy of having a position at the company. He got himself so worked up that he called in sick to work many days in a row. The man had literally made himself sick from a story he made up in his mind. After working with him for a few days in a row, I had helped him form a new story in his mind. He was given some simple homework to do after each session to prepare for his speech and when the big day finally came one week later, he did an excellent job and his boss shook his hand, congratulating him with big smile on his face.
If you have any kind of negative thinking in your mind, remember it’s a story you are telling yourself. It’s your mind doing what it does best, using the imagination. Once you learn how to use your imagination for good you can turn your whole life around.