“Being Erica”

Some of you may have seen the drama series “Being Erica”, where the main character is a well-educated, single Jewish girl in her early 30s. Erica is an underachiever and the series begins with her being fired from a mindless customer service job because she is overqualified. Erica is convinced that poor choices she made in her past have made her life a failure. She she seeks the help of a “Dr. Tom” to undo many of her mistakes, making a list of her many regrets. The therapist, amazingly, has the ability to send her back in time to actually relive these events and even change¬†them.¬†As the series progresses, by changing her past experiences and what she believes about herself and other people, she gains confidence in herself and her choices, dates and finds love, and gets promoted to junior editor at a publishing house.

As far as I’m concerned, Being Erica is all about Cognitive Hypnotherapy.

Let’s think of an example: Jane is in her 30s comes for treatment because she has a poor self image. She doesn’t think very much of herself. She believes that she’s stupid and, while she doesn’t enjoy her job, she won’t apply for a promotion because she’s afraid that she won’t get it because she’s not good enough. Using Cognitive Hypnotherapy we search for the root cause of this unhelpful belief and we find that when she was 13 she was sitting at home doing some Maths homework with her father. He is getting frustrated with her because he hasn’t very much time, and Jane is not ‘getting it’. He gets angry with her and Jane is upset. Jane decides that she must be stupid.

This belief sinks down into Jane’s unconscious mind and sits there, unchallenged, guiding her thoughts and her beliefs about what she is capable of. We tend to notice things that support our beliefs, so Jane always notices when she messes something up, which helps to reinforce her belief that she’s stupid. Any events where Jane does well are not noticed, they are glossed over by her unconscious mind because they ‘don’t compute’.

Not wanting to feel like she did when she was 13, Jane tries to avoid situations where she might be found to be stupid, and seriously underachieves as a result.

But if Jane could go back in time to experience that event again, she could realise a few things about that event, for example:

  1. Her father was actually acting out of love: he loved her and wanted her to get a good education so that she could find a good job, be happy and have a better life than he had had.
  2. He didn’t think that she was stupid. Not at all. She was only 13 and some people take longer to get the hang of things than others.
  3. His anger was all about his frustration and the lack of time that he had, and he didn’t express himself well. It was limitations in him as a person that this event was all about.
  4. It wasn’t about Jane at all. No matter what child had been sitting there, he would have behaved in the same way.

And if Jane could have realised all these things when she was 13, what a difference that would have made to her and her life. She would have been free of that limiting belief that sat there in the background guiding her behaviour and her beliefs about herself. What new things would she have attempted, how much more would she have pushed herself, what would she have achieved if she had been free of that debilitating belief? How would her life have been different? It would have made all the difference, wouldn’t it?

Because it’s not the events in our lives that shape us as a person: it’s what we choose to believe about those events, it’s the meaning that we attach to them that guides and sometimes limits us. An event takes place and we decide what that means: what it means about us and our capabilities, what it means about other people, about the world, about relationships. And those beliefs guide our thoughts and our behaviour over the years.

So if we could go back in time and change the meaning that those significant events have to us, we can change the thought processes and beliefs and perceived limitations that resulted from them.

And that’s what we can do using Cognitive Hypnotherapy: going back in time in a sense, to give new meaning to those events that shaped us a person, allowing us to quickly grow free of those limitations that we thought we had, allowing the real you to shine through, the you that is free from limitations and unhelpful beliefs and behaviours.

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