Use Hypnosis to Declare Freedom from Addiction
As we celebrate our nation’s independence, it might be wise to let the spirit of the holiday inspire us to claim our freedom from addiction: the habits that enslave us. And hypnosis and self-hypnosis are some of the tools that can help our personal revolution succeed.
After all, independence is the same concept whether applied to personal dependencies or to the life of a nation. If you look closely, you will see that national and personal freedom have some interesting parallels.
To begin with, the Declaration of Independence was not a spur of the moment decision. As its text points out “mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” There was a lot of suffering that loosened the yoke of British power in colonial America. With the “Intolerable Acts” and other abuses, the colonial leaders gradually came to believe that the evils of British rule had become insufferable. Only then did they give up trying to compromise and declare independence. As they wrote, “Our repeated Petitions have been answered within repeated inquiries.” Their only choice was revolution.
July 4th 1776: Hitting Bottom
This desperate emotion is known as “hitting bottom” when it starts a personal revolution to free us from victimization by our unhealthy habits. Any important change requires a strong emotional commitment. A person must accept the unacceptability of the habit. They must also be angry enough to do something about it. Occasionally, I see people in my hypnotism and hypnotic coaching practice who think they should quit smoking, stop drinking, start exercising or make any of a dozen other habit changes without this gift of desperation. They aren’t happy about the problem. But they are not sick and tired enough to do something about it. Like the loyalists during the revolution, they still cling to their habit as a comforter, friend or just part of the way they are. No one makes a significant change in their life because other people think they should. We must be the ones to take a stand for our own health and wellbeing. No one else can do it for us. The colonists had to do it for themselves. So do we.
A distinguishing feature of the US Declaration of Independence is that it not only ended something (British rule), but also introduced a new idea into world consciousness. The vision was, is, and hopefully will always be “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” and that governments derive their “just power from the consent of the governed” opened up new, and very exciting, possibilities for all humankind. The Patriots weren’t only fighting for an end to abusive domination by men in red coats from across the ocean; they were fighting for an ideal. This added dimension made the American Revolution a cause worth dying and living for. Though the Declaration of Independence mentioned numerous grievances, its significant legacy is the ideals that still inspire Americans today.
Your Personal Declaration of Independence Statement
It is very important when starting a personal revolution that you develop this added dimension. You don’t want to quit something. You want to see yourself as becoming something new and better. We experience quitting something we think we like (e.g. smoking, overeating, drinking alcohol, and taking drugs) as deprivation. And people, especially in today’s instant gratification culture, hate the idea.
No matter how much pain a habit causes us we will stick with the addiction as long as it doesn’t hurt too badly. This is why therapists and other coaches help people develop substitute new behaviors and rewards that are themselves gratifying. In hypnotism and hypnotic coaching, we begin with a new positive, healthy vision of the client as a non-smoker, sober and clean man or woman, moderate eater, health-oriented moderate eater, enthusiastic exerciser or whatever the desired change is. Personal change can be a joyful experience provided we allow it to be so.
The colonial leaders had reached a point in the mid 1770s where they felt that half measures would avail them nothing. They saw themselves at a turning point and chose to make a clean break with their overseas’ masters. They left no room for ambiguity when they declared “That these colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States: that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved.” When they signed these words they literally committed their lives to the cause of freedom. If the revolution failed they knew they had just signed their death warrant.
Personal Independence Starts When You Declare It
To free oneself of an addiction begins with a similar bold declaration that the person has gone to war with the habit and intends to separate from it absolutely. Those who allow themselves to hold out a way back have a much harder road than those who simply say I am through with this. I no longer want this addiction (habit) in my life. The alcoholic who accepts that one drink is too much and a thousand is not enough is on the road to recovery. Smokers, or other drug addicts, who understand that one cigarette will likely get them hooked again, save themselves the trouble of reaching new, lower bottoms. The overeater who allows himself or herself little treats whenever life seems too bleak or demanding has already lost the battle. It is just a matter of time before they are back where they started.
It is interesting that we celebrate July 4th, 1776 as our national Independence Day rather than when the date in 1783 when the Treaty of Paris was signed and Britain formally conceded America’s independence. After all, on July 4, 1776 America was definitely not free of British domination. Americans used British currency. British soldiers were garrisoned throughout the colonies. Our practical day-to-day government was under British control. Our official church was The Church of England whose head was King George. And, as much as 1/3 of our population was adamantly opposed to independence. They considered themselves loyal to the Crown and would even fight for their beliefs. But, in a very real sense, The United States Independence did begin that July 4th. Because we declared ourselves free, we were free. True, it required effort and perseverance to make our freedom a practical reality. Yet from this point onward we were a nation.
The power of a declaration is that it stands on its own without evidence. When a person declares himself or herself a non-smoker, their friends and family adopt a “wait and see” attitude. There may still be a world of repercussions from the active addictions. Bills unpaid. Health problems from mild to life threatening. Legal issues unsettled. Personal relations damaged. And, yes, a diminished self-esteem. But by taking steps and persevering, reality eventually gets in step with the change. Coaches, therapists and other support people, myself included, help the habit changer map out a plan for change. We then encourage them to follow the plan never forgetting the clear vision of their personal declaration of independence.
Are You Ready to Be Free?
So, when in the course of human events, we reach a point where we are no longer willing to pay the price for our habits or addictions, the first step is to make a Personal Declaration of Independence. Declare yourself free of this addiction once and forever. The second is to begin to live, as though it were so one day at a time. As we would say in 21st century America “fake it till you make it.” As Thomas Jefferson said, “Do not expect to be translated from despotism to liberty on a featherbed.” The third step is to get help. The United States didn’t gain independence without substantial assistance from both Spain and France. It made us no less independent of Britain that we had allies. Nor will it make you any less independent of your habits to work with a professional, join a group, or just enlist the help of a close friend.
The fourth step is to continue to celebrate your independence. Habits have a way of sneaking back when we least expect it. Just as the British decided to try to regain their “colonies” in 1812, addictions lie in wait looking for a moment of weakness. Be grateful for the change and be vigilant for any threats against your independence. Get it right and you can look forward to happy Independence Days in the years to come.
How hypnosis and self-hypnosis can help you get free and stay free from addiction
Hypnosis can be the shot heard round the world in your personal life. It can be the impetus that pushes you out of complacency into action. And it can strength your motivation and belief in your own ability to success. It can also make the old habits seem unpleasant and instill new positive ones in their place. It can break you free from the bondage of self that traps you into doing the same things over and expecting different results. Yes, there will be some work. But no revolution was ever won without a little struggle at first. Give me a call if you would like an ally in the fight.