Changing one’s behaviour is a notoriously difficult thing to do. Whether it’s eating healthier to lose weight or becoming a non-smoker after years of smoking cigarettes. There are so many psychological, biological and sociological reasons why changing behaviour can be difficult. So how can hypnotherapy help?? Hypnotherapy can help by addressing cognitive distortions or unhelpful thought patterns brought about by something called cognitive dissonance. We as humans are loss averse, which means we can feel uncomfortable when we feel deprived of something we believe has ability to give us pleasure. But what if we didn’t feel deprived? What if we don’t feel we are missing out on anything then wouldn’t it be easier to change the unwanted behaviour??
Changing our thinking in relation to our unwanted behaviour is a positive step in the right direction but then there is also the issue of automaticity or habitual behaviour. Studies have shown it takes an average of 66 days for things to become habitual. Hypnotherapy has been suggested to disrupt the associative process (Terhune, Cleeremans, Raz, & Lynn, 2017) proposing a faster transition in forming or breaking a habit. For example, if every time you have a cup of tea you also have a biscuit, an association exists between the tea and the biscuit, disrupting the association could help to speed up habitually having the cup of tea on its own without the biscuit.
Hypnotherapy can also help, alongside mindfulness and acceptance and commitment therapy, to cope with any habit related cravings until the new habit becomes the norm. Various techniques can help you to “urge surf” these cravings which will lessen in frequency and intensity over time