Is it true? – Overcoming your conditioning

A new perspective - cognitive hypnotherapy colchester
A comment on my post on Facebook yesterday posed the question:
How do you overcome the conditioned influences that have been accepted by your brain?
The basic answer, is to programme in new positive thoughts and behaviours to overwrite the negative ones. This will weaken the power of the conditioned responses until the brain lets go of them.

Hypnotherapy is really about de-hypnotising your brain

This is why hypnotherapy is really de-hypnosis. We use the brain’s own functions of learning and association, to undo the learning that’s happened before, and learn something new.
It’s difficult to do this sort of thing alone. Not impossible, but much harder than to do it with a therapist as a guide. After all, if we could all easily alter our ‘flaws’ to become the people we want to be through positive thinking and willpower alone, then we’d all be walking around in a state of bliss and free from suffering. And I’d be out of a job.
So in therapy we look back to where the unhelpful thought/behaviour began. This will often be something that originated in childhood, when we only had the capacity of a child to understand what was going on. Rather than just talking about it though, as many ‘talking therapies’ will do, we actively work our way through the experience again with the added input of our now-adult brain. Through a neurological process known as reconsolidation we can effectively alter the memory to incorporate the adult input into the situation, so that the result of the experience is different.

Tapping into your inner resources

We then add in any more positive and helpful messages that can influence the brain to change and let go of its old associations, creating the possibility for growth in a positive direction.
Alongside this we do what is called ‘future pacing’, where we build a blueprint of the you that you want to become. What they think, feel, and believe. And we begin to discover the resources within ourselves that we already have, that will bring us closer to that future.
Where to start, if you’re going it alone, however, is to investigate what it is that you have learned about yourself/your capabilities/your worth that is unhelpful to you. Then ask yourself where you learned it/when you learned it/who you learned it from.

How to do ‘The Work’

Then there are four questions, posed by the brilliant author and therapist Byron Katie. Ask yourself:
1: Is it true?
2: Can you absolutely know that it is true?
3: How do you react/what happens when you believe that thought?
4: Who would you be without that thought?
Then turn the thought around and experience the opposite of what you believe. Afterwards, find three or more genuine examples of how that turned-around thought is true in your life.
Here’s a link to Byron Katie’s incredible book about doing this ‘work’:
Honestly, take a moment and pose Byron Katie’s four questions to yourself, in response to one of your limiting beliefs. When you shatter the foundation that held it true, it’ll start to collapse on its own.
Victoria Ward is a therapist and coach, using Cognitive Hypnotherapy, NLP and Positive Psychology to help people to live the lives they’d love to live. Contact her on 07813 251 152, or via