My old Nanny (she was my grandmother, I didn’t have an actual nanny like Mary Poppins) lived her entire life as if the war was still going on.
Like a never-ending episode of ‘Goodnight Sweetheart’ she was always popping back to 1940, re-living the Blitz. It’s amazing how exciting doodlebugs and powdered egg can be through rose tinted glasses.
The modern world left her standing. She was baffled by punk rock and bemused by the timer on her beta max video recorder. Actually, I think we all were bemused by those.
She was focusing on the good stuff and disengaging from the bad, and it can make for some very happy memories – but the temptation to dwell on the past came at a price.
Living in the past means that we can miss something wonderful that’s happening now. Like when people spend a gig waving their phone in the air. It detaches them from the experience. The wobbly video they take will never beat the feeling you get by really being in that moment. They’ll probably never watch the footage back anyway.
Being totally present is also the best antidote to anxiety. When we feel anxious it’s like there’s a video stuck on repeat, playing in our mind, wrapped around a negative emotion. It becomes a judgemental voice, a churning in the stomach or a tightness in the chest.
I knew a woman who’d had a traumatic car accident. A year later she still couldn’t drive because the sound of the clicking seatbelt started a chain reaction. In a heartbeat that sound triggered a memory of the crash, then a feeling of terror, ending in a panic attack.
Her mind was telling her that the crash was happening now and to take evasive action. This is also how phobias work, like a corrupted file on your computer’s hard drive.
Her friends and her GP couldn’t help. Some things can’t be overcome with well- meaning advice. I taught her how to access a trance state, to delete that association and replace it with a feeling of control. She was driving again after a few sessions.
I worked with her on an unconscious level because that’s where the problem was operating from, deep in the system files. People had reassured her and told her to stop being silly. This didn’t help. Like telling someone who smokes twenty cigarettes a day that it’s killing them- there’s no point. They know that already.
Some patterns can only be changed on a deep, unconscious level. That’s why hypnosis works. If you feel stuck or anxious then I suggest you update your software to the latest build. Perhaps you have a corrupted file that needs an expert’s attention.
Or maybe you just need turning off and on again.