By Susanna Sweeney, MSC, MBACP, CHT
In this article I want to illustrate how hypnosis for social anxiety can help when you experience the disturbing symptoms of social anxiety.
Social anxiety is anxiety manifesting as a fear of social situations. This can become crippling for people as their lives become more and more restricted when they have to avoid social situations. For some people, social anxiety can stretch to even family and friends.
These are just some examples. Everybody is different, therefore social anxiety can manifest in different ways for different people. From the severity of the symptoms I listed you can see, however, how even a mild manifestation of these could seriously interfere with your enjoyment of social situations.
Meet Josephine who came to
me for hypnosis for social anxiety. Josephine is not a real person, but
rather her story is a composite of different client’s stories. For reasons of anonymity, I have
changed all potentially identifying details.
Josephine is a singer in a band. Josphine gets up on stage a few nights a week. She enthralls the audience with her beautiful voice. But before Josephine came to see me- when she was not on stage, she lived a very private life with her two kids and her partner. Despite her strong public persona- in private, Josephine suffered from social anxiety.
Josephine was somewhat okay when in one-to-one situations with people. But when put into groups of people- as she would be frequently in her profession- she found it hard to uphold any conversation, or rather, to speak at all. She would feel her throat tighten, her breathing become shallow, and sweat appearing on her forehead. She would want to get away and curl up in her bed, on her own.
Josephine had no idea why this was happening to her. Anxiety had always been familiar- even in childhood- but had worsened after she became a mum.
What finally prompted Josephine to do something about the anxiety was that her and her partner were planning their wedding. The wedding was scheduled to take place ten months from when Josephine started attending me for social anxiety hypnosis. Josephine wanted to be able to enjoy the wedding day rather than be crippled by the overbearing symptoms of social anxiety.
I started working with Josephine using regression hypnosis.
Regression hypnosis allows you to revisit the chain of events that set
off the existing symptoms with a purpose of re-educating the brain.
Typically, the events that set off symptoms are early childhood events.
Sometimes, a regression session becomes past life hypnosis.
In Josephine’s case, she did have an existing conscious memory of where she was brought back to in during regression hypnosis. However, she had never realized the huge impact the seemingly insignificant events had on her.
This dilemma is the product of the separation that occurs in adult
life between our conscious and our subconscious mind which start to be
gradually walled off from another after the age of seven.
Powerful censors then take on the role of guarding the subconscious mind so that most new information is kept out.
Conscious and subconscious minds can then no longer exchange valuable information. Or rather, they cannot exchange this information spontaneously, not without the help of a slightly altered state of consciousness, such as hypnosis.
With social anxiety hypnosis, Josephine was able to uncover what was causing the trouble.
The memories that emerged were childhood memories of frequent moves from one place to another. Josephine’s dad had been an army man, and his role involved that the family had to move from one army base to another relatively frequently.
Sometimes, the army would not give much notice and then the move would
happen in a rush. Josephine’s parents would have to concentrate on the
move and with all that was involved were not able to cater to their
daughter’s emotional needs. Josephine was an only child and had no
siblings to discuss matters with either.
The outcome was that every move entailed anxiety for her. She would lose the school friends she had made over the last year or two. She would lose her favorite teachers and any after school clubs she had enjoyed. She did not know what to expect of the place they were moving to.
When flying the next destination they were posted to, Josephine remembered feeling frozen and lost in time. Arriving in the new place, she would feel afraid and reluctant to put down any roots because the next move would invariably come soon enough. Things were out of her control- and feeling a lack of control is often an underlying cause of anxiety.
Matters improved for Josephine in her mid-teens when her parents sent her to a boarding school. She did not have mum and dad there during the school term, but she had the stability of being able to hold onto the same school friends and after school interests for the remainder of her school years. It was then that she developed her singing voice and started performing.
We followed this work up with suggestion hypnosis in order to nurture
and re-educate her mind. This work included post-hypnotic suggestions to
feel safe in social situations and otherwise, to be able to confidently
talk to people and to feel relaxed and confident in the face of
I also taught Josephine the skills required for self hypnosis for anxiety. During the course of treatment which involved eight hypnotherapy sessions and some coaching sessions over a seven months period, Josephine noticed a gradual decline in her symptoms of social anxiety. By the time her wedding day approached she had no reason to dread the event.
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This is how social anxiety hypnosis can help people to free themselves of the symptoms of social anxiety. I hope this
article has helped you to see how social anxiety can arise in the human
mind caused by seemingly harmless events and that it can be resolved.
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