A pattern of worrying about everything and anything has taken the joy out of everday life for Olivia Stefanino's client.
Margaret’s stress levels had been slowly rising over the previous five years – and now she was beginning to feel quite ill.
But it was only when her doctor signed her off work for a month that Margaret really recognised that the problem was serious. Having decided that tranquillisers would merely mask the problem, Margaret knew that she needed to find the root cause – which is how she came to be sitting in my office.
Fidgeting with her hair, Margaret told me that ever since she was a child, she had always been a worrier. The eldest daughter, Margaret had been given the responsibility of looking after her younger siblings whenever her parents were busy – which was often as they were highly focused on running their small chain of Italian restaurants.
Instead of enjoying a carefree childhood, Margaret had instead felt she had been burdened with the needs of her brothers and sisters. With a bitter smile, she said: “My parents would give me a severe telling off if one of the younger kids got into trouble at school for not doing their homework – so I learned pretty early on to plan ahead to make sure that I escaped my mother’s harsh tongue.
“In fact, I also had to make sure that their uniforms were clean and that they had enough lunch money. All the time I was worrying about them – and I hardly had any time for myself at all.”
Not only was Margaret’s resentment of her parents still plaguing her but she had also developed a coping mechanism of worrying and planning – which may have stood her in good stead as a child but was having a detrimental effect on her as an adult.
After taking Margaret through a brief hypnotic process that enabled her to let go of her bitterness towards her parents, I then started talking with her about her habit of continually worrying about the future.
“When you are worrying about the future,” I said, “and resenting the past, you have very little time to spend actually living and enjoying the present. While planning for the future obviously makes sense, we only get to experience life itself ‘in the moment’. Worrying all the time about what might go wrong in the future means that you are in reality just living in a nightmare!”
Additionally, as Margaret grew older, her fears had grown worse – as she was projecting worst-case scenarios into the future and turning her negative thoughts into self-fulfilling prophecies.
Our aim then was to break Margaret’s pattern. I applied several NLP strategies to the situation and quickly Margaret began to see things in a new light. She also started to see that her sub-conscious mind had been predicting her future based on her experiences of the past. While the events of the past cannot be changed, the emotions attached to them can be altered through hypnosis – as Margaret discovered to her relief and delight.
The two-hour session had been intense for both of us – and by the end Margaret admitted that she felt tired. However, she also said that she felt much “lighter” – as though a great burden had been lifted from her shoulders.
* Olivia Stefanino is a leadership development consultant and executive coach, who works with blue chip organisations, SMEs and individuals. Download your free e-booklet “128 ways to harness your personal power” at beyourownguru.com.