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Absolutes: Messages In Mind – Jeffrey J. Ryan (Is.23)

Jeffrey J. Ryan, M.A. C.R.T.


During the process of discovery in locating the ISE, (initial sensitizing event) an important question needs to be asked of the client/patient. What messages are they carrying in mind about themselves? I call these messages “Absolutes.” In most cases these messages rule the life. The emotional energy attached to each message will undoubtedly trigger feelings within that will stop the patient cold.

We, as human beings, horde these messages as though it was and is a retirement account. They are delivered to us sometimes in small increments but in most as a one two punch to the head or gut. They are given to us by well-intentioned meaningful authority or respected figures in our environment.

For example, a parent will say to the child, “Don’t touch that; you’re too clumsy.” It could come at the precise moment that the child feels happy to be working with Dad. And it will stay for life and affect everything he attempts to do. However benign that one statement is, the affect depends on like messages being received from the same source over and over again. These statements build on each other and eventually wear down the patient. The subconscious, which remembers and holds onto everything, will eventually boil them all down to one huge gigantic absolute that will play havoc in the mind.

And interestingly enough they all begin with, “I, Me, My:”

Image credit: David Haith – Photographer

I’m no good.

I can’t do anything right.

I’m not smart enough.

I’m not worth it.

I’m not pretty enough.

I’m not tough enough.

And the list could continue. Just ask your patient. He or she will be more than happy to add to the above list.

A patient, 47 years old, single woman never married, now wants to get married. She has run through more than a dozen suitors only to cast each one aside for one reason or another but continues to complain that there are no available men out there. And even though she admitted that she really liked one or two of them, she confessed that she was scared and let them go. After several sessions, while deep in trance, I asked what messages she held in mind regarding marriage. The memory that surfaced was of a night out with Dad when she was a junior in High School and she was telling him of a project that she was working on for a science class. When she was done telling him he casually made a statement to her that became an “Absolute.”

“You’re too intelligent to get married. Date all you want but be careful about marrying.”

She went on to become a law professor. And because dad is a loving authority figure in her life, she has tried her best (subconsciously) to honor his words. In the reframing of the above absolute she was able to see (as the adult she is now) that he never told her not to marry but just to make a wise choice in whom she married. Today she is engaged to a very caring man whom she deeply loves.

As all of us know there are many attached issues to weight problems. And then there are as many messages in mind as there are attachments. And you, as the therapist, need to find them. The patient needs to see them in light of who they are today and choose to either keep them or resolve and let them go.

A young woman in her mid thirties is carrying an extra 50 lbs. In the intake session she admits to being heavy as a child; always carrying an extra 10-20 lbs. But she said about that, “It never did me any harm.” In the last few years she has managed to put on this extra weight despite the fact that she has worked four different diet programs. Each program she gave at least 6 months effort but hasn’t lost one pound. I was her last stop. She wanted to know why she couldn’t lose any weight.

During our 5th session I asked her to connect to a memory related to her weight issue.

After a couple of moments of silence she began. “I’m up in my room. My two sisters are off somewhere. Mom comes into my room. She sits on my bed. She looks as though she has been crying. She starts complaining. I love my mom but she is always complaining about something. I try to listen but I know I don’t listen to her well enough. She is complaining about my sisters. After a half hour or so she gets up, kisses me on the cheek, and says to me, ‘You know that you have always been the responsible one. You are my rock. I don’t know what I would do without you.’ And then she left the room.”

I asked her how this statement was important. In trance she quietly said that for the first time in her life her mother made her feel very important.

It is important to know, from the aspect of the conscious mind, what the message is. And from the subconscious mind “how” that message translates into behaviors. It became important to this patient that she should not only imprint this message but also store it for all future endeavors concerning her mom and sisters; that she be available whenever needed. As we moved through the session it became apparent that the subconscious mind interpreted the message differently. The rock gradually became a boulder; a steadfast boulder that became an immoveable mountain.

She was going to be there for her mother no matter what. After all didn’t her mother make her important?

It took a few sessions to reframe this message. But when she finally was able to connect rock, boulder, mountain to her gaining weight she was able to begin the changes necessary to start losing weight without losing “being responsible for mother’s wellbeing.”

It isn’t only in childhood that we receive messages that we hold onto. We receive messages throughout our lives. Most messages that we receive as adults we are able to process in the moment and then let them go. But some are so traumatic that we don’t realize we store them. Then by some action it gets triggered.

A 26 year old woman called to make an appointment for her 28 year old husband. This was her explanation.

“Fourteen months ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Both Jack and I were thrilled and happy beyond belief. Everything was wonderful for a few months. The time came when we could resume our intimacy. He couldn’t touch me. Neither of us thought any more about it. We just let it pass. Then the next time the same thing happened. And then it happened several more times. It got to the point when he wouldn’t even attempt to touch me. Now, I’ve had it. He’s been to several doctors and no one has found anything wrong. Actually we are both at our wits end.”

When Jack came into the office the first thing he said as he sat down was, “I hope this works.” Following normal intake we discussed the problem. Jack stated that both he and his wife enjoyed being with each other intimately and never was there a problem until a month or so after the baby was born. Following an explanation of what hypnosis was not, he said that he was willing to do anything and everything to solve this dilemma.

Once in trance I deepened him and asked only one question. “When you now touch your wife what message comes to mind?” He started to cry and couldn’t stop. I let it go on for a few minutes letting him know that it was okay to grieve.

I asked him what memory was he sensing? He told me that he is back in the delivery room with his wife. He is with her during the labor sequence. She is in so much pain. She is crying, sweating, yelling, and screaming. “I can’t look at her. But then I do. I am looking into her eyes. There is so much pain…And then there is this loud voice in my head, ‘Don’t touch her again. Don’t hurt her anymore.’” I instructed him to connect that to a first memory of touching and hurting her.

“I’m young. I’m with my Father. We are raiding a village close to my land. My Father commands me to stay close to him. He hands me an axe. He tells me that I am old enough to use it. We all leave the long boat and come to the shore. There are about 20 of us; men and boys my age. He tells us all to be quiet as we start to go inland. It is just becoming dawn. We get to the village. And then.” He stops…

Following a few minutes of silence, I asked him what he was experiencing. Through his tears he told me, “We slaughtered the entire village.”

In that past life Jack had been the son of the chief, a Viking leader. It was a warship that he had been on and the job was to annihilate an opposing village. He and the other boys were raised as warriors. He was 16. This was his first raiding party. His father took the lives of the three adults in this one tent and instructed Jack to take the life of the girl. Jack, having been trained to do so, did as he was told. However, as he related it, “I looked into her eyes as she was dying.” And again he stopped…He, himself, made the connection.

We went through the reframing process very slowly. He needed the time to grieve for then and now. He needed the awareness to separate and bond again. But above all he needed to forgive the past and to grow and evolve to the present lifetime. He needed to understand that in that lifetime, as harsh as he sees it now, it was the way of life in that time and place. And finally he needed to connect to his wife that the pain that he saw in the delivery room wasn’t death or sorrow; it was joy and life.

As stated above, most messages received as adults we can process and choose to release or keep. It is my experience with patients that they tend to keep most of them until reframed in therapy.

Jack and his wife are very much together today and have added two more daughters to their family.

Patients/clients need help in discovering and exploring the “absolutes.” As sublime as these “absolutes” may sometimes be, they leave subliminal messages that influence their behaviors and ultimately their lives.