Hypnotherapy can feel like magic, has been around for a long time, but has only quite recently been understood scientifically. So one area we learn about when training, is how the brain works and why it works the way it does, particularly the relationship between the Limbic System and the Left Frontal Cortex and the relationship’s baring on our state of mind.
Now both of these parts have served our species well, helping us get as far as we have come, in our human evolution. But despite their apparent co-operation, it’s fair to say that, within each of us, these two parts are engaged in a battle for supremacy, both trying to prove their worth, to prove which of them is the more important, both trying to be top dog. And whichever one is top dog, at any given moment, pretty much determines our state of mind, our ability to cope, our confidence, our self-esteem, our ability to be in control…and therefore our happiness.
The Limbic System is also known (for good reason) as the primitive part. It’s the part that contains the Fight, Flight or Freeze department; three primitive responses that we’ve adapted to our modern symptoms of anger, anxiety and depression. And, just as it did with our primitive ancestors, the Limbic System steps in when it feels that our life is in some sort of crisis or emergency. And because of its scatter-gun approach to danger it often gets it wrong, but that’s not its problem! Its job is to be vigilant and always see things from the worst possible perspective, it’s important but it kind of needs us to know we know it’s important!
Now the Left Frontal Cortex is also known as the conscious part. It’s the part we use when we interact with others and when we interact with the world in general. It’s the creative, innovative and intellectual part of our brains, the part that comes up with good, reasonable and positive solutions to any given situation. It’s the really cool (and cool-under-pressure) part of the brain.
So when we consider this on-going battle for supremacy between the primitive part and the conscious part, it’s pretty easy to understand how, whichever part is top-dog, can determine our state of mind. An explanation about how to get our conscious part to be top-dog using hypnotherapy is for another day, and another blog. But this week, I was reminded of the relationship between these two parts of the brain with that truly awesome picture of Saffiyah Khan and Ian Crossland. Never has there been a metaphor quite like it!
And using this image, I’m obviously not saying that Ian’s EDL (English Defence League) affiliation is playing a useful role in society, nor am I saying that Islam is the reason for Saffiyah’s apparent benign happiness. I’m just loving the personification of what good mentally-healthy behaviour looks like within us all.