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The Fountain of Youth - Part 3

“Many people die at 25 and aren't buried until 75.”  - Benjamin Franklin

In the third part of the Fountain of Youth series, I address staying young in mind and spirit. In short, it's important as one grows older to stay young at heart.  But what exactly does “young at heart” mean and, if it's so important, why don't we all just do it naturally?

Webster's dictionary defines “young at heart” as "thinking and acting like young people; active and full of energy.” I disagree with the first part of the definition because, if I were to think and act like a young person, I would not benefit from a lifetime of experience. Plus, teenagers and people in their 20s are much more distracted by sexual hormones than older people. And, as for active and full of energy…active, yes, to the best of my body’s ability, but I prefer “enthusiastic” over “energy” as I'm no longer interested in nightlife or waking up with a hangover.

So….My tweak on this definition is as follows: “active, interested and enthusiastic; having the expectation of an interesting and worthwhile future; demonstrating a willingness to embrace the unknown; cultivating a willingness to try new things and engage in lifelong learning (that is, you assume you can indeed learn new things because it's worthwhile to keep growing.)” And now that I've redefined “young at heart,” it shall be fairly easy to understand why having a young attitude isn’t natural to everyone.

Psychologists define “attitude” as a learned tendency to evaluate things in a certain way." Experience, social factors (peer groups, authority figures), learning (as in at school), conditioning (as in repetitive experiences), and observation are the factors that shape “attitude.” Our attitudes change as we take in more of the above. The attitudes we had as children and teens get replaced. The sad fact is that many people have lost their youthful attitudes at a fairly early age. For example, I'm still stunned by the percentage of women who come to me having survived childhood sexual abuse. I'm not surprised by the things they say. I'm more surprised by the ratio, even though I know people seek out hypnotherapy to conquer such things. In any case, it's easy to imagine that a woman who has had that experience would not share the same innocent thrill over high school dating that a woman who grew up in more protected circumstances would have. Her attitude would be completely different. An abused woman might be successful in marriage, or achieving a long-term relationship, but her altitude going into it would be shaped by her trauma. She would simply perceive the relationship from that point of view. While hypnotherapy cannot make things that happened unhappen, happily it can neutralize emotions in respect to a trauma, thereby freeing a client for new, fresh, wanted perceptions and behavior.

The concept of anxiety as a mental state and how it affects thoughts and emotions.
Achieve Inner Peace and Personal Growth

There are myriad ways people become stuck in perception - the workplace, for example. Some people work at jobs they hate because they believe in putting security ahead of passion, talent, or interest. Some people get burned out by negative work experiences and choose positions that provide the most security for the least effort. While there are certainly many people who are designed, as it were, to take the easiest path, there are others who truly suffer in such environments and can even become ill suppressing their true selves for the sake of a secure pension. I could go on creating scenarios of people frustrated at the workplace or in their home life, but what all of the scenarios would have in common is a main character who is afraid to embrace the unknown. Such individuals think of the unknown as a bad thing - like a monster under the bed. But what if they thought of the unknown as something good that they could master or prepare for? What if they realized that their life experience has taught them how to discern good from bad, so they would trust that they can deal with new situations? What if they realized that the known is making them miserable, and so the answer must be somewhere out in the unknown?

If I were to sum up "young at heart" in one word, that word would be "adventure." Having a sense of adventure means there's something interesting and worthwhile around the corner; it means cultivating new skills; it means the unknown is a given. Adventure doesn't always have to be risky in the Indiana Jones sense. Adventure can be introducing yourself to someone at a party, going to a new restaurant, wearing new clothes, or simply taking a road in your area that you’ve never taken. Good adventures are not foolhardy. Anyone wishing to climb Mount Everest, for example, would be silly not to train or take the proper gear. So, the same thoughtfulness and precaution can be applied to smaller Everests, like getting the job of your dreams or risking your heart in love.

Hypnotherapy can be particularly useful in cultivating a sense of adventure because it can identify and neutralize negative belief systems and irrational fears. It can help neutralize your relationship to past trauma so that you live more successfully in the present, dealing with individuals and circumstances as they arise, rather than seeing a bogeyman around every corner.  It can help you to stop judging your personal situation and become excited about your abilities…and the future. 

However, hypnotherapy can only help you if you want help. There are some clients who come to hypnotherapy to prove that nothing can help them. At some point in the process, such a client may say they are disappointed in their progress, and they knew it all along that hypnosis wouldn't help. I have learned that the words, "I knew it all along," are simply reflecting subconscious projections. I try never to say these words in my own life because saying them would mean that I had not been fully present in whatever task I was engaged in. It would mean I had somehow stifled my sense of adventure. Inevitably, clients who insist they knew it all along haven’t done the work. They don't listen to their recordings, they don't keep a journal, and/or they don't allow themselves to go fully into trance. They know the outcome because control matters to them more than happiness.

At some point in the process, I may very well ask these clients if they have a trust issue, and if they realize the person that they don't trust is themselves. Young people trust the future, if only because they are young, and they expect time to reach out in front of them. So, the secret of feeling young is reengaging that sense of self trust. If you give yourself the space to learn and grow, the future suddenly becomes worthwhile and interesting. And the future will continually ask you to reach for new horizons.

Support and Comfort represents the role of a hypnotherapist in providing guidance and support.
Stay Active and Youthful

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