Asked by Kids

“Why do bad things happen?”

Portrait of beautiful young pre-teen girl with umbrella under rain.

Regardless of our best intentions as parents to guard our kids from the hardships of the world, whether it is by turning off the 5 a.m. news or by limiting dining room table talk of current events, inevitably they will either hear the news or be directly affected by it.

When I think of “bad things” I divide them into two categories. The first being natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes and earthquakes. The second being stressful life events such as death, health issues or financial  struggles. If you are alive and breathing today, chances are you’ve been touched by at least one of  these things.

Some questions are admittedly hard to navigate as adults, let alone explain to  children. We know we must live our lives somewhere in between Chicken Little’s “the sky is falling” and “head in the sand” denial. My preferred method of approach is, “That which you focus on expands.” By focusing on and looking for the good in life we can find ourselves navigating life’s difficulties with wisdom and grace, and in turn help the little ones in our lives do the same.

A prime example of this happened recently as our family was affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. My brother and his family live there, and after the hurricane we were unable to contact them. After several long days, we received word that although their home was severely damaged, they were alive and well.

In an effort to focus on the blessing of all of us having survived 2017, we gathered together as a family for the holidays. While visiting one day, I asked my 9-year-old nephew what he wanted to be
when he grew up. He gave me a big, knowing smile and responded without hesitation, “happy.”

I couldn’t help but wonder if his experience of being trapped in a closet for hours on end as his home was being beat down by a hurricane helped form this rather mature opinion. Sometimes we must pass through the storm — figuratively or literally — to gain this perspective. In the end, I believe that we are all better in the aftermath our experiences.

“That which you focus on expands.”

Jill Tuttle

I’ll never forget the line in the movie “Finding Nemo” when the dad promises his young son that he will never let anything happen to him. As improbable as this seems, too often as parents we take this approach thinking we are helping. In reality, if our children never feel the sting of losing a spelling bee or never feel the trepidation of standing up to the recess bully, how are they going to react to true adversity later in life?

In his book “The Whole Brain Child” Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. said it best explaining, “It’s often these difficult experiences that allow them to grow and learn about the world. Rather than trying to shelter our kids from life’s inevitable difficulties, we can help them integrate those experiences into their understanding of the world and learn from them. How our kids make sense of their young lives is not only about what happens to them but also about how their parents, teachers and other caregivers respond.”

When bad things do happen, as they inevitably will, we can listen to their fears and acknowledge their worries, then reassure them that they are safe and loved, and help by providing them with strategies to cope.

One fun way to do this is to play a game called “The Thorn and The Rose” where each family member shares the most difficult part of their day (the thorn), followed by the best or most special part of their day (the rose). I like to end the conversation with the rose so we can linger and dwell on the positive.

It is an important part of healing to encourage our kids to retell the events of the thorn, allowing them to feel heard. Then, by focusing on the positive, we can help them realize that good is there if we look for it.

In short, we may not have all the answers to why bad things happen, but we can choose how we react and what we focus on.

As the saying goes, every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.

Hypnotherapy is the application of the relaxed, yet highly focused state known as hypnosis for the purpose of achieving goals and creating lifelong transformation. Hypnosis is a natural state of mind with numerous beneficial characteristics.

In this natural state, our subconscious mind is open and receptive to powerful, positive healing ideas and imagery. In this state, we can learn to manage chronic pain, reduce stress, and change unwanted behaviors. But how and why does our subconscious work? Why can’t we just use our willpower to relax or reduce pain, eat healthier, or stop smoking? To answer these questions and more, consider the story of Chicken Little!

Chicken Little And The Flight Or Fight State

One fine morning, Chicken Little can be seen happily eating tasty corn in the barnyard, when an acorn suddenly falls on her head. Believing the sky is falling, she starts frantically running around, shouting, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” Chicken Little’s belief that the sky was falling was so strong that she convinced her emotions, which affected her behaviors and even her physiology. Her little chicken heart started to beat rapidly, her blood pressure went up, her cortisol levels increased, her immune system responses became suppressed, and her perception of pain increased. Chicken Little effectively, “stressed herself out.” What this story demonstrates is that our perceptions influence our autonomic nervous system. In the stress state, also known as the fight or flight state, the sympathetic nervous system is activated. Higher cognitive thinking decreases, and rational thought ceases. Our stress response is natural and designed to protect us from acute threats, but it becomes harmful when we live in that state 24/7. Sadly, many people are living today as if the sky is continuously falling. They are in a state of chronic, underlying stress, which puts them at increased risk of anxiety, depression, weight gain, sleep problems, and more.1

The Subconscious Mind Is Literal, So It Can’t Tell The Difference Between Fact And Fiction.

Living in a constant state of stress, predicting doom and gloom at every turn, means we are effectively saturating our subconscious mind with negative limiting beliefs or false truths. As Chicken Little shows us, this false truth can become our reality. Unlike our conscious mind, which is logical and analytical, the subconscious mind thinks in pictures and is literal. It can’t discern between fact and fiction and so believes what we tell and show it. This is especially true when experiencing a heightened state of emotion, such as fear. The subconscious mind is also the storehouse for all of our memories and beliefs, whether positive or negative. Although we like to think of ourselves as rational beings who make logical decisions, that’s not usually the case. It is our beliefs behind our emotions that drive our behaviors. That is why our conscious mind or willpower never wins over the subconscious.

Hypnotherapy Helps To Clear False Truths And Negative Imagery So You Can Achieve Your Goals.

Hypnotherapy is so effective for people because it works at the subconscious level. During a hypnotherapy session, we quiet the conscious mind so that we can speak directly to the subconscious mind. In the relaxed, yet highly focused state of hypnosis, we can effectively clear false truths and saturate the subconscious mind with healing imagery and positive healing ideas, also known as affirmations or suggestions. Hypnosis is a powerful state. On a physiological level during hypnosis, we shift from the fight or flight state (the sympathetic nervous system) to the resting or safe state, where the parasympathetic nervous system is activated. When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, the perception of pain decreases (that’s how people learn to control and potentially even eliminate pain naturally). The immune and digestive systems get a boost, and higher mind problem-solving functions are supported.

What False Truths Have Resulted From Past Emotional And Physical Trauma?

People learn to rewire the brain to support their goals and to achieve transformation. Until we clear the negative beliefs and imagery that frequently result from past emotional and physical traumas, problems can remain or take a very long time to resolve. Pain worsens, self-worth suffers, unhealthy habits continue, and so on. Integral hypnotherapy does not involve reliving or talking through the details of past emotional or physical trauma. Integral hypnotherapists only need to understand what false truths resulted from a past trauma that may block a person’s ability to achieve their goals. They then work with the individual, using evidence-based protocols to reverse those limiting beliefs and saturate their subconscious mind with positive healing ideas and imagery that support their desired transformation.

You May Not Know It, But You Are Already Experienced At Self-Hypnosis!

Many people wonder if hypnotherapy will work for them or if they can be hypnotized. Although hypnotherapy is not appropriate for everyone, the vast majority of the population can learn to use their mind to achieve a state of hypnosis. Most people are surprised to learn that hypnosis is a natural state of mind that we all experience twice daily, upon waking and just before falling asleep. During these times, your brainwaves are predominantly in the alpha state – actually in the lower end of alpha and the top of theta. Experiencing the therapeutic benefits of self-hypnosis is grounded in science and human physiology, not magical or wishful thinking. To get the most benefit from a hypnotherapy session, you must be highly motivated to achieve your goals, have an open and receptive mind, and be willing to do the self-care work between sessions. A good imagination helps, too, as visualization techniques are heavily used.

All Hypnosis Is Self-Hypnosis.

No one can control your mind during hypnosis or make you do silly things or act in ways that are against your moral code. That’s a Hollywood myth that makes for a scary movie or entertaining stage act, but it is patently untrue. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. You are responsible for your own mind and how you use it. People can learn to control their pain in hypnosis. That’s more control, not less. Learning self-hypnosis is a re-education process and a skill. A good hypnotherapist teaches you to fish; they don’t just give you the fish. In only a few sessions, people can learn the lifelong skills they need to achieve their goals. Changing the beliefs that are behind the emotions and behaviors is the key to creating lasting transformation!

Is Hypnotherapy Right For Me?

For help with pain and other ailments, your medical provider’s or mental health provider’s approval is required to add hypnotherapy to your treatment plan. While hypnotherapy may have many beneficial effects, it is not a substitute for medical treatment or psychotherapy.

Audrey Holocher is a Certified Medical Support Clinical Hypnotherapist specializing in evidence-based protocols for natural, safe pain control, stress reduction, and behavioral change. she has an M.S. degree in Environmental Science and Engineering, a B.S. degree in Food Science and Technology, and is a Certified Narrative Consultant and Master Practitioner in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). more information at wasatchhypnotherapy.com.