WALK A MILE..HOW AN ANECDOTE CAUSED WEIGHT-LOSS AND A STOP TO BOOZE AND TOBACCO!
A medically retired policeman told me:
“I have emphysema, high blood pressure, and, as you can see, I am grossly overweight. I drink too much. I eat too much. I want a job but my emphysema and high blood pressure prevent that. I would like to cut down on my smoking. ‘d like to get rid of it. I’d like to quit drinking about of fifth of whiskey a day and I’d like to eat sensibly”
I said: “Are you married?” He said:No, I’m a bachelor. I usually do my own cooking, but there’s a handy little restaurant around the corner that I often visit.” Then I said: “And where do you get your cigarettes?” He bought two cartons at a time. “In other words”, I said, “You buy cigarettes not for today, but for the future! Now, since you do most of your own cooking, where do you shop?” “Fortunately, there is a little grocery right around the corner, that where I get my groceries and my cigarettes”. “Where do you get your liquor?””Fortunately, there is a nice liquor store right next to the grocery”.
This client was put into a slight trance – he just leaned back + relaxed and I continued talking casually: “So you have a handy restaurant right around the corner, a handy grocery right around the corner, and the liquor store right next to it. AND YOU WANT TO JOG! AND YOU KNOW YOU CAN’T! But you CAN walk! All right: buy your cigarettes one pack at a time. Walk across town to buy your pack. That will start to get you in shape. As for groceries, don’t shop at the handy grocery just across the corner. Go to a grocery half a mile or a mile away and buy just enough for each meal. That means, three nice walks a day. As for your liquor, you can drink all you want to. Take your first drink at a bar lat least a mile away. If you want a second drink, find another bar at least a mile away. If you want a third, find another bar a mile away.” AND MY WORDS WILL GO WITH YOU…then I woke him up from the trance.
He was still quite aware what I had recommended and looked at me in anger. He swore and left raging.
About a month later a new client came in. He said: “A retired policeman referred me to you. He said you are the only personal and life consultant who knows what she is doing.
The policeman couldn’t buy a carton of cigarettes after that! And he knew that walking to the grocery was a conscious act. He was in control of it. Now, you see, I didn’t take food away from him. I didn’t take tobacco away from him, and not liquor either. I gave him the opportunity to walk. The client was forced to reframe his behaviour. He had to take it out of the category of involuntary behaviour. He realized, that walking to the grocery was a conscious act.
Now, of course I had realized that I was dealing with a man who had a long history of carrying out orders. So in trance, I was giving him orders with the expectation that he would carry them out. This is an important example of meeting the client in his frame of reference. One would not necessarily treat other people in this manner.
Ernest Rossi, the famous author of Hypnotic Realities and Hypnotherapy, has broken down Erikson’s hypnotic inductions (which is basically what I’ve described above-storytelling and reframing in trance) and indirect forms of suggestions into 5 stages:
- fixation of attention
- depotentiating habitual frameworks and belief systems
- unconscious search
- unconscious process, and
- hypnotic response
Some other authors praise Milton Erikson and list some of the values of using anectodes in therapy as follows:
- anecdotes are nonthreatening
- anecdotes are engaging
- anecdotes foster independence…the individual needs to make sense out of the message and then come to a self-initiated conclusion or a self-initiated action.
- anecdotes can be used to bypass the natural resistance to change
- anecdotes can be used to control the relationship
- anecdotes model flexibility
- anecdotes can create confusion and promote hypnotic responsiveness and
- anecdotes tag the memory- “they make the presented idea more memorable”;
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