In many ways, helping people to gain confidence to start dating again is a similar line of treatment to hypnotherapy for stop smoking. It’s about changing the way people think and stopping them from focusing on a negative goal. For example, people will say. “I don’t want to be single” or “I don’t want to be alone,” just like smokers who want to quit and adopt a (flawed) mantra of “I want to stop smoking.”
As a clinical hypnotherapist in London and Winchester, I know that focusing on a negative doesn’t work: what it will do is reinforce the problem. With smoking, people should really be thinking, “I want to be happy” (“without cigarettes” in a kind of parenthesis). With dating, it should be a case of “I want to be in a happy relationship” and not “I don’t want to be rejected.”
Define your goals
What is it you want? If you want to be loved, you want someone to say yes to you. So the first thing to do is to focus on that: the thing you want. Next, you need to work out why you want that, and a good way to unravel the fear that you’ve built up about the whole idea of dating is to understand what is important to you when it comes to a relationship.
So what are the values that are important to you? I get clients to think about what is important to them when it comes to a healthy love life. I then get them to write down all the words that describe feelings they feel are important about love. They then prioritise that list into the most important eight things. If you want a business analogy, this will give you your KPIs of what your love life means.
What do you believe?
The next thing is to ask yourself what it is that you believe about your love life. What is it that you believe about yourself when you go up to a guy or a woman? What typically holds people back is some kind of limiting belief: “I’m ugly,” “I’m not charismatic,” or “I believe that I’m going to fail.” People have often never asked themselves: what would I like to believe instead?
So I get people to think things like “I believe I can be attractive” and get them to focus on that. It can help turn down the self-limiting belief that they currently have. If you have an extremely negative self-image, then you probably need a bit of work to overcome this. There’s a technique called Havening that we’ll get into in a future blog that is a great way of getting rid of negative emotions.
Firing up the inner coach
Having a client deal with those negative emotions is critical, as is having those clear KPIs from a values perspective. Then we can start saying to people: “This is what you want. Do you currently have it in your relationship? If not, what is it that you can do to find someone who will help you achieve those things you want to have?”
This is where internal self-talk is really important. People often say, “No one finds me attractive” – this voice is your inner critic, and most of us have one. What you need is to replace that voice with an inner coach. One of the techniques I have clients do is to imagine putting the negative voice in a bubble and floating it off above their head – dispatching it to the other side of the world where it can’t be seen or heard any more. Then we look at putting a better, more motivational voice into their head, whether that’s a confident new voice of their own or a virtual coach like Barack Obama or Morgan Freeman or even Han Solo.
Finally, going to the pub on a Friday night and hoping to get lucky after five pints probably isn’t an effective strategy for starting a loving relationship. However, changing the way you think about yourself, having a clear idea of what you want, removing limiting behaviours and coming up with a sensible plan of action can all help you move mountains.