1. What is Stress?
2. Ancient Job and Stress
3. Stress’ Effect Upon the Body
4. Job’s Illness and Healing
5. Relaxation, Imagery and Hypnosis
6. Helps in Reducing Stress
7. Katie’s Case History
(a) Overcoming allegories
(b) You can let go of the garbage
(c) ISE / SPE / SIE
1) Does what you think have any effect upon your body?
2) Can the improper handling of stress cause illness in your body?
3) Can the proper use of your mind and spirit improve your health and well‑being?
To demonstrate the effect of the mind on the body, I would like to have two volunteers, preferably a male and a female, come up front for a demonstration. Have volunteers stand before the group, put out dominate arm and hand to the right or left at shoulder level. Ask the one that is to go first, face the audience and the other look away so as not see the response. Have volunteer resist as I push down and have volunteer to think a happy thought. Now have the volunteer think a sad thought and resist. (The difference is obvious.) It appears to me that if a sad thought can cause one to lose power in his or her arm, it follows that day after day, week after week, month after month of sad and negative thinking can cause harm to one’s body. The wise man of Proverbs realized the relationship of body, mind and spirit for he wrote, “A cheerful heart does good like a medicine but a broken spirit makes one sick.” (Proverbs 17:22)The French philosopher Rene’ Descartes is best known for his five‑word maxim: “I think, therefore I am.” Another of his revelations and one much less accurate and truthful has had much greater impact of the western world. More than 300 years ago, Descartes concluded that the mind, body, spirit are distinct, autonomous, mutually exclusive entities. This assumption is at odds with his famous statement, “I think therefore I am.” Unfortunately for centuries the Western approach to health, illness and medical treatment has been based on Descartes belief of the mind, body and spirit are separate entities. Today, we are discovering that what we think has a profound effect upon our health. Dr. David Felton, professor of neurobiology anatomy at the University of Rochester in New York said, “I can’t imagine anyone (today) thinking that the mind and body can be separated” To complete the picture of the integration of the mind and body, I would add a third entity which is spirit.
The foundation for my work in hypnotherapy is based on what I refer to as the human trinity. Whether you are a Christian or not, you would probably know what I meant if I referred to the Holy Trinity: God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I also believe in the human trinity. Each of us is a trinity within. I am a trinity; you are a trinity. We are made up of body, mind and spirit. We are physical, emotional and spiritual beings. These three aspects of our being are so different and yet so integrated that one part of the human trinity cannot be affected without having some effect on the other two. If you have a physical problem, it affects you emotionally and spiritually. If you have an emotional problem, it affects you physically and spiritually. If you have a spiritual problem, it affects you emotionally and physically. Accepting this theory of the human trinity, one understands that life is more than just being alive mentally and physically.
In the world in which we live, we can paraphrase an old hymn, “I got stress, you got stress, all God’s children got stress.” At one time or another, everyone experiences some stress in life. As long as we are alive mentally, stress is an unavoidable fact of life which can be a help or hindrance. There are healthy ways to manage stress which motivates us for mental, emotional, physical and spiritual growth. I am sure that I would have never returned to school after that first day if my parents had not exerted a proper amount of stress to get me to school on that second day. It was not that I did not want to learn, nor was I afraid of being away from home, I just enjoyed playing more than sitting in a classroom. Without that stress from my parents, I would never have gone back to school. How different my life would have been without the stress that motivated me to return to school. Stress may hinder us, but it also has a positive side which we may call excitement, drive, motivation, or competitiveness. Stress gives us the prowess and energy to achieve goals.
On the other hand, a failure to properly handle stress can cause us harm. Stress has been compared to a dangerous germ that is infecting many in our world today. You have seen its symptoms and even felt them in yourself; the knot of tension in your stomach, the splitting headache caused by the pressures of life, the tension in your neck and shoulders which may lead to physical problems ranging from mild discomfort to intense pain, the feeling that you are going to explode, the feeling that you can’t take it anymore. These and other such feeling go along with the improper handling of stress.
What is stress? Stress is caused by any change, threat of change, or possibility of change in a person’s environment, thoughts or body. One of the best definitions of stress which I have heard comes from a woman who attended a stress management seminar which I led. When I asked for definitions from the class, she said, “Stress is anything that throws the normal out of balance.” Something that may be stressful to me may not be stressful to you. On the other hand, there are things that may be stressful to you, that may not be stressful to me. The stress which we experience may be negative such as the death of a loved one or positive such as moving into a new house and neighborhood.
Though some stress experts list up to a hundred or more stress‑producing experiences, I feel that they can be broken down into six major stress categories:
(1) Death of a significant other, spouse, child, parent, relative, close friend, political or religious leader;
(2) Marriage, family, divorce, child leaving home;
(3) Business readjustment, job demands, financial change either up or down, retirement;
(4) Any significant change in one’s lifestyle;
(5) Spiritual and emotional conflicts, and
(6) Daily problems and frustrations.Harmful stress depends not so much on what happens to us, but how we react to it. It is not always the event that is stressful, but how we view the event. Epictetus, the first century Roman philosopher, recognized this fact when he wrote, “Man is disturbed not by things, but by his opinion of things.” Certain events such as violence, arguments and illness are by their nature stressful. Others are not harmful in themselves, but depending on our emotional makeup or our situation may cause stress. During one of my regular morning runs, I saw a crooked stick which I perceived to be a snake. I stopped suddenly, my heartbeat faster, then turned around and ran in the opposite direction. I looked back to see if the “snake” was following me. When I looked back, I realized that the dangerous “snake” was a crooked stick. In spite of my discovery, I felt weak in the knees and frightened. You see, I reacted physically and emotionally as if that stick had been a real snake. That experience helped me see that it is not so much the stress that brings us harm, but how we react physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually to it.
The book of Job in the Old Testament speaks to the effects of our handling of stress as few other books in the Bible do. We, like Job, are often faced with problems, frustrations, suffering, anger and fear. Suffering may come upon us suddenly and inexplicably, or it may come gradually over a period of time as our health deteriorates. Whether suffering comes upon us gradually or suddenly, we may question, even as Job did, whether or not we have the resources to cope with our situation. I have a feeling that many people see something of themselves in Job.When we first met Job, he was a wealthy and respected family man who was a powerful citizen of his community. It looked as if everything was going his way, but in the midst of this picture of the good life came one crisis after another, which radically changed Job’s life. Misfortune followed misfortune until at last came the worst news of all: the message that all of his children were killed during a storm. Feeling the shock of all his losses, Job cried, “Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. Nevertheless, the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away, Blessed be the Name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21 NEB)
When we think of Job, we generally think of his patience. At one time or another, most of us have referred to the “patience of Job.” I propose that the essence of what we call “Job’s patience” in reality comes from one’s immediate denial or refusal to believe shocking or disturbing news. In a crisis situation, it is difficult to immediately accept the reality of what has actually happened. When one is informed of the death of a loved one, a dreaded disease, the loss of their job, betrayal by a friend, or the end of a marriage, one’s first reaction is usually shock and/or denial.
Following his financial loss and the tragic loss of his family, Job developed large and painful sores which covered his entire body. Job’s self‑fulfilling prophecy, “For the thing which I fear comes upon me, I am not at ease, nor am I quiet: I have no rest, but trouble comes”, (Job 3:25‑26 RSV) had come true.
(Job’s suffering) It is logical to assume that the losses which Job experienced played a part in his illness. He lost his wealth, his property, his position in the community, all his children, the respect of his wife, his belief that God cared for him and his hope. Anyone of these misfortunes would have placed great emotional stress on any person, but put them together and they become an almost unbearable burden. Job certainly had enough stress to weaken his natural resistance to disease.
Stress’ Effect Upon the Body
Blair Justice states that many of our sicknesses are strongly influenced, both in its beginning and duration, “by the way we think and behave ‑ demanding no frustration, seeing problems as overwhelming, looking for the worst, alienating ourselves and others, smoking, over-drinking, overeating, no exercising.” Blair goes on to say that “if a person has poor coping skills, deficient social support and high stress, then the internal balance of our bodies may be easily upset and our resistance lowered.” There is an old proverb which states, “It is worry, not work, that kills.” Louis Orton states that worry wastes energy and puts a strain on an individual, mentally and physically. The breathing becomes quicker and superficial which affects the amount of oxygen inhaled and of carbon dioxide exhaled. Worry interferes with the flow of digestive juices and affects the digestive system. Worry alters the chemical composition of blood and lymph. The continued effect of worry on the body can “provide a suitable ground for many serious diseases.” These three aspects of our being are so different and yet so integrated that one part of the human trinity cannot be effected without having some effect on the other two. Dr. Herbert Benson writes that the body and mind should never be disassociated. “The mind and body are inseparable.” A psychologist, Leslie LeCron, in his book on self‑hypnotism writes that a person is a unity of mind and body, each influencing the other. The whole individual must be considered in dealing with emotional disturbances. The inner mind works through the brain to control the body and to affect it.
Accepting this view, one comes to the conclusion that each of us is a participant in our own health, for better or worse.
Think of how you feel right now. Get a fix on your emotions, on what you are feeling. There may be many different emotional feelings being experienced by each one reading this now. Suppose that each of you began to feel sick. Would your emotions be the same? I think we can agree that the emotions would be different.
Think back to your last physical illness and consider whether or not you were under some emotional stress or pressure prior to the illness. For minor illnesses such as a cold or headache, the stressful situation may have occurred only a short time before the illness. For more serious illnesses, the stressful situation may have occurred several months before the illness. The Simontons, working with cancer patients, write, “Our studies and others suggest that these critical stresses are likely to have occurred six to eighteen months prior to the diagnosis of the disease.”
Lawrence LeShan in his book, You Can Fight for Your Life, is one of the “others” referred to in the Simonton statement. He states that there were two major characteristics that emerged in his study of cancer patients. The first characteristic concerned the patient loss of his reason for being. This loss of the sense of purpose in life predates the first symptoms of cancer. Quite often the loss of an important relationship was interrupted so that the person’s life was shattered. Among those losses was the death of a spouse, child growing up and leaving home, the loss of a job, graduation from school. The second characteristic was an inability on the part of the individual to show anger or resentment.
It seems that our bodies are more susceptible to illness following an emotional crisis than at any other time. It is not necessarily the stress, but how we handle the stress that tends to lead to illness. It seems that the improper handling of stress can reduce our natural immunity to disease. If and when emotional stress reaches such a painful intensity that we cannot deal with it, our bodies tend to get sick so that our minds can concentrate on our physical illness rather than on the emotional stress.
Quite often, we see people who are sick because of guilt feelings that have not been resolved. A woman was in the hospital because she had lost her voice. Though she had undergone many tests, no physical cause could be found which would prevent her from talking. After counseling, it was discovered that she had spread some gossip that was very destructive for a friend. Her subconscious mind prevailed upon her from further gossip by preventing her ability to speak. Once she recognized this and felt forgiveness, she was able to talk again. Here is a case where a spiritual and emotional problem, “guilt,” caused a physica problem, “speechlessness.” Frank S. Caprio states, “Exaggerated feelings of guilt ‑ or even what you think ‑ can make you physically ill.” Guilt causes suffering because it separates us from God, others, and ourselves. It limits our creativity, diminishes our self‑worth, creates self‑hatred, and casts a shadow over our lives. Whether we feel guilt about small things, supposed mistakes or serious breaks with God, the feeling must be resolved for us to dance. If we do not resolve our guilt through accepting our forgiveness and by forgiving ourselves, we will remain outside the party with the older son, unable to dance. It is not that God turns his back upon us, but we cannot experience God’s loving presence in our life when we feel guilt. So often, unresolved guilt creates a need to make amends, to make restitution, to suffer enough to pay back the wrong, to set things right by damage to self and thus balance the account. We humans are made up of body, mind, and spirit. If there is guilt at some point in one’s life, the individual may tend to manifest this spiritual disease by some physical disease, or injury, in order to punish himself.
Cecil Osbourne in his book, The Art of Understanding Yourself, writes that there is an inner mechanism within us which tends to enforce the idea, “confess or be punished.” Either we must feel a sense of forgiveness or cleansing, or we will find a way to be punished or to punish ourselves. We punish ourselves whether it is fake guilt or real guilt, for the subconscious does not know the difference. This tendency has led Cecil Osbourne of Yokefellows to write, “Guilt, whether real or imaginary, can be handled in only two ways. It must be forgiven or punished.” It is not God who punishes us, but if we do not feel forgiven, we often find a way to punish ourselves: physically, mentally, or emotionally. The older son’s failure to enjoy his younger brother’s party and dance was not the fault of the father. As he welcomed the younger son, the father went out to meet his older son and invited him to the party. Because the older son was out of fellowship with both his brother and his father, he refused to enter the party. He refused the dance of forgiveness and so missed the joy of the party. To be forgiven, we must be open with God through confession and repentance. In so doing, we release the pain of our guilt to him and make our forgiveness complete. We accept his divine forgiveness and forgive ourselves. We can be open with God and begin to dance OR we try to hide from God and shut ourselves off from his healing, forgiving, redeeming love.
I am not suggesting that all illness is the result of spiritual stress, nor that emotional and spiritual stress always lead to physical illness, but that we become more susceptible to disease when we have been experiencing emotional stress. I am not saying that our illnesses are an illusion and if we think correctly or if our spirit is right with God we will not get sick. Let’s say that we all ate poison mushrooms which we sincerely believed to be good mushrooms. Would any of us get sick? Yes, I think it is most probably that we would all be sick. On the other hand, if we all ate good mushrooms at our last meal but someone came in and said, “I hope none of you ate mushrooms for lunch because some of them were poison.” Would any of us get sick? I dare say that it is likely that a few of us would get sick by just the suggestion that we had eaten bad mushrooms.
As early as 1950, Dr. Hans Selyes of the University of Montreal was saying that anger and frustration, induced by stressful situations, increases the body’s output of hormones. These provide a quick burst of energy and strength that enables us to either meet the danger or run from it. But in today’s society, fight or flight are not always possible reactions to stress. And when these hormones are not harmlessly discharged through action, they create an imbalance, causing various kinds of damage ‑ including depression of the immune system, which helps protect us against illnesses.
Alfred Adler states that to some degree every emotion finds some expression in the body. The emotion will be seen in some visible form such as in the person’s posture. The emotion may be seen in the face or trembling of a person’s legs. Changes can also take place in the organs of the body and the circulation of blood. “If we examine more closely, we shall find that every part of the body is involved in an emotional expression, and that these physical expressions are consequences of the action of the body and mind.”
Look at the emotion of anger. What are some of the external manifestations of anger? The chief external manifestations are a reddening of the face, a widening or tightening of the eyelids, blood shot eyes, contraction and tightening of the lips, a setting of the jaw, clenching of the fists, and a tremor in the voice. Whether the outward signs are present, or covered up, more profound and remarkable changes are taking place inside the person. What are some of these internal changes? The internal manifestations of anger are the blood immediately clots quicker than normal, the blood thickens, the muscles of the stomach squeezes down so tightly that the stomach and the entire digestive track is affected, the heart rate increases rapidly and the blood pressure rises markedly. The manifestations can often produce bad results, such as a stroke or heart attack.
Paul E. Johnson, in an article for Religion and Medicine, adds his voice to those of us who see that emotional stress plays a very definite part in our illnesses. He suggests that emotional tension such as fear, anger, guilt, frustrated desire, may cause peptic ulcers, vomiting, indigestion, loss or excess of appetite, diarrhea, constipation, mucous colitis, high blood pressure, palpitations and irregular beat of the heart, hay fever, laryngitis, chronic cough, skin problems, convulsions, headache, genito‑urinary disturbance, thyroid disorder, diabetic, and so forth.
The Simontons and Arnold A. Hutschmecker would add cancer to the above list. Hutschmecker wrote, “We ourselves choose the time of illness, the kind of illness, the course of illness and its gravity. We are moving toward a recognition that illness of any kind, from the common cold to cancer, emotional stress plays a part.” Saying that we participate in the state of our health is not intended to produce guilt for being sick, but to give hope toward health. Though we continue to rely on proper medical procedures, we can add our own hopeful expectation to stay healthy and to have an effect upon our healing process when sick or injured. The writer of Proverbs put it this way, “A cheerful heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit makes one sick.” (Proverbs 17:23 TLB)
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, once said, “The affections suffered by the body, the soul sees quite well with shut eyes.” So if that be true, maybe if we took a little time and closed our eyes and looked for what was going on in our life which might be contributing to our illness or why we had an accident, we may discover the cause and with proper adjustment of our thinking restore our health. Some of the following examples seem to back up Hippocrates statement.
I have missed only 13 days of work at Pendleton Memorial Methodist Hospital in over 23 years. Looking back at the first time I missed a “half” day, I had been under a lot of pressure during the three weeks prior to the onset of the symptoms. The only other chaplain working at Methodist Hospital had been admitted to the hospital about three weeks prior to my catching the cold. He was in the hospital for over a week and had spent two weeks recuperating at home. During that period, I was “on call” twenty‑four hours a day and had not taken a single day off.I needed some time off, but I felt pressed to be present in the hospital each day. In the end, my body said to me, “If you will not take a day off, I’ll get sick and then you will have to take some time off.” The next day, I came to work with a bad cough, a sore throat, and runny nose. Around noon, I told our secretary that I was taking the afternoon off because I could not visit the patients with the cold I had. Though I did not want to be sick, the cold gave me a legitimate excuse to take the afternoon off for some rest. Perhaps if I had taken an afternoon off a few days prior to getting sick, I could have avoided the cold altogether.
To demonstrate how our thinking offsets our body, try this exercise. Have a friend hold out their left/right arm, depending upon their dominant side. With the arm held out at shoulder level, have them resist as you push down. Ask the person to think a joyful or happy thought, and resist. You will find a strong resistance to your pushing down.
Now ask the person to think a sad thought and resist you. As you push down, you will find the person offers very little resistance and the arm goes down easily. If at times one loses strength with a sad thought, what happens if one’s thinking is sad and persists for days, weeks, or years?
Lance Webb has observed that our physical illnesses may be a cover to hide a deeper illness of mind and spirit. He concludes, “We may take advantage of our illness either as a means of drawing attention to ourselves or to hide a deeper fear of insufficiency we thus are prevented from meeting.” If one needs affection, but only receives affection when he or she is ill, then illness may meet his or her need. The subconscious mind says, “I will get the attention I need by getting sick.” The subconscious mind does not care that the body experiences pain, for the person’s deepest need for affection is being met. A very prominent man was stricken with a stroke. During my first visit, I discovered that he was the son of a famous man. The son had followed his father in their business, but over the years realized that he would never reach the heights which his father had attained. Though he was successful, he could not accept the fact that he was unique in his accomplishments because they seemed small to him in comparison with the accomplishments of his father. Feeling that he could never be the man his father had been, he had a stroke. Now he had an excuse for his inability to reach the heights his father had. He could now say, “If I had not suffered this damn stroke, I would have been as famous as my father.”
Job’s Illness and Healing
Feeling defeated by his many losses, and fearing God had deserted him, Job lost hope; with the loss of hope, he became ill. Bruce Larson states in his book, There’s a Lot More to Health, that our feelings about ourselves and others and the importance of our relationships may have more to do with how often we get sick and how soon we get well than do our genes, chemistry, diet, or environment. Profound feelings of hopelessness cause changes in our norepinephrine levels, a brain chemical which affects the transmission of sympathetic nerve impulses. “So it seems that hopelessness can make us sick even unto death, while hope is a powerful antidote to illness.”
Viktor Frankl, speaking of a man who was trying to keep his fellow prisoners alive in a World War II German concentration camp wrote, “He talked about many comrades who had died in the last few days, either of sickness or suicide. But also he mentioned what may have been the real reason for their death; giving up hope.”
It is logical to assume that the losses which Job experienced played a part in his illness. He lost his wealth, his property, his position in the community, all his children, the respect of his wife, his belief that God cared for him and finally his loss of hope which was the most destructive loss. When all of these losses are put together, they become an almost unbearable burden. Reeling under the shock of his losses, Job withdraws to be by himself. At first, Job could not properly express the emotions he felt. As a result, Job became sick with large and painful sores which covered his body. Leslie Weatherhead writes, “If emotion is neither expressed in its appropriate action nor even admitted to consciousness, it will have its revenge by setting up some form of mental or physical distress.”
Three friends came to visit Job and a long time, they sat in silence with him. Believing that his friends would understand, Job let out his feelings of frustration, anger, and his own lack of understanding concerning the terrible misfortunes of his life. Job says, “I am weary of living. Let me complain freely. I will speak in my sorrow and bitterness. I will say to God, “Don’t just condemn me ‑ tell me why you are doing it. Does it really seem right to you to oppress and despise me . . . are you unjust like men. . that you must hound me for the sins you know full well I’ve not committed?” (Job 10: 1‑7 TLB) Though it was clear to Job that he was angry with God for his misfortune, many people facing a crisis do not know who to be angry with. Not knowing who to be angry with, some will show their anger toward family, friends, doctors, nurses, self, chaplains, God, others, all.
As I approached Mr. C.’s bed, I could tell by the expression on his face that he was angry. I extended my hand toward him and said, “Hello, I am Chaplain Durbin, the hospital Chaplain.” He responded, “Put your hand down, I refuse to shake hands with anyone connected with the hospital.” I said, “I am sorry that you feel that way. What has happened to make you so unhappy with the services of our hospital?” He answered with a number of complaints about the nurses, his doctor, and food service. I told him that I would like to ask the patient representative to visit him and hopefully some of his problems with the hospital staff could be corrected.
After several visits, Mr. C. and I became friends when he learned that I had spent several years in the Army and was a National Guard Chaplain. Mr. C. had retired from the Army after 30 years and shortly thereafter, he had a stroke. He had always been a man in control of other men and now he could not even control his body. This was very frustrating to him, so he took out his anger on anyone who was available. After several visits he began to see the reason for his anger and was able to work toward releasing its hold on him in non‑destructive ways. From my experience as a hospital chaplain, I have come to the conclusion that to properly express one’s anger is a healthy reaction to hurt. A person should not let out his or her anger in destructive ways, but should discuss it with a non‑judgmental counselor whom they can trust. Through that discussion, the person may discover what he or she is angry about and how properly to express it. By doing so, the person has the opportunity to release the anger and therefore be freed of its hold.
Job expressed his anger to God before his friends. The reactions of Job’s friends were very similar to the reaction I’ve observed in many people today. Instead of being servants of God in love and concern for Job, they felt they needed to defend God. As servants, we are concerned with the hurt of people and how the hurt may be healed or endured. As defenders, we are concerned about the hurt as a threat to our faith. When the needs of the other person are the center of our concern, we respond to them in love and care. When we are threatened by the needs of others, we react and become defensive of our position. When a person asks, “Why God am I having to go through this?” The response of the defender is usually, “You can’t question God.”
Job was not afraid to ask “why”, nor was he willing to stop with the question, but struggled through it to a greater faith. Those who ask, “Why does wickedness so often triumph?”, will find Job wrestling with the same question. Those who cannot comprehend why the righteous suffer beyond anything they could deserve will find Job thinking their thoughts. Those who do not understand why they are suffering will find their bewilderment echoed in the stirring prayers of Job. (Job 2:11‑12, 20‑21, Job 6:24‑30, Job 7:1‑6, Job 23:1‑5)
The first reaction of many to these prayers is “How can anyone of faith say these things?” At times, don’t most of us feel like saying something similar to those prayers? Miss M. was in the hospital because of a brain tumor and was scheduled for surgery the following day. She began our conversation by telling me that she was afraid of losing her faith. She had been a Christian for a number of years and came from a background which taught that to question God was to doubt God. Her local pastor had visited her earlier in the day and had reinforced that belief. She expressed some fears and doubts about the success of her upcoming surgery to her pastor. He told her that she must not feel that way and she should not question God’s ability nor His willingness to bring about her healing.
I allowed her to talk of her fears and tried to assure her that she was experiencing normal feelings of anxiety. I shared with her some of Job’s questions. I told her that when we have a question on our mind, it should be acknowledged and released before we can really feel that God loves us and cares for us.
If I need to ask you a question, but I cannot trust you to accept my question, then I have built a barrier between you and me. I feel that the same thing is true when I have a question for God, but cannot trust him to accept my question. How can I trust God to accept me? It is as we are able to trust God to accept us with our questions that we can get beyond the questions to greater faith. To question is not to doubt, but to seek meaning in the midst of our situation. Some have called Job, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, and the writer of Ecclesiastes “the skeptics of the Old Testament.” For most people, skepticism or doubt of any kind means unbelief, and this leads many to fear questions. For some to question is to doubt, so they fail to bring to light the unspoken questions which lie buried somewhere inside themselves. By leaving their questions buried inside, they fail to bring them to God where they can be resolved and released.
Following anger, the next response to crisis is usually an attempt to make a bargain for a better deal. In Job’s case, his friends told him that he should stop being angry and should make amends to God. They promised that if he would only repent, God would restore his health and wealth. The person who considers bargaining says to himself. “If I cannot change my situation by denying it or by being angry about it, maybe I can make a bargain with God to change my situation.”
Job refuses to consider any kind of bargain and moves directly from anger to depression. Job felt that he had enough. He was despondent and wished for death. This feeling is in line with Hutschnecker’s statement, “Depression is a partial surrender to death.” Job felt insecure and hopeless for he believed that God had deserted him in his suffering. He felt that he could accept his suffering if only he could be assured or given hope that God had not abandoned him. I know that there are times when we feel that God does not hear our prayers or is not concerned with our situation. Many have said to me, “Chaplain, I don’t feel that my prayers mean anything to God. God just doesn’t seem to be listening to me.” Listen to Job, “Behold I go forward but he is not there; and backwards, but I cannot perceive him: on the left hand, when he hath work, but I cannot behold him, he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him.” (Job 23: 8 KJV)
Job’s problem was that he felt cast off from God and with that came feelings of abandonment, helplessness, and hopelessness which almost overwhelmed him. In the midst of his despair, God came to Job in a whirlwind. In the valley of the shadow of death, Job had an experience of God’s presence. If you go to the book of Job to find an answer to the question, “Why do we suffer?” you will find no theological answer. The voice from the whirlwind asks us to recognize our limitations and to trust God when we do not understand. God calls upon us to hang on and not give up on our faith even when there is every reason to give up. Without answering our questions, faith allows us to live in a world where evil exists without being beaten by it. Perhaps the true test of faith is whether faith can continue without proof or demonstration to back it up.
As Job shared his burden with God, God came to him in a whirlwind and assured Job of God’s presence and love. Job proclaimed, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, now mine eyes seeth thee.” (Job 42: KJV) In reference to the theory that emotional stress can cause or add to our physical illness, I believe that the proper handling of stress can help us move toward health. It is interesting to note that once Job had experienced God and was convinced that God had not forsaken him, his hope returned and healing began. Blair Justice states that research shows that people who live long lives characteristically have a sense of hope, order, and control in their lives. “The Hope Habit” seems to encourage long life by reducing the effect of stress on the body and by turning on the self‑healing system.
The great Scottish surgeon and teacher of anatomy, James Hunter (1728‑1793) asserted, “As one state of mind is capable of producing a disease, another state of mind effects a cure.” Lawrence LeSham indicates that hope is the main ingredient in overcoming cancer. Hope allows an individual to accept his own being as valid and helps the person seek self‑fulfillment. The individual whose hope enables him to deal with temporary setbacks appears to be most resistant to cancer. “Among those stricken by the disease, the people most capable of recovery are the men and women who can discover a new well‑spring of hope, whatever their past disappointments, and move on to a fresh sense of themselves, a true recognition of their needs, and of their worth as human beings.”
It is important to note that hope in the religious or spiritual sense of the word is different from the hope of everyday usage. The spiritual understanding of hope is an expectation of the fulfillment of the desire. St. Paul wrote, “With unflagging energy, in ardor of spirit, serve the Lord. Let hope keep you joyful; in trouble stand firm; persist in prayer.” (Romans 12:11‑12) Hope is the outreach of our inner life for courage, meaning, and wholeness. Hope is the reality which transforms mere existence or even self‑destructive tendencies to a life lived by positive affirmation. This positive life affirmation is more than giving lip service to hope but it is a way of life.
Sometimes our hoping is for something specific while at other times, it is more our openness to life’s opportunities. In either case, the person of hope lives in a world of open doors and hopeful expectation for the good in life. It has been said that there are no hopeless situations: there are only people who have grown hopeless about their situation. In the light of experience, it is easy for us to despair when things go badly. There are times when we are tempted into a cynical acceptance of a situation and to say, “What is the use?” These are the times when we are tempted to accept a defeated attitude that neither people, nor the world, nor our situation will ever be better. I believe that if we earnestly seek an open door, we can have hope and find meaning in our life. Someone once wrote, “If God shuts one door, He opens another.”
William James once said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitude of mind.” We can alter our lives by altering the attitudes of our mind. This is true of any physical, emotional or spiritual situation in which we find ourselves. As long as we can think, as long as we have mental capability, we can change the effect of the situation in our lives. We can use hopeful expectation for our physical, emotional, and spiritual improvement and well‑being. We are discovering that many of our body’s functions which we felt we had no conscious control over can be significantly influenced by our mental attitude. Through relaxation and visual imagery and hypnosis you can learn to control body functions to include the ability to raise or lower temperature and blood pressure, to reduce tension, stress, and pain, and to speed up the healing process.
By the use of relaxation, imagery and hypnosis, we can have greater affect upon our body and life than we ever thought possible. To follow this procedure you should become as relaxed as possible in either a bed or a chair. When you are comfortable, close your eyes, relax, and let your mind’s eye begin to help you. See the discomfort vanishing, see your illness healed, see your broken bones mended, your wounds healed. As you visualize or imagine these things with hopeful expectation, your body begins to respond in a positive helpful way. You are not totally under the control of your distress. Your mind can help you to improve and heal. Visualizing what you want to happen as if it has already happened helps your subconscious mind have a model to work toward. It is part of God’s healing plan. It will help you experience a better quality of life.
A few years ago there was a story in Guidepost Magazine by Lew Miller entitled, “In Tune with the Infinite.” Lew was wounded during World War II, and was told that he would never walk again. At first, he experienced despair and was tempted to give up. Lew began to pray for his recovery by means of mental images. He states, “I saw myself walking, speaking, in public to audiences, writing articles and stories, running, driving a car, raising a family, and directing civic and charitable projects.” He pictured these things over and over again. Though it took a long time, changes began to happen. Healing came and Lew did walk again. It was not all at once for it took months. Throughout the time of his recovery, he kept his image in his mind. He believed that he would be healed and said, “To believe is to have complete faith in your prayers (thoughts). To believe that you have already received, you need only to visualize yourself as possessing it now. Believe in your mental images is the perfect expressions of faith.” He took Jesus’ statement in Mark 11:24 seriously and used it as a model for his imagery. Jesus’ words were “What things should you desire when you pray, believe that you receive them and you shall have them.”
This hopeful expectation and visual imagery enhances a person’s own immune system which helps one fight germs and infections, decrease tension and stress and helps one alter the stance of helplessness and hopelessness. These methods along with traditional medical treatment and faith in the God who cares can help in healing. Even with those illnesses and injuries which cannot be helped, hopeful expectation brings about an improved quality of life. As we use relaxation, imagery and hypnosis, and faith, the horizons of our hope will expand as God is allowed to be creatively at work within us. In the midst of frustration and conflict, there is hope for inner unity and harmony. In the midst of destructive and threatening human relationships, there is the hope for mutually enhancing and fulfilling relationships. In the midst of the pain and wonder of human existence, we live by hope which is based upon faith. Whereas the person of despair lives with a sense of being trapped, the person of hope feels that somehow there is a way out or a way through and there is the potential for meaning in his or her situation. The person of hope is able to wait, not simply in defeat and resignation, but in anticipation of what is not yet, but can be.
This hopeful expectation can be used not only for health but for every aspect of your life. See what you want to happen in your life is not as daydreaming, but as a goal to attain. By doing so, your subconscious has a model to work with. What you think about deeply enough and often enough, you tend to become. No longer feeling abandoned by God, Job was released from emotional stress and could concentrate on his healing. Healing may or may not come to us in our illness, but a positive hopeful expectation allows the body to respond more positively to treatment received. The writer of Proverbs might have been thinking of hopeful expectations when he wrote, “He who diligently seeks good seeks favor, but he who searches for evil, it will come upon him.” (Proverb 11:27 NAS) and “The spirit of man can endure his sickness, but a broken spirit who can bear.” (Proverb 18:14 NAS)
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale wrote, “Some people have found health, vitality, and increased strength through right thinking, especially spiritual thinking.” Goethe, the German philosophic poet wrote, “There is no predicament that cannot be enabled either by doing or enduring.” Viktor Frankl has said, “Everybody can be helped, if not directly by psychoanalytic approaches, then indirectly by helping the patient change his attitudes.” That is what happened to Job. He found the motivation for change through his relationship with God, which renewed his hope. With hopeful expectation, both his attitude and situation changed for the better.
Saying that we participate in the state of our health is not intended to produce guilt for being sick, but to give hope that we can move toward health. Though we continue to rely on medical procedures, we can add our own hopeful expectation which increases our ability to overcome our illness or to better endure that which we cannot overcome. Chaplain Carl R. Stephen writes: Holistic medicine views illness as an opportunity for discovery as well as misfortune. This resonates with Judo‑Christian tradition. Holism desires to enable persons to understand that psychological stress ‑ loss, unemployment or simply change ‑ may take the forms of organic pathology and emotional problems. There is no place in holism for accusation. Holism wants to enable the person to appreciate how he participated in becoming ill in order to insure participation in getting well again.
We are discovering that many of the body’s functions over which we felt we had no control over can be influenced by our mental attitude. Judith Glasser writes, “One of the most widely accepted methods of gaining control of one’s inner state is biofeedback. Using the technique, patients learn to affect such internal activities as brain waves, blood flow and heartbeat, functions long believed to be outside conscious control.” Through the use of the mind and imagination, patients have been able to raise or lower temperature and blood pressure. Even without the biofeedback machine, we can help patients have more control over their body functions by relaxation therapy, image therapy, and hypnosis. The relaxation, imagery therapy, and hypnosis tend to decrease fear and bring about an attitude change.
The Simontons have found that it can effect physical changes, enhancing the person’s own immune system, altering the cause of the disease, decreasing tension and stress, and helping to confront and alter the stance of hopelessness and helplessness. These methods along with traditional medical treatment and faith in the God who cares can help in healing. Even for those illnesses and injuries which cannot be healed, these methods bring about an improved quality of life. Again, I would like to emphasize that to say one participates in his or her own health situation is not intended to create guilt over being sick, but to give hope for healing and help for dying. Many in our world are sick: some physically, some mentally, some spiritually. Millions of people feel lonely and unacceptable. Others feel a lack of satisfaction with jobs, marriages, and life. Doctors say that over half the people suffering from an illness are sick because they have an emotional or spiritual problem that keeps their body or mind from functioning properly. This does not mean that the sickness is just in their minds, but that the body is weakened and illness comes. When the person gets their emotional or spiritual problems straightened out, healing takes place. It is an accepted fact that a person’s attitude does have a profound effect upon the body for good or bad.
Helps for Reducing Stress
As we live in a world where stress is ever present, what are some of the things a person can do to reduce the harmful effects of stress?
(1) Exercise. Recall that your body often manifests a “fight or flight” response to stress. Regular physical exercise helps you burn off extra sugars and fats in your blood caused by stress. I like to walk (ran for several years, but knees slowed me down to a walk) a couple of miles a day which helps me reduce stress. If I am angry with someone I just picture his/her face on the street and I step on it as I walk. After two miles, it is hard to be angry with someone you have been stepping on for fifteen to twenty minutes. This method of releasing anger is more beneficial to the other person and to me.
When I walk, I talk to myself by repeating positive suggestions. For one mile, I repeat, “Day by day in every way, I am getting better and better, healthier and healthier, wealthy and wealthy, happier and happier.” During the mile back home, I repeat, “God’s love, joy, peace, prosperity, health fill my body mind and spirit, keeping physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritual healthy.” I like to walk, but for your exercise you may be active in various sports, work at your hobby, or just take a walk. Of course, before beginning any strenuous activity, you should see your doctor to determine what is best for you.
(2) Balance work and play. Schedule times for play and recreation. Learn to play and have a good time. All work and no play make you a nervous wreck. I enjoy country music and have a large collection of records and tapes. Often when I am down and depressed, I will put on a record or tape and just let the music renew me emotionally.
Norman Cousins, the editor of the Saturday Review used humor to help him recover from a life‑threatening and crippling disease. Cousins came to the conclusion that if negative thinking could produce negative reaction in his body, then positive thoughts could bring positive response in his body. He watched tapes of comedy shows and laughed a lot. Cousins discovered that ten minutes of heavy laughter produced an aesthetic effect for him that lasted up to two hours. It has been discovered that hearty laughter increases the levels of endorphins and enkephalins in the brain which is the body’s own pain killer.
Viktor Frankl speaks of humor as one of the souls weapons in the fight for self‑preservation and health. “It is well known that humor, more than anything else in human makeup, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only a few seconds.” The fact that these words were written by Frankl while he was in World War II concentration camp adds to their validity.
Let me add that play is what you do or yourself. You may do it with others but is primarily for your benefit. When my boys were young, they liked to play Monopoly and so did I. There were times when I would ask them to play and at times they asked me. When I really wanted to play Monopoly with them, it was play. On other occasions when I was so tired and just wanted to watch TV, they may ask me to play. I usually did for I felt it was important to be with my sons, but that time it was not play for me.
(3) Learn to accept what you cannot change, but change what you can. To accept does not mean to like. It means to do the best you can under the circumstance. A person who loses a hand may never like the fact that he has only one hand. The person who has accepted the situation works through the question, “Now that I have lost my hand, how can I best live life with one hand?”
What we can change to make life better, we should change. Though we may not be able to change our circumstances, we have the abilities to change our attitude. How many people have failed to experience fulfillment in life not for a lack of knowledge or ability or ambition, not even from a lack of opportunity, but because of negative thinking. Negative thinking, discouragement and despondence are among the greatest sources of human pain, suffering and defeat in life. By accepting when we cannot change, or changing what we can, or changing our attitude toward our situation, and learning to encourage ourselves, we can bloom where we are and new hope and meaning will come into our life. As we encourage ourselves, discouragement and despondency will begin to fade and a new attitude of hope will emerge.
(4) Talk about your worries. It helps to share worries with someone you trust such as a friend, family member, clergy person, teacher or some other trusted person. Don’t keep your stress and worry locked up inside of you. You can find some relief by getting it off your chest. You don’t want to be a complainer, but you do need someone to talk to concerning your worries.
Here is a man who from childhood has been told that he is no good so acts out these prophesies without knowing why. How is he to get off this failure cycle if he has no one to share with? There is the woman who in her youth was raped and who felt guilty about it all these years because the first words she heard from her mother were, “Oh, what shame you have brought upon our family.” How is she going to be released from this false guilt without someone to share with?
In the fairy tale Rapunzel, a young girl is imprisoned in a tower by an old witch. The young girl is very beautiful, but the old witch is continually telling her that she is ugly. We could say that the witch is that part in each of us which says that we are no good, that we are unworthy, that we are ugly. Rapunzel’s liberation occurred one day when she was gazing from the window and saw a handsome young man. When she is able to risk him seeing her face, she sees his love for her. She throws her long beautiful golden hair out the window, so that her prince charming can climb the tower and rescue her. Rapunzel’s imprisonment was really not that of the tower, but her fear off her own ugliness, which the witch had described so often and so effectively. When Rapunzel sees in the mirroring eyes of her lover that she is beautiful, she is freed from the witch and the tower of own imagined ugliness. This is true not only in the case off Rapunzel, but of many others. We desperately need to see in the mirror of another’s eyes our own acceptance and goodness. Until we can be open and honest at least with God and a few significant others, we remain locked behind walls of our own making. We need to have others to share our feelings and concerns with, for we tend to act out the problems that remain in us when we cannot talk them out.
We tend to act out our hostilities by destructively criticizing or by indifference to others for fear of our hostility. We act our need to be loved by emotional over‑dependence upon others or by pushing others away for fear that they will not love us. We act out our sense of inferiority by being shy or by trying to humiliate others. We act out our sense of guilt by punishing ourselves in various ways or by projecting our guilt to others in condemning ways. Faith, loving, accepting, sharing – helps us to break down walls and helps us live more healthy lives. As you talk about your concerns with a trusted person, you are better able to let go their destructive qualities.
(5) Avoid over using self‑medication. When I suggest that you avoid over using self‑medication, I am not referring to an occasional aspirin or the occasional use of Preparation H. I am talking about the need for a pill to go to sleep each night and a pill to get going in the morning. I am talking about the need for four or five drinks to really enjoy a party. I am talking about alcohol, tranquilizers and drug abuse. Although there are many chemicals such as alcohol, tranquilizers or drugs that can mask your symptoms, they do not help you adjust to stress.
(6) Get enough sleep and rest. Long ago a book of prayers was written that still speak of faith, hope and courage. It shows people expressing their doubts and their faith, their anger and their love, their joy and their sorrow. We call it the book of Psalms. Its words thrill and inspire those who read it. It is one of the most read books in the Bible. No Scripture is better known than the Psalms and none of the Psalms is better known nor more helpful than the 23rd Psalm: “The Lord is My Shepherd”. Early in that Psalm, David writes about the need to relax and rest. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want, he maketh me to lie down in green pastures.”
(7) Prayer and meditation. Prayer is an expression of the divine‑human love event. It is communication with God. There are many forms that this communication may take place. Sometimes, it is a formal written prayer and sometimes it is verbalizing our thoughts and feelings to God. At other times, it is a mental attitude of thinking only thoughts to God. The most meaningful prayers are those that come from the heart and soul. It is communicating in an intimate manner with God. Prayer and meditation allow us to nurture our spiritual life.
Christian and Hopeful, in John Bunyon’s Pilgrim’s Progress, were imprisoned by the Giant Despair in Doubting Castle. They finally fell on their knees and prayed. When they rose, Christian said in astonishment, “Fool that I am thus to lie in their dark inn when I might walk at large. I have a key here in my pouch . . . that I feel sure will turn the lock of all the doors in Doubting Castle”. Christian and Hopeful used their key and escaped Doubting Castle. Note that it was after he prayed that Christian mustered his resources to meet his situation. Prayer is a key each of us can carry with us. With prayer, no one need be imprisoned long in Doubting Castle or remain in captivity to the Giant Despair.
(8) Learn to relax and use your mind to help you deal with stress. The use of relaxation, imagery and self‑hypnosis is available to each of us and it is very easy to learn. The hypnotic state is a condition of relaxation where attention is concentrated and the individual is more susceptible to suggestion. It is not a bizarre experience. You are conscious of what is happening and you are in control. If the telephone rings, you will hear it and can choose to answer it or ignore it. If you hear a cry for help, you can respond.
When you are hypnotized, you are in a high state of susceptibility to suggestion. Self‑hypnosis can be used to improve your attitude so that you can better deal with the stress that you experience. It can help you during illnesses or injury to reduce apprehension, to reduce and eliminate pain, and to increase your hopeful expectation. When used to reduce pain or improve healing, self‑hypnosis should be used with proper medical care.
Katie’s Case History
Katie was a 50 year old female, married with a 20 year old son who lived at home.
Katie saw me once a week for two weeks and every other week for several months. Her presenting problem was allergies which were intensified with current stressful situation at home. Katie and her husband were friendly but there was little affection between the two which was a problem for her. Her son was without a job and that was also a concern.
She said that her allergies went back at least to her high school years and she had frequent headaches. She tested 50/50 on the suggestibility questionnaire and the suggestibility exercises. She responded equally well to direct and indirect suggestions. From the “Taste the lemon” exercise, I determined that she was a visual person with facial response which indicated that she could almost taste the lemon. I converted a “Heavy hand, light hand” suggestibility exercise into an induction. After a progressive relaxation exercise, I lead her through the “Walk in Country: Backpack” imagery which will be recorded in the weight control case history. The suggestion was that if she was ready to be released from the conscious and subconscious need for her allergies, her first finger of her right hand would rise. The finger rose with a jerky motion and remained up until I suggested that it go down to her lap.
(1) Overcoming Allergies: The word, “Allergy” pertains to a condition or sensitivity to some substances, called, “allergens”. It can be emotionally induced or intensified by stress.
A person who is allergic reacts in a way different from the way others react when they eat, inhale, or touch the allergen. Allergy is actually a normal reaction of the body. However, there are times when it is being misused by the body. I’ll explain what I mean by that – if a person inhales a harmful irritant or bacterial toxin, it is normal for a watery secretion to come out of the nose. That’s the way the body reacts to cleanse the harmful irritant or bacterial toxin out of the body to keep the body in its normal, healthy condition. That is a normal reaction, a natural allergy but it is abnormal and can be very distressing for a person’s nose runs just because he or she gets near fresh cut grass, or near a dog, or near a cat. The reason some people become allergic and others don’t has been a mystery for many years. The medical profession has been baffled as to the reason some people develop a runny nose because of rag weed, mold, dust or other triggers; while others are not bothered by any of these things.
In recent years many studies have revealed that thoughts or ideas in a person’s mind can cause allergic condition to develop. That does not mean that the person wants to have those allergic reactions. On the contrary, people do not want to have hay fever, runny noses, or other allergic symptoms. However, it is misunderstandings in the subconscious level of the mind that causes those conditions to develop. Tension and stress have also been found to contribute to allergic reactions. Emotional factors, anxiety, or even grief are often found to be the cause of these conditions.
In most cases involving allergic conditions, it has been found that the situation or circumstance caused the condition has changed, but the person continues to have the allergy because it has become a learned reaction of the mind. In other words, the subconscious mind caused the allergic condition to continue merely because it has become a habit. However, anything the mind has caused, the mind can also cure.
Suggestibility exercise – your subconscious mind can cause all of your body processes to function properly and to cleanse all impurities out of your body and eliminate the allergic symptoms you have been experiencing. You’re noticing changes in your life, because your mind is releasing those ideas, thoughts, imprints and impressions that caused the allergies to develop. The usual pattern of being allergic is progressively decreasing… Beginning right now, your subconscious mind understands that you want to get rid of all unnatural allergies. Allergies are progressively having less and less control over you.
In going through various experiences during your normal, everyday living, your subconscious mind receives information that caused you to develop the habit of allergies, but your subconscious mind is understanding that the information was misunderstood, and you can see it from a more knowledgeable, more mature point of view, and you want it changed and corrected. You want the processes of your body to function properly and clean all impurities and substances which have any allergic effect eliminated from your body through the natural process of your elimination system. Your subconscious mind is causing you to become desensitized to all substances and conditions which, in the past, have caused you to suffer abnormal allergic reactions. You desire to be released from the harmful effect of these allergies, and your subconscious is getting rid of the habit of responding to situations and conditions that has been causing you to experience allergies. You are continuing to relax more and more, and your subconscious mind is accepting these suggestions, and is improving your health, and enabling you to live life in a more peaceful, more calm, more relaxed way. Each day these suggestions become more effective. You are learning to use these principles of relaxation which you are now experiencing in all phases of your daily life, and that keeps you calm and relaxed during your daily life. In every situation or circumstance that comes up in your life, you are calm and relaxed. Your nerves are relaxed and steady, and you’ll be able to do things in a relaxed way. You are able to cope with your everyday changing circumstances in a peaceful way. Regardless of what comes up in your life, you are in control of your emotions and feelings. That causes the allergic reaction to keep fading away more and more, and soon is gone completely.
Over the next few weeks, Katie reported feeling better with fewer allergic attacks occurring. We did an age regression and she went back to age five. However, she opened her eyes and said, “I am not ready for this now.” I said, “OK, just let the scene fade out and relax even deeper. Relaxing more and more with each breath you take.” To close out that session, I used “Therapy Between sessions.”
(2) You Can Let Go Of The Garbage:
A group in New York City once advertised that they were taking reservations for a trip to the moon. Prospective travelers were warned that the moon was a cold and arid place where movement would be difficult and conversation without radio transmission would be impossible. In spite of these drawbacks, over 18,000 people requested reservations.
Those making reservations were asked to explain why they wanted to go to the moon. There were a number of reasons given, but two reasons emerged as leaders. Many stated that they wanted to go because of the adventure involved, but most wanted to escape the earth and their own problems. Remember the man who went to the other side of the world to get away from his problems only to find that he had brought his biggest problem with him ‑ himself. You don’t need to run away from your problem, but to use your mind to help you overcome or endure your problem in a constructive way. You can do this by a change in your attitude from defeat to hope and meaning. You are carrying a lot of baggage which you can get rid of. A woman with a heavy suitcase boarded a bus. Once on the bus, she continued to hold her baggage. The driver said to her, “You can put your baggage down, lady, the bus will carry it for you.” You can let it go.
Suppose we tried to keep our garbage in our homes, hiding the scraps and litter away in various parts of the house: day after day and week after week. Think of the smell and disease that would poison the entire household. The simple principle holds true in our emotional life as well. If we let the garbage of life keep piling up inside us, it eventually works us harm. Let the garbage go. Feel good about yourself. As you do, your self‑confidence increases and you grow emotionally and spiritually. You can change your mind and change your life. St. Paul wrote in Colossians 3:8‑10, “But now you also put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth…since you laid aside the old self…and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the one who created him.”
(3) ISE / SPE / SIE:
Close to the end of her therapy, Katie asked to be regressed as she felt that she was ready for it. She went back of being a baby in her mother’s arms. As her mother was crying over the absence of her husband who was fighting in the war, baby Katie wanted to cry but could not. This was the Initial Sensitizing Event (ISE).
She then went forward in her regression to her God‑Father’s death. She loved him very much. On the night of his wake, she stayed at the house of a friend and had lots of fun for which she felt guilty. She did not cry at the funeral. This occurred at the age of five and was the Symptom Producing Event (SPE).
Following that she would occasionally have an allergic reaction which intensified during her high school years. She then recalled several events when she wanted to cry, but couldn’t. These were the Symptom Intensifying Events (SIE).
During these sessions, Katie’s spiritual life had changed and she was experiencing a real closeness to God. I concluded our last hypnotic session with the story of the Velveteen Rabbit.
(8) The Velveteen Rabbit
Margery Williams wrote a child’s story which presents a great truth about real life. The Velveteen Rabbit is the story about a rabbit who was made of velveteen and stuffed with sawdust. The rabbit felt insignificant among the other fancier toys of the boy’s nursery. His best friend was Skin Horse who had lived in the nursery longer than any other toy. “What is real?” The rabbit asked Skin Horse, “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick‑out handle?” Skin Horse responded, “Real life isn’t how you are made, it’s something that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long time…really loves you, then you become real.” The rabbit continued his questioning, “Does it happen all at once, like being wound up, or bit by bit?” The Skin Horse answered, “It doesn’t happen all at once. You become, it takes a long time…generally by the time you are real, most of your hair has been loved off, your eyes have dropped off, and you get very loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
In time the rabbit became real. He knew it one day when he had been left in the yard after a day of play with the little boy. Nana, the nurse, had to bring the rabbit to the boy before he would go to sleep. As she handed the rabbit to the boy, Nana said, “Fancy, all that fuss for a toy.” The boy took the rabbit and responded, “Give me my bunny. You mustn’t say that, he isn’t a toy, he’s real.” When the rabbit heard that, he was overjoyed because he was real at last. He was no longer a toy, he was real. The boy himself had said it. God says to you that you are not play things of fate, you are real and as such, you can experience life more abundantly. Because God loves you, you receive the gift of life and begin the process of real life.