Monday, January 27, 2014

When I snap my fingers you will cluck like a chicken

Last week I wrote about depression. It's a difficult struggle to win, like trying to clean your hands of glue. Sometimes a single, bad experience or time can throw you into it. But sometimes the reverse is true, and a seemingly unimportant occurrence can help to pop you back out.

I had a lovely experience this weekend seeing Rich Guzzi perform a comedy hypnosis show. I'd never seen a hypnosis act before, in part because I'd skipped the events in college due to a fear that I would be peer pressured into volunteering and then be hypnotized against my will. Of course now I know that you can't be hypnotized involuntarily, as the whole point is to put one into a state open to suggestions; this was clear during the show as the volunteers who were clearly not under hypnosis were removed from the stage.

Spending over an hour laughing, clapping, and banging on the table along with an entire roomful of other people was a great experience in itself. Seeing a comedy hypnotist is different from seeing a stand-up comedian is that with the latter, audience members tend to stay always slightly on the offensive, fearful that they will be picked out as the subject of the next joke. On the other hand, as an audience member at a hypnosis show, it was a different experience. All of us in the audience who declined the invitation to be hypnotized could relax. In addition, the volunteers or "performers" allowed for a higher level of connection between the crowd and performers; they were normal people being honest and open- and funny.

Towards the end of the show, Rich Guzzi said that he wanted to bestow some positive energy on the volunteers and invited the audience to participate as well. As we closed our eyes, he intoned encouraging statements and images. "You feel that every day is better than the last, so that every day is the best day of your life," he suggested. He encouraged us to be reminded of new opportunities in our everyday lives, to appreciate ourselves, and to have confidence, determination, and contentment.

Strangely (or perhaps not) this short positive-thinking seminar had a powerful effect on me. I realized that I've been waiting for everyone else to tell me that I'm worthwhile, that I'm doing a good job, that I'm enough. And while it's nice to have other people recognize this, I had forgotten that I don't need them to. I'd gotten into the habit of not telling myself these things as a form of protection, so that I wouldn't be hurt when others didn't affirm my worth. What a mistake that was.

Ever since that night I've been intoning some of those things in my head before I go to sleep. And I believe them. I like myself. I'm worthwhile. My life is good and tomorrow will be good. There are possibilities everywhere, some that I can't even imagine now. And you know what? It works. I've been sleeping better, and getting up earlier. Two out of three days since I've gotten up to go to the gym in the morning- something I haven't been able to do in months (although I go in the evenings, a morning workout is a marvelous way to start the day). I've felt better about myself and have been able to cut down on my nervous snacking, a habit that's literally been automatic whenever I've had a bad thought in the past 12 months. I feel peaceful and motivated (something else that has been frustratingly lacking).

I'm not crediting all of this to the magic of a comedian/hypnotist. But I'm definitely crediting him with reminding me of the things I need to claim for myself. I'm feeling these things now because I believe that I deserve them and that I can hold on to them. Problems are merely obstacles and are not equatable to a dark future. The future is unresolved, but not cloudy. It's like a night sky, full of distant stars we can't resolve, but which are beautiful and become stunning the closer they become.

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