What I do – working with people as a health and personal development coach and hypnotherapist – is a personal work. I know what I know not just from academic study but also from my own experience, which is why I can help others who are going through some of the same stuff. But although I’ve been blogging here for two and a half years now, I’ve never told the full story of how I came to be doing this. Here’s that story now.
When I was young I wanted to help people, so I joined the staff of a religious organisation that had helped me while I was at university. Unfortunately, its approach to helping people was like the Greek legend of the bandit Procrustes, who had an iron bed that all travellers must lie on. If they weren’t big enough for the bed, he stretched their limbs, and if they were too big, he cut pieces off until they fitted. There was only one true way, and it turned out not to be my way.
I couldn’t use my creativity or my intuition; I had to try to be exactly like the leaders, and I wasn’t much like them at all. There were interpersonal problems, too; nobody’s fault, no malice involved, but no less painful for that. I ended up in a major stress breakdown, depressed and very ill, and took several years to get back to the point where I could even work full-time. I didn’t lose my faith, but it froze over and became a hard, rigid, rational thing. I felt safer that way.
That experience put me off working in a direct people-helping role for years. Instead, I used my skills to arrange information, first as a book editor and freelance nonfiction writer, then as a technical writer and corporate trainer, and finally as an IT consultant. I was drifting, accepting whatever job opened up for me next – but I was also collecting valuable skills. I began to get a vague sense that someday they’d all come together.
Eventually, I grew enough inside that the very straight and narrow faith I’d been following became too constricting. I realised that there must be more to it, and found myself hanging out with a group of fellow burnouts, dropouts and rebels from the mainstream, meeting in a run-down old building on the city fringe. One of their mottos was, “Thinking allowed, thinking aloud allowed”. I slowly started to rebuild and restructure my inner life, and to explore in strange new directions. During this time I also met my wife, and discovered emotional resources that I didn’t know I had.
Meanwhile, I still had very little energy a lot of the time. I started to think that some kind of personal practice might help, and eventually found a Tai Chi class at a local high school. This gentle, balanced exercise, along with improved eating patterns, started to rebuild my energy, and eventually I began to search again for a way to help other people grow and change. I took a wonderful, transformative course on creating rituals and ceremonies, and made a significant step forward in my own healing, but that wasn’t quite it. Then I found hypnotherapy.
I took a community class first of all in self-hypnosis, and even though it wasn’t well taught, it was still amazingly effective in helping me focus and moving me forward in my emotional recovery. So I enrolled in a training programme to become a hypnotherapist.
Now all my experiences and skills are drawing together, as I’ve suspected for years would eventually happen. I use my creativity and intuition to put together metaphors for healing, either in the moment in the therapy room or when I create my audio recordings and ebooks. My editing and technical writing helps me translate scientific research into practical, clear steps that ordinary people can take in their daily lives, to solve their problems and come closer to their best selves. My past explorations in symbolism, ritual and spirituality enable me to draw on centuries-old traditions of personal transformation to complement the science, and acknowledge the richness and complexity of human experience. And I use information technology to reach more people worldwide with my resources.
So that’s how I got here. I didn’t follow a map or have a guide; it took me 20 years of wandering around in the underbrush, more or less at random. The thing is, now that I’m here I can call out to other wanderers – you, perhaps – and guide them on a more direct path to their own authentic goals.
If you’re in Auckland, New Zealand you can come and see me in person, but wherever you are in the world you can connect with me over this marvellous Internet dingus. At the moment I’m putting together a reference group to help me map out what resources would benefit people most in their current life situations. If you’d like to be a part of it, my email address is in the blog sidebar, or you can leave a comment on this post. Or direct-message me on Twitter: @MRMHypno.
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