The ability to assert one’s mental powers over a physical or emotional problem or task is often referred to as “mind over matter,” and those of us who practice in mental health are great believers in the idea that our thoughts can and do have a significant effect on our lives. In fact, we are told in Scripture that “as [ a person] thinks within himself, so he is.” (Proverbs 23:7, NASB).
Sometimes we may wonder, however, how far we can go in shaping our lives by shaping up our thought patterns via prayer, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, meditation, etc. As a practitioner, I have seen impressive changes brought about by all these modalities, yet I must also admit that they don’t always work the way we hope they will. That should come as no surprise to anyone. Even in the more “scientifically grounded” area of medicine, it is well known that not every medication will work for every patient, nor will they always work the same way from patient to patient.
When we assume that any therapy or intervention involving the mind will always be effective, we are making the mistake of presuming that all minds are exactly alike. I have often had hypnosis clients tell me that when I suggested they relax by visualizing a beautiful beach, they called to mind a bubbling mountain stream instead. These clients are not trying to be difficult; it’s just that when they think of a relaxing, pastoral setting, their mind goes to the mountains instead of the shore.
This points to another mistaken notion about psychotherapy and about hypnosis in particular–the idea that we can actually control someone else’s mind and thoughts. Certainly, we can make suggestions, and to the extent that our clients trust our guidance, those suggestions will be fulfilled. It’s just that not everyone’s mind will fulfill a suggestion in the same way. And despite what you’ve seen in the movies or on television, we can’t really force you to do anything that goes against your closely held moral beliefs.
Yet when the therapist’s guidance intersects with the client’s wishes and desires, the results can be powerful and amazing. I have often had clients who are trying to lose weight report that new, healthier eating habits have become second nature to them–because this is what they really wanted in the first place. Minds working together on healing and health can do wonderful things–part of what makes our minds so wonderful.
Have you had a healing or changing experience of mind over matter? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.