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If the polar bear is obvious - does that make me the caveman?

When explaining the primitive mind to clients I often use a wonderful metaphor involving a polar bear…. Whilst out for an adventure with my son today we came across a polar bear... in a park… too good not to write a quick blog about.

Crocodiles don’t come into the session, but that image was too funny not to include!

A discussion covering caveman and polar bears might seem an odd place to start a hypnotherapy session, but they provide wonderful examples of our primitive mind and the way it reacts under certain situations. Unless you happen to work with wild animals, particularly polar bears (my son’s ideal job) then hopefully your reaction to a polar bear outside your front door would be a raised heart rate, blood pumping, sweaty palms and a desire to run – or similar symptoms. Standing there assuming the polar bear wants a cuddle is not an ideal response!

An actual polar bear with big teeth and claws is something we should be afraid of – but much of what else we experience in life is down to individual perceptions and experiences – to some extent we make our own polar bears and cause the resulting stress, anxiety and mental health challenges. These metaphorical polar bears and the impact they have on our lives is different for everyone, but we do all experience them on some level and in the most basic way our responses take the form of anxiety, anger and depression.

Take the caveman (or woman) for example, unable to head outside to hunt and feed the family for one reason or another, anxious due to wild animals (more polar bears perhaps), poor weather and the like. Hiding around the fire with the rug pulled up over their heads keeping warm and safe sounds like a good plan – but it cannot go on forever, it is not a long-term solution – but it is also not unlike many modern-day descriptions of depression.

The caveman’s source of anxiety (poor weather, wild animals etc) is fairly clear to see, but there is the potential for frustration and anger due to an inability to hunt, as well as the additional possible need for anger to provide the strength to hunt and defend against competitors - be they man or beast.

As metaphors neither of these are too far from many people’s experiences of modern life – and vitally it’s important to know that the primitive mind that drove those responses is still alive and kicking 10,000 years on in our head during the digital age where the closest we get to a stressful hunt is the fight for a Tesco delivery slot – and yes I do appreciate the irony of that statement given they have been rarer than hen’s teeth throughout COVID..

When we operate from our rational and intellectual mind, we understand the impact of the polar bear, we recognise and make the right decisions, we look after ourselves and generally get things right in life. There is nothing wrong with responding instinctively to an actual polar bear – but I am here to help clients separate living breathing polar bears from challenges and issues that can be dealt with and moved from the primitive mind into the rational mind. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy might start with polar bears and cavemen – but it ends with successful goals and positive change.

I covered polar bears and cavemen in more depth in seminars for EventWell and Brightelm, which you can see elsewhere throughout my blogs. You can also find a far more in-depth study of Cavemen and Polar Bears in Andy Workman’s book by the same name.

Adam Baggs Hypnotherapy offers solution focused hypnotherapy in Cirencester as well as online hypnotherapy. Learn more about what I can help with here.

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