“I’m unhappy.” “I’m anxious.” “I have no confidence.” “I can’t concen¬trate.” “I can’t stop smoking.” ‘I can’t sleep.” “I’m in pain.” “I’m afraid to fly.” “I can’t lose weight.” “I want a relationship.” “I have stage fright.” “I procrasti¬nate.” “I’m afraid of men.” “I’m afraid of women.” “I can’t take tests.” “I can’t have sex.” “I’m heartbroken.” “I hate spiders.” “I can’t drive anymore.” “I feel unworthy.” “I’m broke.” “I’m stressed.” “I’m depressed.” “I’m lonely.” “I’m afraid.” “I hate my life.” “I hate the way I feel.” “I’m a failure.”
Chances are, as you are reading this, one or more of those statements (or something like them) might be resonating with you, and maybe you would like to change that. If so, I’d like to help you. As a clinical hypnotherapist and personal empowerment specialist, I work with hundreds of people every year. My clients represent the entire spectrum of professional and socioeconomic backgrounds. People seek my help in making a change to some aspect of their lives. The list of issues in the previous paragraph is a small but representative sample of the kinds of problems my clients wish to overcome.
As you can see, the desired change may be behavioral, emotional, physical, or spiritual, and most often involves some combination of these areas—what I call the pillars of the human condition. My clients find me because they are in pain; something (sometimes many things) in their life feels broken and they cannot seem to un-break it themselves.
Most people who get that way (and that would include almost everyone in one way or another and at one time or another) feel worse in their situation because they mistakenly believe themselves to be unique, both in their pain and in their inability to fix themselves. So one of the first things I do with every new client, often before their first visit, is to reassure them that they are not at all alone in feeling stuck and in pain in their issue. I also assure them that most people need a little help becoming unstuck. It is simply a result of evolution and the functionality of the human brain and the attitude of mass consciousness in Western society that somehow sees weakness in needing help to solve a personal internal, emotional, or habitual problem. I suppose we can thank the Puritan Ethic for that notion.
One of the next points I make is that, contrary to what they may think or feel right at the moment, life is not supposed to be painful. Quite the con¬trary; life is supposed to be fun. I always state this with total aplomb and lots of enthusiasm; let there be no doubt here: Life is supposed to be fun!
I do not pretend to know exactly what that means for any given individu¬al; we all have our own definition and version of what a fun life is. Whatever it is, it is most likely not an unending succession of hedonistic indulgences and it most definitely is not supposed to be painful, drudging, lonely, or a constant struggle.
We are all equally deserving of a happy, peaceful, loving, joyful, abun¬dant existence. I tell them—and I absolutely believe this—that it should be a pleasure to get out of bed in the morning, to look forward to whatever the day holds in store, and then go about living it with enthusiasm and happiness. Will it be perfect? Of course not, but it can and should be mostly wonderful. Quite often, the initial response I receive is a somewhat blank, almost quizzical stare, sometimes with a little concurrent sideways tilt of the head; a tacit but clear, “Say what?” I believe this expression is a universal response to something baffling, confusing, or incongruent, and one that is not unique to people. We often see our dogs display a similar reaction when confronted by something particularly interesting, unfamiliar, or confusing to them.
Of course, we cannot know exactly if that is what our dogs are experienc¬ing when they do that, but it is indeed most often the case with a new client because I can and do ask why this notion seems so foreign, and they can and do answer me. For most, the idea of life being a truly enjoyable, abundant, ful¬filling, happy experience—fun, in short—is simply absurd because it is exactly the opposite of what they have learned to believe.
Moreover, life as fun is not at all what they have experienced, and they have the emotional and behavioral dysfunctions and scars to prove it. “Buddy, after I tell you what I’ve been through, let me see you say that again with a straight face. Life is supposed to be fun? Are you kidding? Humph, mutter, mutter, and more mutter. Phooey; maybe I want my money back!”
I always stick to my guns on this point, and from that seminal moment forward, the whole process of our work together, the whole therapeutic enchi¬lada, so to speak, is focused and centered on one key goal. That goal is to have them unlearn what they have grown to believe and experience, and relearn that life is not only supposed to be fun, but also that anyone and everyone— let me say this again—anyone and everyone has all the resources within them to make it just that.
My work, my passion, is to help my clients find and utilize those resources, and, most often, they do so in a big way. Resolving their initial issue, regard¬less of what it is, opens the floodgates to further growth and empowerment. I take immense satisfaction in watching a client leave my office after his or her last session with a glowing smile, expressing and projecting a completely new energy of purpose and control in his or her life. This usually occurs within a short period—sometimes only a few sessions throughout a few weeks are enough. And therein lies the purpose for and of this book.
In these pages, I will share what I’ve learned through my own journey and what I teach every client I work with about how to make life not just fun, but also joyful, peaceful, prosperous, and full of love and abundance of any and every sort one might desire. When you learn how and then choose to take control of your life, everything about it becomes more…well, more fun! Redundant, I know, but quite true.
The models, tools, and techniques that I have developed and bring to bear in this process were given the term Synthesis for a reason. In any context, synthesis is the bringing together and combining of parts, sometimes rather diverse parts, to form a coherent whole. That whole, if constructed well, shows the “truth” more completely than the constituent parts taken separately. (You have no doubt noted that the word truth appears in quotes. There is a reason for that affectation that will become clear later. For now, I ask that you simply keep it in mind as you read. Don’t worry; I’ll remind you about it anyway when the time comes.)
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
As much as possible, I am going to introduce you to Synthesis very much the same way I do it in the clinic, or at a…