Healing Hand Technique for Breaking Addictions
I spent decades of my life overeating, thinking about overeating, then hating myself for overeating. Self-hatred is uncomfortable, and I tried to mask the discomfort by . . . you guessed it. . . overeating.
I’ve spent countless hours researching how to break food addiction. I’ve come across some elaborate plans and tried to follow complicated systems. Most information about food addiction is discouraging at best. Well meaning experts look at the "food addict" as broken. I was told by therapists that I would never be free of addictive behavior.
When I started to understand how the brain works and how so called addictions are formed, I realized the solution was far simpler than I could imagine. My relationship with food and my body was so painful and I had struggled for so long. I thought I must need a big scary intervention to solve my big scary problem. I disregarded the simple solutions. How could it be so easy when I’d struggled so hard for so long?
But I did find freedom from addictive behaviors by using simple techniques to stop cravings in their tracks. I learned to trust my amazing unconscious mind to release cravings from my body instead of white knuckling my way through diet after diet using willpower.
I recently discovered the brilliant work of Gordon Emmerson, PhD. The protocols explained in his book, Healthy Parts Happy Self, are life changing and can be applied to any addictive behavior or unwanted, inappropriate emotion.
This article will explain how to heal the part of a person that causes unwanted emotions like anxiety or fear and unwanted behaviors like addictions and OCD.
A State as a way of showing up in the world. You use a different state when you play with your puppy than when you ask your boss for a promotion.
Everyone has 50-150 different States, although we tend to use the same 5-15 on a regular basis. These are not multiple personalities, but physical wired in neural pathways in the brain that have formed with repeated behaviors.
Think of States as a large classroom full of students. Each student (State) acts differently from the rest and has it's own way of seeing, experiencing, and showing up in the world. But here's the catch. Only ONE student can stand in the front of the classroom at a time. (This analogy comes from Dr. Mike Mandel.)
Dr. Emmerson suggests that the unconscious mind is made up of all the students in the classroom who are not standing in the front of the room and the conscious mind is the student who is standing in the front of the room. If happy student is standing up (conscious mind), then sad student must sit down (unconscious mind). You can't be simultaneously happy and sad.
Why do people engage in addictive behaviors?
When someone repeatedly engages in an unwanted behavior like smoking or overeating, they are acting from a Vaded State or to silence a Vaded State.
This is the student in the classroom (State) who has been invaded by fear, trauma, or rejection and has not yet received the support and understanding necessary for closure. This childlike state has unfinished business and is stuck in the past. The Vaded State views present situations from the perspective of a traumatized child. A Vaded State experiences past pain in the present, giving power to something that's not real anymore.
The traumatized Vaded State (VS) has a lot of power and will come out at unwanted times until it's healed.
Mary has decided to adopt a healthy eating lifestyle but when the VS is standing at the front of the classroom she feels out of control and can't help but eat a whole pan of brownies.
George wants to speak confidently in front of an audience but VS causes him to sweat and tremble when he steps on stage.
You will know a Vaded State is standing at the front of the classroom if the client:
When the VS is standing up, the client feels like the bad thing that happened in the past is still happening, that is it still in danger, unloved, or misunderstood. It is living an illusion even though the bad thing is gone.
What does the Vaded State need to heal?
The Vaded State needs to feel safe, loved, understood, and supported. This will bring healing and closure to the childlike state so it can become Normal.
Normal States are healthy and carry out needed functions like work, rest, play. They communicate and work together with all the kids in the classroom and respect one another internally. They are not in conflict with other states and they feel good about themselves. They are emotionally mature, healthy, resourceful, and helpful.
When the VS is healed it will cooperate with other parts instead of triggering addictive, out of control behaviors or producing unwanted emotions at inappropriate times. When the VS experiences healing it will allow more resourceful states to stand in the front of the classroom.
Now when Mary sees a pan of brownies, her "Healthy" student can stand in the front of the classroom and she won't be tempted.
When George stands in front of an audience, "Confident" student will easily remain at the front of the classroom now that the fearful VS is healed and doesn't demand attention.
Why talk therapy is not the answer:
Vaded States can only be healed through feelings, not thought or intellect. Vaded States have strong feelings and it's impossible to heal them with intellectual thinking. When we analyze why the state is vaded, we have "Intellect" at the front of the classroom. The VS can only be healed when it is standing at the front of the classroom.
Asking "why" or trying to figure out when a state became vaded is unproductive and we are almost always wrong. "Why" does not promote healing.
The goal is to work with the Vaded State while it is in the front of the classroom so it can gain the understanding, support, and love it needs to become empowered, receive closure, and feel unconditional love and acceptance. This removes the power of the traumatizing person or event from the past. You must work with Vaded States when they're standing up front, feeling their upset, out of control feelings.
I'm going to teach you a simple, amazingly effective way to heal the Vaded State. Each time you use this exercise, the VS will become more Normal. Repeat the exercise each time the VS is standing up until it is Normal and cooperates and communicates with the other students in the classroom.
3 Steps to Heal the Vaded State
How to enlist the Healing State's help:
It's important to help the client understand that the Vaded State is a child-like part of them that needs help and the Healing Hand has all the resources necessary to fill that need. This exercise must be carried out while the Vaded State is in the front of the classroom. While the client is feeling the unpleasant emotions and out of control desires. The Healing Hand works beneath the level of consciousness (sitting down in the classroom) while the Vaded State is up front. The Healing Hand helps the Vaded State understand that the past is over and powerless and that the present is loving and safe.
The Vaded State is not bad or wrong. It should not be pushed away or fought against. The VS is healed with love and support. When it is nurtured, it gains acceptance and closure and becomes Normal.
What Vaded States can be healed with the Healing Hand?
All of them! Any State that has been invaded with fear, anxiety, anger etc as a result of a past traumatic, humiliating, or shameful event can be healed using this technique. Anytime the client has an inappropriate response to a present situation, the Healing Hand can help. A few examples follow:
Each time the Vaded State stands in the front of the room, the Healing Hand can be used to help it become more whole and Normal. In this way, the past issue is resolved and the previously Vaded State is no longer ruled by internal fears and feelings of rejection that used to control actions and emotions.
Healing vs Pardon
Healing the Vaded State allows the client to retain what they needed to learn from the situation and gain resolution and closure. Now they can think about the event without re-experiencing trauma and heavy unwanted emotions. They can retain the intellectual knowledge that a person or situation is unsafe without experiencing the emotional impact of the event.
The most empowering response to trauma is healing. The healing is done for the client's sake, not for the abuser (if one was present). If the client is constantly saying, "I hate you! I hate you!" to the perpetrator they remain trapped in the emotion of the event. Healing the Vaded State clears the energy of the event and allows closure, release, freedom, and empowerment. Now the perpetrator or situation can no longer upset the previously Vaded, now Normal State.
1. This technique was created by Gordon Emmerson and is explained in Chapter 5 of his book Healthy Parts Happy Self. This technique is only one of many equally useful exercises to help people integrate all parts (States) of themselves and become empowered to be the best version of themselves.
2. Mike Mandel is the phenomenal hypnotist who made me aware of Gordon Emmerson. I highly recommend his Brain Software Podcast if you'd like to learn more about how to change your state and many other hypnosis techniques.
3. The picture at the top of this article is the artwork of the talented Wendy Carlton. You can find her art here.