I’m often told I would be late for my own funeral. I keep friends waiting, I’ve been late for job interviews and I’ve turned up to events just as they’re finishing. Close pals think my chronic lateness is endearing, bless ‘em. But I’m done with being labelled. Plus, I want to prove my mourners wrong. So, in desperation, and for punctuality’s sake, I turn to cognitive hypnotherapy. I just hope I can get to the appointment on time!
I’m pinning my hopes on Sarah Jons, of London Hypnotherapy. She first calms my misapprehensions about swinging pocket watches and hapless audience members being put on stage to cluck like chickens. Hers is a therapy carried out while the patient is in a natural hypnotic trance, similar to being absorbed in a book.
“Clients use their mind to solve their own problems,” she says. “My role is to facilitate the process using techniques from many different therapeutic approaches.”
Jons’s clients range from the obese looking for a last-ditch attempt to lose weight before gastric banding, to women who constantly date the wrong men.
‘I’m feeling sleeeeepy’
Sitting on a couch, I offer Jons a typical scenario featuring my tardiness.
If it takes one hour to reach somewhere, I think 30 minutes is fine. In that time, I’m tearing my place upside down getting ready. Then, due to whatever quirk, I find clothes to launder or a bench to tidy.
Jons concludes there are multiple personalities at work here: the arrogant Rebecca; the anal one; and the disorderly me.
I slip into a reclining chair and she asks me to visualise I’m in a conference room, inviting each of these personalities in, one by one. She beseeches them to help me in my endeavour never to be late again and I relay their answers. They are resistant at first, but, eventually, each of these stubborn little figments of my imagination concedes.
“Our brains rely on patterns and familiarity,” Jons explains. “Imagine our memories are a string of pearls. We’ve got to remove a pearl to break a negative strand.”
On that principle, I recall a memory of my frenzied mother rushing about the house, late for church on a Sunday morning. The stress and pangs of guilt I felt in my god-fearing childhood are comparable to what I feel when my adult self is late. Jons asks me to twist an imaginary knob on my body to release the pain. I also figuratively clasp the childhood memory with both my hands and draw it away from my face, further and further, until it’s detached from my memory bank. After roughly an hour, I am gently coaxed back into my present state.
On time, every time?
It takes at least 21 days to break a habit
and I’m not quite there yet. In the meantime, I listen to a recording each night.
Jons’s voice is soothing. “Time no longer controls you,” she chants. “You control time.”
As I drift off, I feel the lifelong demons of my bad habit begin to shrivel away. Better late than never, I suppose.
Mindful sleep therapy: A lack of restorative sleep can lead to all sorts of problems. Learn to stop fighting insomnia. londoninsomniaclinic.co.uk
Floatation: Relax your body and easy your mind by ‘floating’ in a salt water capsule. floatworks.com
Alexander technique: Improve the ease and freedom of your daily movement habits to better balance and reduce tension.