Only one dog bit me, so why am I afraid of all dogs?

Every experience we ever have in life is stored somewhere in our memory.  Our memory forms a library of all the things that have ever happened to us.  We may think that we have forgotten something, but unless we have suffered some physical damage to an areas of our brain, the memory is lurking there somewhere.

Now here’s the thing, our memory isn’t passive.  As new experiences are added in our life our memory links them to similar experiences and for want of a better word filters them and influences them.  Have any of you been to a new town and walking down the street suddenly realize that you have been there before.  The memories start flooding bank as your mind links the new visit to the old.  But more than that, what happened to you on those previous visits will come into play.  If you enjoyed your previous visits you are more likely to enjoy this visit.  Conversely, if bad things happened to you on previous visits, then you are less likely to enjoy this one.  For example, I was robbed on my first visit to Budapest.  Since then, I must have visited the city ten times.  It is a beautiful city, but each time I go, I get worried and stressed, because my memories of Budapest will always be filtered and influenced by that first visit.

Well that’s logical you say to yourself.  But this is where logic goes out of the window.  When we recall and start linking memories of previous experiences to our new experience, the whole process is not looked over by a nice polite logical librarian, but rather by a psychotic monkey – you know the ones in the zoos that jump up and down, waving their arms around and making lots of noise.  When our psychotic monkey sees that a previous similar experience was a really bad one, all logic goes out of the door.  Our monkey sets off a fight/flight response.  Adrenalin starts coursing through our body, our body temperature rises, we start breathing heavily, we start to have cold sweats – in short we start to panic.  So the fact that this particular event has nothing to do with the previous bad one is irrelevant, our mind links them and all logic goes out of the window.

Memory1

So what has this got to do with dogs.  Well a friend was telling me that he was bitten by a dog, when he was young.  Even though he is now well into middle age, every time he sees a dog he breaks out in a sweat, gets scared and starts to panic.  The dog bit him 40 years ago and no dog has bitten him since, but no matter he panics.

We can overcome feelings like this by creating new links in our mind, by starting to link the good memories about Budapest to each other rather than to the bad memory, by starting to link the memories of all the nice dogs we have met and break the link to the one bad dog.

Hypnosis can be a good way of helping you to break those “bad” links and start to create new “good” ones, so that the next time you have a new event which is similar to an old one, your own personal psychotic monkey will look and the links and smile rather than go into a rage.

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