Surgery and Mindset

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Any surgical intervention, even a minor one, can be a trying life event. The very thought of going under the knife and surrendering control has the power to provoke a wide range of challenging mental and emotional responses.

While severity changes from one person to another, it is common for patients scheduled to undergo surgery to report elevated levels of stress, fear, anxiety and even depression. These are likely to increase when the surgery date is nearing or the procedure is considered to be major or lifesaving.

Your Mindset Matters

Unresolved mental patterns and emotions can produce a negative mind-set that may affect our quality of life and limits our experience. Essentially, a negative outlook and attitude can negatively impact treatment outcome and inhibit recovery. A more optimistic mind-set, as study suggests, means patients recover more rapidly and show an increased survival rate.

The study, which looked at 431 colon cancer surgery patients, found that the 13% of patients who had quality-of-life deficit and scored below 50 on a 100-point scale were almost 3 times as likely to have serious post-surgery complications to those who scored 50 points or above. In turn, those with complications were hospitalized an average of 3.5 days longer than the others.

Hypnotherapy for Surgery

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Helping patients successfully attend to quality of life issues is critical for a favorable outcome. Having utilized many therapeutic tools over the years, I can say with confidence that hypnotherapy is the most suitable tool for the job. It is the tool of choice because it works in the realm of the subconscious Mind where the root cause of the beliefs and perceptions fueling a negative mind-set can be identified, addressed and resolved. Let my Guided Imagery for Successful Surgery CD help you feel mentally prepared for surgery.

“Quality of life as measured in the study (mentioned above) is about more than happiness and how well people feel physically”, says Dr. Bingener or the Mayo Clinic. “It also includes the financial, spiritual, emotional, mental and social aspects of their lives and whether their needs are being met.”

Though hypnotherapy can help patients prepare for surgery in several ways, I wish to highlight the two most common challenges I see in my practice. These two challenges are fear/anxiety and grief. While each has its own set of characteristics, they are often weaved into a debilitating cycle that defines patient’s experience and outcome.

An example for such cycle is as follows: fear of being under anesthesia can lead to feelings of loss; loss of control. Loss of control bring about more fear, fear of waking up during surgery and feeling the pain or fear of not waking up from surgery at all… this in turn can bring about grief over loss of health, independence, identity which feed into fear of being a burden, disfigured, etc.

The list, we keep going over and over in our mind, of things that can go wrong seems without end, but the reality is that with the advancement of technology and medicine surgery is for the most part a safe procedure.

Conscious versus Subconscious

If the above statement did not comfort you or lessened your fear you are in good company. The truth of the matter is that knowledge isn’t enough to put our minds at ease. Everything we know about hospitals, illness, surgery and recovery, for good and for bad was learned. A headline in the paper, conversation around the dinner table, a developing story watched on TV etc. and for all intended purposes it would not have been a good headline or topic of conversation if there was no real drama, a real punch of negativity and fear embedded in it.

If we harbor negative beliefs around surgery despite the fact we ourselves never had any bad experience to reference; it means we acquired these beliefs from someone or somewhere else. This is precisely why hypnotherapy is such a valuable ally in addressing, resolving, creating and maintaining the right attitude and mindset because it allow us to work in the realm of the subconscious mind where these erroneous beliefs and perceptions reside.

While conventional therapy (as in talk therapy) primarily engages the conscious mind, hypnotherapy primarily engages the subconscious mind. It therefore allows us to recall, review and override erroneous beliefs and perceptions, address the root cause of negativity and establish a mind-set conducive to recovery. Changing the cause from negative to positive means changing the effect and thus establishing a healthy mind-set vital to favorable outcome.

Reprinted with permission of Avinoam Lerner

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