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A few weeks ago, I was observing a recorded hypnotherapy session of a client who presented to a colleague with self-doubt and regret for what she had been defining as her complicity in a traumatic event.

The therapist had moved the client forward to the point at which the client realized that her intentions were innocent going into the event. She saw that her experience now informed her of what to avoid going forward, but that she couldn't then have understood to avoid what she didn't yet know.

Her shoulders relaxed as she exhaled and said, "I did the best I could."

While her language was no longer self-recriminating, it also wasn't congratulatory. HER best was not great. More like ok, more acceptable than not, tepid.

I may have left it at that, and hoped for more in the future.

But the therapist replied, "AND you were also doing the worst you could."

Mind blown. That retort allowed the client to see what had, until that moment, been invisible to her: That there WAS a worse that could be done, and that she wasn't doing it.

(Here you are, way above all that possible bad stuff that you not only weren't doing, but didn't even occur to you to do.)

I'm a "good" girl. Pleaser. A yogi, do no harm type. If I'm honest with myself, I see that, in an effort to lift clients, I often try to reframe their experience by using language that I'd traditionally think of as appreciative. (Essentially, "Look how great you're doing!" Rah, rah!)

Using a sentence embedded with "Doing the worst you could", would be far outside my normal inclination. But we can see where its power resides. Mind tries to process "worst" and discovers that "worst" is actually pointing to a better "best."

Unconscious mind is forced to work this out. It isn't simple, but because it creates a dilemma, it becomes even more powerful in terms of allocating attention and resources.

And isn't that the very nature of powerful influence?

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