Worst case scenario? When can the worst case scenario ever be useful? Let me explain…

I had been saying it to my current students, my friends, my clients, my family… “As soon as my cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy certificate is completed, I’ll have much more time to focus on getting things straight and into a routine again…”

The course was wonderful. We had a great bunch of students, all from differing backgrounds and with a range of experience, but were united in their readiness to learn. We are going to announce new dates for that course next year and the video footage will be posted in our Platinum members area in the next 1-2 weeks or so.

Then, back in the office, I remembered that we are launching our new self-hypnosis programme mid-July and it has not been fully written, let alone recorded.

Then I also remembered I am running two marathons in less than 3 months time which I need to train hard for following injury.

And on top of everything else… Pah… Who needs routine anyway? Who needs to feel up straight, eh? It is overrated.

I know I’ll cope, I know I have the skills to deal with it, I know I have done much more than this in shorter timeframes… So I am not too stressed about it… In fact, a little bit of stress keeps me firing on all cylinders and working smart.

I am not imagining the world caving in, and I am not imagining the worst things that could possibly go wrong… Though I did do on Monday when I had the day off. I went to the beach with my son, we went to the Bournemouth flying club café and watched the planes, then we went out for dinner and had a lovely time…. When I put him to bed, I spent some time imagining the worst case scenario of what could go wrong with the crazy workload I have right now… Yep, you read it correctly, I imagined the world imploding in on itself when I got to work the next day….

Let me explain.

One thing I have been working on in recent weeks while running the course and preparing the new self-hypnosis audio programme is looking at a number of ways (that fit in with the new model) of using self-hypnosis to deal with a wide variety of anxiety-related issues.

The strategy that I am going to share with you today involves you rehearsing your desired outcome in your imagination while hypnotised so that you feel capable of doing the same in the real world. Which sounds pretty regular to those who are accustomed with cognitive behavioural approaches to well-being.

This self-hypnosis process works with the fact that we spend much of our time running simulations of reality through our minds. Some consider it a benefit, but it can also cause us problems –  we often react to our own thinking and imagining about our reality, just as we do to actual perceptions and real-life experience of it.

Possibly more importantly though, as we react to our own thoughts and internal dialogue, we can become more detached from the reality we actually perceive of our life. For example, so many people tend to negatively dwell upon events and circumstances, imagining the worst case scenario happening or imagining be unable to cope with the event or it turning out to be catastrophic in some way; “aaaggghhh, the entire fabric of my life is burning to the ground!!!”

It is a bit of a relation of our ‘fight/flight’ response.

Those people tend to feel anxious about and avoid situations that seem likely to turn out badly for them. Worst case scenario themes that generate strong negative feelings of this sort tend to stick in our minds, perhaps because these feelings make them seem so real to us.

We get snared by this way of thinking! Each time we imagine life turning out in these negative ways, we generate feelings and real physiological responses associated with danger and catastrophe. Before we know it, we may have convinced ourselves that this negative interpretation of the situation is inevitable. Oh no! We’ll then either avoid the situation altogether, or cause it to go wrong in the way we imagined.

This type of thinking blocks our ability to make the situation turn out in the best way, and achieve a potential desired outcome. Rather than really going for it and engaging with the event to the best of your abilities, you end up self-fulfilling your worst fears.

This is widely referred to as performance anxiety. Performance anxiety describes a situation where you are so fearful about how you will do that your attention and imagination get stuck and results in you becoming tense or anxious, and so you prevent yourself from being able to do what you could have done relatively easily if you had simply relaxed.

Sooooooo, this self-hypnosis technique capitalizes on the relationship between thinking, feeling, imagining, and the resulting performance. It ends the anxiety and generates positive self-fulfilling prophecies.

You’ll start this process, as unusual as it may sound, by imagining the worst possible outcome, letting yourself experience all the bad feelings and negative consequences that go with that unwanted outcome.

Then you imagine a completely contrasting scenario, making everything work out well in your mind. By practicing this kind of imagined scene, you show yourself that there is really nothing to get anxious about. You show yourself that the very worst that could happen is not anywhere near bad as you may have previously feared. You show yourself that you really are capable of making it work out right for you and for you to perform at your best. You don’t even have to imagine the best outcome – you might simply imagine the most likely, the most realistic and get your mind accustomed to reality according to your intelligently reasoned thoughts.

5 Steps To Use The Worst Case Scenario For Your Benefit:

Get yourself into a comfortable position, ideally sat upright with your arms and legs uncrossed, in a place where you’ll be undisturbed for the duration of this exercise. Have in mind the situation that you’d like to feel comfortable and capable in, then follow these simple steps.  

Step One: Induce Hypnosis.

You can do so by any means you desire or know of. You can use the process in my Science of self-hypnosis book, use the free audio we give away on this website to practice or have a look at the following articles as and when you need them; they are basic processes to help you simply open the door of your mind:

Heavy Arm Self-Hypnosis Induction Method
Using Eye Fixation for Self-Hypnosis
The Chiasson Self-Hypnosis Method
Hand to Face Self-Hypnosis Induction
Using Magnetic Hands for Self-Hypnosis
The Coin Drop Self-Hypnosis Induction

However, with this process, an induction is potentially too much activity, so I teach my clients how to adopt a hypnotic mindset and simply have a mindset that is positive and expectant. Again, to really understand the cognitive set of the hypnotic mindset, go grab a copy of my Science of self-hypnosis book where it is explained in simple but comprehensive terms.

Once you have induced hypnosis, move on to step two.

Step Two:  Start to imagine that situation, event or circumstance that you want to have an agreeable outcome with. Imagine that the more vivid you make the scene, and the more you focus upon it, the deeper you go into hypnosis.

Continue to imagine the scenario progressing now. The day of the event/circumstance arrives.

Imagine everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. This might involve you getting up late, or waking in a bad mood or with a headache or feeling under the weather in some other way.

Then imagine the entire day occurring in stages, and everything continues to wrong throughout. Move through the day, all the way up to the actual event or crucial important moment for you to act, engage, perform or whatever it is you wanted to do.  Again, imagine that everything that could go wrong, does go wrong and turns out badly.

Add further negative details to this scenario – maybe add physiological symptoms that are evidence of you not coping well such as your hands shaking, sweating profusely, thinking calamitous thoughts or your mind going totally blank… Maybe even imagine making a fool of yourself and any other fears you had about this scenario actually occurring.

Now start to consider the impact of this imagined failure. Let the unwanted feelings grow.  Notice how other people respond and react to your failure. Colour this scenario with any relevant frustration, embarrassment or other unwanted emotive response. When you have enough of those negative feelings as is useful for now, move on to the next step.

Step Three: Take a couple of deep breaths. Imagine a curtain closing across your mind, or ‘white out’ your mind, or imagine the scene getting smaller and fading into the distance. Then focus exclusively upon your breathing.

Upon your exhalation, imagine your body relaxing more and more. As you breathe out start to state some progressive, strong cognitions. Consider saying to yourself something along these lines:

“I don’t have to feel this way. I’m free.”

“I’m in control of my life, I choose what happens.”

“I feel good being me, I know I am capable.”

“I am better than this.”

Say these words with belief and conviction. In a way that you truly believe in them. State them with assurance and a sense of ‘knowing’ them to be true.

Repeat the words to yourself as you breathe out strongly. Start to imagine you are breathing out the unwanted feelings and the last remnants of the old unwanted scenario, let it be gone. Breathe out strongly and powerfully, relax your body, dispel the old images and feelings – this should happen completely with about 5-6 breaths or so.

If you feel a little bit light-headed, just relax, let your breathing regulate, imagine you are going deeper into hypnosis. Then once the old, unwanted feelings have fully dissipated, move on to the next step.

Step Four: Consider how you want things to turn out, think about your desired outcome. Think about how you want to think, feel, act, and react in that situation so that things turn out as you want them to. Tell yourself that you are consciously choosing for this desired, progressive, healthy outcome to happen. Tell yourself you are taking control.

Run through events in your imagination again. Make it all as vivid as you possibly can. Imagine everything going ideally for you. It does not have to be perfect; it can be grounded in reality. See the sights (details, colours, shades of light etc) hear the sounds (those that are near and far away) and feel how good it feels for this outcome to be happening.

Perhaps imagine waking up in the morning after a revitalising and invigorating period of sleep. Maybe you imagine yourself doing self-hypnosis before getting out of bed, imagining the day ahead going wonderfully well – planning for it and expecting an ideal outcome.

Work through the day, being in a good mood, with high, expectant spirits. Notice things going well and turning out right throughout the day.  You might imagine that on occasions throughout the day, you prepare by using self-hypnosis and seeing things turning out right.

Imagine the day working out exactly as you would realistically and ideally hope it to turn out. Again, notice the reactions and responses of those you come into contact with – notice how they respond to you in every way. Enjoy their responses and reactions, let those feed your own positive response to this scenario. Work your way right up to the action, the key point, the performance….

Then notice it going ideally and wonderfully well. Experience  the thoughts, ideas and feelings that accompany your success. Let the good, personal feelings spread through your body, You might imagine them as a colour, spreading through you, building and amplifying.  Feel accomplished, feel proud, feel in control and spend all the time you want just basking in these feelings, continuing to encourage and support your self with your thoughts.

Once you have enjoyed this for long enough, move on to the final step.

Step Five: Exit hypnosis. Count yourself up and out, or wiggle your fingers and toes, breathe a couple of deeper energising breaths and open your eyes as you get reoriented to your surroundings.

This is a great process to “psych yourself up” and boost performance in a wide number of areas of your life. It is best used to prepare yourself for what lies ahead by mentally rehearsing in a focused fashion. For it to be the most beneficial, you ought to practice it repeatedly for a few days or even a couple of weeks leading up to your desired outcome or event.

If you have no strong concerns, worries, or anxieties about the situation to begin with or if you feel too tense, fearful, or uptight to feel comfortable about imagining your worst possible scenario then you can simply omit step 2 and 3.

This type of imaginative rehearsal combined with self-hypnosis is one of the most easy strategies to apply and can yield some of the most impressive results when it comes to overcoming or dealing with a range of anxiety-related matters. Enjoy it!

I’ll get back to my crazy schedule…. Which I am enjoying and feeling in control of!

Have some of themes here resonated with you? Then have a read of these pages:

1. Do you need help or support in a particular area of your life?
Coaching with Adam Eason Or Hypnotherapy with Adam Eason
2. Would you like a satisfying and meaningful career as a hypnotherapist helping others? Are you a hypnotherapist looking for stimulating and career enhancing continued professional development and advanced studies?
Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
3. Are you a hypnotherapist looking to fulfil your ambitions or advance your career?
Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.

Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar.