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Retro Editing

Retro editing is the process of altering the perception of one’s personal history to make it consistent with one’s beliefs.

Client X filled out his progress report and handed to me.

No improvement, he had written. Somewhat incredulous, I prodded for clarification. I had seen this before.

No improvement from the outset, he insisted.

The previous week’s report, however, enumerated several ways that his symptoms were being reduced. In other words, improvement.

When dealing with an ingrained behavioral issue, it’s not uncommon that, early on, we see progress in peaks and valleys.

This is one of the reasons progress reports are important. And always coming directly from the client.

Here it is, as they say, in black and white.

The subconscious mind tends to be a study in inertia. It resists change even as we work towards eliminating injurious habits. It’s as though it’s saying “this is how I am, this is how I’ve always been and this is how I’ll always be.”

In Orwell’s 1984 we see history being rewritten. They had, toward the beginning, always been at war with Eurasia. Later, they had always been at war with Eastasia; they had always been allied with Eurasia.

As preposterous as it may seem, we engage in this sort of retro editing more often than we might be aware of.

When the home team is on a losing streak we might forget last year’s winning season. A favorite artist issues a substandard work and we become soured on the earlier body of work. Circumstances change and our love is renewed.

Sometimes the effect is fleeting; in other cases it may be more permanent.

As a college student, Smith’s math performance slides to the point that he changes to a major in liberal arts. “I’ve never been any good at math,” he tells his advisor. The advisor points out the high entrance exam scores and the history of A level performance in high school.

In spite of being issued moving violations on a fairly consistent basis, Jones brags about being an excellent driver.

What do these proofs achieve? We’ve seen time and again how logic takes a back seat to emotion.

In these cases, and so many more, the subconscious exerts its authority; denying facts that contradict beliefs it holds.

By ignoring improvements, the subconscious mind can derail the efforts at creating positive change. In addition to being extremely powerful, the subconscious mind is also pretty sneaky.

The hypnotherapist works with the subconscious; speaks directly to the subconscious in the hypnotic state. In the face of this process, the subconscious mind always gives in. Given sufficient time the damaging habit is replaced with a beneficial one.

The next time client X comes in, there is a much more accurate assessment. The improvements are noticeable to him and he is more aware as his mind tries to deny those improvements.