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If at first you don’t succeed…

By on November 11, 2014
Picture courtesy of Stuart Miles and

When the Scottish King, Robert the Bruce,  was fighting the English he found himself alone and defeated. Hiding out in a cave, he watched a spider carefully build her web at the entrance to the cave. Annoyed that the world continued to spin in spite of his troubles, Robert swept the web away, only to see the spider begin the build her web again. Each time the warrior king swept the web away, the determined spider begin again.

Robert the Bruce finally got the message the universe was sending him, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.

Researchers at Stanford School of Medicine claim to have discovered the part of the brain that deals with perseverance while mapping the brains of epileptics prior to surgery. This brain area, which we will call the Robert the Bruce area for easy reference, lies within the anterior midcingulate cortex (aMCC), and links various other brain areas, just as perseverance must link other states, emotions, and actions, and therefore various brain areas together.

Application to Hypnosis

Knowing that there is a specific brain area that needs to fire to give us the gift of perseverance is good to know. Of course this knowledge does not necessarily allow us, or our hypnosis clients, to actually access perseverance. This requires more standard hypnotic techniques!

As hypnotists we need perseverance to help our client. There is a behavioral rule called the ‘Law of Requisite Variety’ that states that the most flexible part of a system controls the system. Put another way, the person who has the most flexible perseverance wins. If you, as the hypnotist, are prepared to present varied approaches to your client’s issue, until they change, then they will ultimately change.

As Milton Erickson said when asked if he had ever failed with a client, “Not yet”. There is no failure until you give up.

Here is an article from Scientific American discussing the research.

The researchers had accidently discovered the location in the brain that triggers a person’s will to persevere. Such resolve, the ability to endure psychological and physical pain to overcome a challenge, varies from person to person. For instance, people who are depressed often find themselves so deprived of the ability to persevere that they cannot get out of bed. Will to Persevere Can Be Triggered by Electric Stimulation

Picture courtesy of Stuart Miles and

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