Mike was referred to me by Sally, his fiancee. Always a great athlete and student, he earned an athletic scholarship to attend a good university in California. After 4 years of hard work, he graduated and set out to make his mark in the world. He interned at a prestigious investment company in his last year of college and after graduation he was accepted into their program of trainees. Mike immediately won the trust and friendship of his mentors and proceeded to gain new accounts.
His first year was exemplary. He had the look, aptitude, attitude and determination to be enormously successful in the world of investment management. But something interesting happened in the middle of his second and final year of training. He started to feel as if he wasn’t supposed to be there. Doubt entered his mind and behind the doubt was a deep, dark feeling of grief and guilt and no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn’t shake it.
In spite of these dark emotions, he showed up everyday, made tons of phone calls, and did everything he could to push through ‘the shakes’, as he called it. It was as if he was on a downhill spiral and there wasn’t any way to pull himself out of it. The positive responses from new accounts began to drop and his confidence started to dwindle along with them. His mentors tried to encourage him in any way they could but no one could understand what was happening, not even he could understand why he was feeling so lost. He tried to keep it from his fiancee Sally but she knew he was struggling. Finally, she suggested that he make an appointment with me to try the bio-feedback process that had worked so well on her and her mother.
When I met Mike, I was immediately impressed by him. He had the look and presence of a very successful young man. Tall, handsome and very likable, he spoke clearly and honestly about his concerns in an almost detached way but I sensed fear underneath his calm, cool appearance. When i asked him about it, he almost looked relieved.
“I’ve got 3 months to prove to my mentors that I am the right person for this job.”
“What happens if you don’t?” I asked.
“You’re out, just like that?”
“Yeah, they’ll have to let me go.” There was a slight quiver in his voice.
“So, what’s going on?”
“Honestly, I have no idea.” He suddenly looked like a little boy lost.
“I was enjoying my work until about six months ago.”
“What happened six months ago.”
“That’s the strange thing. Nothing happened. Everything was fine. Sally and I were thoughtfully celebrating my best friend’s birthday. My parents are happy, everyone that matters to me seems to be happy. So, I really don’t get it.
“When you say, you and Sally were thoughtfully celebrating your best friends birthday, what does that mean?”
“Well, he passed away about 6 years ago. So, we always like to do something in his memory.”
“That’s nice. Were his parents there?”
“No, I haven’t spoken to them for a long time. My mom is still good friends with his mom though.”
“So, you guys were childhood friends?”
“Yeah, he was my best friend and probably the best human being I’ve ever known. I still miss him.”
“I understand. So, 6 months ago nothing unusual happened.
“Nothing that I can recall.”
“Okay, well, let’s get on with the bio-feedback then.”
I was surprised at how quickly Mike entered a state of hypnosis. When working with any kind of trauma, there are several questions that I always ask the subconscious mind which are very helpful to the healing process:
- Is it important for us to know the time as in year, month, day etc. when the trauma happened?
- Is it important to know the place where the trauma occurred?
- Do we need to know if anyone else was involved in this trauma?
- What was the nature of the trauma? Was it emotional, physical, cellular or spiritual? In Mikes case, it was all four.
As I went through the process of asking Mike’s subconscious these questions the following unfolded. It started when Mike was 17. The location wasn’t important but knowing who else was involved was very important. All of these traumas had to do with his best friend Derrick. They were best buds since grade school. As children they were virtually inseparable. Their mothers were best friends as well so that made it convenient for them to hang out all the time. They played sports together, had sleep-overs and had a relationship that was more like brothers then friends.
One of the things they really liked to do as they got older was to fly down to Cabo San Lucas in Derrick’s uncle’s plane. Year after year, the trip to Cabo was the primary focus of their conversations through out the year. By the time they got to high school, they had been there many times and had created many awesome memories. As they began to approach their junior year of high school however, Mike became more aware than ever that his family couldn’t afford to send him to college. He, therefore, had to start focusing more and more on getting his grades up and being more of a star athlete. This took a lot time away from his best friend but Mike was so focused on getting that scholarship, that he completely overlooked his friendship with Derrick, assuming that everything would go back to normal once he had secured the scholarship.
Derrick understood Mike’s situation but he really missed talking and hanging out with Mike. Derrick’s mom couldn’t help but notice that Derrick was getting more and mote depressed so she reached out to Mike’s mom and asked if Mike would talk to Derrick to see if he could get him out of his depression. When Mike’s mom told him about Derrick’s depression Mike immediately realized he had been neglecting his best friend and called Derrick and apologized for being so distant. They made a plan to go down to Cabo again as soon as spring break rolled around.
Derrick was so elated that he promised Mike that he would take care of planning all their activities for Cabo while Mike was focussing on his grades and getting that athletic scholarship. As spring approached both of them were ecstatically happy and looking forward to their favorite vacation. One week before the trip, everything was in order; all the plans were made, Derrick’s uncle had his plane primed and ready for takeoff. Everything was perfectly set for the following weekend. They planned on leaving the following Friday right after school to get an early start on their spring vacation.
On the Tuesday prior to their trip however, Mike got the call regarding his long sought after scholarship. His interview was to take place on Friday and possibly Saturday of the weekend of their planned trip. The timing couldn’t have been worse. Knowing how important this trip was to Derrick, Mike asked his counselor if there was any way that he could postpone the interview, to no avail. When he called Derrick to tell him that he couldn’t make it, Derrick was quick to make Mike feel better.
“Don’t worry about it buddy” Derrick said, the sadness in his voice was obvious, “Dude, Cabo will always be there. We can go next year. The important thing is that you get this scholarship. Who knows, later on when we’ve graduated from college and we both settle down and have wives and kids we’ll probably still be going down there, but we’ll be taking our families with us, right?” Mike’s response was slow and measured. He knew how disappointed Derrick was.
“I’m sorry man. I’ll make it up to you. Okay?”
“There’s nothing to make up. Its all good, without you hogging up the girls, there’s just more señoritas for me.”
“You’re still going though right?”
“Yeah, my uncle got the plane all ready for the trip, so we’re still goin.”
“You’re the best dude.”
“Yeah, well, we’ll see about that.”
When Friday rolled around Derrick and his uncle boarded the plane and set out for Cabo and Mike went to his interview and succeeded in getting the scholarship. Shortly after Mike had returned home and was being congratulated by his parents, a news flash appeared on the television. A small plane with two passengers went down near Cabo San Lucas. Details would be forthcoming. Immediately, Mike called Derrick’s mother hoping to find out from her that Derrick was safe and had already reached Cabo. Unfortunately, no one picked up the phone. The hours crawled along as Mike and his family desperately tried to keep their hopes up that the plane that went down wasn’t Derrick’s and even if it was, they were holding hope that Derrick and his uncle had survived. It was late that night when the complete details got back to Mike. Just before the news aired on the TV, Derrick’s mother called Mike’s home and Mike picked up the phone. Derrick’s father revealed to Mike that his wife was too grief stricken to talk. Sadly, Mikes worst fears had come true. According to the local witnesses, the plane stalled then dropped to the ground so hard and fast that it exploded on impact. Neither Derrick nor his uncle had any chance at surviving the horrible crash.
As much as he tried to forgive himself for not being on that plane, Mike held on to the trauma of letting down his best friend. Every time he looked at Derrick’s mother he felt her pain, knowing that she looked at him and imagined what her son would probably look like as he got older and what he would be doing. It got so painful that Mike couldn’t stand to see her anymore. So he started to distance himself from Derrick’s family. On the surface, Mike appeared to be okay. He processed this trauma on every level and reasoned out that he probably wouldn’t have been able to do anything to save Derrick and his uncle. More than likely he would have died with them. Here’s what is interesting about the emotion called guilt, even though Mike had rationalized it down to the most minute detail, he still couldn’t help but feel quilty. His subconscious mind was still holding on to the guilt. But remember, he wasn’t holding on to the negative emotion because he wanted to, he was holding on to it because he didn’t know how to let it go. And eventually, it shows up at the most inopportune times and when we least expect it.
The bio-feedback session revealed that Mike’s behavior was personal sabotage brought on by the belief that it was more important for him to be unsuccessful. The reason being that if he became successful in life, it would only mean more pain for Derrick’s parents who would be thinking that if Derrick had lived, he would now be doing what Mike is doing. Therefore, the less successful Mike was, the better it would be for Derrick’s parents because he would be sparring them pain. The last thing Mike wanted to do was to create more pain and suffering for Derrick’s parents who had already suffered enough. As ridiculous as this kind of reasoning sounds one must remember that emotions aren’t logical.
Once we released Mike’s trauma, he started to regain his clarity and confidence. The old belief that he would be hurting Derrick’s parents by being successful was replaced by the belief that he was actually honoring his best friend by living a happy, fulfilled life. In a very short time, his career started to take off. People who had formerly passed on using him to manage their investments suddenly began calling him and asking him for his help.
Mike not only proved himself worthy of being an excellent investment manager, he exceeded the company’s goals and even his own personal goals and went on to become a junior partner with the firm. His personal life flourished as well. He married Sally, purchased a new home and is now the proud father of two beautiful, healthy, happy, baby boys. He patched up his relationship with Derrick’s parents and to this day he still honors Derrick every year on his birthday. “I sometimes feel like I can hear Derrick’s voice cheering me on..” Mike said recently. “And when you have someone like him on the other side rooting for you, it’s impossible to fail.”