The inability to be on time has plagued me my whole life. Being late has been the cause of a miserable school career and created unnecessary strife throughout adult life.
You might think it was simple to fix, and suggest that I wake up an hour earlier, get things ready the night before or set two alarm clocks. The list goes on and I have tried them all. To no avail.
Driven to distraction by the problem, coupled with a stern message from my boss on punctuality, I decided it was time to address this issue head on. On the recommendation of a friend, I booked myself into a course of sessions with the Abu Dhabi hypnotherapist Fiona Vitel.
Hypnotherapy is used to treat emotional and psychological disorders, undesirable feelings and unwanted habits. It attempts to address the subconscious mind by taking advantage of the relaxed state the subject is in. When in an altered state of awareness, a person can be helped to heal by listening to the therapist and following their instructions.
A course of hypnotherapy usually lasts between three and six sessions, depending on the problem to be addressed. I booked three.
We began the first session with a pre-interview during which we established what the problem was and what I would like to change. Then we moved on to the hypnosis, which was nothing like I had expected.
"One of the misconceptions people have is that they will lose power," Vitel says. "Even though you have entered an altered state of consciousness, you are still in control of your actions."
During the next two sessions, we regressed back into my childhood and I was encouraged to search my subconscious mind for memories and instances when punctuality, or time, had bothered me.
The memory that most affected me played in my mind like I was watching a movie. I was about five or six years old and had woken from an afternoon nap not knowing what time it was. There was a protest going on in the streets outside, and it was noisy and scary. I went to find someone to tell me what time of day it was, but everybody in the house was too busy to pay attention or listen.
I came out of the hypnosis some time later, shocked to discover my face wet with tears. The revelation: I had most likely been using a lack of punctuality and disorganisation as a way of gathering attention, even if I was not conscious that I was doing so.
"It might be negative attention that you get from your actions, but all attention, whether negative or positive, is still attention," Vitel tells me.
I have come to the end of the sessions feeling much more positive about life, and inspired to work harder. I am also getting to work on time.
Clinical hypnotherapist and psychotherapist Kam Gillar, who practices in Abu Dhabi, says that it is important to remember that hypnotherapy is not a magic pill. "In order for the process to work, the client is required to be committed to change and prepared to make the effort to make that change a reality. Hypnotherapy helps people to make changes in their behaviour, but it cannot force you to make any changes against your will."
Fiona Vitel is a hypnotherapist in Abu Dhabi. A three-session package costs Dh1,800; individual sessions are available. For more information, call 050 624 9932