Spring is here and soon summer. This time of year many of us start thinking about getting away from home to head to the beach, see family, or take a vacation.
I have recently had the distinct pleasure of travelling with my sister's family to visit my brother-in-law's hometown of Cuenca, Ecuador.
On this trip we received the local view of the cities and towns that most tourists probably miss. From the biggest port city in the country of Guayaquil, to the turquoise colored waters of the beaches in Salinas, and the UNESCO World Heritage city of Cuenca nestled in the southern Andes Mountains which boasts a large and growing expat community from the United States of over 7,000.
However, I found it odd that on several occasions when I walked around Cuenca, I saw none but possibly three Americans. Why is that I wondered?
I later found out that expats from the United States have created their own community on the western outskirts of the city. The locals refer to it as "Gringolandia".
I thought it odd to travel to such a beautiful country of warm people, rich culture, outstanding eternal spring like weather, and gorgeous river and mountain vistas only to stay among others like yourself.
Then I realized, nearly every nationality of people have done the same thing when relocating to the United States. From Chinatown to Little Italy, Germantown to Greek Town, and the predominately Latino American neighborhoods, African American neighborhoods, Korean American neighborhoods. The list could go on, but part of what is happening is that we all find comfort in the familiar faces, foods, language, and culture of home even while enjoying the advantages of a new country.
Why is this? Throughout our life, our brains have replayed habits and patterns of thinking and behaving millions of times. These habits have carved neural pathways of communication in our brains. This is why deviating from these familiar patterns and habits feels so uncomfortable and foreign.
The same thing happens with other habits of ours like sleeping, eating and exercising, smoking, and even situations calling for increased confidence and self-esteem. These habitual ways of reacting and behaving have also etched neural pathways in our brain. Changing to new behavior patterns even when it is in our best interest is very hard. It is difficult to overcome the familiar and stick with the “foreign” behavior even when we really want to lose that weight, sleep better, or give up cigarettes.
Thankfully, this is where hypnotherapy thrives since it works at the deeply ingrained habitual level called the subconscious. The subconscious derives great meaning from metaphors and stories. Therefore, when you talk to your subconscious using such stories the new behaviors you want to create start feeling familiar right away.