What Exactly Is Secondary Gain?
No, secondary gain does not refer to another stubborn layer of fat around the middle. That is what I thought it meant, the first time my hypnotherapist brought up the topic. It turns out that I was not losing weight quite as quickly as expected by hypnosis – a weight loss method that generally produces fast, lasting results.
“I knew it!” I exclaimed. “I am destined to be fat forever!” At this point, my hypnotherapist looked at me long and hard and explained that she suspected that the issue of secondary gain was the culprit. Hypnosis wasn’t the problem – rather, it was the fact that I was somehow benefitting from all the extra weight I was carrying. An absurd idea I thought at the time, considering that I felt truly desperate to slim down, and look like all the other successful young women who surrounded me at work.
At that moment, I couldn’t think of a single, logical reason why I would want to remain overweight. However, the beauty of hypnosis is that it is absolutely possible to explore one’s genuine thoughts and feelings – including discovering some hidden issues from the past that maybe causing disruption to a person’s present-day life. My hypnotherapist and I agreed upon a session the following week, and as usual, I easily entered a deep, hypnotic trance where I felt extremely comfortable and relaxed. Guided by the gentle, supportive sound of my hypnotherapist’s voice, I allowed myself to drift back to years ago when I was a young child.
The next little while is hazy, but I do remember an awareness that my two brothers were there, along with my father. My father loved me very much but supported my brothers one hundred percent, in their schoolwork, and later on in their professional careers. Both became extremely successful – one is a lawyer, and the other a doctor. Although I too had a lucrative career as an accountant, there was very little recognition from other family members.
Then, I heard my father speak up. “You don’t have to worry about school” I heard him say “You’re an attractive girl, and will make a rich man very happy”. As I heard these words, my heart sank. More than anything else, I wanted to be admired for my scholastic ability as my brothers were. Yet, here was my father telling me to focus on my physical appearance so I could take on a supportive role for someone else. No wonder I found it difficult to lose weight!
During the next few weeks, my hypnotherapist and I worked through these issues from my childhood. I was able to re-visit this difficult event, and re-frame what had happened, from the perspective of an adult. I understood now, that although my father had meant well, he should not have treated me differently, from my brothers. As a successful businesswoman, I no longer require his approval – I can give it to myself! Oh yes, I’m happy to report that I have continued to lose weight and keep it off – for me!