Our brains automatically do something called ‘pattern matching’ and it happens all the time. The brain is an amazing piece of kit that strives to protect us and pattern matching is a great way to do this.
It works like this: something bad happens; your brain reacts by signalling a behaviour for you to react in a way that will protect you; you survive; job done.
We learn a behaviour, often without even realising it, and because it worked once the brain thinks it will work every time when you experience something similar. A lot of the time this works well, for example we learn not to touch very hot things etc. However sometimes a behaviour will work in the moment, but the brain might pattern match the same behaviour to a different type of scenario, perhaps perceiving a bigger threat than there is. A phobia is an example of this: once a spider made me jump so now I hate all spiders and run away screaming.
Think of the pattern match as the trance and the outcome as a behaviour. One of the ways Cognitive Hypnotherapy works is to interrupt the pattern matching processes that cause you a problem, fear of flying for example. The therapist will uncover what makes up your pattern match, or trance state, and work with you to change the processes attached with it – thus removing it, not learning to live with it.