I almost had to leave the room

Ever had uncontrollable giggles at precisely the wrong time?

I had them last week during a hypnotherapy demonstration. In fairness, it wasn’t just me but for some reason I found it took me much longer than other people to get a grip on myself. 

It happened when my tutor was demonstrating a hypnosis induction. This is where you start the process of taking someone into hypnosis by getting them to focus inwards and eliminate outer distractions. 

It’s usually a pretty easy, straightforward process, but for some reason the volunteer gave a little snorty giggle, and that set the rest of us off.

The little titters swelled into a fractured chorus of poorly suppressed squeak-snorts, and we bowed our shameful, reddened faces desperately willing the convulsions to stop. 

It got so bad that our tutor had to stop the induction and let everyone breathe and calm down before starting again. 

I thought I was OK after a minute’s designated chuckle time where we were encouraged to get all out, but when the class settled again for the demonstration, I found I still wasn’t over it, and I was the only one. 

This was bad. 

My eyes were streaming with the effort of keeping a lid on my laughter and I almost had to leave the room, but thankfully I remembered a technique that used to get me out of panic attacks when I suffered from anxiety. 

I distracted myself. 

I tried to remember the Rime of the Ancient Mariner - a poem I learnt in school. Of course, there’s no way I could ever remember all 143 stanzas - I can barely remember one - but I remembered enough bits and pieces to fully engage my brain and take me out of any feelings of fun frivolity because that poem transports me back to one of the dullest episodes in my entire school life - listening to verse after verse about some poor old seadog killing an albatross on his ship and being cursed forever. 

Water, water, every where

And all the boards did shrink:

Water, water, every where, 

Nor any drop to drink.

Just thinking of those words transport me back to a place of sheer boredom, enough to throw a big, dusty blanket over any unwanted laughter.

It took me a little while to get fully under the blanket:

Water. Water…


All the boards…


Nor any drop to drink…

Aaaaand there it is… nothing is funny any more.

You can use distraction any time you feel as if you’re focusing on something unwanted. 

What you focus on is what you feel. 

The same can work the other way - if you’re feeling down then transport yourself to a memory of when you felt happy. 

It doesn’t matter how long ago you felt it, or how seemingly insignificant the memory is, as long as it stirs some emotion in you. 

One of the memories I use to perk myself up is of the first day we brought our puppy, Eddie, home. 

That memory of him wagging his chubby bum and stumbling around on paws that were far too big for him always lights me up.

What uppers and levellers could you use next time you need to adjust your focus? It’s worth having a couple in the bank to call on when you need them. 

The author 

Vicki LaBouchardiere