I was connected, but not to myself

In a world that turned letters into emails, phone calls into texting and feelings into painted words on a screen, stay connected to yourself.

I was connected, but not to myself

Posted by Mia Pal on

The challenge

When John came to see me, he wanted help with what he called an unusual problem: internet addiction. Now, internet is such a big thing, constantly in and very rarely out of our lives that I was intrigued about what specifically he was referring to. To my surprise, it wasn’t anything in particular that he could name, nothing like gambling, sex or shopping. When I asked him to describe his addiction in his own words he said: ‘an uncontrollable urge to get out there, online, from when I first opened my eyes until I can’t keep them open anymore. I just go online and just stay there, looking at everything.’ Over 10 years ago, as a student, he connected through one of the chat rooms in an internet café to a girl with whom he started a close friendship. They lived in separate countries, but they decided that nothing would stop them from being together one day. Life decided otherwise. The girl’s family had other plans for her, and they forbid her from being in contact with John. He never heard from her again. Yet, in his heart the connection was never lost.

The effect

The fact that this was becoming so upsetting was an indicator that something else was behind it. And the clue came with a comment John made as he was reflecting: I don’t know when this took over me.’ I asked him to describe me how he felt after he realised the girl he loved was not coming back. At the beginning, he would just go there ‘online’ and wait for her hoping she would turn up like she always did. . Days turned soon into weeks and then into months and eventually years. Slowly churned in the mill of time, the memories became blurred and just going online for any reason at all became similar to just being in that familiar and comforting place. Although she had been long gone, he was still connected. He never stopped waiting and looking for her. But he could never remember he was doing that. And this non-remembering was what was so difficult to live with.


Using modalities and submodalities I asked John to describe what he first thought of and felt when I said the word internet. The answer came without hesitation - connection! When we switched roles and asked the imaginary character - ‘the internet’ to tell us how it viewed John the answer came as a surprise:’ lost case’. With John looking from a detached observer position, at the relationship between him and internet the missing links started to surface. Using hypnotic timeline John was able to go back in time and trace back the landmarks that accompanied this addictive journey. Going back in this way, helped him to connect the painful episodes when day after day after year he just had to live with the unbearable feeling of not knowing why and also with the guilt that he wasn't good enough for her. Over the course of 50 hours John worked on feelings of guilt and fear and also on contradictory beliefs that he held in relation to letting go of what it was hurting him. After each session, John would feel new memories emerging and feelings that he had not faced or accepted for many years resurfacing. He called this 'cathartic'.


With acknowledging and understanding his addiction John managed to let go of his past by reconnecting in turn to his present self. His words upon realising this were : ‘I was connected all this while…but not to myself.’ He also confessed that in the new light of events ,looking back it didn't feel like an addiction anymore, it felt like he didn't want to let go, he felt safe holding on to his beliefs, even when they started to affect his mental health. And how he looks at internet now ? Just simply a tool that can connect you with the outside world but not with yourself. In a world that’s seen our letters turning into emails, phone calls into texting and feelings into painted words on a screen, to stay connected to our true selves remains our number one tool in navigating the ever so chimeric waters of virtual promises.

Mia Pal
Mia Pal

NLP Life Coach, NLP Life & Communication Specialist, Life Transformation Coach, Master Hypnotist, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Time Line Coach & Trauma Release Specialist, Dream Sculpting