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Accidental Hypnosis: Can It Happen To You?

Wendy Lapidus-Saltz August 14, 2008

You are more powerful than you give yourself credit for. Honestly. When you say things off-the-cuff, you are rarely aware of the impact of those words and thoughts.

That's dangerous. And, yes, I do mean the casual statements you make to friends, to your kids, and most of all, to yourself.

You are the one person you are always around, the one you can't escape, who hears everything you say, both aloud and within the confines of your mind. While others can takea break from you, you are uniquely barraged by the thoughts you drum into your mind.

Some people call that kind of conversation self-talk. I call it unintentional self-hypnosis.

Please hear me out: unintentional self-hypnosis isn't always bad. Sometimes it's wonderful - if you talk to yourself nicely, encouragingly, about things you want and how you will move toward them.

But how many of us have truly empowering conversations in the privacy of our own minds, where no one is watching or hearing, except, unfortunately, our deepest selves. Yes, our childlike, subconscious selves who trust too much, open too wide, and take in everything without discriminating between the useful and the damaging.

That receptive, undiscriminating self is the one you are talking to when you mentally blurt out: "You idiot! That was the stupidest thing you ever did! You are going to get fired for sure!"

Now that I've described self-talk as a kind of self-hypnosis, albeit unintended, I need to tell you what is generally thought to make hypnosis stick and create change.

These are principles I usually teach clients for the purpose of creating empowering hypnotic suggestions that cause positive, helpful, constructive change. The stuff we are aiming for.

But the same principles apply to negative, damaging change. Ouch.

In my mind-coach practice, clients learning to hypnotize themselves are taught to create suggestions that:

1 - Are specific and stated in present tense.

A positive, useful suggestion might be: I am an intelligent person who learns easily.

A negative, damaging suggestion that many of us proclaim to our subconscious minds might be: I'm a moron who can't even learn how to work this darned --------. (Fill in computer program, light fixture, new grill, whatever)

Both are specific and stated in the present tense, but one is helpful and the other damaging.

2 - Include a result:

In teaching clients how to build positive hypnotic suggestions, the result they seek is a desired change, stated positively, such as:

I weigh 125 pounds or less by October 1st.

I am mastering Power Point.

I enjoy dating.

What they don't want - what they choose to get f-a-a-a-r away from is undesired, feared, even dreaded. Yet it, too, is repeated ad-nauseum, thoughtlessly: I'll get fired next week. I have a fatal disease. I'll be chosen last for the team.

Are you noticing the structure is the same on both positive and negative suggestions?

What should that tell you?

That's right: Negative suggestions can go to work on you the way positive ones do, and because people give negative suggestions to themselves regularly and repeatedly, they can be quite effective. Negatively and dangerously effective, I mean.

One more caveat. When teaching clients how to empower a positive, desired suggestion, I often ask them to imagine it being true as they speak the words. They are asked to SEE it as real (picture yourself slim, trim, and with great stamina).

And HEAR it as true (Jennifer, you lost weight! You look great! Yowza!)

And FEEL it concretely (feeling the new slenderness of your leaner waist, sensing the new lightness in your step).

The bad news is that when people give themselves negative, damaging suggestions and reinforce them regularly, they thoughtlessly use the same method: In their mind they SEE themselves getting fired by their boss, HEAR snickers about their new outfit, and FEEL the shame as they pass others in the hallway.

What to do? Since the mechanisms are identical in both positive and negative reinforcement, make the choice to use positive reinforcement on yourself from now on.

That's right, make up your mind and switch from the negative, self-berating team to the affirmative, continuously-improving, moving-toward-a-better-future, positive team.

Be thoughtful in the words you speak to yourself and the images you project on the movie screen of your mind. Instead of reminding yourself what you don't want to be, do, or have - remind yourself what you are intentionally choosing. Both tasks take the same time and energy.

The only difference is getting what you want or creating what you least desire.

 

©2008 by Wendy Lapidus-Saltz. All rights reserved.

 

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