Caffeine has posed some major issues for me. On one hand, it fills me with joy, energy and strength (that sees me able to run and lift more). On the other hand, it impairs my sleep quality greatly, makes me anxious, twitchy and paranoid. My experience oscillates greatly with prolonged consumption of caffeine; that is, the benefits outweigh the downside for a short while, but then the negative aspects gather momentum and I have to stop. This then cues 3-4 days of detox headaches and a sort of withdrawal that is generally unpleasant and as I catch up with proper deep sleep, nothing is masking how tired I feel, I tell myself that I will not drink caffeine again. Until such a time has passed and I can barely recall the unpleasantness, it is a distant memory, so I convince myself it’ll be fine to have a cheeky pot of the good stuff in the Bialetti today, and then it is repeated tomorrow and until the cycle perpetuates again and again.
The dilemma has been such that I have started with a new regimen and have been drawing upon a lot of things that have been going on in my world very recently, and I’ve been so amazed with the results that I thought I’d share it all here on the blog.
Firstly, let me explain how all this came to be. You regular readers will know that I recently had the chance to spend some time with leading researcher on the placebo effect and hypnosis, Irving Kirsch (you can read more about that here if you have not read it already). Following his lecture, Irving and I walked back to the car park with a fellow student who was joining us for dinner and mentioned that she was a bit tired. In response to this, Irving asked her to create a tablet in her mind, one that was of a certain colour, one that would energise her and he asked her to close her eyes and consume it right there in the car park. When we met her at the restaurant a little bit later, she was pumped, energised and in great spirits.
The process that he guided her through was very similar, though also simpler, than this self-hypnosis process here that you can read about and follow to use in a wide variety of ways:
– Using Performance Enhancing Hypnosis Drugs.
I’ve also written about the way placebo tablets can be effective here:
Tablets, Tablets Everywhere, and Not a Self-Hypnosis Session In Sight.
In addition to all of the reminders and further dissemination of the research in his lecture, it made sense to me to start using the placebo effect straight away. Likewise, you may have recently read that I ran a ’Tripnosis’ event at the end of our academic year. My blog entry on our college website detailed the event and you can read that here: The 2016/2017 Academic Year Has Ended!
I’d like to quote myself from that article;
“There isn’t any feeling you can get on drugs that you can’t get without drugs.”
– William Burroughs (former drug addict and author of Naked Lunch)
The famous beat generation author and drug addict William Burroughs wrote greatly about drugs, mainly recreational drugs, but this quote is still very valid here. Many believe that his best work was done when he was clean and sober.
I interpret this quote though, as a means of highlighting the fact that we all have so much more within us that we simply do not take the time to access or learn about. If we explore, we learn that actually we can learn how to be active instead of passive. Most of the good feelings, comfort and well-being can be found within us. We can learn how to engage with our own mind and lower pain, reduce weight and ease stress. The world is awash with evidence to support such statements.
We designed our own hypnotic drugs, some people drawing upon former experiences, some creating new substances from scratch, all within what each person considered to be ethical and in a way that they were comfortable with. Equipped with the information from the preparation, using a blend of active alert hypnosis, different types of music, conditioned response and lots of laughter, motion and movement throughout, everyone consumed their hypnotic substances.
My quote ends.
This experiential lecture had incredible outcomes for a wide number of reasons, people really created fabulous natural highs using imaginary drugs. I cannot do justice to what occurred (though attempted to do so in the afore mentioned article) but people had amazing experiences. It convinced me further of what I needed to do; use self-hypnosis and placebo to ensure I got the positive, energising, uplifting, enlivening effects of coffee, by only drinking decaffeinated coffee, duly imbibed with hypnotic effects and thus I’d also ensure none of the downside, negative effects I used to get from caffeinated coffee. Thus, all of this experience and theorising seemed to me to be very good evidence of what the solution to my caffeine dilemma should be.
During his lecture on the placebo effect, Irving Kirsch explained that the placebo effect is still effective even when you know it is placebo, this did bode incredibly well for my caffeine dilemma but there was just one issue I was wrangling with in my mind as I set my plan in motion. The evidence for placebo effects also showed that what advanced the effects of the open placebo drugs that were administered in studies was the warm manner of the individual giving them, and the explanation that they were powerful being delivered by that person. I started to be concerned that I may not get the fullest placebo effect from my decaffeinated coffee if it was not being administered by a third party who was encouraging and who ramped up expectation and who explained it all to me.
I felt that self-hypnosis would help overcome this potential issue for a number of reasons. The key for me was to prepare well, then use the same coffee making routine, and then adopt the hypnotic mindset established with self-hypnosis to create the effect I was after.
That is, in line with Barber’s (1965) modulating factors, a “positive cognitive set” in hypnosis can be seen as; subjects who are motivated to be hypnotised, confident in their ability to respond, optimistic about the process, and who expect to automatically experience the responses being suggested. People who adopt this way of thinking tend to respond better because they are “in the right mind-set” for hypnosis. So it was key for me, especially in the absence of the warm, encouraging administer of the placebo to adopt that hypnotic mindset that is central and explained in my science of self-hypnosis book and seminars. It also occurred to me, that I can adopt that warm and authoritative manner with myself as part of the adoption of the mindset, and thus use those key elements of placebo effect research.
With all of this in mind, here is the simple self-hypnosis process I engaged in a few times to set the coffee effect in place.
Step One: Know the outcome you wish to have.
You might be applying this process with something quite different that the effect I am describing here. If so, take the principles and the illustrations I offer up here and apply it to your own unique circumstances.
I wanted to get the positive effects of caffeine; a feeling of being uplifted, energised, sharp, productive and so on. I drew upon previous experiences to really create a sense of the effect that I wanted. At this stage, just prior to starting with the more formalise hypnosis process, it is important to adopt a positive cognitive set, as explained in simple terms above (you can get a more detailed version of this on my seminars or in my book). With this preparation complete, we commence with the hypnosis session.
Step Two: Induce hypnosis.
You can do so by any means you desire or know of. You can use the process in my Science of self-hypnosis book, use the free audio we give away on this website to practice or have a look at the following articles as and when you need them; they are basic processes to help you simply open the door of your mind:
Heavy Arm Self-Hypnosis Induction Method
Using Eye Fixation for Self-Hypnosis
The Chiasson Self-Hypnosis Method
Hand to Face Self-Hypnosis Induction
Using Magnetic Hands for Self-Hypnosis
The Coin Drop Self-Hypnosis Induction
Once you have induced hypnosis, move on to the next step.
Step Three: Deliver the proposed placebo to yourself in a warm, expert fashion.
Communicate with yourself in a way that someone with great wisdom and expert knowledge would. If it was a medicine, you could imagine a warm, encouraging and supportive medical professional. I communicated with myself as if I had the wisdom of someone I respect greatly, telling me this (coffee and the effect) was really good for me, that placebo was powerful, and like I was speaking with a smile, talking genuinely and warmly.
You then imagine the placebo there in detail in front of you while that expert, warm manner describes it in detail. I imagined the coffee in my espresso cup, placed on top of it’s small saucer, with the dark hot coffee inside it. I reminded myself of it’s positive effects, and really believed in it, developed a sense of expectation about it and felt positive anticipation. Tell yourself that as you imagine this, you go deeper and deeper into hypnosis. Become absorbed in it and let it deepen your experience of hypnosis.
With that, move on to the next step.
Step Four: Take your placebo. Imagine taking the placebo.
For me, that meant drinking the coffee.
First I would smell it, really notice the smell, draw upon the smell I was very familiar with and anticipate the taste and ensuing sensations. I then imagined the taste before drinking the coffee. I’d be aware of the taste; I love the bitterness of strong coffee and really drew upon my experiences of that. I made it all as vivid as I could and just engaged in that totally for a while.
Having has a few sips of the hot coffee, I then imagined the coffee moving through the body, having a very notable effect. Which is the cue to move on to the next step.
Step Five: Create the sensations and outcomes of the placebo.
Now that it has been consumed, I start to believe in and recognise the effects that I had wanted and designed – imagining a lightness, a sharpness of thought, an uplifting, energising, inspiring sense of well-being within me. I imagine parts of my brain lighting up, I notice very real sensations in my body and I spend some time creating my effect in much more detail than written here, and with a real focused sense of application.
Once I had done this diligently, it is time to move on to the next step.
Step Six: Use cognitions and reinforce belief with the hypnotic mindset.
Here you simply advance the positive cognitive set that has been mentioned previously – you adopt a mindset that expects the outcome to happen, that ‘knows’ the effect is going to occur, that is motivated and that starts to adopt the role of someone with that effect. You can use positive cognitions and repeat them over and over to yourself, saying them with belief and expectation;
“I just know this is working” or more specific….
“I feel and enjoy the very real effects of my coffee.”
You choose what suits you and what is right for you, say it over and over like you really believe it to be the truth and then you are just about finished.
Step Seven: Exit hypnosis.
If you use my own protocol as shown in my science of self-hypnosis book, count yourself up and out from one through to five. Otherwise, open your eyes, wiggle your toes and get oriented to the place you are in.
Having done this a few times in self-hypnosis (the exact number will depend upon you and how many sessions you need to really feel a depth of belief in what you are doing and until you start to recognise the placebo effect happening, for me it was very noticeable after 4 sessions and I did not need the full-blown structured self-hypnosis sessions from there onwards), I then simply made the decaffeinated coffee in the same way, using the same things I usually use (Bialetti, espresso cup and saucer, quality coffee medium ground – albeit decaf – all done on the stove top etc) and then immediately prior to drinking it, I adopt the hypnotic mindset and remind myself of the effect the coffee is going to have, I have a very deliberate expectation of what it can and will do to me.
The results have been spectacular. My coffee gives me energy, liveliness and I feel incredibly productive as a result of drinking it. However, I get none of the anxiety, none of the restlessness, none of the twitchy edginess that I used to get from regular coffee, and I sleep like a baby every night. It has been wonderful for me, and if you are one of those people who struggles with caffeine, I hope it works in the same way for you.
Ps. Become a master self-hypnotist, learn the real science of self-hypnosis at my one day science of self-hypnosis seminar here.