Whilst running my hypnotherapy diploma this weekend just gone by, one of my students told me about the intuition they are blessed with… Which aided that student in using hypnotherapy. I thought I’d share with you what I said to that person… Who is a lovely, lovely student 🙂
Lots of people in the hypnotherapy field make a distinction between the conscious and the unconscious mind and liken the former to will power and the latter to being intuitive and instinctive. (I debate that there is even such a thing as an unconscious mind here)
And so for a smoker who has just quit on will power alone… Goes and buys a packet of chewing gum with his morning paper and the cigarette packets on the back shelf beckon and attempt to lure our smoker back in: “Come on and smoke me, I’m all delicious and smokey, you know you want to, come and get me, you’ll feel so great if you just give in a smoke me.”
Our smoker has will power though and fights back to the calls of the cigarettes: “Not on your nelly, begone vile cigarettes, I am no slave to you…Absolutely not…You are a big no no… Well, this time, I’ll buy a pack and just have one final smoke and then that’s it… Definitely no more…” And the victor is the cigarette.
It is a firmly well held belief throughout the field of hypnosis and hypnotherapy that will power is no way near as tough, strong or awesome as our intuition, instincts and gut feelings. We are often told to just trust our gut and it will lead us in the right direction, it knows best.
So what about our smoker? That was a gut feeling he had to fight off. The gut feeling was making him want to smoke and it is common knowledge that smoking is not in our best or healthiest interests, is it?
Are our gut feelings actually our intuition? In the field of hypnotherapy, there are many that refer to the unconscious mind as being all intuitive and the seat of our emotions and communicated via our gut feelings. Many swear by the accuracy of such… Trust your unconscious mind… Trust your gut… it knows best…
I think sometimes we need to strike a balance and know when to fight or override intuition and gut feelings and apply some intelligence too. Our intuition can also be a bit wild from time to time.
One dictionary definition I am looking at right now states intuition as this:
“thoughts and preferences that come to mind quickly and without much reflection”
if that is the case, why do so many people hold so much stock in their absolute accuracy and correctness? Is our intuition really a vast source of perfection? Do we have an ultra genius residing within us all that never gets things wrong?
At the same time, I often talk about trusting instincts and am not attempting to dismiss out of hand the intuition we have… Just not treat it like some deity that we all need to pray to and sacrifice our souls too.
We all have some modest wisdom gleaned through a lifetime of experience, evolution, culture, development, awareness, education and so on. Yet, if I gave my own intuition a school report, it would have a similar theme to my real-life reports… Could do better.
There are entire books and works on how we must bow down to our gut feelings and shut out the babbling of our rational, conscious thoughts. And most of us have tales from our lives where we trusted our gut feelings and were repaid accordingly, likewise we ignored our gut feelings at our peril and rued the mistake.
Our intuition is to be respected. it deserves that.
Nonetheless, we do need to reign it in and think intelligently from time to time too.
You see, rather than having to fight and battle with it as our smoker did… And often losing… We can retrain our intuitive selves with evidence… You regular readers knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?
After all, isn’t that what hypnotherapy is all about? Rather than telling people to “sort themselves out” whilst slapping across the face with a wet fish, therapy has evolved to retrain our minds, retrain our intuition and natural way of doing things instead of the seemingly maladaptive schemas that were going on.
So maybe the will power does come off worse beside the power of intuition, but surely we all benefit from educating our intuition to be even more accurate and effective… And isn’t that a lot of what hypnotherapy is about?
I think it a slight cop out for hypnotherapists to tell people to exclusively rely on their intuition and would like to see us accept it as a mortal being with fallibilities and an ability to learn to be better.
If you’d like to learn more or if this has resonated with you in some way, then visit these pages:
1. Has lack of critical thinking held you back and/or is it still doing so now?
Coaching with Adam Eason Or Hypnotherapy with Adam Eason.
2. Would you like a satisfying and meaningful career as a hypnotherapist helping others to think more effectively?
Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
3. Are you a hypnotherapist for whom lack of critical thinking is detrimentally effecting the success of your business?
Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.
Self-hypnosis is a great way to help advance critical thinking. If you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar.
Thanks for this Adam – a useful post as ever.
I like the “elephant and rider” metaphor that Jonathan Haidt uses – the “elephant” being unconscious processing/intuition and the “rider” being conscious awareness.
The rider thinks he’s in charge. Most of the time it’s actually the elephant that makes the decisions – but as you say, it is possible to ‘retrain’ the elephant with nudges, reframes and more attractive possibilities. More about this idea here:
I like that metaphor Andy, thanks for sharing, always enjoy and value your contributions.
Another enjoyable post, thank you. Too many just churn out what ever they have learned without thought. Even the ‘new age’ has become the new dogma for some. Further to Andy’s comment, Hindu religion, I think in the text the Bhagavad Gita offers a metaphor for the mind as a chariot which actually needs a driver (will) to get anywhere and certainly cannot just be left to the horses to go where ever. I think the Hindu tradition can be said to know a thing or two about states of mind!
Thanks Richard, another interesting and enjoyable analogy… Appreciated. Best wishes, A.