Prior to my recent spate of hypnosis for running articles that have consumed me and my blog writing in recent weeks, I had offered up a number of strategies for employing self-hypnosis for cognitive disputation and restructuring; in simple terms, that is whereby we catch, dispute and restructure negative thoughts or thoughts that somehow contribute to an ongoing problem.

Following those blog entries and techniques that I shared, I received a couple of emails from people who said that they were often not even aware that they were having the negative thoughts until they had experienced a number of them and looked back upon their day, and asked how they could actually notice them in more detail.

One way to begin practicing becoming more aware of your thoughts is to tune in to yourself at regular intervals throughout your day. For example, as far back as the early 1950s, the book Gestalt Therapy (1951), shared a number of “awareness experiments” designed to help build mindfulness and often used as a precursor to more advanced mindfulness techniques.

The most basic of these Gestalt awareness experiments was entitled the “ABC” of Gestalt by Fritz Perls. It was as simple as this;

Try for a few minutes to make up sentences stating what you are at this moment aware of. Begin each sentence with the words “now” or “at this moment” or “here and now.” (Perls, Hefferline, and Goodman, 1951 p.31)

It is incredibly simple, but encourages the individual to start tuning in and being aware of their ongoing experience.

There are many, many techniques and strategies used by therapists of different backgrounds, designed to help individuals spot unwanted thoughts which they can then apply thought stopping and restructuring techniques to – the likes of which I wrote about here previously.

Today then, I offer up a self-hypnosis process which draws upon a number of different therapeutic modalities and enables the individual to rehearse the awareness skills within a self-hypnosis session and then apply those skills in real-life.

7 Steps To Use Self-Hypnosis For Thought Spotting:

Think about a typical situation of your life where in the past you may have had unwanted thoughts that you wish to be more aware of and deal with in a more thorough fashion.  Then keep it in mind ready to use later on in this self-hypnosis session.

Ensure that you are in a comfortable positive, ideally sat, with your arms and legs uncrossed, feet flat on the floor in a place where you’ll be undisturbed for the duration of this session. The proceed with these steps…

Step One: Induce hypnosis. You can induce hypnosis in any way you desire or know of. You can use the process in my self-hypnosis book, use the free audio at 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 Betty Erickson Self-Hypnosis Method video clip

Hand to face Self-Hypnosis Method

Using Magnetic Hands for Self-Hypnosis 

Once you have induced hypnosis, move on to step two.

Step Two: Now imagine being in that target situation. Really imagine being there, seeing through your eyes, noticing the sights, colours, shades of light. Engage with the sounds, those that are near, those that are further away.

Start to feel how you feel in that place, behave as you usually do and engage with this place just as you would any other time. When you really feel that you are fully immersed and you have engaged your imagination fully in this place, then move on to the next step.

Step Three: Continue to imagine being in this place, and while you are really there in your mind, fully engaged and tuned in, use your cognitions (your internal dialogue) and tell yourself what it is that you feel, think and desire in this situation. Just state to yourself all the things that you are noticing and experiencing about yourself in this situation.

Run a commentary to yourself of everything that is going on inside of you. All the stuff that anyone else would not be able to see from the outside, tell yourself and give yourself an accurate, detailed account of everything to yourself.

For example:

“I am aware of the urge to bite my fingernails.”
“I am aware of criticising myself”
“I feel inferior to my colleague”
“I want to shout at him”

Start to notice all the things you say, do, feel and state it to yourself in your mind using your internal dialogue. Run through it methodically and in depth and detail, go through it all thoroughly step-by-step and state to yourself everything that is going on within you.

Acknowledge and label all of these habitual experiences that usually go on beneath the surface. As I said previously, give yourself a running commentary on everything that goes on within you.

As you give your commentary, start to imagine all the words drift away from you. Imagine they take a physical form and the words drift away, they are distanced and float away from you.

Once you have done that in detail, move on to the next step.

Step Three: Start to imagine that all those words that you told yourself, as they all floated away, all the feelings, old behaviours and associations that used to be attached to them have floated away too and imagine feeling lighter and better. Imagine smiling to yourself.

Realise that by acknowledging and noticing all those things, as you noticed your ongoing experience in that situation,  while you commentated on it, you let the feelings all go. When you are sure they are all gone, then take a couple of nice deep breaths, as you exhale you may even wish to sigh.

Remain in that situation, really continue to imagine being there, and then move on to the next step.

Step Four: Having run through this, having let the feelings go, having tuned in to your thoughts, start to adopt an alternate perspective on the entire situation.

As you look at the situation, explore it intelligently and as you look at facets of this situation, ask what else could that mean? How else would this be viewed by someone else?

See if you can be as flexible as possible, and start to think of lots of different ways to interpret the environment and the situation your are in.

When you have done that thoroughly and well, move on to the next step.

Step Five: Now you are going to distinguish between your thoughts and facts.

Tell yourself and repeat – my thoughts are not facts. Really convince yourself that all the previous thoughts, feelings and internal experiences you wused to have in this situation are not necessarily an accurate account of reality. Realise and repeat to yourself that those earlier thoughts, feelings are not facts. They were just an old way of you habitually communicating with yourself.

When you think you have drummed that thought into your head properly and diligently (my thoughts are not facts) having reviewed those earlier thoughts, then move on to the final two steps.

Step Six: Still in that same situation, still engaging with that place, imagining being there… State some new thoughts, some better thoughts, and deliver to yourself some  positive cognitions.

Encourage yourself, state something progressive and positive to yourself, give yourself some better thoughts that support you and nurture you.

For example:

“I feel much better”
“I am capable of change”
“I have taken control”

Or use any words and statements that are good for you and make you feel better when you repeat them. When you have repeated them enough and you notice a better sense and feeling within yourself.

Step Seven: Tell yourself that the more you practice this process, the easier it becomes to do this in real-life situations.

Then exit hypnosis. Take a couple of deep breaths, wiggle your fingers and toes and open your eyes.

Practice this process as a self-hypnosis session every day for a week, then start placing yourself in those real-life situations and run through that well-rehearsed process.

You’ll be spotting unwanted thoughts and removing them before you even realise you are doing it!

If you’d like to learn more or if this has resonated with you in some way, then visit these pages:

1. Has overthinking or negative thinking held you back and 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 overcome such issues?
Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
3. Are you a hypnotherapist for whom problematic thinking is detrimentally effecting the success of your business?
Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.

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.