As of this day, I tend to think the best way for some to learn self-hypnosis is to learn how to adopt the correct hypnotic mindset and be taught the skills by a competent professional. To really understand the cognitive set of the hypnotic mindset, go grab a copy of my Science of self-hypnosis book where it is explained in simple but comprehensive terms.The methodologies are familiar to hypnosis professionals and are a discussion for another day, because today I want to help people with enhancing self-hypnosis with this article.
Today, the most common thing I am asked by people who have read my books or listened to my audio tracks, especially those teaching themselves is how they can tell if they did actually get into hypnosis. They ask how they can tell if they are doing things right and making suggestions work, so today’s blog entry here is a series of experiments to fine tune your skills, enhance your belief and develop self-efficacy.
Within the therapy room, hypnotherapists can feedback or ratify an individuals on-going experience and give clear indications that they are in hypnosis. Likewise, hypnotherapists can use a variety of convincers and elicit a wide range of ‘hypnotic phenomena’ that gives the client some evidence and proof that they are hypnotised.
At a lecture last year, I watched Professor Irving Kirsch discuss how the positive expectancy and belief of the client enhanced their hypnotisability and responsiveness to suggestions and this can be read about and explored in many books on the subject. It therefore makes sense that we work out ways of enhancing self-hypnosis skills to enhance the beneficial responses we are looking for.
One of the greatest contributors to the field of self-hypnosis is Emile Coué, whose method of autosuggestion was enhanced and developed for individuals learning it by teaching them a set of experiments to practice with. This enhanced their own degree of self-efficacy and made them more responsive to autosuggestions as well as developing skill with the method.
Though Coué’s method was not strictly known as self-hypnosis, it is considered a major contribution to the field of self-hypnosis and the parallels are great.
Today, I thought I’d share with you Coué’s series of “waking suggestion” experiments. They are very similar to suggestibility tests that are employed by street and stage hypnotists as well as those used in the consulting rooms of hypnotherapists.
These experiments require an engagement of the imagination and often result in what is referred to as ideo-motor, ideo-reflex or ideo-sensory responses. That is, when you truly engage the imagination, there is a physiological or sensory response to that which dominates the imagination; it creates a response of some kind that just will may be difficult to elicit.
With the experiments, it is important to avoid the ‘effort error’ that Coué often referred to. One of the biggest obstructions to successful outcomes with these experiments is trying so hard that it induces anxiety. Convince yourself of the outcome with a gentle assuredness. Use your belief – believe in the successful outcome occurring and assume success. This is going to advance the responses you get and not impede your progress.
Prior to starting any of these experiments, make sure you are in a place where you are going to be undisturbed and can focus, concentrate and are able to engage without distraction. Be sat in a receptive, progressive, attentive posture, with your feet flat on the floor and your arms not touching each other.
Coué stated, as was central to his work, that if you engaged the imagination strongly enough, where will and imagination conflict, imagination prevails. He would give examples of people using their will to unsuccessfully get themselves back to sleep when having insomnia, or overcome problems using too much forceful will that exasperated the issue at hand instead of helping. Having educated about such, he’d extoll the virtues of the imagination and suggestion.
The work of Bandura that I mentioned in recent weeks in my writing about hypnosis for running demonstrates the need for self-efficacy – that is, the belief in our own ability to do something making it far easier to do and done more effectively.
With this in mind, again I reiterate the importance of gentle convincing and assuring to yourself, believing in what you are doing as much as you can.
In order to fine tune your own self-hypnosis skills and become more responsive and develop your belief in your own self-hypnosis, have a go at these particular experiments:
A process that I have been using to demonstrate the power of the imagination against the will and determination alone is referred to by Coué in My Method. If you simply told yourself, and tried to will yourself to dribble, you may not get the desired result. However, with this experiment, you imagine that you are taking a chilled lemon out of the fridge, it gets sliced in half and then quarters. You pick up one of the quarters bring it to the mouth and sink your teeth right into it. Imagine the texture, the juices running in and around the mouth, under the tongue, make it all as vivid as possible and notice how your mouth responds.
This demonstrates an ideo-reflex response, which is the effect of that suggestion and your imagination influencing the autonomic processes of the body. You salivate and develop a sensation within your mouth as you engage your imagination.
This was used by Coué a great deal – there is a full step-by-step guide to using this process here on this website. You might also watch this clip we put together several years ago on how to use Chevreuls Pendulum.
Hands Locked Together:
With this experiment, you clasp your hands tightly together and hold your arms out straight. You now convince yourself that you cannot pull your hands apart, that they are stuck together. You imagine that they are stuck together and convince yourself of it.
Coué would recommend that individuals tell themselves “I will open my hands, but I CANNOT, I CANNOT!” while simultaneously imagining the hands to be stuck tightly together. The words are then repeated over and over in the mind in a convincing manner, using a tone that is as if the words are believed in.
Note the linguistic pattern here too – you start off by telling yourself “I will open my hands” before you say “I cannot!” When you say “will” it presupposes that this thing will happen in the future but is not happening right now – and so lends itself well to the notion of your hands being stuck together.
Coué would often stand by and also add suggestion that the individual’s hands were locked tighter. That is him giving suggestion though. In order to derive a real self-induced response to this process, you engage your imagination and continue to tell yourself your hands are clenching tighter and cannot be separated as long as the imagination is fixed on the idea convincing you that they are stuck.
When you have convinced yourself that they are stuck, then tell yourself “I can open them” and imagine them coming apart to free them accordingly.
The use of “I cannot!” and “I can” is to be used with the other experiments here that follow too:
Arm Or Leg Catalepsy:
When I say catalepsy, I am referring to either your leg or arm remaining solid, stuck and remains in position regardless of external stimulus. For example, you imagine that your arm is a steel bar, or made of a solid material that means it cannot bend and again you use a similar type of linguistic pattern with yourself “I will be able to bend my arm, but I cannot, I cannot!” While simultaneously imagining the arm to be solid and incapable of bending.
The same process can be applied to the leg. You imagine that one or both legs are totally solid and because they are rigid, you are unable to walk. Convince yourself with imagination and strong belief.
Not totally dissimilar to this, you can also create a tightly clenched fist and suggest to yourself that it is locked tighter and tighter and use similar language and convincing imagery as used in the previous experiments.
Once you have tested this and convinced yourself of each of the experiments, give yourself permission for the limb and arm to bend, loosen, relax, tell yourself “I can bend it and loosen it” and then feel a sense of development and happiness with your progress.
Sticking hands and fingers:
You may have seen video clips of me doing this type of thing with clients and students over on YouTube. Coué uses similar experiments within his own work – getting something stuck to the hand or getting the hand stuck to something; let me explain…
You can do a pen stick, or a card stick whereby you take a firm grip of a pen or a playing card between the finger and thumb and imagine the fingers to be locked in place, and the card or pen to be stuck in the hand. Again, you state the same kinds of linguistic patterns to yourself and convince yourself of the card or pen being stuck there: “I will drop the pen, but I cannot, I cannot now!”
When I do this with clients or students, just as Coué would do, the client/student is told that the more they try to drop the card/pen, the more rigidly locked the fingers become and the more stuck the card is. The fingers squeeze tighter and you imagine them being stuck firm and fast with as much purpose as you can imagine.
A similar process is to press your palm onto a leg or a tabletop and imagine that it is stuck tight and cannot be moved. Imagine it stuck with glue, convince yourself with language.
Just engage in these imagination experiments and convince yourself of the right outcomes, assume they are happening and when the imagination is vivid, and with the right level of belief and expectation invested, you’ll start to get some evidence and proof that you are hypnotising yourself and convinced of the effects of your self-suggestion, imagination and self-hypnosis skills.
Enjoy doing some of that stuff and train up your skills and belief.
Have some of themes here resonated with you? Then have a read of these pages:
1. Do you need help or support in a particular area of your life?
Coaching with Adam Eason Or Hypnotherapy with Adam Eason
2. Would you like a satisfying and meaningful career as a hypnotherapist helping others? Are you a hypnotherapist looking for stimulating and career enhancing continued professional development and advanced studies?
Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
3. Are you a hypnotherapist looking to fulfil your ambitions or advance your career?
Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.
Likewise, 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.