I have joked often when teaching a class, that at times in my hypnotherapy consulting rooms, I have a reality-check moment or two, when everything seems surreal. That is, I start to observe the reality of what is happening, I am sat in a room with another person, talking to them while they have their eyes closed, and the huge amount of awareness of the details of the reality makes it a very surreal experience compared to when I am engrossed in my usual thoughts and the automated process of conducting my hypnotherapy sessions. This will become relevant later on here, let me explain…..
It is incredibly common for someone with an issue or area of development to lack awareness of what they do, and so often they do that thing on auto-pilot. “I recognise that I’m smoking a cigarette once it’s lit and I’ve taken a couple of drags!” or “I feel guilty about eating the cake after I’ve swallowed it.” With many habitual behaviours such as biting finger nails, drinking, smoking, picking skin or unhealthy eating, the lack of awareness makes it difficult to nip the behaviour in the bud.
Yet if you examine other issues that people may have such as lacking self-esteem, anxiety disorders or public speaking, for example, we may have too much self-awareness which can amplify or magnify the issue at hand.
With this self-hypnosis session, you are going to create a metaphorical external eye that resides outside of you and can look back at you. Like a scrutinising observer.
If we are engaging in a habitual issue, doing something unwanted without being aware of it, it may be because the external eye is closed and could do with being opened so that it can indeed scrutinise the behaviour. Likewise, if this external eye is wide open and already scrutinising us, making us more anxious, nervous or depleting our self-assuredness, the external eye may well need to be closed or averted so that it is less imposing.
Our aim with this particular self-hypnosis technique is to create balance and to put the individual in control. At times, we need to be very self-aware, and at other times, we need to move our awareness away from ourselves. Let me illustrate this first of all.
Have you ever taken something that you do automatically and without thinking and started to scrutinise it, observe it closely and brought all your attention and awareness into it? It can lead to increased self-consciousness, can’t it?
I remember playing a game of snooker with friends once and one of my friends mentioned that I stood unusually and held my cue in an awkward fashion. I began to really examine what I was doing and started playing poorly, confirming his suggestions. Later, my other friends all agreed that my stance and cue positioning was classic and ideal and that I had indeed been put off by a joke. He meant it as a joke, yet my awareness being forced inwards created a self-consciousness that impaired my performance.
If you are running, or swimming or cycling in automatic fashion, and you then start to examine in great detail where you are putting your arms or legs, you can easily notice how you can become disoriented. Have you ever gone into a room and noticed you had already done something you were planning on doing? Making a cup of tea, ironing a shirt, for example? You might start to wonder what else you actually do that you are not aware of. Or have you ever noticed how difficult it is to do things in the same fluid fashion when someone is looking over your shoulder as you do it? Driving, typing or cooking?
These situations whereby you are engaging in a behaviour that you do very often, without thought, can seem very different when you are being scrutinised and watched closely. Our unconscious, automatic flow gets interrupted by conscious interference. This initially seems like an undesirable thing to do and to therefore stop doing it. However, we can use this for great personal gain and benefit.
It can be used to interrupt and cast doubt upon unwanted habitual thoughts and behaviours. Simply follow these steps:
Step One: Firstly, you need to know what unwanted habit, behaviour or thought process you wish to interrupt and ideally stop doing. With that in mind, take a couple of minutes out to increase your awareness of where, when, why and how it happens. Do that by simply answering these questions about the unwanted habit, behaviour or thought process and being aware of the answers before you engage with the self-hypnosis process.
a) Describe exactly what you do, how you do it, and how often. E.g. How many times per day is the habit done?
b) Describe the situations, people, events or activities which seem to trigger the habit.
c) What else do you physically do before and during the habit itself?
d) What emotions and physical sensations accompany the habit behaviour?
e) What does it feel as if you’re thinking during the habit?
Equipped with this information, you’ll have material to use with the following self-hypnosis session, and you’ll also be in a position to understand and be aware of the circumstances that precede the habit, enabling you to engage with the process more readily if and when it occurs in the future. Then, having ascertained the unwanted habit or thought process to overcome, move on to step two.
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 step three.
Step Three: In your mind, start to think of typical examples of how we can suddenly become conscious of automatic, unconscious processes. You can use the examples I have given above for example, such as driving, cooking, writing, or creating when someone is on your shoulder scrutinising what you do, and you start to get hyper-conscious of what you are doing too.
You might even think about how natural, automatic and simple it is to walk down stairs, yet when you start to really scrutinise and analyse what you are doing, becoming self-conscious about every single movement, it becomes far more demanding and even confusing.
When you feel aware of examples of this happening in life and have clarity and understanding, then move on to the next step.
Step Four: Now begin to think and imagine that this naturally occurring phenomenon is a bit like having an external eye. This external eye has the power to disturb, interrupt and perturb automated processes.
You might begin to imagine it out beyond you in real terms, in symbolic terms, as a comforting presence or just have it as a thought. Choose whatever suits you best, but make sure it is prominent and available to you. Notice the control you have over it, how you can avert the eye, and how you can also direct it to really scrutinise and observe closely what you are doing. When you have the external eye there and it’s role is understood, move on to the next step.
Step Five: With your external eye set in place, now let’s practice using it as a force for good.
Replicate and imagine a typical scenario or situation whereby that unwanted habit, behaviour or thought process used to happen. Imagine that situation using the details that you wrote down during step one. Imagine really being in that place, seeing the sites, noticing who (if anyone) else is with you, hear the sounds, notice how you are feeling, be aware of the thoughts you are thinking in that situation. Make it as vivid and as real as possible.
Move the scenario all the way to the point where the problematic behaviour would happen, or where the unwanted thought process would usually occur, or where the habit would start, then move on to the next step.
Step Six: Just as the unwanted behaviour, thought process or habit is about to happen, turn the external eye upon yourself. Glare in on yourself. Make sure the external eye is glaring, scrutinising, inspecting and watching what you do incredibly closely. As it watches, notice (and consciously imagine) that it becomes more and more uncomfortable, awkward, and more difficult to do that old, unwanted habit, behaviour or thought. You might even imagine the glare of the external eye like a spotlight (or heck, if you are a fan of Lord Of The Rings, it can be like the all seeing eye of Sauron, you know the one).
Believe and understand that the more the external eye scrutinises what you are doing and what in the past you used to do in this situation, the less you are able to do it, until it impedes the habit altogether. Really have a sense of doubt, a sense of being unable to do that old behaviour, habit or thought process.
Once you have fully prevented the habit, behaviour or thought from happening, move on to the next step.
Step Seven: Relax. Just take some nice deeper breaths, then engage in some progressive relaxation.
You can do this in a number of ways:
1. You can imagine tensing and relaxing the muscles of your body one by one.
2. You can simply breathe and say the word ‘soften’ to yourself as you think of the muscles of your body.
3. You can spread a colour through your body, one muscle at a time.
4. Imagine light spreading through you, relaxing you deeply.
5. Imagine that you are a rag doll and that your muscles are loose, limp and dormant.
There are many, many other ways to use progressive relaxation. Just use whatever process you know of to deeply relax and allow your body to be more and more relaxed as you let any unwanted tensions just dissipate.
Once you have done that for a good period of time, move on to the next step.
Step Eight: Start to confirm with yourself, and invest a real sense of belief that the external eye can and does dissipate the unwanted old habits, behaviours and thoughts. Convince yourself, make it your reality and just know that from now on, if you ever begin to unconsciously think about or perform the problem behaviour, the external eye turns it’s gae upon you and you are closely scrutinised and watched by your external Eye.
The external eye is then aware of every single one of the movements, thoughts, behaviours that comprise the unwanted habit. You become incredibly and increasingly self-aware and the unwanted habit, behaviour or thought is rendered impossible. Start to doubt your own ability to ever actually perform the unwanted habit again as a result of the glare of the external eye, then move on to the final step.
Step Nine: Exit hypnosis.
If you follow the process in my own science of self-hypnosis book, then count from one through to five to bring yourself up and out of hypnosis. Otherwise, take some deep breaths, wiggle your fingers and toes and open your eyes to reorient yourself with your surroundings. There you have it.
I would say, that if you have paranoia, or fear being watched in this kind of a way, then this type of technique is unlikely to be one that you will enjoy and I’d recommend giving it a miss. However, in the absence of such, I think you’ll find this an incredibly valuable tool to have if you are a hypnotherapist or one of my favourite people – a self-hypnotist, the cream of the world. Run through this session a few times, instal your external eye, then start to use it in real-life scenarios to really take control of issues that you used to think were so automated that you could not prevent it from happening.
Have a wonderful weekend, I’ll be back next week.
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Thanks Adam, I really like this technique as it is rather unique and imaginative. The external eye reminds me somewhat of Perceptual Positions in NLP, although totally different at the same time with the scrutiny and negative reinforcement applied when future pacing the event to be a non-event. Well done!
Thanks for taking the time to write and say so. I understand where you are coming from with regards to perceptual positions, there is some similarity with the 3rd position I guess. However, the classic therapeutic notion of ‘the observing self’ as well as the assessment protocol for habit reversal are my main influences here. Similar notions of an outer eye are not new to hypnotherapy, there are numerous versions, I have just wanted to make it applicable to self-hypnosis.
Best wishes to you, Adam.