Is self-hypnosis real? If so, is it effective?
There’s both good and bad news here. Permit me to explain.
Living well is not easy. In fact, it’s quite difficult. As long as we fail to accept that, we obstruct ourselves unnecessarily. It’s always counter-productive not to accept reality. It’s futile. It’s frustrating. Why waste energy resenting what-is?
There’s no downside to admitting that being wise is not easy. It’s the opposite: admitting that living well is not easy is liberating! No wonder life has been such a struggle. No wonder living a balanced life seems so elusive.
Unconditionally admit that the present reality is just what-is. That’s the secret. Accept everything at this moment exactly the way it is without any mental reservations or conditions.
Once we are mature enough to do that, we are free to pursue wisdom and well-being. The good news is that self-hypnosis can be helpful in that pursuit.
If you doubt that, it may be because you have been obstructed from understanding it because you have accepted one of the dozens of myths about hypnosis. If that is your situation, I encourage you to investigate this topic further. If you don’t, you are limiting your options.
Here’s the most important idea: all hypnosis is self-hypnosis.
Despite what you may have picked up from elsewhere, it is impossible for one person to hypnotize another. Suppose that you think you observe that I hypnotize someone. Why couldn’t that happen?
It’s because all I could do is to teach that person to hypnotize himself. I don’t have any control over your thoughts or anyone else’s thoughts! You don’t either, do you? Well, neither does anyone else.
There are two different kinds of techniques that involve our most important power, which is our power of focus. Why not learn and practice both kinds?
First, there are radical techniques such as meditation and absolute prayer that involve letting go of all thoughts. Even though they are radical, they are quite simple. In fact, they are so simple that they cannot be learned by the thinking (conceptualizing) mind! Their aim is uncover alert, awake, thoughtless, unconditioned awareness. (For more on this, see the posts in the spiritual well-being section of this website.)
Second, there are less radical techniques such as hypnosis (self-hypnosis), biofeedback, neuro-linguistic programming, visualization, and psychoneuroimmunology that involve controlling thoughts. They all require learning and practice in letting go of certain thoughts and replacing them with others. They are less radical techniques because they do not involve letting go of all thoughts.
Just as nobody else can meditate or pray for you, nobody else can hypnotize you.
Since hypnosis is a skill that involves learning and practicing, naturally some people are better at it than others. Seven out of ten of us have an average degree of hypnotizability. About 15% are highly hypnotizable and about 15% have a low degree of hypnotizability.
With two exceptions, nearly anyone can learn to use it effectively. A moron with very low intelligence may never be able to learn to use it effectively. The same is true for someone who is paralyzed by fear – especially the fear of losing control.
That’s excellent news for anyone who regularly reads this blog. Statistics show that this blog appeals most to those who have the intelligence to do work in graduate or professional school. That only leaves fear, and, if you are fearful, you can learn to overcome your fear. So there is no roadblock to your learning it.
Motivation to learn and practice makes all the difference. The purpose of this post is to help you to dissolve any obstacles you may have to using self-hypnosis.
If you are highly motivated to use self-hypnosis to enhance your life in some way, any clinical hypnotist can confirm that a low or average degree of hypnotizability can be improved.
Not trusting yourself decreases your ability to use self-hypnosis.
Similarly, if you are attached to the idea that it is ineffective, that skepticism will decrease your ability to use it.
If you are addicted to alcohol or other drugs that impair your ability to concentrate, to focus attention, you are also a poor candidate for using self-hypnosis effectively.
If you are addicted to analytic thought, to being wide awake, you are also a poor candidate for using self-hypnosis effectively. (I’ve noticed many professors and scientists attached to their views.) This relates closely to not trusting yourself. It’s an important point for those so addicted to understand and overcome.
A trance is a state of unusual fascination and an induction is anything that leads to it.
It’s normal to go in and out of trance all day long. Suppose you are eating while watching the television news. You get absorbed in some news story and forget to taste the food you are chewing and swallowing. That’s a trance!
It’s normal to go into a trance when watching a good movie or reading a good novel.
There’s nothing unusual about going into a trance when watching a campfire burn down.
Haven’t you ever found yourself staring out a window daydreaming, looking without seeing because you were absorbed in your thoughts? That’s a trance.
These are all examples of self-hypnosis, of letting yourself go, of replacing some thoughts by other thoughts.
It’s easy to find standard hypnotic susceptibility tests to confirm that you are able to use self-hypnosis.
Often the term “self-hypnosis” is reserved for occasions when someone deliberately induces a trance in an effort to achieve a specific benefit such as improved relaxation, lowered blood pressure, reduced muscular tension, or improved immune responses.
If you often use an alarm clock in the morning to awaken, haven’t you had the experience of awakening just before it sounds? That’s actually a common example of self-hypnosis.
If you are still skeptical about self-hypnosis, try this every night for a week. When you get into bed for the night, get into a comfortable position. When you feel at ease, focus your thoughts on the face of your alarm clock. It can be digital or analog. Imagine that it reads the time in the morning when it goes off.
Now imagine setting your biological or brain clock so that you’ll awake in the morning just in time to turn off your physical alarm clock. Imagine how delighted you’ll be when you are successful!
Next, forget thinking about it. Relax as you normally would, trusting that your biological clock will work, and let yourself go to sleep.
The next morning, write down whether or not it worked by recording the time you woke up. Do this for one week.
If you haven’t yet developed your biological clock, you may find yourself skeptical that this will work. It’s important to notice when you have such a skeptical thought: whenever you do, immediately replace it with the thought that there’s every reason to trust your brain to do it as well as it automatically controls, for example, your heart and respiration rates.
If you do, you will discover for yourself that your biological clock works wonderfully well!
That’s because your brain works wonderfully well.
That’s a simple example of using self-hypnosis. True: eliminating the need for a physical alarm clock is not a major improvement, but doing it proves that you are capable of using self-hypnosis to improve your life.
Excellent! Now, if you want, you can learn more about it and practice using it to make other improvements.
Why not use self-hypnosis?
It can be an effective way of making life easier.
[Recommended resource: S. Gurgevich, Ph.D., SELF-HYPNOSIS Home Study Course.]
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