How To Use Self-Hypnosis To Achieve Your Goals

Please Note these articles are meant for information purposes only and are not a substitute for Medical or Psychological treatment.

What is Self-Hypnosis?


Have you ever seen old horror films and television programmes that portray hypnosis as a frightening instrument of mind control where unscrupulous villains enslave the will of helpless victims? Perhaps you have seen stage shows where a hypnotist seemsto be able to use their “hypnotic powers” to make people do and say things that they would never do or say under normal conditions. If so, it is not surprising that hypnosis may seem just a little bit wacky, not unlike other seemingly mystical and unexplainable phenomena. This is unfortunate because hypnosis is, in fact, a serious therapeutic tool that can help people overcome many psychological, emotional and even some physical problems.

Hypnosis is not:

  • Mind control
  • Brain-washing
  • Sleep
  • Unconsciousness
  • A peculiar altered state
  • A mystical state

When in hypnosis a person is:

  • Aware
  • In control
  • In a natural and harmless state
  • Able to come out of hypnosis when s/he wishes to

 

The state of hypnosis can best be described as a state of highly focused attention with heightened suggestibility. Hypnosis is sometimes but not always accompanied by relaxation. When a person such as a therapist induces hypnosis in another it is called hetero hypnosis, often referred to as hypnotherapy. When hypnosis is self-induced it is called autohypnosis and is often referred to as self-hypnosis.

The word hypnosis comes from the Greek word “hypos” which means sleep. It is an abbreviation of the term neuro-hypnotism which means sleep of the nervous system.

This term was used by the eminent neurosurgeon James Braid (1796-1860). However, hypnosis is not a sleep state. In fact, when in hypnosis a person is awake and usually aware of everything that is said and done. Realising this, Braid later tried to change the name to monoideaism. This means a marked preoccupation with one idea or subject. However, the term hypnosis stuck and is used right up to this day.

How Can I Use Self-Hypnosis To Achieve My Goals?

Self-hypnosis is often used to modify behaviour, emotions and attitudes. For instance, many people use self-hypnosis to help deal with the problems of everyday living. Self-hypnosis can boost confidence and even help people develop new skills. A great stress and anxiety reliever, it can also be used to help overcome habits such as smoking and overeating. Sports men and women can enhance their athletic performance with self-hypnosis, and people suffering from physical pain or stress-related illnesses also find it helpful (hypnosis should only be used in this way after a medical diagnosis has been made and under the guidance of a doctor or qualified therapist).

A Self-Hypnosis Technique

I am going to introduce you to a simple but effective technique of self-hypnosis. This technique is called eye fixation self-hypnosis and is one of the most popular and effective forms of self-hypnosis ever developed. We will start by using it as a method to help you relax. After you have practised this a number of times we will add hypnotic suggestions and imagery. 
Reduce distractions by going into a room where you are unlikely to be disturbed and turning off your phone, television, computer, etc. This is your time. You are going to focus on your goal of self-hypnosis and nothing else.

Then:

1. Sit in a comfortable chair with your legs and feet uncrossed.

Avoid eating a large meal just before so you don’t feel bloated or uncomfortable. Unless you wish to nod off, sit in a chair, as lying down on a bed will likely induce sleep.  You may also wish to loosen tight clothing and take off your shoes. If you wear contact lenses, it is advisable to remove them. Keep your legs and feet uncrossed.

2. Look up at the ceiling and take in a deep breath.

Without straining your neck or tilting your head to far back pick a point on the ceiling and fix your gaze on that point. While you keep your eyes fixed on that point take in a deep breath and hold it for a moment and then breathe out. Silently repeat the suggestion “My eyes are tired and heavy and I want to SLEEP NOW”. Repeat this process to yourself another couple of times and, if your eyes have not already done so, let them close and relax in a normal closed position. It is important when saying the suggestion that you say it to yourself as if you mean it, for example in a gentle, soothing but convincing manner.

3. Let your body relax.

Allow your body to become loose and limp in the chair just like a rag doll. Then slowly and with intention count down silently from five to zero. Tell yourself that with each and every count you’re becoming more and more relaxed. Stay in this relaxed state for a number of minutes while focusing on your breathing. Notice the rising and falling of your diaphragm and chest. Be aware how relaxed your body is becoming without you even having to try and relax it. In fact, the less you try, the more relaxed you become.

4. When ready, come back to the room by counting up from one to five.

Tell yourself that you are becoming aware of your surroundings and at the count of five you will open your eyes. Count up from one to five in a lively, energetic manner. At the count of five, open your eyes and stretch your arms and legs.

Repeat this technique three or four times and notice how each time you reach a deeper level of relaxation. However, if you find you do not relax as much as you would like, do not force it. There is a learning curve involved so resolve to practice self-hypnosis on a regular basis.

Sometimes people will feel a little spaced out or drowsy after they come out of the hypnosis. This is similar to awaking from an afternoon nap, is harmless and passes after a few moments. However, do not drive or operate machinery until you feel fully awake.

Difficulties Learning Self-Hypnosis

Have you ever experienced the frustration of having a name on the tip of your tongue? The harder you try to remember the name, the harder it is to recall. Then when you relax the name comes back to you. Sometimes, when we try too hard, we block ourselves from achieving our goals. The attitude you take towards self-hypnosis will determine how easily you learn it. Don’t try too hard or set unrealistic goals. Relax and take your time. Accept the pace at which you achieve results, however small they may at first seem. Believe in yourself and you will go on to achieve the success you desire.

Post-Hypnotic Suggestions And Their Rules

As previously mentioned, hypnosis is a state of heightened suggestibility. Giving yourself suggestions when in hypnosis will enable an action or other response to take place after the hypnotic experience has occurred. These forms of suggestion are called post-hypnotic suggestions and will help you to achieve your goals. Over the years, hypnotherapists have developed rules of suggestion. These are guidelines that will enable you to achieve maximum success with the suggestions you give yourself. What follows is a summary of these rules.

1. Say it as if you mean it.

Have you ever seen an actor mumbling his lines on stage, speaking in a quiet meek voice? The result is a performance that’s not very convincing. Unlike acting, hypnotic suggestions are repeated silently. However, you need to repeat the suggestions as though you mean what you say. Be reassuring, positive and confident.

2. Suggestions need to be phrased positively and in the present tense.

Most of us will react more favourably to a positively worded suggestion than a negative one.

Which request would you rather hear: Do not leave that lying on the floor” or “Would you mind picking that up?”

Suggestions are far more effective when you mention what you wish to move towards, rather than what you are moving away from. For example:  “I am calm” is better than “I am not anxious”. 
“I stop smoking with ease” is better than “I will try to stop smoking” as the word try implies difficulty and struggle.

Your suggestions are best phrased in the present tense, as though they are happening at this moment in time.

So, “I am relaxed on the aircraft” is better than “I will be relaxed when I am on the aircraft”. Or, “I am becoming more confident” is better than “I will try to be confident”.

3. Make your suggestions specific and realistic.

Your suggestions are going to be more effective if they are specific and realistic. If you wish to improve your swimming performance, it would be unrealistic to give yourself the suggestion “I am a world-class swimmer”, unless of course you are, or are about to become, a world champion. Instead, ask yourself what specifically it is about your swimming that you wish to improve. So if you wished to improve your breaststroke, you would give yourself a realistic suggestion tailored to that specific aspect of your swimming. Structure your suggestions on changes you wish to see in yourself rather than things that are out of your control, such as external events and other people. Do not give yourself suggestions for two or three issues all at the same time. For instance, the suggestion “I am confident that I can lose weight and stop smoking” is probably not effective. Instead, work on one goal at a time, repeating suggestions associated with that goal. When you see some results, move on to your next goal.

4. Repetition of suggestions

Advertisers know the value of suggestion, which is why they repeat television and radio commercials on a regular basis. One of the most important rules when practising self-hypnosis is repetition of your suggestions. That way you drive the point home and are far more likely to effect positive change.

Imagery In Hypnosis

While giving yourself hypnotic suggestions, visualise the situation, the action and the feeling that you desire. As well as picturing a desired outcome, you can utilise your sense of touch, hearing and even smell. You can create new images as well as using images from your memories and experiences. People sometimes believe they have to see a crystal clear image of their goal, as though watching a movie. However, a positive attitude and a belief that you are “in the role” is more important than clear imagery.

The following exercise will illustrate how effective suggestion and imagery can be. Do not use it if you have an aversion to lemons.

The lemon example

 

  • Sit down in a comfortable chair and close your eyes.
  • Picture an ordinary lemon.
  • Imagine you are cutting this lemon in half.
  • Observe the juices running down each piece of the lemon.
  • Pick up a piece of the lemon. Bring it up to your mouth and bite into it.

Even if your image of the lemon wasn’t clear, you might still have grimaced, even found your mouth watering.

 

Adding Hypnotic Suggestion And Visualisation To Self-Hypnosis

Rehearsing positive outcomes

Mandy experiences stage fright. She is due to take part in a play and is anxious that her performance will not be up to the standard of which she is capable. Mandy wants to learn self-hypnosis to help her feel more confident. I teach Mandy self-hypnosis and then teach her results imagery. In this technique, the person visualises herself performing and reacting in the way she desires while repeating post-hypnotic suggestions to help achieve a goal. After putting herself into hypnosis, Mandy pictures herself on stage performing with confidence and ease. While visualising this for 30 seconds she repeats three times the post-hypnotic suggestion “I am performing with ease and confidence”. While still in hypnosis she repeats this process two more times.

This is how the technique is done:

1. Sit in a comfortable place with legs and feet uncrossed.

2. Without tilting your head or straining your neck, pick a point on the ceiling and fix your gaze on that point. While you keep your eyes fixed on that point, take in a deep breath and hold it for as long as is comfortable. Then, as you breathe out, repeat the suggestion “My eyes are tired and heavy and I want to SLEEP NOW.” Repeat this process to yourself another couple of times and, if your eyes have not already done so, let them close and relax in a normal closed position.

3. Allow your body to become loose and limp in the chair just like a rag doll. Then, slowly and with intention, count down silently from five to zero. Tell yourself that with each and every count you’re becoming more and more relaxed.

4. Picture an image that represents a situation you wish to master and see yourself achieving your goal.

5. Repeat to yourself three times a positive suggestion such as:

“I am confident, calm and relaxed.”

Say it with conviction while picturing the image for about 30 seconds.

Repeat this three times and between times stay in hypnosis and focus on your body’s relaxation.

6. Come back to the room by counting up from one to five and opening your eyes.

How To Set Your Self-Hypnosis Goals

1. Give achieving your goals a high priority. Plan to use self-hypnosis on a daily basis and you will start to see results.

2. Write your goals down on paper. Clarify what you want to work on and be specific. Make sure you set goals that are achievable. If they are long-term goals, it may be helpful to break them down into manageable steps.

3. Formulate your hypnotic suggestions and write them down. Write out a number of suggestions for the goal you are working on. Follow the rules of post-hypnotic suggestions. You may even want to write your own script (see the example further down).

4. Decide on the imagery you plan to use. If your aim is to relax, picture a pleasant scene like a beach or a park on a warm summer’s day. You may wish to use results imagery like Mandy did.

5. If you fail to achieve a goal, do not give yourself a hard time. Remember, failing to achieve a goal does not mean you are a failure. It may be that you need to approach the goal in a different way or perhaps you need to be persistent.

A Self-Hypnosis Script To Help You Relax And Reduce Anxiety

Below is a sample script designed to help you relax and cope with anxiety. Feel free to alter the imagery to fit your particular needs. For instance, instead of picturing yourself on a beach, you may prefer to imagine that you are in a park on a warm summer’s day. You may also wish to change the symbolism used to address an issue you wish to work on. Feel free to record the text and play it back, or have someone read it to you.

First take yourself into hypnosis as before by:

1. Sitting in a comfortable place with legs and feet uncrossed

2. Without tilting your head or straining your neck, pick a point on the ceiling and fix your gaze on that point. While you keep your eyes fixed on that point, take in a deep breath and hold it for as long as is comfortable. Then, as you breathe out, repeat the suggestion “My eyes are tired and heavy and I want to SLEEP NOW.” Repeat this process to yourself another couple of times and, if your eyes have not already done so, let them close and relax in a normal closed position.

3. Repeat the following script to yourself silently and with conviction:

“I am now allowing my body to become loose and limp in the chair just like a rag doll. As I continue to relax I am noticing where the comfort is in my body. Perhaps I notice a warming comfortable feeling in my hands and fingers or maybe the comfort is noticeable in another part of my body. With every breath I take and every sound I hear, the comfort deepens. I now count down from five to zero. With each and every count my relaxation deepens. It may even double. Five – deeper – four – calmer – three – more relaxed – two – one – zero.”

“I now picture myself on a golden sandy beach. I can feel the warmth of the sand under my feet and the warmth of the sun on my body. I can imagine that I am alone on the beach or that others are there as my relaxation continues. I listen to the sound of the sea, the waves lapping against the shore. I feel so calm, secure and relaxed that I can stay on the beach for as long as I choose. After a while, I picture myself in a field on a warm summer’s day. There is not a cloud in the sky. In the middle of this field is a hot air balloon and attached to the balloon is a basket which is weighed down on the ground with sandbags. The hot air balloon hangs effortlessly in the sky. I now imagine that I am placing any worries, fear or anxieties into the basket. The more I offload my worries into the basket, the more relief I feel. I now feel as if a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders.”

“I release the sandbags and watch as the balloon, along with its basket, rises into the air. As I watch the balloon rising into the air, I feel relief. The higher the balloon rises, the more relief I feel. The more distant the balloon becomes, the more insignificant my worries appear to be. As I watch this balloon getting smaller in the distance, I repeat to myself three times:

I am letting go of my worries, fear and anxiety.”

“When ready, I come back to the room by counting up from one to five and opening my eyes.”

When you practise self-hypnosis the imagery you use and the suggestions you give yourself are only limited by your imagination.

Main Points

  • Hypnosis is a serious therapeutic tool that can help people overcome many psychological, emotional and even some physical problems. It is not mind-control, brain-washing, sleep, unconsciousness or a peculiar, altered or mystical state. When in hypnosis a person is aware, in control and can come out of hypnosis when s/he wishes to. It is a natural and harmless state.
  • Self-hypnosis can modify behaviour, emotions and attitudes. It can be used to increase confidence and develop new skills. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety, and can even help people overcome habits such as smoking and overeating. Self-hypnosis is also used by sportspeople to enhance their athletic performance. If you are experiencing any medical or psychological problems, however, it is essential to seek the advice of a doctor or competent therapist before using self-hypnosis.
  • Avoid eating a large meal just before practicing self-hypnosis so you don’t feel bloated or uncomfortable. Unless you wish to doze, sit in a chair, as lying down on a bed will likely induce sleep. You may also wish to loosen tight clothing and take off your shoes. If you wear contact lenses, it is advisable to remove them. Keep your legs and feet uncrossed.
  • Remember, failing to achieve a goal does not mean you are a failure. It may be that you need to approach the goal in a different way or perhaps you need to be persistent.
  • Practise self-hypnosis on a regular basis. Relax and take your time. Accept the pace at which you achieve results, however small they may seem at first. Believe in yourself and you will go on to achieve the success you desire.

Post-Hypnotic Suggestions

Here are some post-hypnotic suggestions you can use in your self-hypnosis. Feel free to alter them to fit your particular needs.

Each and every day I am calm, secure and relaxed.

I am becoming more assertive and confident when I speak to colleagues.

Each and every day I accept myself as I am.

Each and every time I enter hypnosis I relax more deeply.

I find it easy to stop smoking.

I eat three healthy meals a day.

Article © 2010-2011 Michael Cohen

For more information about Michael Cohen’s Self hypnosis courses why not  call or email 

TEL: 020 8643 4925

Email: info@hypnosisandhealing.co.uk