Updated: Jan 21
In our families, cultures and societies, we are often taught that if you have a health issue … go to a doctor! If you suffer from stress, tension or anxiety, go to a therapist … they’ll prescribe the very best pills and medications for you! Oh yes!
Essentially, most of us are under the impression that in order to make our problems go away and to “get well”, we must seek out the assistance of someone else, preferably with a “professional” degree or certification that will leave us with the impression that we truly are getting the best of help.
While in some situations this might be a reasonable idea (i.e. the life and death variety), for a large percentage of us, it is not actually necessary to fork out $50-$250 on a therapy session, or throw coins and dollar bills into the hands of pharmacies for a nasty concoction of prescription drugs.
If you have the motivation, will power and persistence, you can actually learn how to heal yourself – and on an extremely tight budget. In this article, I will show you one of the best ways to do that.
What is Self-Hypnosis?
When I was first researching ways of overcoming my intense anxiety issues, I stumbled across the phrase ‘self-hypnosis’ and almost didn’t give it a second glance.
Self-hypnosis? It carries some pretty silly connotations. So to clear these up, this is what self-hypnosis is not:
Self-hypnosis is not dangling a pendulum in front of your face.
Self-hypnosis is not falling asleep or into an unconscious state from which it is difficult to awaken.
Self-hypnosis does not cause you to lose control.
On the other hand, self-hypnosis does involve:
Inducing yourself into a highly suggestible state (this will be explored below).
Full control and awareness over your actions.
The ability to exit your naturally altered state of mind whenever desired.
In essence, self-hypnosis involves inducing yourself into a very calm and receptive state of focused concentration. This makes a person’s response to suggestions heightened, e.g. “I am feeling strong, confidence and calm”, “My body is completely relaxed and still”, “I am free. I am healthy”. Such suggestions will be better reflected in the person’s daily life.
In fact, self-hypnosis is such a powerful tool that it has been proven to help treat a number of issues including:
Stress and anxiety issues.
In fact, when I compare my own experience of taking SSRI anxiety prescription drugs and the affects of self-hypnosis, the most powerful and long-lasting healing affects I received were through the processes of self-induced hypnosis.
I experienced greater clarity of thought, better decision making, less general anxiety, and improved health as a result of going to the effort to change and override my deep-seated thoughts and beliefs that were causing me distress.
There is no question that self-hypnosis takes time, dedication and practice. Don’t expect to immediately succeed on your first try (although if you do, congratulations!) But do really take the time to explore different techniques of this powerful tool.
Below I will share with you some essential tips about self-hypnosis, and an exercise that mimics the self-hypnosis method that works for me. However, don’t forget that we are all different and don’t necessarily respond to the same techniques. This is why I encourage you to read more into different techniques after finishing this article. Being your own doctor and therapist is not only invigorating, but immensely rewarding!
How to Perform Self-Hypnosis
Before you attempt to perform self-hypnosis, you must be aware of the following tips:
The unconscious mind does not process negatives. By this I mean, if you suggest to yourself in the hypnotic state “I am not anxious. I never was stressed. I am not going to feel tense again”, your unconscious mind interprets this as: “I am anxious. I was stressed. I’m going to feel tense again.” This is known as the law of reversed effect, and is strongly advised against by professionally trained hypnotists. Instead, whatever suggestion you design for yourself, ensure that it is stated in the positive. For example: “I am feeling calm and serene. My body is still and quiet. I am feeling strong and capable”. Always suggest to your mind what you want to feel, as opposed to what you don’t want to feel.
State your suggestions in the present tense. This will make them more effective. For example, avoid phrasing your suggestions in the following manner: “I will be more confident”. Instead, phrase them in the present tense: “I am becoming more confident”, “I am releasing this addiction with ease”.
Believe what you say and have conviction. Your unconscious mind can’t be fooled. If you tentatively think: “From now on I approach my day with optimism and joy”, chances are you will remain in the same miserable rut as before with no improvement. Have faith in your suggestions. This will reassure your mind and bring about the change you desire.
Focus on one thing at a time. If you want to lose weight, overcome your smoking addiction and have a better sex drive, focus on what the most crucial goal is for you. Also, be realistic in your suggestions. Self-hypnosis will not wave a magical fairy wand and make you the happiest person alive within a week, for instance. Instead, focus on repeating something your unconscious mind can process, e.g. “I am feeling more joyful each passing day. I am building more positive habits”.
Now I will share with you a technique to practice on your own. Ensure you have a specific and realistic suggestion in mind. This is the process:
Find a comfortable place.
Preferably find somewhere with little disturbance or noise (although I’ve managed to practice this on a noisy bus many times!) You will need at least 15-30 minutes to spare. I recommend sitting up instead of lying down, as this can cause you to fall asleep easily.
Focus on relaxing your body.
You can do this by progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) or by repeating to yourself the word “sleep” for a few minutes slowly. It is important that you focus your eyes on one spot, whether it be a mark on the wall, a distant static object, etc. As you enter the hypnotic state, you will feel a sense of detachment, complete relaxation, pleasant “heaviness”, or “drifting” sensations. You can keep your eyes open, or close them at this point. I tend to keep my eyes open.
Focus on your suggestion.
You can repeat your suggestion out loud, but I prefer to mentally state my suggestions in silence. If you desire to overcome your feelings of social anxiety, for example, you may state your suggestion slowly and with feeling in the following way: “I am becoming more calm and relaxed in social situations”. You might also like to expand on your suggestion, remembering to keep your statements in the positive and present tense. For example, “I feel whole … I feel confident and capable … Today I will feel happy with my success … I am making progress each day … I am becoming confident and peaceful … I am at peace within.” These can be said slowly and deliberately, repeated throughout the 15-30 minutes you dedicate to your self-hypnosis.
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Exit your hypnotic state.
At the end, when you feel satisfied to finish, you can gently exit your hypnotic state in the following way: “Five … I am exiting this state … four … I am awakening … three … I am awakening … two … wide, wide awake … one.” Slowly shift your eyes away from the point you were focusing on, or if your eyes were closed, open them gradually. You have now left the hypnotic state. Your session is complete.
In self-hypnosis, repetition, persistence and conviction are all essential elements you require to bring about the change you need. Don’t expect to try self-hypnosis once and have it solve all of your problems! Also, you may need to experiment with a few different techniques to find what is the most affective approach for you. In our vastly rich age of information, this shouldn’t be hard to do!
I hope this article has opened another possible avenue of healing to you on your inner work path.