Most people know about hypnosis from seeing, movies, television or a stage show somewhere. These are about entertainment, not education. A stage hypnotist does use real hypnosis. Their volunteers are chosen carefully, and if you have seen a stage show, then you’ve probably seen that some of the volunteers are politely sent back to their seat.
That hypnotist wants people on the stage that find his suggestions acceptable to follow and will reject people that show resistance to following. A stage hypnotist is about entertainment and they are good at doing that. Similarly the reality shows about 1 hour psychiatry or plastic surgery are also based on fact. But, their focus is on entertaining their audience. Many people watch a television psychologist as he “treats” people’s
issues in a 1 hour show. But those same viewers know that a visit to their local psychiatrist would be very different than this. Hypnosis is a relaxed state of mind. It’s that zoning-out feeling you get while driving long distances, watching a movie, or reading a book. While doing hypnotherapy you reach a deeper sense of relaxation. Your conscious mind is still awake and aware, just less active.
You can remember when you first learned to drive; it took all of your focus. Having an involved conversation while driving would have been difficult and unsafe. But, then your mind learns how to drive, how to react in given situations, and now you are able to drive while planning dinner, talking on the phone with the radio on, all while yelling at the guy in front. Your subconscious does the driving. Now, if something unusual were to happen, like a detour for construction or getting lost, your conscious mind steps back in to take care of the driving, conversation stops and the radio gets turned down. Your mind needs to focus and analyze.
In most parts of our life, the transition between these parts of our mind can appear seamless. Though, if there is a particular habit that we’re trying to stop, the transition can sometimes feel like there is someone else in our head. Someone that doesn’t want to change. When watching a good television show, you can lose track of your surroundings for a short time. Your mind becomes engrossed in what you are watching, almost as if you are experiencing what you see rather than just watching it. There can be traffic sounds from outside, a radio playing in the other room and someone talking on the phone…
When your mind is in this state, background noise fades away. Your television screen is only a small portion of what your eyes actually see when you are watching, there is carpet, an entertainment center, a wall behind that, etc. The images in your peripheral vision fade-away and all you see is what is on the screen. Additionally, if you become very engrossed in the show or movie, you may finish watching and be surprised at how much time has actually passed. 2 hours may have felt like 1 hour. This state of mind is comfortable, enjoyable and relaxing. If something else needs our attention while in this state, we sort of “wake ourselves up” and take care of it. A person is never stuck in that state. With this TV example... when your mind is in this state it is more suggestible… you will see an advertisement and can sometimes remember the ad’s music or song quite well, long after you have seen it. And, you may be more likely to buy that particular brand if it is a type of product you use anyway.
A person who eats fast food and sees an advertisement for a particular cheeseburger is more likely to buy that particular cheeseburger. But, a vegetarian that sees that ad would not feel compelled to buy it. It goes against their goals. Because the conscious mind is still active, it is not possible to control the person that is hypnotized. You can see by these examples that everyone goes into this state of mind several times a day. Anyone can be hypnotized if they want to be. In fact, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. In my office, a person hypnotizes themselves by following the instructions.
The other side of this is that you are not able to “make” yourself be hypnotized. Much like you can’t “make” yourself go to sleep at night. But, you can “let” yourself relax into a hypnotized state very easily when allowing it to happen. Using hypnotherapy, to induce this state of mind, allows a person to be even more relaxed. It allows the client and a skilled hypnotherapist to modify behaviors and even create new behaviors when acceptable to the client. When behaviors are worked with in this way, the change can be profound. A person that has been fighting themselves about a particular reaction find themselves free to choose, without the fight.
Some things people have said days after a behavior modification session: ~ “What I wanted to have for dinner was a salad. And, that’s what I had.” ~ “I always have a cigarette with my coffee in the morning. But, I got up this morning and didn’t want one. I had 2 more cups of coffee just to make sure.” ~ “I can be with a group of people and I don’t feel like a little kid anymore. I feel different, I feel confident.” It is difficult to describe the look of happiness on people’s faces when they make statements like this. A reaction that has been a part of their life for years, something they have fought against, is just gone.