Can Anyone Be Hypnotised?

A question that clinical hypnotists and hypnotherapists hear some version of fairly frequently is, “How do I know you can hypnotise me?”

That’s actually the wrong question. I might be the most powerful, charismatic, smart hypnotist the world has ever seen, but when you stroll into my office, whatever else I may do, I am not going to hypnotise you.

The reason I’m not? Simple. You are going to hypnotise yourself. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis.

Going into a trance is something you do. I am here to facilitate things, to guide you and show you some different ways you can go into a trance; and I will make suggestions, hopefully useful ones, about productive ways you can benefit from being in a trance.

But you are the boss. You are in charge from the minute you walk in the door. You may decide, for instance, just how you are going to start. Most of the time, your hypnotherapist will have you sit in a comfortable chair. But some people do better lying back on a couch. Some will actually go into a trance more easily standing, or even walking about.

So you are the decider. You decide, first off, if you will go into a trance at all. Then you will decide just when you are going into a trance. You will decide how you are going into a trance. You will be in charge of how long you will stay in there, and what you will do while you are in that trance. Your hypnotherapist will have suggestions, but you will always be in charge of whether you act on them. Finally, you will decide just when you come back out of the trance.

Now, it’s true that you may not feel like you are in charge once you are in the trance state, especially if you are in a fairly deep trance. You may not be consciously aware of making any decisions at all, but you will be, even if you don’t remember afterwards.

So, you ask, why should I spend time and money going to a hypnotist? Maybe I’ll just buy a book or a CD, and teach myself. You could, in fact. The internet is loaded with self-help books and gadgets. What they are not loaded with is professionals who have the training and experience in assisting people with problems.

A competent, trained hypnotist or hypnotherapist works every day with people who are dealing with issues like yours. That professional not only knows how to help you go into a trance, but how to help you use it in a way that works for you.

The ability to enter a hypnotic state is a talent we all are born with. Think of the hypnotist as a coach who will help you hone that talent.

Trance: What You Can Expect

You are about to experience hypnosis for the first time, so naturally you wonder what it will be like. What is it going to feel like? What’s going to happen? What’s the hypnotist going to do? Will you even know what’s going on, and will you remember anything afterwards?

If you have friends who have been hypnotized and ask them about their experience, you are likely to hear anything from, “It was not all that different,” to, “I’ve never felt anything like that before.”

That’s to be expected for a number of reasons. First off, different hypnotists have different approaches and favour different techniques. Also, a competent clinical hypnotist or hypnotherapist will be responding to your needs and your personality, knowing that there is no one approach that fits everyone.

As well, some of what you experience will depend on what you expect to experience. Dr. Milton Erickson, a pioneer in modern hypnosis and hypnotherapy, put it this way: If you think being in a trance is like being asleep, you will feel like you are asleep; but if you think being in a trance is like being awake and highly focused, then you will feel like you are awake and aware of everything.

Still, there are some things that you can expect to experience with any competent hypnotist or hypnotherapist.

First, the hypnotist will spend a lot of your first session asking you about your history, your likes and dislikes, your abilities, and the problem that brought you in; and you can expect the hypnotist will listen and pay close attention to your answers.

Next, you can expect that you definitely will go into a trance. It may be a light trance, or a deep one, which will depend partly on the hypnotist’s approach, but also on just how adept you are at entering a hypnotic state. Some of us can go into a trance just by thinking about it, and some of us have to work at it.

Most of the time while you are in a trance you will be at least somewhat aware of what’s going on around you; but sometimes you may drift off to a more interesting place, and suddenly find yourself with old memories or new, creative thoughts.

While you are in a trance you will be more open to suggestion, and you may find yourself able to do things that you cannot typically do in a normal waking state—not noticing pain, for instance.

Throughout the duration of the trance, you can expect not to feel any discomfort, anxiety, or cravings. Part of the typical trance experience is to feel distant, or even disconnected, from everyday sensations.

Finally, when the session is over, you can expect to feel relaxed, comfortable, and ready for the rest of the day.

How To Quit Smoking With Hypnosis

When you make an appointment for hypnosis to stop smoking, you have taken an important first step on the road to breaking free of your nicotine addiction. You are on your way to success, but there are other things you can do for yourself to make the road smoother, and make your effort more effective.

Here are five things you can do right off:

First, look at the reasons you want to stop smoking. Forget why you should stop. For most of us, the minute we think should, our inner rebel says, “Don’t tell me what I should do, mate.”

What matters isn’t why you should quit; you’ve known all that for years. What matters is, why do you want to quit? Whether you only have one reason or a dozen—“My breath stinks,” or “My fingers look like licorice sticks,” or, “I don’t want to die,” make a list of them.

Next, write those reasons down, or print them out. Make a few copies of that list. Tape a copy of that list to your bathroom mirror. Put another on the inside of your front door. If you work in an office, put a copy in your desk drawer. If you have a mirror in your bedroom, tape one there. Put copies anywhere you are likely to see them frequently.

Now, every time your eyes come across one of those lists, stop in your tracks, look at the list, and read it. Read it slowly, and out loud, and, like they tell actors, with feeling.

Next, tell everybody you are quitting. Tell your friends, your family, your coworkers. And don’t just tell them once. Brag a little. This will actually make it harder for you to start again.

Now, give your home a thorough cleaning. If you have ashtrays, toss them out. Take all your smelly clothes to the cleaners. Some may be so smoke-polluted that they will still smell afterwards. In that case, throw them in the trash, no matter how much that pains you. Do the same with rugs and curtains if need be. It will cost some money, but then how much have you been spending on cigarettes?

Finally, identify your smoking triggers. These are behaviors and situations that have always gone with smoking in your life—having a beer, playing poker, drinking a cup of coffee. As your trance skills grow stronger, you will be able to use self-hypnosis in these situations, but for now just avoid these things whenever you can.

Why Hypnosis Works

More and more people are beginning to realise that hypnosis is real, and that it is a great tool for all kinds of jobs. Membership in organisations like the Australian Hypnotherapy Association is growing. Skilled clinical hypnotists and hypnotherapists help people lose weight and stop smoking, combat the debilitating effects of chronic pain, conquer anxiety and depression, and improve athletic performance, among other things.

There are good reasons more people, and the professionals who work with them, are looking to hypnosis to improve their daily lives.

Here are a few of those reasons:

First off, hypnosis and hypnotherapy are positive. Conventional allopathic medicine assumes that something in you is broken, and the physician is the expert who fixes you. In hypnosis, the view is that nothing is broken; you are simply not using the inner strengths and abilities you were born with. The hypnotist’s job is to help you identify those assets and put them to work.

Next, part of the power of hypnosis comes from it being an altered state of consciousness. Even a light hypnotic trance lets you focus your attention intensely, with no distractions; and a skilled hypnotherapist helps you aim that focus where it will do the most good. It’s like having a spotlight in a dark theater. Whatever the spotlight touches is brilliantly lit, everything else is dark, and you control the light.

Being in a trance also lets you ignore your conditioned sense of what is possible, and be more open to the power of suggestion. For instance, your everyday, logical belief says you can’t possibly use your mind to numb a painful part of your body. In the altered state known as trance, you discover that you can do this easily.

The hypnotic state also give you ways to do what’s known as dissociating. For instance, a traumatic memory has at least two parts—the recollection of the event itself, and the awful feelings that went with it. Under hypnosis you can split those two things apart and put the feeling aspect to one side so that the memory loses its power to cause fear or pain.

Finally, with hypnosis you are the boss. All hypnosis is actually self-hypnosis. It isn’t a thing the hypnotist does to you, but something the hypnotist helps you learn to do for yourself. Most problems come with a deadly dose of what is called learned helplessness, a belief that life happens to you, and you have no control. Hypnosis puts you in charge. Once you experience that feeling, you will never let it go, and it will spread to all aspects of your life.