Self-hypnosis is simple, versatile, and portable. With regular practice, you can achieve amazing things with self-hypnosis. So why don’t more people use it?
The primary reason is that most people don’t even know self-hypnosis is an option. They’re so used to seeing hypnosis portrayed as something that one person does to another person, most people are genuinely surprised to hear that you can hypnotize yourself. Then, even when they do learn this, they tend to have no faith in their own ability to self-hypnotize. This is, again, because the way it’s portrayed in movies and television makes it seem like it’s more complicated than it is.
Self-hypnosis is actually quite simple. It really consists of four steps or stages:
Induction is the process of putting one’s self into hypnosis. There are many induction methods, which allows each of us to explore different options and find the induction that works best for us. Some are more visual in nature, while others focus more on noticing the way your body feels as you change your breathing or create greater relaxation. Here’s my favorite induction for self-hypnosis. It is not strictly used for self-hypnosis, in fact the creator, Dave Elman, used it with clients regularly. I like to use it for self-hypnosis because it’s simple, quick to learn, and you can use it almost anywhere.
After you have induced, the next step is to deepen your hypnotic state. As with inductions, there are many deepening methods, which again is great because it means you get lots of options. I think it’s best to keep it simple, especially when you’re first learning self-hypnosis. A common approach that’s easy to practice is called a “step-down deepener.” The idea is to create an association in your mind between moving down levels or steps, with each step taking you deeper into hypnosis. Some people literally imagine themselves walking down a flight of stairs, and with every step they relax more and go deeper into hypnosis. Some folks count from ten down to one in their mind, saying the words, “deeper… relax” between the number counts. The common element is having an idea that you can focus on that somehow communicates to your mind that are willing to go deeper into hypnosis.
After deepening, it’s time to use the hypnotic state for some kind of benefit. We call this “utilization.” This is the point at which you give yourself suggestions, and those suggestions, which are really just focused ideas, are what help you create the change you seek, more than the actual hypnosis. The benefit of using hypnosis is that it makes us more suggestible, but the suggestions themselves are what create a result.
The creation of suggestions is what deserves the most time and attention, since the quality of the suggestion is what’s going to help you get a result. I teach a four week online course on self-hypnosis, and we definitely spend more time on creating suggestions than anything else. It’s important to frame suggestions in positive language, be specific in that language, and use the suggestions to activate the right emotional states.
Once you’ve utilized the hypnotic state, the only remaining thing to do is to exit the state of hypnosis so you can get on with your day. We call this “emergence,” and it’s really quite simple to do.
The most common technique is to count yourself out. Start with one, counting up to five, sprinkling in a few words of encouragement between the numbers. Keep the pace nice and easy. Emerging too quickly sometimes gives people a headache. Let the count out take 10-15 seconds so you get a nice, smooth transition. Between the numbers, say things like “feeling nice and refreshed” or “full of positive energy and optimism.” Really, when you do this you’re giving yourself some last second suggestions, but why not take advantage of the state you’ve created?
Practice self-hypnosis for 5-10 minutes at a time 1-2 times per day. Do it when you come home from work as a way to unwind, or right at bedtime to help you settle down and sleep better. With regular practice, you’ll build the skill and get better and better results.