Susan's bio and website

Vol 2 Nov 2000       

Secrets of Hypnotherapy


The Magic of Suggestibility

In all scientific laboratory tests done during the past 30 years, the conclusion has been that it is suggestibility, not trance, that creates the ''hypnotic'' effect. And suggestibility has to do with how the inner mind responds to words. (For therapists and others who would like a more thorough and scientific explanation, with the studies that prove this point, see [1].)

Why do we feel we need a larger explanation (''the hypnotic state'') to account for our magnificent abilities? The answer, I believe, is that we are so magical, we have such amazing powers, that we simply cannot believe we can do the things we can do. We need to think that some outside power is doing it. But there's no outside power. It's just ourselves, using our minds in a more powerful way than we have known before.

The Power of Words

Like music, words have energy. Some words (for example the word ''yuk'') pretty much mean what they sound like. Others have energetic vibrations that are more subtle. We are always aware, for example, that a certain name seems to fit a certain person, or that someone's name really doesn't fit. We can't say why we feel this way, but it's a universal experience.

But unlike music, words have a function that goes beyond emotional meaning: Words anchor energy into the physical plane and give it form. ''In the beginning was the Word'' is a literal model for physical creation. Words are like an atomic bomb in reverse: They translate energy into matter.

When we use words in a special way, we bring new experiences into our lives, and real-ize abilities that were only dormant before. And being in a trance doesn't help at all. In a wide-awake state, we have the power to turn off pain during an operation, go back and read a license plate we only glimpsed momentarily during a collision, or remember past lives and ''forgotten'' childhood traumas. We can achieve these feats of the mind by understanding our suggestibility, using the right words, and experimenting with various cognitive techniques. Trance is what happens to some people when they do inner work, but it's a sideshow. It's not the main event.

How to Make Suggestibility Work for You

By languaging something, and accepting what we have said or heard, we create that thing in physical reality (to continue the Biblical metaphor, ''And He saw that it was Good''). Words plus acceptance make-real. This, not trance, is the basis of the hypnotic effect. And the key word here is ''acceptance.''

Through an understanding of how your own, individual mind accepts and responds to words, you can customize healing processes to get the best results for yourself and your clients. This is all that hypnotherapists have ever been doing. We use all of the techniques of healers everywhere. But by understanding the suggestibility of the individual who sits before us, we use them in a different way than other therapists. We change the processes in subtle ways to suit our clients and ourselves.[2]

Understanding Differential Suggestibility

The effectiveness of any suggestion is wholly personal. Some suggestion formats work very well with some people and not at all with others. Intuitively, we are already aware of this. For example, if you say to some people, ''Close the door,'' they will just get up and close it and think nothing about it. They may not even remember doing it. Say that to a woman who rejects literal suggestions, however, and she will very likely ask you ''Why?'', tell you to do it yourself, or pretend not to hear you. If, however, you say something like, ''Boy, there's a real draft coming in that door,'' she is the one who will most likely get up and close the door, while the first, literal person agrees with you and does nothing! We have all had these kinds of experiences with people.

This difference in how we need to communicate with and respond to each other translates directly to the field of energetic healing. Whatever kinds of processes we use, it is often what we say to our clients that affects them, and not what we do![3]

People who reject literal suggestions will reject many self-help processes. People who cannot visualize will reject many more. So in order to make sure a process will work for ourselves or our clients, we need to change the ''patter'' until it fits the unique mind that is listening. We especially need to remove any suggestions that this individual mind cannot accept, because the mind tends to throw out the baby along with the bath -- in rejecting one suggestion, it will reject the whole process.

Example: What if you cannot visualize, and a process tells you to, ''See yourself walking through a beautiful forest''? Right away, your mind throws up a block, because you can't do this. Everything that comes after this command to ''see'' something is rejected.

So consideration of suggestibility is critically important if we want to heal ourselves and others. Before we do some technique or healing process, we need to know something about how our own mind, or our client's mind, responds to words.

What About Group Processes?

The average therapist speaks to people using his own ''reference system'' -- that is, he puts out what he, himself, understands.[4] So a visual therapist may say, ''See yourself walking through a beautiful forest and picture the tall trees with sunlight filtering through. Notice a stream bubbling over rocks.'' And a kinesthetic speaker might say, ''Imagine that you are walking through a forest. Feel the leaves crunching under your feet. Feel the warmth of filtered sunlight. Hear the babbling sounds of a nearby stream.''

In both cases, the idea is to locate ourselves in a forest of the mind. We can tell whether we are more visual or more kinesthetic by whether the first or the second set of words works best in making the forest ''real.''

But as group speakers, how can we tailor our delivery to meet all of these criteria at once? By being aware of the audience, and finding a way of languaging our process so that it reaches each one of them.

What works best is to say, for example, ''See or feel or imagine yourself walking through a forest. There's a stream off to your left. Picture it, or become aware of the sound as it bubbles over the rocks.'' If we always give listeners the option to ''visualize, feel, or imagine,'' then they will automatically select the mode that works.

If you are in this audience, or working with a therapist, and you are being told to visualize something you can't see, or feel something you can't feel, simply ignore the ''reference system'' and do what you do best. If the speaker says, ''Okay, now, see a rose right in front of you,'' and you don't visualize, you can just say to yourself, ''What would it be like if there were a rose right in front of me?'' And you'll feel it. You'll remember how roses smell. And you'll be able to answer questions about the rose, even though you can't ''see'' it. You'll know what color it is, for example. And doing this, you'll be cooperating with your therapist to achieve optimum results.

Another variable that group processes must take into account in order to be effective is whether audience members respond best to literal or indirect suggestions.[5] If we are working one-on-one we can figure this out for ourselves or our client. In a group, this can be tricky, but there's an equally tricky solution: Give all of your literal suggestions before you do the process, and don't give any literal suggestions during it.

So, for example, before the eyes-closed portion, you might say, ''This detraumatizing process will totally change your life. After doing this process, you will no longer be afraid of whatever the item is that you've chosen to focus on. The fear will be gone forever. And it doesn't matter how well you do the process. You won't be able to stop it from working. Even if you try not to have it work, it will still work.'' People with indirect suggestibility will not know how to reject these suggestions because they don't know that you are giving them suggestions. They function on inferences, and so they will ''infer'' that the process does not start until they close their eyes. As long as you don't say anything literal after that point, they will be empowered to achieve the desired results.

The Importance of Studying Hypnotic Techniques

In actuality, the only difference between a hypnotherapist and any other healing professional is that the hypnotherapist knows, beyond any doubt, that every word counts.

As individuals, we can start to become aware of how we learn, and adapt all self-help processes to suit our own unique suggestibility.

As healers, from the time we speak to clients on the phone until they walk out the door, we can be aware that we are putting out subtle energy in our words. Whether that energy helps our client or not depends, not only upon our healing abilities, but perhaps even more upon the skill with which we talk to them.

In a sense, we and our clients are already ''in hypnosis.'' We have made decisions, in this lifetime or another, about the nature of reality. Decisions about what we can and cannot do. Decisions about the goodness or evil around us or in ourselves. Decisions about what to expect from loved ones and society in general. And these decisions have become our ''hypnotic'' reality. But these decisions exist in words, and are powered by the emotions that were present when we made them. By accessing these emotions and changing the words, we can change our entire experience of life.

By understanding suggestibility, we can help ourselves to awaken into the light of our own powerful consciousness, make better choices and decisions, and release the creative abilities that have lain dormant for so many lifetimes.

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