When you have a physical or mental issue that you need to repair, self-hypnosis might be the solution. It is an option that does not require the use of medication or expensive visits to a healthcare provider.
Most people can use self-hypnosis, and doing it yourself helps you avoid spending money on therapy sessions. You can help yourself as long as you are motivated and ready to heal your own body and mind.
What is Self-Hypnosis?
Self-hypnosis is not what most people think. It does not involve waving a pendulum in front of your face and repeating strange sounds. Hypnotizing yourself will not make you bark like a dog or fall asleep at the snap of your fingers. When you learn how to do self-hypnosis, you will find that you end up relaxed and aware, but in a slightly altered state of mind.
With self-hypnosis, you will stay in control of your body and mind, but you will be able to concentrate in a highly focused way. Your subconscious will be receptive to statements like “I will stop smoking” or “I am confident.” These statements will become a part of your daily life, so you no longer are bound by addictions and other issues.
What Self-Hypnosis Treats
Once you learn how to do self-hypnosis, you can control issues that are often debilitating. You will be able to enter in and out of your hypnosis anytime you want. You will also be able to treat problems that healthcare providers and therapists treat. They include:
- Chronic pain
- Eating issues
- Weight problems
- Sleep disorders
- Self-esteem problems
Self-hypnosis can treat specific issues, and it can improve general health. People who regularly do self-hypnosis recognize that they have more mental clarity. They make better decisions, and they experience less anxiety. They also find themselves physically healthy because their minds are no longer playing with their bodies.
But, learning how to do self-hypnosis is something that happens overnight. Like all types of practices, it takes time and, well, practice. There are different techniques, and some people find that certain ones work better than others.
No Negatives with Self-Hypnosis
Everything that you do in self-hypnosis needs to be positive. You cannot ask for negatives, like “I’m not going to be anxious anymore.” Instead, you have to tell yourself that you are calm. Your body will respond to the essential words in the statement. So, if you use the word anxious, your body might become more anxious, even though the word “not” is in your suggestion.
The theory that the unconscious mind only responds to positive statements comes from a study by Emile Coue. He studied hypnosis and the power of suggestion. He found that patients needed to use terminology that strengthened the qualities they wanted. They did not focus on the conditions they wanted to remove.
Using the positive makes your unwanted behaviors disappear. But, if you focus on unwanted behaviors, they will continue to be a part of you. So, to make self-hypnosis work more effectively, you should focus on the actions you want, rather than the behaviors you do not wish to repeat. With practice, the wanted behaviors take over, and the unwanted behaviors disappear.
When you are ready to start self-hypnosis, prepare suggestions for yourself. You should write them as simple statements using to-be verbs. For example, you can say, “I am a non-smoker” or “I am healthy.” With practice, your mind will take in these suggestions, and they will come true.
Use the Present Tense
When you craft your suggestions, they should always be in the present tense. Do not use past tense or future tense verbs. You want the ideas to be current. So, don’t say to yourself, “I would like to be calm.” Instead, say, “I am calm.” Using the present tense gives the statements a demanding quality that can positively affect the mind.
When you use the present tense, your mind will be likely to believe what you are saying. To make the suggestions more believable, say them with power and conviction. Self-hypnosis affects the subconscious mind, which is difficult to control. Saying the ideas as if they are a creed will get your subconscious mind to act and make changes.
Trust yourself. Have faith in the power of your voice and the belief in how to do self-hypnosis. It works, but it takes time to see the changes. If you waver in your strength and conviction, your subconscious mind will not act on the suggestions. Be in the moment. Don’t worry about how quickly the changes will happen. Just be present.
Keep the Suggestions Simple
Since you are accessing your subconscious mind, it is best to keep things simple. So, focus on one need at a time. Before you begin self-hypnosis, figure out the one thing you want to fix. If you focus on too many things at one time, your body and mind can get confused. So don’t try to lose weight and quit smoking at the same time.
Many of the most successful beginners focus on a lifestyle, rather than a big fix. Consider beginning your self-hypnosis journey by working on your happiness, calmness, or joyfulness. If you can feel better about yourself, you will find those negative aspects of your life fade away.
Make your first suggestions simple. For example, you could tell yourself to be calm or to find more joy in your life. The statements are simple, in the present tense, and accessible for the subconscious mind.
Don’t Give Up
When you are a beginner in the world of self-hypnosis, you might end up feeling like a failure. Keep in mind that there are several self-hypnosis techniques. Not all of them work the same for everyone. It is commonplace for people to experiment with different methods so they can find what works.
Persistence is the key to success with self-hypnosis. You won’t see changes overnight. Changes will happen, but you will need to repeat the steps and use conviction, so your subconscious mind will do what you say. The subconscious mind is out of your external control, so the actual amount of time that takes to pick up the message will vary.
The Freudian Framework
Psychology is still a relatively young science. The roots of hypnotherapy come from Sigmund Freud, who recognized that the mind has three areas: the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious.
The conscious mind is what we use when we are awake and aware of our surroundings. Our conscious minds allow us to experience emotions, thoughts, and stress. In Freud’s framework, it is the shallowest of the three levels of human consciousness.
The middle level is the subconscious mind. Don’t let the fact that it is the intermediate level fool you; this is a deep level. Since it is not fully accessible while we are awake and aware, we have very little control over it. The subconscious mind reacts to experiences, especially when those experiences are highly emotional and out of our control.
The subconscious mind also regulates our automatic body functions, like breathing and digestion. When we take control of our breathing, we are using our conscious mind. But, when we don’t think about our breath, the subconscious mind takes charge of it.
The deepest level of the Freudian framework is the unconscious mind. This part of our brain is even harder to change. It usually is only affected by traumatic events. People will suppress memories in their unconscious mind, and they only arise when triggered by other events or sensations.
How Hypnotism Works
According to Freud, people become hypnotized when they are so relaxed that they can tap into their subconscious mind. When they get there, they can adjust the way their subconscious mind reacts to situations.
The challenge with hypnosis is becoming relaxed. But, once you get there, you can move beyond the conscious mind and introduce ideas into the subconscious. As the subconscious accepts the plans, your behaviors will start to change.
While many people turn to therapists to help them reach a state of hypnosis, others struggle with skepticism and doubt. They don’t trust the process because they do not believe the therapist. They fail because they over-analyze the process. When these problems arise, they lack the trust that helps them reach their desired state.
When you use self-hypnosis, you only have to trust yourself. There is no need to worry about what someone else will do when you reach a state of relaxation. To hypnotize yourself, you need to want to reach the state and not be skeptical. You also need to trust the process, even if it takes time.
You should plan your self-hypnosis before you begin the process. Think about what you want to achieve. Write the statements and practice them before you start your self-hypnosis. Because the sentences are about you, you should use the pronoun I as the subject of the sentence. Memorize the statements so you can use them during the process.
Get Help From a Friend
Before you begin the steps towards self-hypnosis, you should enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member. That person doesn’t need to be in the same room but should be nearby.
When you become hypnotized, you will look like you are napping. You will be so relaxed that you might not be aware of your surroundings, so if there is an emergency, you might not be able to react. If there is an emergency, your friend can wake you so you can get to a safe place.
Learn to Relax
Before you hypnotize yourself, you will need to relax. There are several techniques that you can use. Most people need between 15 and 30 minutes to get to a state of hypnosis; during most of that time, you’ll be working on relaxation.
Usually, people struggle with relaxation because they are busy thinking about stressors in their lives. These techniques take your mind off of your thoughts and let you focus on nothing but relaxation.
In this form of relaxation, you use your breath to calm your body. With relaxation breathing, you take control of your breath to calm the mind and body. There are several techniques you can use to relax by using breath control. For most of them, you should lay down.
The first technique that you can try is to lay down and put one hand on your belly. Then, as you inhale, notice your stomach and hand moving up. As you exhale, your hand and belly will lower. Repeat the process. It won’t take you long before you notice yourself relaxing. The key is to pay attention to your breath as it enters and exits the body.
Another technique you can use is noisy nose breathing. You can do this from a seated or reclined posture. Breathe in and out through your nose, but try to make your breath make some noise. Constrict your throat gently, so as your breath passes through it, you make a quiet snoring sound. Try to make your inhales and exhales last an equal amount of time.
The key to relaxing through breathing is to keep your mind on your inhales and exhales. Some people will silently count as they breathe in and out. Try to get to the count of five with each one. As you think about your breath, all of your worries fade away. If you notice your mind starts to wander, forgive yourself, and get back to thinking about your breath.
Progressive Body Relaxation
You can perform this relaxation technique with or without an audio recording. In a nutshell, this technique involves laying down, breathing slowly and deeply, while tensing and relaxing each muscle. You work through one muscle group at a time, both sides at a time. Some people can do this on their own, while others use a recording of someone giving them instructions.
The first thing you do is lay down in a comfortable and supportive place. Use your breath to relax your mind so you can focus on your muscles. Start with your feet. Tense them as tightly as possible as you inhale. Hold the muscle tensions. Then, as you exhale, release the muscles and relax. Then, move up your body from the calves, thighs, glutes, and on up.
Progressive body relaxation can also happen with a technique called Yoga Nidra. This technique involves focusing on individual body parts but not engaging the muscles. Yoga Nidra starts at the top of the head and ends with the toes. Make yourself comfortable on the floor with bolsters and blankets.
This technique involves creating sensory images. To become fully relaxed, you want to include as many of your senses as possible. For example, if you enjoy being at the beach, imagine the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. The more of your senses you include, the easier it is to get to a state of relaxation.
The challenge with this technique is choosing the images and staying focused on them. Pick something that you genuinely enjoy. The image should not bring any stressful thoughts. You can do this technique seated or reclined.
Some people will pair visualization with meditation. One effective formula is with a candle. To achieve a state of relaxation, put a lit candle on the floor in front of you. Sit facing the candle. Watch the flame flicker as you inhale and exhale. Just watch the flame and breathe. Do nothing else, and eventually, your mind will relax.
Autogenic relaxation is a technique that you find within yourself. You mix imagery and bodywork to relax. Some people will connect their breath to a mantra or a series of words. For example, you can use the word relax. As you inhale, say the first syllable (re-) in your mind. As you exhale, say the second syllable (-lax) in your mind. Repeat until you are fully relaxed.
If that word doesn’t work for you, think of one that will. Some people will attach their breath to an image. For example, you can think about a beach, but connect the ebb and flow of the waves to your inhales and exhales.
Other Relaxation Techniques
Some people find it easy to relax to music or after a massage. You might become relaxed after strenuous exercise or yoga class. Some people like to use essential oils with relaxing fragrances. You might even enjoy a cup of chamomile tea; just be sure the tea is caffeine-free. Use what works for you, and you might have to experiment to find out what technique you like.
How to Achieve Hypnosis
Once you know how to relax, you are ready for the rest of the steps of self-hypnosis. You will have difficulty reaching hypnosis if you cannot relax, so you should have a technique that you can use at any time.
Make Yourself Comfortable
The first step of self-hypnosis is to find a comfortable place to relax. You will want a site that is quiet and not filled with people. Some people like to lie down. But, some people easily fall asleep, so you might prefer to hypnotize yourself while sitting upright. Again, be sure that you have 30 minutes to dedicate to the practice.
You have to be relaxed to reach a state of hypnosis. When you relax, keep your eyes open and focused on one spot. You can focus on a spot on the wall or ceiling, but be sure the place is static. You don’t want the point to move. If you are already relaxed, this step will not take very long.
You should keep your mind clear of any thoughts. The only thing you should think about is the spot on the wall and your breath. For many people, this is the toughest part of the process. Your eyes might become heavy. Keep breathing, and do what feels best.
Eventually, you will get to a point where you feel like you are heavy or detached. At this point, you have a choice: to keep your eyes open or to close them. It is your choice; both options are good. Don’t overthink what you are doing; just do what comes naturally.
Keep Breathing and Count
You need to be extremely relaxed, so keep telling yourself that you will relax as you breathe. Each exhale should get you more comfortable. Then, begin thinking about moving an object with your mind. After you are relaxed as possible, countdown, and relax even more. Start with ten and work your way to one.
As you count, convince yourself that you are relaxed. Start with ten and say silently to yourself, “I am relaxing.” Then, repeat that statement at each number. When you get to one, you will be in a state of hypnosis. But, only if you believe you are hypnotizing yourself.
Repeat Your Statement
Once you get to the state of hypnosis, you can start focusing on your statement. Visualize the statement in your mind. Repeat it while staying relaxed. This is where you are doing the work of making changes to your behavior. As you repeat the statements, think them as slowly and mindfully as you can.
During this part of the process, you can say the statements aloud or in your mind. The key is repetition and speed. You can spend several minutes doing this, especially if you say the sentence slowly. No matter how many times you say it, be sure you say the statements with conviction and positivity. You must convince your subconscious to believe the statement.
Relax and Count to Awaken
After you have repeated the statement enough times, you should relax yourself again. Before exiting the state of hypnosis, clear your mind. Then, begin counting back up to ten.
As you move through each number, you can tell yourself what to do. For example, with one, you can say to yourself that you are preparing to exit hypnosis. At two, tell yourself that you are awakening. At three, tell yourself that you are calm. At four, tell yourself that you slept for a full night. Continue with statements until you reach one.
Once you finish counting, open your eyes. If you kept your eyes open, you can refocus and engage with the world around you. You should feel relaxed and calm.
How Often Can You Practice
Keep in mind that self-hypnosis can be repeated daily. Some people will practice two or three times per day. If you do work on your self-hypnosis practice more than once per day, give yourself at least a one-hour break between sessions.
To become adept at self-hypnosis, practice is vital. Since you need time to relax and get into a hypnotic state of mind, you need an uninterrupted 30 minutes. That is difficult for many people to find; therefore, one practice per day is a solid goal. Practicing once per day will help you start to see positive changes in your behavior.
After you become skilled at self-hypnosis, you might enjoy listening to audio instructions. Some recorded hypnosis instructions can give you different relaxation techniques. Recorded instructions will also keep you focused.
Keep in mind that hypnosis is not sleeping, so try not to do it too late in the evening. The best time to practice is when your mind is alert. In Greek mythology, Hypnos was regarded as the god of sleep. But, in psychology, they are two different things.
If you have practiced hypnosis with a therapist, you may have noticed the therapist used the word sleep. Often, therapists use the word “sleep” to describe the hypnotic state because people who are in it are not alert to the world around them. But, their minds are not sleeping. The hypnotized mind is working hard.
Falling asleep during a session of self-hypnosis will not help change your behavior. Yes, you’ll be rested, but only because you took a nap. If you need to sleep, sleep. You will have difficulty reaching a state of hypnosis if you are exhausted.
As you practice hypnosis, your mind will become more susceptible to suggestion. Your awareness at all three levels of the mind will become enhanced, especially in the subconscious mind. Be aware of what is going on around you and what people are saying to you. Suggestion is different from meditation; it is the way to change behavior.
Suggestion is best applied during hypnosis, but you can use it while you are fully conscious, too.
Have No Fear
Some people worry that they will never wake up from a hypnotic state. No one has ever remained permanently hypnotized. The challenge is getting into a hypnotic state, not getting out of it. Hypnosis that lasts more than 30 minutes usually turns into a nap. To avoid this problem, set an alarm clock, but not with a shocking sound.
Hypnosis is Different for Everyone
The experience of hypnosis varies. Some people describe it as feeling like floatings. Others have difficulty putting the experience into any words at all, even though they remember something happening. At first, you might not notice anything. But, after practicing, you will see positive things.