Self-hypnosis, also called auto-hypnosis, is the process of putting yourself into a hypnotic state or trance. While this may sound difficult, okay, well it is. It’s difficult because not only do you have to drown out all your surrounding alone, you also have to implant your own suggestions. If someone were watching you attempt self-hypnosis from behind a one-way mirror they’d probably lock you up before you can say “SLEEP”.
So you think you can trance? Well, you’re probably right, if you were searching for self-hypnosis and how to self-hypnosis works then you came to the right place. Or have you been here before? *Hypnosis hands* “woooooOoOoO”. Sorry, I get carried away sometimes… you came here to learn and learn you shall!
Do not be afraid though self hypnosis is very possible and very probably for those of us who would like to experiment as amateurs or get some real lasting improvements or changes in our lives.
The James Braid explanation of Self-Hypnosis
It is commonly said that seeing is believing, but feeling is the very truth. I shall, therefore, give the result of my experience of hypnotism in my own person. In the middle of September, 1844, I suffered from a most severe attack of rheumatism, implicating the left side of the neck and chest, and the left arm. At first the pain was moderately severe, and I took some medicine to remove it; but, instead of this, it became more and more violent, and had tormented me for three days, and was so excruciating, that it entirely deprived me of sleep for three nights successively, and on the last of the three nights I could not remain in any one posture for five minutes, from the severity of the pain.
On the forenoon of the next day, whilst visiting my patients, every jolt of the carriage I could only compare to several sharp instruments being thrust through my shoulder, neck, and chest. A full inspiration was attended with stabbing pain, such as is experienced in pleurisy. When I returned home for dinner I could neither turn my head, lift my arm, nor draw a breath, without suffering extreme pain. In this condition I resolved to try the effects of hypnotism. I requested two friends, who were present, and who both understood the system, to watch the effects, and arouse me when I had passed sufficiently into the condition; and, with their assurance that they would give strict attention to their charge, I sat down and hypnotized myself, extending the extremities.
At the expiration of nine minutes they aroused me, and, to my agreeable surprise, I was quite free from pain, being able to move in any way with perfect ease. I say agreeably surprised, on this account; I had seen like results with many patients; but it is one thing to hear of pain, and another to feel it. My suffering was so exquisite that I could not imagine anyone else ever suffered so intensely as myself on that occasion; and, therefore, I merely expected a mitigation, so that I was truly agreeably surprised to find myself quite free from pain. I continued quite easy all the afternoon, slept comfortably all night, and the following morning felt a little stiffness, but no pain. A week thereafter I had a slight return, which I removed by hypnotizing myself once more; and I have remained quite free from rheumatism ever since, now nearly six years.
~James Braid, Observations on Trance or Human Hybernation (1850)
So Really, What is Self-Hypnosis?
Self hypnosis can be pretty closely related to meditation with the big exception being that instead of trying to silence and quiet the mind you are concentrating on reinforcing and directing your mind to bend to your own will. So a bit more like “guided meditation” would be the closest form.
For example, if you’ve ever had problems with food, or alcohol, or smoking. Maybe you’ve told yourself, like I’ve told myself, “After this one I’ll stop,” or “I can quit anytime I want”, but you manage to stuff your 39th pancake in your mouth not five minutes later while washing it down with a bottle of Jack and topping it off with a smoking session just to take the edge off.
Imaging for a second the ability to turn your mind against you and putting your mind in charge instead of your cravings or addictions? Make your mind your best ally instead of enemy. Seems to good to be true? Well, honestly, it can be too good to be true but it’s really up to you. I’ve got to therapeutic hypnotists to treat anxiety with hypnosis and later my hypnotherapist gave me some tools to do self-hypnosis at home. It’s worked for me and that’s all I can speak to.
To successfully perform self-hypnosis you MUST have motivation a lot of it. At the risk of sounding a little like Tony Robbins, you must really want and desire the change you want to become. If you don’t have that, walk into this all “willy nilly” like, you aren’t gonna have a positive outcome.
Next, you must be capable of relaxing, if you can’t relax then you’re either currently too high strung or just not ready to dive into self hypnosis. Perhaps meditation a few times a week can help you get to this point and I encourage you to try that at least. It works wonders for stress and daily worries.
You also must be at a time and place that distractions are at a minimum, don’t expect to get anywhere with kids yelling, dogs barking, and telephones beeping because Sandy from down the street liked your photo of peach cobbler on facebook. You MUST be able to concentrate and focus on what you want from yourself. This is a time to be completely honest and unafraid of that voice inside your head. This time you’re going to tell it what to do.
If your self-hypnosis goal is to just unwind and relax with no specific realized change then fine but after having motivation, relaxation, and concentrating the next step is to direct your subconscious with suggestion.
What’s Next with Self Hypnosis?
Well in a future post I’ll outline How to do self-hypnosis, but for now please by all means simply repeat a simple change you’d like to find in yourself as your run through Motivation, Relaxation, Concentration, and Direction. When you speak to yourself, either aloud, or in your mind, refer to yourself as “You”.
For example, I’ve had trouble staying up too late, I’d have trouble falling asleep, and being groggy in the morning as it has been my habit for many years. For a few days right before I went to be I’d guide myself into a deeply relaxed state with the mantra, “You feel relaxed in bed, you know that when you go to bed early you will feel confident and well rested when you wake up”. I’d repeat that simple hypnotic suggestion to myself throughout the course of my stages of self hypnosis. It started to stick and I began to feel much better in the mornings, to top it off, I went to bed earlier and felt at ease as I went to sleep!