Posted May 5,1999
Myth-Conceptions About Hypnosis
So many people think that hypnosis is magic. If an ice cube is placed on a hypnotized person's skin, and she's told it is a hot coal, a blister appears. A person is hypnotized to believe that he's stiff as a board. Then, his head is placed on one chair, and his feet on another. Several people climb onto his stomach, and he doesn't collapse. These phenomena look like magic. They aren't. All that happens in hypnosis is that we access abilities we naturally have, but that we don't seem to be able to connect with while in our normal analytical state. For instance, a stage hypnotist may ask a shy woman to sing in front of an audience. Generally, she'd shrink into a corner. However, because her self-imposed inhibitions have been circumvented, she belts out the song. The critical part of us that says, "I can't do that" moves onto a shelf in the corner, and lets the power within us come out to play. Hypnosis simply frees us from limitations we've accepted.
Hypnosis is a process of allowing the subconscious to be more in control than our conscious mind. Our subconscious is the storehouse of all our thoughts, actions, beliefs, attitudes, memories, decisions. In other words, everything that is us. It's been programmed like a computer. It's like putting data into a computer. We use the keyboard (conscious mind) every day to enter new information into the hard drive (subconscious mind) of the computer. The hard drive contains all the old information, and the new information coming into it. Hypnosis is simply an auxilary keyboard that bypasses the conscious mind to place new data into the computer.
We've been conditioned with our beliefs that "I can't." Our conscious mind is the logical part of us. It sifts and analyzes information, draws a conclusion on that information, and then passes the conclusion to the subconscious mind. The subconscious then processes the information, comparing it with all the other information it has. Then the subconscious takes the strongest, most powerful idea, and acts on that. For instance, two smokers want to quit. The first one decides "That's enough. I don't want to do this anymore. I have a lot of reasons to quit. No matter how difficult it becomes, I'm done smoking." He's made a final decision to quit, and knows that nothing is going to talk him out of it. He throws out his cigarettes and that's that. He has very little trouble. We've all heard of people doing this. The second smoker wants to quit, but thinks "I want to quit, but I really like to smoke. And it's going to be so difficult. I don't know if I can do it." He puts his cigarettes in a drawer. As soon as the craving hits, he's digging them out.
The first smoker made a determined decision. It was stronger than the desire to continue smoking, and he committed himself to it, no matter what. His subconscious mind picked the most dominant thought. His choice to quit was stronger than his outdated choice to smoke, therefore his subconscious made the process relatively painless. The second smoker's belief that it was going to be hard set up a self-fulfilling prophecy. And he wasn't dedicated to quitting smoking. His subconscious recognized that he hadn't decided to quit no matter what, so it figured that the old programming was what was really desired. His cravings were overwhelming, and he gave into them, to the familiar path and to his old conditioning.
Our subconscious goes wherever our attention is. Just like driving a car. When our intention is to drive straight ahead, then our reflexes aim the car along that course. If our attention wanders to look at the beautiful mountains to our right, and continues to gaze at them, the instinctive impulse is to turn the car in the direction of where we're looking. With the smokers, their subconscious minds delivered to them whatever their attention was fixed on. The one smoker had decided to quit no matter what, so he got to quit. The other smoker was afraid it would be difficult, that he wouldn't succeed, and he was giving up something he liked. His subconscious gave him what it thought he wanted, to continue smoking.
With hypnosis, we focus on one idea, such as giving up something we don't want anymore, and keep our attention on what we do want. This is a process that we use in our daily life all the time. Whenever we break old habits, learn new skills, change the way we think about life, are creative, we are focusing on what we want. Hypnosis just makes use of the process that we're already using.
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