Self-hypnosis can be defined as a self-initiated process to deliberately induce a state of concentrated and heightened suggestibility. Initially, it will involve changes in breathing and the relaxing of postural tension to enable a deeper feeling of relaxation. You can then use affirmations, your imagination and visualisation techniques to help you achieve your goal.
How does self-hypnosis help?
When you undergo a hypnotherapy treatment your therapist will often spend some time talking to you about self-hypnosis and showing you techniques you can use outside of the treatment room to reinforce what you are working on. Just like hypnotherapy self-hypnosis can be used to change your thinking patterns, emotions and behaviours on a variety of issues. It can support you to relax and release stress and anxiety, improve concentration, reduce negative emotions like anger and rehearse skills. Self-hypnosis can help you achieve short-, medium- and long-term goals but the longer and deeper the goal the more time and dedication it will take to achieve it.
Practising small steps and achieving small daily goals will help you to build up change over time. This could be rehearsing some points that you want to present at a meeting, visualising confidence in an upcoming awkward social interaction or problem-solving a hectic schedule to ensure it runs smoothly the following day.
You will develop breathing techniques and lower levels of physical tension and a heightened state of awareness through the regular practice of self-hypnosis. It’s incredible what the subconscious mind will present to you when you are practising self-hypnosis these will be things that you can note down and reflect on with your hypnotherapist or by yourself through journaling.
Creating hypnotic suggestions
When you are hypnotised your hypnotherapist will use a lot of different suggestions related to your issue to help your subconscious mind reprogramme. Suggestions can be similar to affirmations which bypass the conscious mind when in a state of trance and goes straight to the more suggestible subconscious. The hypnotic state gives the affirmation more “power” and transforms it into a believable belief. There are certain “rules” that your unconscious mind will accept when being given suggestions, suggestions given that don’t follow these rules will simply be rejected by your unconscious mind. Your hypnotherapist will be able to talk to you about these in more detail but here are a few to get you started.
- Your subconscious mind will focus on the positive, and negative statements will direct your mind towards the negative so avoid using “don’t” e.g. “I am not stressed” your subconscious will focus on the word “stressed”. Instead, try “I am relaxing and feel at peace”.
- Start your suggestions with “I am…” and use the present tense. Instead of saying “I will be more relaxed” say “I am feeling more relaxed every day”.
- Including verbs helps to make sure that tells your subconscious that you are the one taking the action and at least one emotion word, choose the one that most resonates with you for example “I am achieving greater calmness each day.”
Is self-hypnosis a skill?
Yes, like meditation it takes time to become confident and effective at using self-hypnosis. You need to practise it to master it. Some people will pick it up easier than others but stick with it as it will certainly help you to achieve your goals.
How often should you practice self-hypnosis?
Start by practising self-hypnosis once a day, ideally try to do this at the same time every day. When you first begin practising self-hypnosis you will find that you focus mainly on the physical aspect of getting into trance the breathing and relaxation stages, you may find that you initially can’t focus for that long so start with short 5-10 minute sessions where you focus on learning to get into trance, don’t worry if in the first few days or week you don’t actually give yourself any suggestions. Once you are able to get yourself into a trance then you can extend this time to 10-20 minutes and introduce suggestions. Ultimately, the quality of your practice is more important than the length of time that you spend.
Can I just practise self-hypnosis?
Essentially yes you can, like meditation you can use self-hypnosis without carrying out hypnotherapy although it may well take longer for you to achieve something similar. That being said working with a hypnotherapist would be more effective. Self-hypnosis compliments the work that you do with a hypnotherapist and combining both is the most effective way to achieve your goals.