I’m often asked how Hypnotherapy actually works, well, it’s partly science and partly our belief and expectation system…
The Science Stuff:
Hypnosis is a very natural state, that we all go in and out of – probably several times a day. In hypnosis the frequency of our brainwaves slows down, our conscious mind becomes calmer and we feel more physically relaxed. In fact, any absorbing or repetitive activity can invoke this state, as you may have noticed! This state also allows the subconscious mind to become more active, and it can absorb more information, learn more and – importantly for Hypnotherapy – unlearn previously learned ideas or beliefs. Some of those ideas or beliefs, held deep in the subconscious mind, may be what is causing a particular problem such as a phobia, fear, unwanted behaviour or habit. It has also been shown – using electroencephalography (EEG) – that during Hypnosis there is a decrease in left hemisphere brain activity and an increase in right hemisphere brain activity. The right hemisphere is believed to control imagination and creativity, so this again supports the theory that hypnosis subdues the logical, critical mind and allows the imaginative and instinctive mind to come to the fore. Read my blog post about the power of daydreaming for more about how helpful it can be to tap into this part of your consciousness.
All hypnosis is self-hypnosis:
Many hypnotherapists – and I am one of them – believe that all hypnosis is actually self hypnosis. No hypnotist can take control of your mind, or even guide you into hypnosis without your consent and participation. The hypnotist is the guide who enables you to invoke the hypnotic (or trance) state in yourself. Many people learn to use self hypnosis away from the consulting room too, to enhance their well-being and progress towards their goals, and most hypnotherapists will encourage and teach this. However, the ability to guide people into hypnosis is not the only skill of the hypnotherapist. Most are trained in a variety of therapeutic skills and techniques that are used with (and sometimes without) hypnosis, to help clients to achieve their aims.
You get more of what you focus on:
This reminds me of my driving instructor (some time ago now!) who used to tell me that if I kept looking at the hedge at the side of the road while I was driving – something I was prone to do for some reason – that’s where the car would most likely end up! According to the ‘Law of attraction’ you will always get more of what you focus on. Therefore if you focus on failure, unfortunately, that is what you are likely to get. We all know someone who seems to be almost irritatingly cheerful and positive all of the time and don’t things just always seem to go their way? Well – that’s the law of attraction in operation. A well known quote, attributed to Henry Ford, and often misquoted, says “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right”. What he meant was that our own belief system is what will influence the outcome – whether that be success or failure. Of course is isn’t always so simple – focusing on success and believing you will succeed doesn’t mean that you will be totally immune to failure; it does mean however that you will accept failure in a different way – as a lesson, a challenge, or a step nearer to success. Sometimes my clients tell me that they are 100% focused on their goals, but still don’t seem to be achieving them. This can be because it is not always so easy to be 100% positive or focused on one thing – often there will be subconscious factors that are holding us back from achieving our full potential, most often self doubt or fear. Those subconscious factors may be due to our previous life experiences, often going back to childhood – ideas, beliefs or behaviours we have unconsciously stored and may not even be aware of. Hypnotherapy enables people to identify those factors and to replace them with more positive, healthy thoughts, beliefs, ideas or behaviours that are totally aligned with their desires.
I tell my clients that I want to help them to unhypnotize themselves from beliefs or behaviours that they have unconsciously learned and that may be holding them back. In the same way that we can, over time, learn to believe ideas or notions that are simply not true, we can also learn to unlearn them. For instance, you may have unconsciously hypnotized yourself into believing that you will never be successful – I can help you to unhypnotize yourself from that belief and replace it with a more rational, positive belief – that with the right knowledge, skills and mindset you truly can be successful! In fact it is surprising how many clients I meet who think they are afraid of failure – when actually what they are afraid of is success.
So what is Wantpower?
I’m not a big believer in willpower. Even the word willpower suggests something that won’t be easy, it will be a ‘battle of wills’ and will probably involve sacrificing something. Think of stopping smoking, or dieting. The smoker and the dieter believe that they must use willpower to give up something they enjoy or feel they need. I suggest that they use wantpower instead of willpower, because wantpower is stronger and much more effective. So what is it? It is the power of wanting something so much that you are totally and completely focused on attaining it. It works best if any negative factors that may dilute its power can be identified and eliminated. This is where hypnotherapy can be very helpful. It can create the conditions for you to identify and eliminate your doubts, to know what you truly want and to create a blueprint for it in your subconscious mind, then use all of your wantpower to get it.