When I first started out I was less clear than I am now about hypnotic suggestion and metaphor in remedial hypnosis. I focused very much on whether I could stick your hand to your leg, make your hand float above your head, stick your eyes shut or stick a coin to your hand all to see if you respond to hypnotic suggestion. I originally learned that if you responded to such suggestions it was evidence that I was now talking to your subconscious mind and not your conscious.
I have since learned that even if you do not respond to this type of hypnotic suggestion there is still a good chance that I can use hypnosis to change the way you think, feel or behave. The reason for this I feel is that the movement of your hand or the opening of the eyes is changing your belief in something very real, it is changing your relationship with the external world. The way you think or fell however is very much your internal world and nothing in there is real – it can all be changed by thinking and feeling differently.
Anxiety for example is often your reaction to ‘what if’ scenarios. You are responding to these scenarios in your mind as if they are real but if you have time to think ‘what if?’ then those scenarios are not happening yet. Your anxiety is not real, there fore when setting your mind up to change it there is less reality checking to interfere with the process than there would be if I hypnotised you and told you I was invisible.
Some people are very good at being hypnotised and will respond to these external suggestions every time but not all of us can do it. Most of us though, if we are responding to something internal that is not real it is often easy to change it into something more useful.
If you do respond to these types of hypnotic suggestion or metaphor though, I might use them in the solving of your issue in one of the following ways:
- If I can stick your hand to your leg I might then give direct suggestions related to your issue, telling your mind that these new ideas will stick in your mind the way your hand is stuck to your leg.
- If I can put a coin in your hand and tell you that you cannot let it go, I might focus your mind on the idea that that coin is the habit or feeling that you cannot get rid of so the two things become one. When the coin is well and truly stuck in your hand despite your best efforts to let it go I might give further suggestions that your mind will make the necessary changes to let go of that habit or feeling that you no longer need. We will know it has happened because you will be suddenly able to let go of the coin.
- One of my favourites is turning your arm into a lever with which we can turn up the intensity of a feeling such as motivation or reduce a feeling such as anxiety or a love of cake. This is very simple and can be very effective for long term change.
- If I can stick your eyes closed so that you cannot open them, I might give your mind suggestions about the way it will see the world from now and then tell you that when your eyes open you will have a different perspective.
- Some people come and see me as they feel stuck in their life, that they cannot move forwards, and I can sometimes focus them on that feeling to a point where I ask them to step forwards they cannot move. I can then remove the obstacle, whatever it is holding them back in their life, using further suggestion.
If you do not respond to these suggestions there are many more that I set up, more internal ones using visualisation of a problem. A good example is that someone saw their anxiety as a bird stuck in a phone box, just by freeing that bird in hypnosis they were able to feel more free in life.
Some hypnotherapists do this using scripts and metaphors that other people have written but I prefer to use what comes from you. The issue that you come and see me with is very personal to you and unique to you no matter how similar it is someone else’s and it should be treated that way.
If you have got a feeling that you experience regularly that you would rather not have, focus on it for a moment. Where do you feel it? What does it feel like? What images come to mind?
That image is a response, to a hypnotic suggestion designed to reveal a metaphor in your mind. It is the engagement of the subconscious mind, and that metaphor could hold the key to the solution that will free you from that feeling. Everything we do in hypnosis is metaphor.
Please feel free to comment if anything has come to mind and I’ll make a suggestion of how you can then change it!