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How to Use Self Hypnosis

Access Dr. Bryan Knight's Hypnosis and Psychovisual Therapy Resources

How to Use Self-Hypnosis

(Adapted from Health and Happiness with Hypnosis)

	What can you do with self-hypnosis? Change a habit, overcome a phobia, win a
marathon, pass an exam, control pain, calm panic, improve concentration, enhance your
sex life, end writer's block, give a speech in public, prepare for a job interview, whatever.
Or uncover the cause of a problem. 
	Since the hypnotic experience varies so widely among individuals it is advisable for
you to first experience hypnosis with a qualified therapist, so you can safely discover your
unique "feel" in hypnosis.
	Then you can effectively change the messages in your subconscious and put in motion
an ongoing process of Positive Self-Hypnosis (PSH). 
	Many of us are familiar with Negative Self Hypnosis. NSH includes all the defeatist
yet subconscious images that we indulge in at the same time that we consciously claim that
we want to drop a habit, improve our behavior or get better. 
	NSH has three hypnotic components: non-critical thinking, imagery, and post-
hypnotic suggestions. NSH is buttressed with negative self-talk. And NSH thrives on fear
and doubt. 
	A typical example of NSH is Wendy, a young woman who was scared to go on a
date, frightened to enter a nightclub or restaurant. She told herself repeatedly that she was
plain, clumsy and a wallflower. Wendy avoided looking at herself in mirrors.
Confirmations from other people that Wendy is, in fact, gorgeous, made no impact on her
firm conviction that she was unattractive and unlovable. She refused to accept any positive
comments. To maintain the NSH built into her during a wretched childhood, Wendy could
find all kinds of reasons to nullify compliments. For example, "Oh, they're family; they
have to say I'm pretty." 
	When a person like Wendy, imbued with NSH, meets up with people who say
negative things to her, or who behave in demeaning ways, her NSH is reinforced.
	In therapy, as in "normal" life, NSH will result when the input is not of true concern
for the individual, but is sullied with contaminants such as possessiveness, jealousy,
selfishness, self-deception, envy, dogmatism or prejudice.
	NSH begins with the influence of most of our social institutions. Families, schools,
religions and the mass media are preoccupied with preservation of the status quo.
Children, students, believers, readers and viewers are exhorted directly or indirectly to
conform. Not to conform arouses feelings of guilt or unworthiness. Lip service is paid to
the concept of an individual's freedom. Instead, we become convinced that in certain
situations we have no choice. We learn to put limits on our dreams, our potential. Instead,
we settle for less, we undermine ourselves with thoughts of inadequacy, or doubts of it not
being proper to say or to do what we really want.
	Of course, total freedom is an illusory goal. We are in fact, interdependent.
Cooperation and civility are good things. What is not good is the throttling of individual
initiative because of the negative thoughts implanted in us by well-meaning (or perhaps
not so naive) authorities. It begins in the family when parents label their children. 
	And is continued in school. How many children have learned to stifle their creativity
because the art teacher told them "Now, Mindy, you know trees are not pink and the sky
is not yellow"? Or because the English teacher said, "Never begin a sentence with ’and’, or
end a sentence with a preposition"? 
	Words can hurt. When an adult in authority labels, criticizes or otherwise shames a
child, he or she uncritically accepts those words as true. They define the little self. And the
child behaves in ways which confirm the label. For instance, a child constantly told, "Oh,
you're so clumsy", is much more likely to drop things than is a child who is frequently
told, "Oh, you're so graceful, so well-coordinated." 
	Parents often (unintentionally) dump their own problems onto their children. Thus a
father who is angry with his boss -- or angry that he's lost his job -- may tell his son
"you're such a grumpy kid; you're always in a bad mood." And, of course, "I'm your
father; do what I tell you."  In other words, "Don't think for yourself, you're a nothing."
(Probably the same way the boss treats the father). 
	When the son takes out the anger he's absorbed from his father onto his sister, or onto
the family pet, he's then blamed for being such a vicious little boy and so on... 
	Because no one is perfect (neither child nor parent) most of us have mixed feelings
toward our parents. The negative chunk of those feelings can arouse guilt which can then
lead to anger which in turn leaves us feeling dissatisfied, not comfortable with our selves.
	Children who grow up unparented, uncared for, unloved, have an even more deep-
seated negative sense of self.
	Both the labeled and the unloved child suffer these negative self-messages running
like a never-ending tape recording in their heads. The child who is unloved concludes he is
unlovable; thus he behaves in unloving ways. The adults tell him he is "a beast" or
whatever and thus confirm his inner feeling of being unlovable and so it goes.
	A few labeled children are able to grow up emotionally healthy despite the shaming
experience of their youth. Most do not: they perpetuate the negative self-hypnosis. The
devastating messages are only ended when therapy, trauma or total love intervene to give
the sufferer a new self-image. 
	This new self-image can be created, and sustained, with self-hypnosis.
	A person's consciousness is most effectively expanded by changing the underlying
messages in his subconscious. Hypnosis, formal or informal, is how psychotherapy
achieves that success. Thus does therapy enable clients to put in motion an ongoing
process of Positive Self-Hypnosis (PSH). PSH liberates a person to achieve, to care, to
feel, to be -- and, most importantly, to love.
	You can use Positive Self-Hypnosis to enhance your creativity, build motivation,
accomplish goals, overcome problems. You can use self-hypnosis anywhere, anytime. Its
benefits are as limitless as your imagination.
	Common uses of self-hypnosis are to stop smoking, to control weight, to study
effectively, to increase self-confidence, to improve relationships.
	Hypnosis is a form of relaxed concentration; first you relax your body, then you relax
the conscious part of your mind. Hypnosis enables you to experience thoughts and images
as though they were real. It's a way to communicate with your subconscious.
	Hypnosis is rooted in our basic biology; it is as natural as its counterpart, the "flight
or fight" response to danger. Rather than gearing up to flee or to battle, hypnosis allows
you to let go of tension. 
	You can trigger this relaxation response from inside you, or you can let it be triggered
from outside. Words, images, thoughts, even gestures, can induce it.
	Hypnosis has a centuries-old history of proven effectiveness in helping people develop
more self-control -- of body, mind, and spirit.
	Self-hypnosis is simply harnessing this kind of everyday trance to achieve a particular
purpose. With even a light trance you can create profound changes in your life. 
	The beneficial effects of self-hypnosis are cumulative: the more you use self-hypnosis
properly, the more you benefit. Sessions of at least once a day are preferable, especially if
you are combatting years of a bad habit or self-denigration. Even a few moments in
positive self-hypnosis can be helpful, though 20 minutes to a half-hour or more would be
most beneficial.
	Regular sessions, at the same time and in the same place each day, are best. 
	You can sit or lie down. Sitting is probably preferable, unless it is your intention to
drift off to sleep. Loosen any tight clothing, remove gum and glasses. Choose a time when
you will not be interrupted by distractions, such as a crying baby, or a full bladder. Take
the phone off the hook, or switch on your answering machine. Settle down comfortably,
then begin your induction.


	By repeatedly making positive suggestions to yourself. This can be done in two ways:
pre-hypnotic and post-hypnotic. Pre-hypnotic suggestions are given before you go into
hypnosis. Post-hypnotic suggestions are made during hypnosis. 
	One of the major differences between pre and post-hypnotic suggestions is how you
speak to yourself. 
	In pre-hypnotic suggestions it is advisable to use "I", as in, "I am free from the need
to smoke". 	
	In post-hypnotic suggestions, since they come from "outside", it is advisable to use
"you", as in, "You are free from the need to smoke."

Pre-hypnotic suggestions

	The essence of this approach is that you make yourself comfortable, slowly repeat a
positive suggestion to yourself three times, and then go into hypnosis. (To enter hypnosis
you may use any of the inductions described below).

Post-hypnotic suggestions

	To receive post-hypnotic suggestions you must first be in hypnosis. This is no
problem when someone else, such as a therapist, gives you the suggestions. However, if
you've hypnotized yourself you are likely to exit from the hypnosis if you use conscious
thought or speech to offer the suggestions to your subconscious. The solution is to use a
	You pre-record your suggestions and are thus able to remain in hypnosis and hear the
suggestions as they come from "outside." No need to worry about the sound of your
voice. While clarity is important, the authoritative, monotonous tone beloved of
Hollywood's hypnotists is just a myth; in reality any kind of voice will do. 
	To begin your tape recording, you need to decide on your induction. An induction
can be a repeat of the words your therapist used to guide you into hypnosis, or any one of
the myriads of other inductions which you can obtain from books or hypnotists. You
simply record whichever approach suits you best. 
	While you are relaxed and enjoying being in hypnosis you will hear the post-hypnotic
suggestions you've recorded following your induction. It's probably a good idea to leave a
few moments of silence between induction and suggestions. Rules for constructing such
suggestions are given below.
	Relaxing music can be used throughout your recording. Indeed, the ending of the
music can be used as a signal that your session of hypnosis is over. 
	If you prefer not to use music, your session can end either with your own recorded
instructions, or when the recorder clicks off, or anytime you choose to open your eyes. 
	Verbal instructions to exit hypnosis would probably match those you learned from
your hypnotist. As with inductions, they are simple. And usually short. An example is: "In
a moment or two, count out loud from 1 to 3 and open your eyes. Soon after you open
your eyes you will feel refreshed and alert." 


	Whether or not you use a tape recorder (i.e., whether you use pre-hypnotic
suggestions, or post-hypnotic suggestions) you need an induction to guide you into
	Here are the beginnings of four inductions, known respectively as progressive
relaxation, countdown, eye-fixation, and visualization. 
	(Slow deep breathing can be an induction in itself, or add to the effectiveness of other


1.	"Sit back comfortably... take a slow, deep breath... hold it for a moment... and let it
go slowly, through your mouth... as you exhale... allow the tension in your body to drain
away... now, allow your scalp to relax... allow your neck muscles to relax... allow your
shoulders to go loose and limp..." 
2.	"Make yourself comfortable, and begin counting... slowly... backwards from 100,
subtracting 3 as you go... 97... 94... 91... 88... 85... 82... 79... should you lose track,
simply start over..." 
3.	[First prop or hold the Health and Happiness with Hypnosis book just above eye
level] "Seat yourself comfortably... stare at the spot in the centre of your Golden
Spiral...[the Golden Spiral adorns the back cover of the book] as you continue to stare
you will notice your eyelids becoming heavier... and heavier... and heavier... and heavier...
and when you allow them to close you will feel so relaxed..." 
4.	"Imagine a place which to you implies being free of cares. See yourself relaxing
there... notice the colors around you... feel the warmth of your hands... breathe in
delicious scents..." 
	Word pictures should be detailed, and should invoke as many senses as possible, in
addition to sight (e.g., "you may very well feel the warmth of the sand as you trickle it
through your fingers", or "as you look across the green and gold meadow you might
inhale the pleasing smell of newly-cut grass").


	Yes. The content of your suggestions is very important. To be most effective,
hypnotic suggestions must be positive, specific, measurable, beneficent, and in the present


	Your suggestions have to be positive in both purpose and content. This means you do
not use the word not. (Because the subconscious ignores the word "not" and thus receives
a command to do exactly the opposite of what you wish. Test that right now: close your
eyes and say to yourself "I will not think of a green elephant").
	Also avoid saying you'll "try." You wouldn't want a surgeon to tell you she'd “try” to
take out your painful gall bladder, would you? To "try" means you are unsure, only half-
hearted, about your action. 

Wrong:	"I will not bite my nails". 
Right:		"I am free from the need to bite my nails."

Wrong:	"I will not get angry." 
Right:		"I am calm and relaxed."

Wrong:	"You will try not to be afraid of the cat."
Right:		"You are calm and confident near the cat."


	Your positive suggestions should be specific. The subconscious takes things literally,
therefore the more precise your suggestion the more easily it is accepted.

Wrong:	"I will control my eating." 
Right:		"I eat three meals a day and nothing else."

Wrong:	"I am going to study better." 
Right:		"I concentrate on my studies from 8 to 10 each evening."

Wrong:	"You are going to get lots of exercise." 
Right:		"Each day from 7:30 to 8 a.m. you walk briskly."


	Another reason for your positive suggestions to be specific is that you can then
measure progress. In the examples above, you could record how many meals you eat, how
much studying you do and when, and how you're exercising.


	Your positive, specific, measurable suggestions will be better absorbed by your
subconscious if they mention enjoyment. 

Wrong:	"Every day I write at least two pages of my book."
Right:		"Every day I enjoy writing at least two pages of my book."

Wrong:	"From now on I eat slowly."
Right:		"From now on I enjoy eating slowly."

Wrong:	"You relax in hypnosis from 3 to 3:30 each afternoon."
Right:		"You enjoy relaxing in hypnosis from 3 to 3:30 each afternoon."


	Because of the tendency of the subconscious to take things literally it is advisable to
make your positive, specific, measurable and beneficent suggestions in the present tense.
This also helps to entrench the new behavior or attitude as a permanent part of you, not as
something which applies only to some vague time to come, or even to a particular date in
the future (e.g. next January when you are scheduled to give a speech).

Wrong:	"I will be confident and will enjoy making a speech next January 31."
Right:		"I am confident and enjoy making speeches, including my speech on January

Wrong:	"I will be free from fear and I will enjoy appointments at my dentist's, including
the checkup on March 3."
Right:		"I am free from fear and I enjoy appointments at my dentist's, including the
checkup on March 3."

        (It might also be helpful to redefine "fear" as "discomfort").
Wrong:	"You'll not have headaches any more."
Right:		"From now on you enjoy a clear head free from discomfort."


	Certainly. The main reason to close them is to block visual distractions. Thus you
avoid eye strain and will find it easier to focus inward.
	Should you prefer eyes-open hypnosis you might wish to use the Psychovisual
Therapy  (PsyV) video ’Serenity’. This half-hour video has been especially created to lull
you into a pleasant state of relaxation. Subliminal messages strengthen your feelings of
contentment and confidence as you watch beautiful computer-generated images and listen
to calming music. 
	You could play your own audiocassette tape along with the PsyV Serenity video to
provide post-hypnotic suggestions. 
	Or simply give yourself a pre-hypnotic suggestion and then relax while watching the


	No way. You are always conscious and always in control while in hypnosis. There is
no danger that you will get stuck in a trance. For example, should the tape recording fail,
you would simply come out of hypnosis, or if you prefered, drift off to sleep.


	The marvellous secret is simple: in your self-hypnosis sessions you give yourself a
trigger that, out of hypnosis, instantly floods you with whatever you've programmed. For
example, let's say you've decided to do away with the panic you feel when about to write
an exam. You can enjoy a series of sessions of self-hypnosis in which you imagine yourself
taking exams calmly, with just enough excitement that you are alert and performing to the
best of your ability. During those sessions you could give yourself a trigger so that when
you sit down to write a real exam you can instantly flood yourself with the positive, calm
feelings you have experienced in hypnosis. The trigger can be consciously selected, or you
can ask your subconscious to pop something suitable into your mind.
	A trigger can be almost anything. It might be a gesture: smoothing your hair, or
pulling on an ear lobe, for example; it might be a movement: taking a slow deep breath, or
picking up a pen. It might be a mental image: seeing a "Grade A" report card, or yourself
on a beach or receiving a diploma. It might be a word or a phrase, such as "relax", or "I
am calm", which you say either internally or out loud. A smile is an excellent trigger for
release of feelings of self-confidence.


	By slashing your negative self-talk. And substituting positive self-talk. Many people
continually give themselves negative suggestions (such as "I'm too fat", or "I'm stupid", or
"I'm a klutz", or the most common, "I can't..."). Negative suggestions reinforce low self-
esteem. They become self-fulfilling prophecies. But so do positive suggestions. You can
use such suggestions to become self-fulfilling prophecies in the opposite, positive,
	Repetitive statements you make to yourself while not in hypnosis are known as
autosuggestions. These messages are usually global, such as the famous dictum of Emile
Coué, "Every day in every way, I'm getting better and better", or the PsyV message, "I am
calm, confident, relaxed and strong." Such consciously-made statements sink into the
subconscious, where they take on hypnotic power. Especially when you talk to your
reflection in a mirror.
	Two great times to give yourself positive autosuggestions are just before you fall
asleep at night and just before you are fully awake in the morning. This is how you can
allow yourself to enjoy deep, refreshing sleeps, and satisfying, productive days.
	Positive autosuggestions -- also known as affirmations -- provide the fertile soil in
which your positive self-hypnotic suggestions can flourish.
	You can also supplement and reinforce your self-hypnosis by watching videos such as
Psychovisual Therapy's ’Self-Confidence’, ’Stress Control’, ’Stop Smoking’, ’Weight
Control’ or ’Relax & Let Go’ programs.


	Here are the steps to follow for either approach to your sessions of self-hypnosis,
after you have made arrangements to not be interrupted:

A.	Prehypnotic Suggestions

		Find a comfortable place.

		Remove gum, glasses, etc.

	    Loosen ties, belts, etc.

		Repeat your suggestion slowly three times (aloud or silently).

		Induct yourself into hypnosis or watch a Psychovisual Therapy video.

		Remain in hypnosis for pre-decided period or until you choose to drift off to
                sleep or to exit hypnosis.

B.	Posthypnotic Suggestions

		Find a comfortable place.

		Remove gum, glasses, etc.

		Loosen ties, belts, etc.

		Let your tape recording induct you into hypnosis and/or watch Serenity.

		Listen to your suggestions.

		Remain in hypnosis until tape ends or instructions finish session.

	Enhance either procedure with positive self-talk.
	Remember, whatever you believe you can, or cannot do, you're right!

Want to verify that your suggestions match Dr Knight's guidelines ?  Click here to send
them to him for a free, one-time commentary.

To order the book,  Health and Happiness with Hypnosis, from which this Self-hypnosis
page has been adapted, click on the "Ordering" button below.

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