What About Me?
It’s all very well delving thousands of years into the antecedents of hypnosis, and digging out obscure books from the bowels of libraries, but you would have every right to be shouting loudly inside your own head, yes, yes, yes but what about me? What can it do for me? I am a smorgasbord of minor frailties, fallibilities and faults. I’m interested in looking at fat fellas with luxuriant moustaches but what I really want to ask is …. can hypnosis help me?
If you’re expecting to be able to control people using nefarious means like this one then you’re barking up the wrong tree. Hypnosis is most useful as a one of a range of tools for getting through life slightly smoother not a fast track for world domination. This is reality people, not a kid’s cartoon.
Looking at the wealth of material that is featured in this book going back hundreds of years, I am amazed that there is still a fundamental misunderstanding about hypnosis. That it is something that is done to you. A mysterious process that you have to give up your free will to enter into. In reality it is a process that you inculcate in yourself. Your first experiences of it might be as a recipient from a trained practitioner but ultimately it’s a muscle that you build up. It’s experiential. An helpful, pleasant, altered form of ordinary consciousness that once you can access then you can go to whenever you want. If you study the history of the subject you’ll see that this point is made repeatedly, but it gets lost in the seductive glamour of stage hypnotism, and in the unintelligent tropes in popular culture.
So yes, hypnosis can really help you, as one of a range of techniques to help keep you on the rails. I would say that the best approach is to start off with professional help and then skill yourself up so that self-hypnosis is an option to turn to whenever you need it. I’ll assume that’s the case, so we’ll look at clinical hypnotherapy first then self-hypnosis later.
But first, put aside the thought that you can’t be hypnotised. It’s a strangely self-limiting notion but lots of people say they are sure they won’t be susceptible. I am sure that’s something to do with the fact that a lot of us feel ‘stuck’. It’s at the root of our unhappiness. A heaviness that is the exact opposite to the light energetic feeling that comes with easy change. And easy change is very possible. I love the standard answer you get from hypnotherapists about who can be hypnotised. We say “Anyone who is creative, intelligent and playful is a good candidate”. That answer is designed to flatter, encourage, and reassure people. It has the added bonus of being true. Let’s celebrate being creative, intelligent and playful and forget feeling stuck. Great – so you can be hypnotised. How are you going to go about it?
So it’s all about empowering yourself. You’re going to go looking for someone to deliver results with your issue and then teach you how to manage it yourself for the rest of your life. It’s like going to a hair stylist for a new look that means you never have to visit one ever again.
You’ll find hypnotists claiming great results with an enormous range of problems, but broadly speaking it is most effective when dealing with anything relating to anxiety. Nailing that helps with a lot of life from stopping smoking, to being able to deliver a presentation to your nasty boss to not being afraid of buttons on a clown’s jacket. It’s also very effective at helping with managing pain. Anxiety management is also at the heart of hypno-birthing.
Like everything in life these days from going on holiday to plastic surgery is all about the correct online research. It’s somewhat exhausting but incredibly liberating.
Every high street has a clinical hypnotherapist these days. An internet search will bring you a range of options not far from your home. It’s sustaining a lot of careers so it must work, right? Well yes is the answer but that doesn’t mean that choosing the right one is easy. Hypnosis is a really safe treatment so the biggest issue you are likely to face is a sheer waste of time, rather than serious psychological harm, but still it pays to do some research.
The fact that astounds most people is that UK laws don’t dictate how much training you have to have before you are allowed to practice as a hypnotherapist. Anyone can set themselves up. Oh crikey! So check what qualifications your therapist has got. You won’t understand what exactly it means but follow that up with checking which professional body they are a member of. There are lots of these, but they are united by umbrella organizations such as the UK Confederation of Hypnotherapy Organisations in the UK and the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists. All therapists should tell you what indemnity insurance they have. If they don’t mention it, then ask.
Fees range hugely for treatment but remember this is not entering into a slightly abusive long term relationship with a psychotherapist, who will demand you go at least once a week for an indefinite period of time. They will bitch if you want to go on holiday, and insist you pay them even if your granny has a heart attack and you don’t make it from A&E in time to benefit from their dubious presence. With a hypnotherapist you will only need a couple of sessions. Maybe one, maybe four but that’s extreme. So you can afford not to go for the cheapest. In fact I would recommend not going for the cheapest. Being mid-range shows confidence. Being really expensive probably just means they draw their clients exclusively from oil oligarch’s mistresses and good luck to them.
Ring and ask to talk to the therapist on the phone. Ask them what experience they have of working with the thing that is concerning you. If they sound vague or admit to being a little unsure then find someone who isn’t. It’s always good if they have an assistant – it shows they are busy. But then again it might show they are good at doing accents and pretending to put you through. Trust your intuition. When you do arrive at their rooms, again trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel professional then you can always walk away. Remember you are there to get help, advice and tutoring on how to manage your relationship with your own consciousness. There’s nothing mystical or magical going on. You’re paying for skills, not sacrificing a goat or hanging out with a latter day Madame Arcarti. You should expect straightforward, professional, clear communication.
I personally wouldn’t worry too much about the type of hypnosis they offer. The techniques differ slightly, and it really makes sense to combine hypnotherapy with NLP or CBT, but they should broadly speaking be similar in approach. Hypnotherapists are like any gang – they love to argue about different terms, ideas and approaches. It’s human nature. People who make conservatories probably get very exercised by different double-glazing techniques. We just want glass that doesn’t leak. This is probably most relevant in the hypnotherapy world when it comes to the ‘state’ theory. Much of the history of hypnosis has been arguments about the state vs the non-state theory of hypnosis. I suggest we forget all about this and focus on the fact that it has been proved over and over again to be really good at getting you out of being in a state. As in ‘a right state’. As in my friend who was passed in the street by two teenagers once, who giggled at each other as she walked by, and said audibly “Jeez, what a state to get into”. I think we should all avoid this by whatever means necessary. So keep focused on what you’re asking for help with and let the therapist go to the conferences to argue about techniques and technicalities.
Isn’t the worst part of any professional consultation when they give you homework? That moment when you realise that there is no magic cure. There is no all powerful Wizard of Oz who will make everything alright. That you will continue to be you, just with one minor concern dealt with but only if you put in the effort at home. Dammit! I’m here to tell you that hypnotherapy is just like that. A good therapist will be giving you the skills for you to develop in your own time. It’s not magic. Nothing is magic, except Magic. And that just tricks. We know this, because we are grown ups, but we refuse to believe it.
So do your homework and change will come. That’s not the stuff of miracles but it’s the stuff of profound, exciting real life.
I got into hypnosis when I just downloaded a MP3 from the internet. There is a huge range to choose from, good bad and very indifferent, and I think I was lucky, but I wouldn’t warn anyone off it. Go straight for being independent if you’re that kind of person. It’s certainly cheaper and you can always ask for professional advice later on. You’ll end up on your own with your consciousness sooner or later anyway so maybe it’s best that you, your conscious mind and your subconscious mind all get the love-in started sooner rather than later.
Have a good search on the internet. Use your intuition. You know a lot about hypnosis now so you’ll get a good sense from a quick preview listen whether or not it is for you. I would say that it makes sense to engage with a hypnotherapist who has a good strong practice and you are simply choosing to engage with them via their online offering rather than schlepping to their consulting rooms. Get to know them and their voice, and then you can use a range of their downloads or apps. An app simply consolidates an audio session, other suggestions and advice in a fancy, easy to access way. Useful for issues that benefit from regular topping up, like weight management and smoking cessation.
The biggest question that it’s important to address however you are accessing hypnosis, is to manage your expectations of what it will feel like. Any good hypnotherapist will deal with this before they start counting backwards from 100. Media representations have misled us since we were watching kid’s cartoons. You will not be a googly-eyed loon. You will not be unconscious. You will always feel like you. You will not be in ecstasy or in agony. You will be you. And that will be enough. Enough to affect profound change. In fact, acknowledging the rightness of simply being you, is the start of the process. Forget all the images in this glossy, attractive book, they are all wrong. Get up, find a mirror, look at yourself, close your eyes and relax. That’s what a hypnotised person looks like. Oh – yes – there’s a slight flaw in my instructions, but you get the idea.