How Does Hypnosis Work?


There’s nothing mysterious about the process of hypnosis; as we have explained in our article What is hypnosis, we all experience states similar to hypnosis every day, when we drive long distance, read books, watch a baseball game or simply daydream – whenever we’re so focused on one thing that we hardly notice anything else that goes on around us. And the hypnosis sessions are not much different than normal conversations, although they do involve careful planning from the side of the hypnotherapist – but to us it all looks perfectly normal; most of the time the patients will even remember everything that the hypnotherapist said during the session.

So, How Does It Work then?

Now you’re probably wondering how hypnosis can affect you if you’re aware of everything that’s happening.

A common misconception regarding hypnosis is that it puts us to some kind of sleep, during which we don’t know what’s going on around us, and after which we don’t remember a thing. Well, it can happen, but it’s quite rare. In most cases you’re fully awake – just extremely focused to the suggestions that the hypnotherapists gives you.

As we explained in our article about how subliminal messages work, our brain has the need to block out many of the things we notice or feel, simply because it’s too much for it to deal with. Consciously, that is. In our subconscious, all those things are stored and, depending on how often we have been exposed to a particular thought or emotion, it will have weaker or stronger influence on us.

An example: why do you still smoke cigarettes?

If you’ve been a smoker for the last 20 years, somewhere in your unconscious are stored the patterns that urge you to light a cigarette with a cup of coffee, or that say that you need cigarettes to reduce stress. Have you tried to quit smoking? If you have and you’re reading this with a lit cigarette in your hands, then you know what it looks like to want to quit, to say to yourself: “I won’t light another one”, or, worse yet, “I’ll quit tomorrow / next Monday”. You consciously know that smoking is bad for you, but you just can’t bring yourself to quit.

That’s your subconscious mind’s doing – the patterns that are formed there are extremely difficult to break, and your conscious mind often gives in: “Yeah, quitting is too hard /cigarettes do make me calm / I love smoking, so why should I quit?”. So, you need help from the inside to change the pattern.

How hypnosis can help

Hypnosis alters our state of consciousness in such a way hat the analytical part of the brain is turned off, inhibited, while the non-analytical part is made more alert and open to suggestions. The suggestions are made to create positive patterns which should replace the negative ones in your subconscious mind, and they can be used to change associations  – instead of being seen as “a dear friend, a little helper”, cigarettes are associated with lung cancer and death, which changes the way we perceive them to “toxic killer that I should stay away from”.

For some people, suggestions like: “You have made a decision to not smoke cigarettes. You will feel free of the desire to smoke cigarettes, and you will not smoke them” will produce the desired effect; this is called direct suggestion. For others, who are more of analytical characters, indirect suggestions will work better – for example this one: “… and you might discover that you don’t want to smoke another cigarette”. This type of suggestion gives the patient the illusion of choice, and is less likely to be met with resistance.

Both subliminal messages and hypnosis treatments work by stimulating the subconscious part of our mind. The main difference (except for the format, of course) is that hypnosis is more active, and it requires a conscious effort by the user to follow verbal instructions – which, of course, makes it a “stronger” form of self help instrument, since you’re more engaged in the process itself. You can listen to subliminal audios anywhere and anytime, the positive suggestions will enter your mind without you even noticing them; with the hypnosis, you have to enter this trance-like state to be more susceptible to the positive suggestions that you’re receiving.

Yes, Anyone Can Be Hypnotized

Yes, anyone – theoretically, to be precise. There’s no physical reason why anyone couldn’t be hypnotized, but there may be some psychological barriers that make it very difficult for some people to relax enough to enter a true hypnotic state – usually people who say that they can’t be hypnotized have a deep need for control, and fear that, if they’d allow themselves to be hypnotized, they would be giving up control.

But when we talk about those who are willing to relax and to subject themselves to hypnosis – and people who want or do use it to improve some aspect of their life obviously are willing – can be hypnotized, and in most cases with a successful outcome. For some it is easier than for the others to enter a hypnotic state, and it might take a few trial-and-errors before you find the right hypnotherapist and method.

Generally, people with a higher IQ respond to hypnosis very well, while those with a lower IQ and people with acute concentration disorder seem to have a harder time being hypnotized (hypnosis is a state of focused attention, so this is understandable). But essentially, anyone who wants to be hypnotized, can be hypnotized, even those with a short attention span (this requires special skills on the part of the hypnotist).

Why and How (Regular) People Use Hypnosis

Hypnosis is said to be used for – well, almost anything. Believe it or not, it’s even being used in surgery, instead of anesthesia, usually to control bleeding and to facilitate speed of recovery. Regular people don’t normally perform open heart surgeries at home 🙂 , but they do use hypnosis, whether in the form of a direct, man to man session, or listening to hypnosis audio recordings.

Most hypnosis includes suggestions for relaxation, calmness, and well-being, so that’s the area in which it’s being used the most. Specifically, hypnosis can be used for:

  • treatment of pain
  • depression
  • motivation
  • self esteem
  • anxiety and phobias
  • stress
  • habit disorders
  • gastro-intestinal disorders
  • skin conditions
  • post-surgical recovery
  • relief from nausea and vomiting
  • childbirth
  • treatment of hemophilia

and many other issues. The reason why we dedicated a whole section of this website to hypnosis is that it is very often used to help with manifesting. We have another article that deals with hypnosis and the law of attraction, but by now it’s probably quite obvious that it is a powerful tool to get you in the right state of mind needed for successful manifesting, including the improvement of your visualization skills.

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