In order to understand what hypnosis is and how it works, we have to take a look at how the mind works and how we process information. Hypnosis is a very powerful tool that we can use to leverage the power of our mind and psychologically increase our performance and happiness in our lives. Every day we hear people talk about things that they would like to achieve in their life from having more self control, using will power to beat addictions like sugar, smoking and losing weight. People talk about having more mental clarity and being stress free in a world where we constantly crave attention. What we ultimately seek is a way to use our mind in order to change our behaviour. In fact, a science known as Sports Psychology has been developed specifically to show athletes how to perfect their psychological performance in order to have maximum results on the field. This article will explore how our minds work from a very high level and how hypnosis can be used to leverage the psychological factors that prevent you from having what you want.
Hypnosis 101 for everyone at any experience level
We can break our mind up into parts, the conscience, the unconscious and the gate keeper. Although our minds function as a whole and we have very loose terms to describe what each section of the brain does, it’s useful to think of each part as a separate entity.
The Conscious Mind
The Conscious Mind is what we consider to “be ourselves“, it’s our intellect, it guides our attention and processes our thoughts about our day to day activities, and influences the choices that we make every day. In 1956, Psychologist George A. Miller wrote a book titled “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information“, which suggests that our conscious minds are capable of processing seven, plus or minus two bits of information in our working memory. A simple way of explaining this is memorising a shopping list, when you get to seven items and start adding more, some people may find it increasingly difficult to remember the items after number seven because their focus of attention is tied up. When people face problems in their lives, this is what makes them seem so overwhelming, because we try and factor in every minor detail into the problem, we essentially tie up our thought process and we create an infinite loop.
The Unconscious Mind
The Unconscious Mind is what we consider “everything else” that is apart of us, or all the things which run in the background that allow us to function as humans. The unconscious mind controls our bodily functions like breathing and our heart beating, but what a lot of people don’t know, is that it’s also responsible for all learning and development, regulating our emotions, and storing memories as well as our desire to protect ourselves so we can survive.
The unconscious mind has the ability to process millions of pieces of information at any given moment, and things which are deemed important, bubble up to the surface of the conscious mind. An example is when you get an injury, or hurt yourself. Your body recognises there is something wrong, and sends a pain signal to your brain to alert you to slow down what you’re doing to prevent further injury and to warn you that something needs to be fixed. It’s remarkably similar to when the petrol light starts flashing in your car when its low on petrol, if you disobey the light and keep driving, you won’t be able to get very far. The other thing that’s worth point out, this is where our beliefs and values are stored, this is what shapes us into the unique individuals we are.
The Gate Keeper
This part of the mind sits somewhere in between the conscious mind and the unconscious mind, and acts a filter to sort through the information that comes in through our external senses. It’s important that we filter through what we process, otherwise we’d end up storing lots of junk. If I were to tell you that the Easter Bunny is real, and he’s going to visit you tomorrow, hopefully there would be something inside you that thinks, “Hang on, what’s going on here. That can’t be true.” This is the critical factor in action, and it’s doing it’s job of filtering information, and comparing it against your beliefs and values that serve to protect you. If you’re from a Western Country, these beliefs and values are also what make you turn your head to the left, then right before you cross the road because we know that roads can be very dangerous, even for Adults!
What exactly is Hypnosis?
The first thing to point out is that, Hypnosis is not some magical or mystical state. The second thing to understand is that it doesn’t require any superpowers to be a Hypnotist, or to be hypnotised. There are also a lot of misconceptions around the process of hypnosis and trance – a hypnosis trance is actually a heightened state of awareness, where you’re focused exclusively on a single point. These sorts of trances are completely natural and an important part in our lives because all learning and change happens unconsciously first. Trance is so natural everyday, you might be shocked to realise you’ve probably already been in one today, and you might even be curious about what will happen in the next one. Next time your mind wonders off when you’re listening to music, or when you get dressed in the morning without even thinking about it, just remember this.
With Clinical Hypnosis, a person is guided into a trance, so we can communicate with their unconscious mind and this is how we fix problems and change behaviours, so people can start living the life they want to, and most importantly be happy. This works because when you are in a trance, you are able to access resources that are normally outside of your awareness. It’s like when you have a name, or a word on the tip of your tongue, you know what you’re trying to say, but for some reason you can’t think of the word you want to say. A problem in your life works in a similar way, you know you want to fix it, but can’t quite remember how to.
And this is the “gotcha moment” that stumps everyone! With this problem in mind, if we knew how to fix the problem ourselves properly, we would and it won’t be a problem any more. Instead we force ourselves to suffer through it, and make empty promises to ourselves that when we wake up tomorrow, life will somehow be different. When really all we have to do is ask for help. Look at it like this, if you have a problem with your computer, you take it to an expert technician, or somebody who knows how to fix it. Life works a similar way. We have problems in our lives because they make us unhappy, but we don’t know how to fix them. A lot of people haven’t been informed that if you have a problem in your life like smoking, stress, weight loss, or perhaps it’s something holding you back from achieving your dreams, but these are the sort of problems Hypnotist’s love to fix, in fact we get so obsessed about them that we are always looking for brand new ways to solve them even faster! Best of all, you get the opportunity to change your life, and be one step closer to what really makes you happy.
You might like this next article where we dive into the biggest myths and truths about hypnosis. Check out the The 10 Biggest Hypnosis Myths Revealed