The Science of Suggestion

For most of my life, I didn’t believe in hypnosis. Of course, I hadn’t really looked into it much either… but I never expected that one day I would dive in and want to learn as much about it as I could.

What I discovered was something I repeat all the time in workshops and presentations: hypnosis is not some magical, mystical phenomena. It is based on a workable model of how the mind works.

Imagine you step into your kitchen and walk to the fridge. You pull open the door, hearing the sound it makes and feeling the burst of cool air. You reach in a pull out a lemon, place it on a cutting board and chop it in half. Next, you pick up a half and bite right into it- a nice juicy bite.

If you do this, what happens? You salivate. Your saliva glands increase production of saliva. But why? Because you told them to.

In hypnosis, this is known as suggestion and the above is one of a large number of so-called ”suggestibility tests.” Suggestion not mystical either, but a pretty straightforward phenomenon that the functioning of the mind is based on.

If we were to talk about sports and then I were to mention cars, statistics show that you’d be more likely to think of a sports car than any other type of car. This is called priming and one form of suggestion. If I talk about the superb slice of pizza I just had, fresh out of the oven and extra cheese, you just might begin to want one (especially if you like pizza).

Advertising works based on the principles of suggestion. By portraying products in certain ways, associating positive emotions to them and repeating the process, advertisers hypnotize millions of people to buy. It’s not mind control and they can’t force people to buy their product, but they can be influenced.

If I tell you not to think of blue, what do you think of? This is another form of suggestion, and there are many.

Here’s how it works:

The mind is constantly taking in information, processing it (through a number of filters) and then acting on that information. By perceiving the world through your senses and then thinking and feeling, you are giving send signals to your mind and body. You are constantly giving yourself suggestions. Your beliefs are a powerful signal that acts as a command to the nervous system. If you believe carbohydrates make you fat, you avoid them like the plague. The belief dictates the behaviour. If you believe you have to enjoy life because we only live once, you dive into the plate of spaghetti.

In every moment, you are hypnotizing yourself to act and feel in certain ways through the suggestions you give yourself: your thoughts, beliefs and internal self-talk. And the mind obeys because that’s how it works. If you decided to get up right now and walk away, your legs obey!

The problem is most people have never learned to give themselves suggestions consciously and deliberately. They are on automatic, giving themselves suggestions to be anxious (don’t panic!), eat too much and procrastinate on that important project without even knowing it.

Hypnosis is a process that teaches us to take back control of our minds and to give ourselves the suggestions that will make us happier, healthier and more effective in life. When you can do that, you’re in the driver’s seat of your life.

David Kynan

David Kynan will get you there with practical cutting-edge methods for change and performance. President of Personis Coaching and Training (www.Personis.co) and Former Vice President of the Canadian Association of NLP, David coaches, teaches and consults on how to make change happen when change is hard. He also lends his skills to individuals, professionals and businesses on topics related to strategic intervention, problem solving, marketing and sales. His expertise has landed him training and consulting contracts with companies such as Sun Life Financial, Medisca Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Pure Water Technologies. He has been featured in the Montreal Mirror, interviewed on CTV and presented on his work at the Canadian Human Rights Commission in Ottawa.

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