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Self-Hypnosis Unveiled – What It Is and How to Make the Most Out of It?

You might have been thinking about learning self-hypnosis (or autohypnosis) for a while now and for good reason! It has been proven very useful for helping with numerous ailments in clinical practice and scientific research. 

Whether you have timidly googled self-hypnosis, or have already dived into learning the technique, this article will provide you with comprehensive practical knowledge and tips to benefit from learning and practicing autohypnosis. 

In this article you will learn:

Let's begin...

What Self-Hypnosis Is And What It Is Not

We could describe self-hypnosis as a self-induced state of deep relaxation and openness of your consciousness. As opposed to hypnotherapy, you do not need anyone else’s guidance. 

When you self-hypnotize yourself, you lead your own mind and body into a profoundly relaxed state. The door to your subconsciousness opens. You become more susceptible to suggestions. By bypassing your conscious mind’s rigid control, you allow for ideas to become embedded into your subconscious mind. These suggestions can then be used to help with many physical or psychological issues.

Often, we are actually experiencing autohypnosis unknowingly. Hard to believe? Here are two examples of how you have already been self-hypnotized. 

Can you recall a time when you got utterly mesmerized by the ocean or a crackling fire? How you got lost in time and entered a state entirely free of racing thoughts? At that moment, you were in a hypnotic state. 

Another example of (unwanted) spontaneous self-hypnosis is when our minds use it to generate stress, anxiety, and fear in our lives. At some point, we all acquired limiting beliefs about ourselves, others, or the way things work in the world. These beliefs became negative suggestions that operate within our subconscious mind. They can disempower us and induce all kinds of emotional disturbances. 

When intentionally practicing autohypnosis, you are able to take control of this powerful process and use it to your benefit. Using self-hypnosis, you lead yourself into the same trance-like state as if you were absorbed by looking at the waves or a fireplace. Then you can use carefully crafted suggestions to teach your subconscious mind how to cope with stress, adverse emotions, and liberate yourself from limiting beliefs. 

Therefore, self-hypnosis is a powerful self-development tool. 

Can self-hypnosis be dangerous?

how to hypnotize yourself

Self-hypnosis is a legitimate tool used in clinical and non-clinical psychology. Therefore, it is generally considered safe. However, as with any other technique, due caution is advised as it is a means of going around your conscious mind. 

A lack of expertise is likely to be the most common reason for experiencing undesirable consequences when under self-hypnosis. When you open the gates of your subconscious mind, you are allowing for potentially traumatic and painful memories and thoughts to surface. You should be prepared to tackle them once they appear. 

You could also unwantedly lead yourself to feel worse than before autohypnosis by phrasing suggestions wrongly. These potential dangers of self-induced hypnosis are the reason why it is best to consult a hypnotherapist first. A professional will help you design your self-hypnotic sessions to make them safe and beneficial. You can also download audios by professionals, which will guide you through the process.

What Self-Hypnosis Can Help You With 

Hypnosis and self-hypnosis have been used in clinical psychology practice for decades to relieve both physical and psychological problems. It has even been taught to children and youth as a means of reducing migraines, pain, habit cough, or different hardships of dealing with cancer

Self-hypnosis can help you:

Lose weight 

Studies have shown that self-hypnosis aids weight loss, even among morbidly obese individuals. Also, if you have type 2 diabetes, practicing self-hypnosis was found to be more helpful in reducing weight than talking to a certified diabetes educator.

Quit smoking 

Self-hypnosis has been proven to be effective in assisting people who want to stop smoking, both as a supporting complementary therapy and as a standalone treatment.

Fight addictions 

Studies have shown great benefits of self-hypnosis in dealing with drug and alcohol addiction, gambling, internet addiction, and other forms of addictive behavior.

Reduce anxiety

Autohypnosis is able to help decrease anxiety – be it in general or anxiety related to education, relationships, or work. It also helps with certain manifestations of anxiety, such as irritable bowel syndrome

Cope with stress 

You can practice self-hypnosis to manage both acute tension and emotional trauma. It is equally effective in helping you cope with daily stressors better. Studies have demonstrated the power of the technique in reducing stress even among cancer patients

Defeat fears and phobias 

The technique has been found successful as a tool to set yourself free from different fears and phobias such as flying (airline) phobia, agoraphobia, fear of dentists, or needle phobia. 

Reduce pain 

Knowing how to practice self-hypnosis is very useful in relieving acute pain, such as pain during childbirth, or reduce chronic pain that otherwise can make your life miserable.

Sleep better

Learning how to enter the profoundly relaxed state of self-hypnosis, combined with the power of suggestions, can help you tackle sleep disturbances and get a good night's sleep. 

Aid your self-growth 

The process of self-hypnosis allows for our limiting beliefs to dissolve and be replaced with new, empowering ones. This is why this technique can be used as a vessel towards wellbeing and personal growth. 

can you hypnotize yourself

When not to self-hypnotize yourself 

Yes, self-hypnosis has a wide array of benefits and is generally safe to use for the majority of people. However, as with anything else, you should not consider autohypnosis to be a magic bullet. There are some contraindications to hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis. 

As already mentioned, self-hypnosis has the potential of opening the floodgate to some overwhelmingly strong emotions, which you may not be able to deal with on your own. 

Here are some other instances in which you should approach self-hypnosis with caution:

  • If you are supposed to be completely alert, such as when driving, taking care of small children, or operating heavy machinery. Make sure you are completely energized after your session before you engage in these activities.
  • If you are using self-hypnosis to aid your physical problems, you should consult your physician first. This technique can help with many issues accompanying certain illnesses such as pain, or symptoms of asthma. However, you should always be certain that you are also addressing the root cause of these disturbances.
  • Never hypnotize yourself if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or are taking strong psychoactive medications.
  • For psychological disorders, such as psychosis, severe depression, pathological personalities, or in cases of senility, self-hypnosis is contraindicated. 
  • Epilepsy and narcolepsy are not to be combined with autohypnotic trance.
  • In some cases of severe heart conditions, self-hypnosis could be harmful. Consult your physician before you try this technique. 

How Does Self-Hypnosis Work?

how does self hypnosis work

Hypnosis (including the one you perform on yourself) is not magic, it’s science. It is simply helping your mind and your body “do their thing.” What do we mean by this? 

Human beings became alienated from our nature throughout the evolution of humankind. Technological advancements happened a lot quicker than our biological (and psychological, to an extent) development. For that reason, in the modern world, our minds are often cluttered and overwhelmed. We cannot seem to cope well with the constant downpour of stimuli. 

Self-hypnosis harnesses your brain’s ability to regulate the body. Your mind has the innate power to control the automatic thoughts that bounce around your head throughout the day. These thoughts are often intrusive, repetitive, almost obsessive. We do not get a chance to resume control over them unless we make an effort to learn an effective technique such as self-hypnosis. 

What is the mechanism in the background of this process? In an autohypnosis session, muscle tension eases. This effect alone makes it difficult for your mind to remain tense. However, brain scans on people under hypnosis revealed that there is more to hypnosis than that. 

Three types of changes happening in the brain under hypnosis were detected during the Stanford University study leading to interesting conclusions. 

  1. Firstly, you become so absorbed that you stop worrying about anything else. 
  2. Secondly, under hypnosis the brain-body connection increases, which means that your brain can better understand and manage what is happening in the body. 
  3. Finally, under hypnosis, you are more suggestible as you disconnect from overthinking or analyzing the suggestions and your mind just accepts them. This means that they can have a much greater impact. 

Self-hypnosis and psychotherapy 

Hypnosis has been used in psychotherapy ever since the earliest days of psychology as a science. Throughout the years, hypnotherapy has evolved and is now substantiated by scientific evidence of its effectiveness. Self-hypnosis can be used as a standalone treatment in some instances. It is also often used as an aid to psychotherapy in cases of more serious psychological disturbances. 

Self-hypnosis can assist a client who is in psychotherapy to explore painful thoughts, emotions, or memories that they had hidden from their conscious awareness. Additionally, it can help to see and think about things differently. That is, to reassess automatic beliefs and habit patterns that hinder success and wellbeing. 

What does self-hypnosis feel like? 

So, what does the self-hypnotic trance feel like? How can you know you are doing it right? 

According to research conducted by Stanford University, only 10% of people are highly hypnotizable. The rest are susceptible to (self-) hypnosis to an extent. Thus, it may feel different to different people. However, there are certain signs of being hypnotized that can give you a hint that you are getting it right.

  • Your muscles relax, especially your facial muscles. Your movements become slow and efficient.
  • You breathe more slowly and deeply without having to make an effort to do so. 
  • While your eyes are still open, you can begin to experience fogging and blurring of the vision. Objects may appear a bit different in size, color, or shape. 
  • You are not distracted by outside sounds so easily.
  • You are not distracted by your own running thoughts either. It becomes easy to stay focused.
  • Finally, you will know that you managed to hypnotize yourself when you feel relaxed, focused, and free of compulsions and ruminations. 

Self-Hypnosis Techniques

self-hypnosis techniques

There are several ways to perform autohypnosis, and it is worth trying a couple before deciding which technique works best for you.

Self-hypnosis audios 

You can begin familiarizing yourself with self-hypnosis by listening to audios pre-recorded by a professional hypnotherapist. Pick a recognized authority in hypnotherapy - such as Marisa Peer, who is a world-renowned speaker, therapist, and bestselling author - and download their guided sessions

It will help you enter the desired state quicker, and without having to wonder if you are on target. Ideally, contact a licensed hypnotherapist that will make an audio recording that is custom-tailored to your specific needs.

Self-guided relaxation 

Although self-hypnosis is not the same as meditation, they do intertwine in certain elements. You can try this technique as a second choice to guided sessions to gain more experience. 

Sit or lay comfortably. Focus on your breath, and slowly relax your eyes. If thoughts come to you, let them drift away. When you are ready, start thinking “calm”, “relaxed”, or “peaceful” with every breath out. Continue this practice as you fall deeper and deeper into relaxation and harmony of your mind. 

Visualization self-hypnosis

When you decide on the goal of your self-hypnotic practice and the desired suggestions, pick the right scene to visualize. Be it a vacant beach, a quiet forest, your own safe place, or your new CEO office - self-hypnosis will take your mind and your body there. When you do visualize the scene of your choosing, do not stop at imagery. Hear the sounds, feel the textures, smells, and tastes. It will make the suggestion that much more effective. 

This type of visualization is also used in Rapid Transformational Therapy® (RTT®) to quickly bring the desired changes to clients. RTT is an award-winning solution-based treatment that is endorsed by multiple relevant professional bodies and associations. It incorporates the elements of hypnotherapy, NLP, neuroscience, CBT, and psychotherapy, and is known to help achieve long-lasting changes in only one to three sessions.

How to Perform Autohypnosis

HOW TO PERFORM AUTOHYPNOSIS

As you know by now, the technique can be very efficient, and very quick in bringing you benefits. The steps are fairly simple, although mastering them does take some practice. Here are four basic stages of self-hypnosis that will give you what you need to start practicing it straight away. 

Preparation

Find a peaceful, quiet, and comfortable place. Set aside 15-30 minutes during which you will not be disturbed. Turn off your devices, as well as the doorbell, if possible. It is probably best that you sit instead of lying down so that you do not fall asleep (although, if you do, that is also perfectly fine). 

Focus

When you are ready, start focusing on your breathing. This is an essential portion of hypnosis because it allows you to gain control over your thoughts. Relax your body. You can do a short progressive muscle relaxation as we will describe further in the self-hypnosis for the sleep section. 

Suggestion

Prepare your suggestion before you start the actual process of hypnotizing yourself. This is important because there are rules on how to phrase suggestions correctly. If you are uncertain, consult a licensed hypnotherapist, such as a trained RTT therapist who has experience in the field, because phrasing a suggestion wrongly can, in fact, bring more harm than good. 

Suggestions should be stated in the positive and present tense. Our subconscious mind is quite literal, so they also need to be very specific. An example of a good suggestion for someone who is about to hold a speech is “I am feeling confident in my role as a public speaker”. This is much better than saying something like “I am not going to panic” – as this suggestion is negative, planting the idea of panicking. This is like the classic example of NOT thinking about a pink elephant - your mind doesn’t register the ‘not’ and just makes you think of it.  

Exit the self-hypnotic state

Exiting the hypnotic state gradually feels much better than an abrupt interruption. Start with making a decision in your mind that you will be slowly exiting the hypnotic state. Then, count backward from five, while saying to yourself: “I am exiting this state; I am awakening; I am awake; I am fully awake and energized” after each number. Slowly open your eyes and start noticing the sounds surrounding you. Notice something in your room you have not noticed for some time. You have now exited the hypnotic state. 

Self-Hypnosis for Sleep

self hypnosis for sleep

A great example of how to implement autohypnosis into your daily routine is self-hypnosis for better sleep. 

Incorporating elements of hypnosis into your bedtime routine can help you fight insomnia, sleep more soundly, and wake up restful. 

Here is how to do it...

Prepare the room and yourself for sleeping and lie down in any way comfortable. 

Begin focusing on your breathing. Feel it travel down your throat and into your lungs. Feel it move back out. When you are ready, close your eyelids. When a thought appears, acknowledge it and refocus on your breath. 

After five minutes or so, start focusing on your body. Moving your attention slowly from your feet up to your face. Gently focus on intentionally relaxing each part of your body. Hear the word “relax” as you progress up your every muscle. You can also experiment with hearing “let go,” or “deep” coupled with deep breathing. 

Self-hypnosis for sleeping also uses soothing imagery. So, you can imagine a scene that brings you peace, such as floating clouds, waves gently caressing the sand - or any other image that evokes pleasant drowsiness in you. 

Finally, to reach the best results in treating insomnia, autohypnosis can be combined with techniques of cognitive-behavioral therapy, so make sure to consult a licensed hypnotherapist to benefit from it entirely. 

You can also choose to use a powerful guided pre-recorded hypnosis to enjoy deep unbroken sleep.

The final word

Self-hypnosis can be an invaluable tool on your path towards personal development and wellbeing. It can help you address existing disturbances, blockages, limiting beliefs, and setbacks. And the best thing is – it is easy and free. Learn about more ways you can benefit from hypnosis by downloading the free RTT Course Prospectus. Do not take a raincheck on your self-development, and dive into the vast field of benefits this technique has to offer!

Marisa Peer
World-Class Therapist
Marisa Peer is a world renowned speaker, Rapid Transformational Therapy trainer and best-selling author

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Regression therapy is an approach to treatment that focuses on resolving significant past events believed to be interfering with a person’s present mental and emotional wellness. Only people with sound mental health who are confident that a review of past events will not adversely impact their emotional or mental health should participate. We request that you do not participate in regression therapy if you or your treating practitioners have any past or existing concerns about your mental health.

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