Introduction to Hypnotic Language
The way people use hypnotic language is a little bizarre in my mind. I’ve seen it being used in seminars or in live places and it’s so out of context that it reminds me of a bunch of children that have just discovered their father’s tool shed, playing with the tools in a way they were not designed for.
The whole purpose of hypnotic language is to create a certain effect and make it fit within a predetermined strategy. What I will try to do is look at the strategic applications of this hypnotic language as well as touch upon the tools that allow us to create that effect.
Master hypnotists know how to apply hypnotic language patterns purposefully and shape the right kind of language patterns for the specific situation and fit them into the social context.
In order to master a hypnotic language, we need to make a side-route into the land of philosophy. As hypnotists, we need to look into philosophical backgrounds, because whenever we busy ourselves with the ideas of the mind we are really working within the same realm as philosophy. Philosophy has investigated and addressed many questions that hypnotists or NLP practitioners should address also.
So, if nothing else, we can take philosophical ideas of the past as spurs for our own thinking and blend the two to create something greater, using our psychological understanding of hypnosis.
The particular realm of philosophy that we need to touch upon in order to understand and master hypnotic language is the concept of “what is real?”. This is a fundamental question in hypnosis because our ability to influence other people extends only to the extent that it fits within their ability to conceptualise reality. So, we need to either discover what is real for them and fit our communication, information and behaviour within that reality OR disturb their reality sufficiently to allow room for growth.
What is real?
Aside from a few core genetic imprints that we are born with (like the ability to recognise faces), we basically hit the world with 5 senses and we need to make sense of all the blinding blur of colours, shapes, sounds, feelings etc. We are presented with all this information and stimuli and we need to deconstruct that information to start making sense of it. And we do this by labelling.
For example, let's take a chair. In nature, there is no difference between a chair, a tree stump or a forest. However, for me to be able to perceive what chair is I need to have an understanding of its history, function and purpose. I need to have sat in one or seen people sitting in it. I need to see different types of chairs used in different contexts and situations. I need to see different types of things that exhibit chair-like qualities so that I can recognise an object and say “that is a chair”.
Depending on our experiences and the way of labelling things, our application of that particular object can vary. For example, and artists will use chairs differently from an office worker. For an artist, standing on a chair is perfectly acceptable whereas for an office worker it is not.
The irony is, as we go through this process of deconstructing nature in order to label it and create some kind of control over it, we are also at the same time being controlled by it because we begin to assume that the labels are real. So, in our mind, a chair must be a chair, rather than a collection of wooden pieces that happened to be shaped in a way that it is useful for sitting.
The reason children are able to play with such creativity using everyday objects is that they have not labelled things as concretely as adults have. For them, a chair can have many different functions; it can be a spaceship, toy, weapon etc.
This labelling process is very important because it creates what is real. And in order to change the reality, we need to be able to challenge how people perceive things around them.
In nature, there are no divisions between oceans, forests, mountains, volcanoes etc. They are all part of one big whole. In the process of understanding nature, we cut up the pie into bite-sized pieces that we can label and control. When creating a concept of the chair we need to create a whole bunch of things that are NOT that chair. In other words, things are defined as much by what they are as by what they are not.
For example, the sentence “the chair is in the back of the room” makes no sense unless there is no “front”. Room only makes sense to the extent that things exist in the world that is NOT room. In other words, it would be impossible to create a distinction if there was no opposite or negation of it.
So, when we perceive, deconstruct and attach a label to something, we are instantly creating a continuum of a set of poles which are going between “what is” and “what is not”.
In the same way, we create a physical universe, we also create a conceptual universe using the physical universe as a kind of metaphor for ideas. I am talking here about the universe of things like happiness, love, insights, understanding – things that do not actually exist in the physical world but have a stronger impact on us as compared to things that exist in the real world. And there is evidence for this all around us. For example, we have all witnessed people die for an abstract concept like freedom or love, but I doubt you’ve heard of anyone willing to die for a chair.
Why have we gone through all this process of looking at how people construct reality?
Well, if people use language to understand reality, then language defines the limits of that reality. So, when you bring someone to the point of being speechless without the ability to describe something, you have just reached the end of their personal universe.
By discovering the point where language comes to an end (when people cannot describe and label the universe anymore), you can tip them over the edge of their known universe and come to a very interesting place- a place of mystical and hypnotic experiences.
Let's get back to our previous example of “the chair is at the back of the room”. This statement is something that draws your conscious attention and the language used will split our awareness, that will get directed towards what language focuses on, which is in this example “chair, room, back of the room”.
Now, at at the same time, there is unconscious awareness which is “not chairs, not rooms, not backs”. These unconscious elements contain the seeds of our limitations and solutions.
Let me give you an example.
I’d like you to imagine that there are 999 players participating in Wimbledon tennis championship this year. It is a standard knockout tournament whereby 2 players will play against each other and whoever wins goes to the next round. The tricky part is that we will have one man left over. So, what we do with that man is that we give him an automatic pass to the next round and then the numbers will be even again. Every other round we’re gonna have an odd number and that means someone gets an automatic pass to the next round. So, here’s the question:
How many matches need to be played in order to have a Wimbledon champion?
This appears to be a rather difficult question that requires quite a bit of calculation. However, if we rephrase it to the following:
How many people need to lose before we have a final winner of the championship?
The answer is clear: 998.
Think about how much easier was to answer the second question. What happened there?
The first question split your awareness in different directions and made you concentrate on one part of the conundrum that is difficult to solve. This is a very nice example of how language can free us and entrap us at the same time.
In other words, depending on how elegantly phrased any bit of information is, it will direct our awareness to something that is either empowering or disempowering.
In physics we have matter and antimatter which cancel each other out when they come in contact, releasing huge amounts of energy. We can look at the polarity that we create with language in similar terms. When we bring together things which “are” and which “are not”, a lot of psychological energy is released. We can use this energy to create new and refined hypnotic realities.
How do we create these hypnotic realities?
When we speak to someone, some form of reality already exists in them. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to communicate with that person.
So, the first thing we need to so is deconstructed the reality (or that portion of reality) that they have, which is limiting them at that time.
For example, if you, as a salesman, are sure that your insurance premiums are perfect for the person in front of you, but for some reason they can’t bring themselves to buy, then you need to liberate them from the limitations in their thinking so they can see other options that might be better for them. In other words, you get the outcome that you desire as a hypnotist and at the same time the other person gets to live a richer and more rewarding life.
The first step is to challenge or deconstruct their reality in order to create space for new reality. As a hypnotist, you will concentrate on “what is” as well as “what is not” and in that way you are not only going to cover the whole universe, but also create a wonderful sense of nothingness (by cancelling these 2 opposites) filled with tremendous potential and energy.