Your hypnotic suggestion is a key part of self hypnosis. You are learning how to do self hypnosis for a reason – because you want to achieve something. You achieve your objective by the use of hypnotic suggestion and visualisation while you are in a self-created hypnotic trance. There a few important self hypnosis techniques and formulation of effective suggestions is one of them! In order to do that, you will need to know a little about creating suggestion, and the best way to create effective visualisations.
Firstly, it’s important to realise that you will have to remember your hypnotic suggestion when you are in trance, because if you open your eyes to read a written suggestion, then that will tend to bring you out of trance! There are really only four basic rules for creating effective suggestions: keep it short (short enough to remember!); keep it simple; keep it in the present tense (in ‘the now’); keep it positive.
On this page, I have given you some tips about formulating your own hypnotic suggestion. On a separate page, I have written a few simple sample suggestions for the main uses of self-hypnosis (use of self hypnosis to quit smoking; use of self hypnosis as part of a weight loss programme; use of self hypnosis as part of a stress management programme). However, suggestions and visualisations are for more effective if they have been created by you, making them much more personally relevant, so this page is quite important, and it’s worth taking a few moments to read these few tips to help you formulate hypnotic suggestion so that you can learn effective self hypnosis
SHORT - SIMPLE - PRESENT TENSE - POSITIVE - BELIEVABLE
Formulate your hypnotic suggestion before you start your self hypnosis session
Always know what your suggestion and visualisation are before you start your self hypnosis session. Create your suggestion, and then memorise it (whichever way you find it easy to commit it to memory). Then, when the time is right in your self hypnosis session (and you will know when the time is right because your unconscious mind will ‘tell you’ when it’s right) you will be able to repeat your hypnotic suggestion and see your visualisation without having to break your trance.
Keep your hypnotic suggestion short and simple
If you formulate a hypnotic suggestion that’s as long or as complicated as ‘War and Peace’ then you will not remember it when you are in trance!
Phrase your hypnotic suggestion in the present tense
So, use words like: ‘I am; I do; I have,’ not: ‘I will be; I will do; I will have; or ‘I was; I did’. There are important psychological reasons involving the unconscious mind for stating your hypnotic suggestion in this way when you do self hypnosis. If a suggestion is stated in the future tense, then the unconscious mind will assume it’s something for the future, not now. Unfortunately, the future never comes – we exist in the present, but the unconscious mind will have developed a belief that the suggestion used in the self hypnosis is something that will exist in the future, not now! As an example, if you are using self hypnosis for weight loss and you continue to give yourself the suggestion that you will control your eating habits (“I will control my eating habits”; “I am going to eat healthily”) then your unconscious mind interprets the suggestion as something that will happen in the future, and that it’s okay to eat unhealthily today! Although there are techniques using the future and past tenses that I might sometimes use as a therapist, I would strongly recommend that, when learning how to do self-hypnosis, you always use the present tense when formulating suggestion.
Phrase your hypnotic suggestions in a positive way
Try not to phrase things in a negative way – so you are doing something positive, rather than not doing something! As an example of this, imagine that you are a tightrope walker and you want to regularly use self hypnosis to be a better tightrope walker! A very poor suggestion would be: “I won’t fall off the tightrope.” It’s in the future tense, but above all it’s negative – in order to see yourself not falling off the tightrope, your mind will first see itself falling off the tightrope! (It’s rather like trying not to think about elephants if I say to you: “Don’t think about elephants.” I bet you thought about elephants as you read that!) Similarly, if you are using self hypnosis to try to quit smoking and you use the suggestion: ‘I won’t smoke cigarettes’, you will see yourself smoking cigarettes! Or if you are using self hypnosis as part of a weight loss programme and you use the suggestion: ‘I won’t eat large amounts of cream buns’; you will immediately see yourself eating large amounts of cream buns! A better suggestion for the tightrope walker would be: “I walk successfully and safely across the tightrope.” It’s short, simple, in the present tense (‘I walk’ not ‘I will walk’) and it’s positive (‘I walk’ not ‘I don’t fall’). The tightrope walker could make it better (without making it much longer) by being more specific: “I walk safely and artistically across the tightrope”. I’m sure you can think of some other simple, positive, ‘in the now’ suggestions to help our tightrope walker!
Yourself hypnosis suggestion must always be believable!
How often should I repeat my suggestion?
As a rule (and all rules exist to be broken!) I recommend repeating your hypnotic suggestion 5 times. But, if I’m honest, I have no scientific evidence for that recommendation. In my personal use of self hypnosis, I have found repeating the suggestion 5 times to be effective without being too prolonged.
For visualisation the rules are slightly different: positive; present; personal.
As with suggestion, make the visualisation positive – see yourself achieving or succeeding. Don’t try to visualise yourself not doing something! The best advice I can give is to visualise the result that you are trying to achieve. For example, if you are using self hypnosis as part of a weight loss programme, then you must visualise yourself at the weight you wish to be, wearing the clothes you wish to wear, doing the things you wish to do as a slimmer person. Similarly, if you are learning how to do self hypnosis to help quit smoking then you should visualise yourself doing those things you wish to do as a non-smoker, see yourself rejecting the offer of a cigarette, see you with whatever you can buy with the money you save! Also, if learning all these self hypnosis techniques as part of a stress management programme then you can see yourself being very calm in a normally stressful situation, or see yourself in a place that always makes you feel calm and relaxed.