Posthypnotic suggestions are powerful tools for changing behaviour or for achieving long sought after goals. A quick definition of a posthypnotic suggestion is an idea that was implanted in the subconscious mind during hypnosis or an altered state of consciousness. The purpose of a posthypnotic suggestion is for the person to take the desired action in certain situations.
Posthypnotic suggestions need to be paired with posthypnotic cues to be effective. Cues are also known as triggers that allow the person's subconscious mind to remember the course of action that needs to be taken. Posthypnotic cues could be a word, image or an event.
To better put these terms in a practical perspective, if a person wants to lose weight a posthypnotic suggestion would be to desire lower calorie foods. The posthypnotic cue may be opening the refrigerator door. When the person is hungry and checks what is inside the refrigerator, there is suddenly a desire for healthy and low-calorie food. That's the posthypnotic suggestion.
To make posthypnotic suggestions most effective, they need to specifically address a situation or goal. The accompanying cue must also be relevant to the posthypnotic suggestion. In the previous example, the cue was opening the refrigerator door, which is an act clearly associated with food and eating.
Many times posthypnotic suggestions involve allowing the subject to return to an altered or heightened state of consciousness at will. A person may want to handle stress better and therefore seeks to regain a firm measure of peace by slipping into a trance-like state that makes them relaxed. Patients with chronic pain may even eliminate their discomfort by dealing with it through a posthypnotic suggestion.
Interestingly, the person who carries out the posthypnotic suggestion won't have a valid reason for performing that action. That's because they will be acting outside of their conscious awareness. Usually, a posthypnotic suggestion carries additional instructions about forgetting the hypnosis session. The person will perform the desired action in a similar trance-like state, almost like amnesia.
This can be better understood if you have ever done something "out of habit". Did you ever rearrange the items in your kitchen cabinets? Perhaps one day you opened the cabinet to take out your favourite coffee mug only to remember that it was moved to a different location? Did you make this "mistake" several times before finally getting it right?
Activities we do automatically are similar to posthypnotic suggestions. They have been ingrained into our subconscious mind so that we don't even think about them, and merely do them. A posthypnotic suggestion works the same way. Except that the suggestion is deliberately planted in the subconscious mind with a goal of creating the desired response.
Although posthypnotic suggestions can be very effective, if the subject repeatedly rejects the thought, eventually the suggestion will leave the subconscious mind. Therefore, to make this hypnotic method successful, the posthypnotic suggestion must be something the person wants to achieve.
The mind is truly amazing and the ability to alter behaviour for the good is an exciting and wonderful possibility.