If you hypnotize someone into believing that they are a chicken in a barnyard, what happens? We’ve all seen enough stage hypnosis shows to know that what happens is the hypnotist will get the person to start clucking like a chicken.
Well, here’s the thing… your beliefs about yourself, about life, about the world… have hypnotized you. Whatever or whoever you believe you are is who you will be. Your behaviours and actions, or lack of behaviours and actions, only ever come from your beliefs. Unless you make a conscious effort (and it is a very big effort of willpower that you will need), you will never take an action that falls outside of what you believe to be possible.
If you believe you are a chicken, you will cluck like a chicken. If you believe you are a loser, you will act like a loser and get a loser's results - reinforcing that belief. If you believe women or poor people can’t do X, Y or Z and you identify with being a “woman” or a “poor person” then you won’t be able to do X, Y or Z… but you are only hypnotized.
Maybe it’s your family who unwittingly or intentionally hypnotized you. Perhaps your culture or your teachers repeated the same things to you over and over until you believed them as well. In some cases, it was just one very emotional and negatively interpreted experience that made you take on a particular belief.
All of this is only hypnosis and a hypnotic trance can be broken. Waking up from the trance means opening doors to other possibilities, opening doors to a new life and a new you.
Hypnosis happens in a number of ways but the two most common are repetition (all forms of advertising use this tactic) and emotional impact.
If you hear the same string of words or see the same happenings over and over again, it sinks into your subconscious. Your mind, being a meaning-making-machine, attempts to make sense of it and that "sense", which is quite often nonsense, becomes something that you believe. X begins to = Y.
Repetition as hypnosis
High levels of emotion induce trance
What we believe is NOT “the truth”. This is very hard for us to grasp and understand because what we believe FEELS true to us. “The truth” is that what is true for you may be completely false for someone else in the exact same situation as you.
An example: Imagine you have to give up your home and most of your possessions. You own only a backpack worth of "stuff" and must go live with friends. To some, this would be their worst nightmare ever and yet there is another interpretation. I know of a person who has this happening to her yet she is feeling great. She feels free and unfettered. This is one of the best times of her life. She is not interpreting this situation to mean she has no worth, she is not interpreting it to mean that she is going to starve in the future, she is not interpreting that she’s a burden to her friends… she is enjoying her time feeling free, happy and light.
Here’s another thing that it’s hard for us to hear and believe: it’s NOT the situation, it is the interpretation of the situation, it’s the judgment we put on the situation. Our beliefs and judgments can be changed so that we can view “bad” situations differently, find peace with them and enjoy life more fully… no matter the situation.
So, coming back to beliefs and hypnotism: If we can become aware of our beliefs, we have a better chance of de-hypnotizing ourselves. We can also ask for help in finding our beliefs and reinterpreting our situations. There are many techniques that allow us to explore and release these beliefs and the pain they cause us: my favourites are EFT, The Work of Byron Katie and PSTec, among many other options.
Don’t allow life and other people to keep you stuck in your hypnotized state. It may have taken many years of childhood or one very emotional experience to hypnotize you but the state can be broken in an instant.
When you notice that you don’t like how you feel, ask yourself “What am I believing about this person/this situation, that makes me feel sad/angry/ashamed/afraid”? Pick up a healing tool or technique – maybe all you need to do is take some deep breaths – and de-hypnotize yourself or ask for help to do it. Know that it can be done.