This weekend I attended my first hypnotherapy class! It was fascinating, to say the least. At the mention of hypnosis, most people immediately think of television and old movies: the mysterious hypnotist using a pendulum to bend the subject to his will. The reality could not be further from the truth. Hypnotism is simply a way for a conscious subject to access the powers of their subconscious mind.
The conscious mind is where we learn and the subconscious takes these lessons and transforms them into habit. For example, think of driving a car. When you first learned, you memorized every step, thought about every single move you made, and obsessed over every detail. Bit by bit, you became more comfortable with these actions. At some point, you stopped thinking about checking your mirrors, or shifting into gear, or braking. When the light turns green, you aren't telling yourself that green means go, so it is time to move your foot from the brake to the gas. You see the green light, your foot moves onto the gas, and you just go. Driving is no longer a conscious effort. It has now shifted into the subconscious. Just think for a minute about how much we engage our subconscious every single day. Every time you do something that isn't new, it is coming from that part of the mind. We tend to think of "habits" as a term that covers negative behavior, like smoking or stress-eating. In reality, though, almost everything we do everyday is a habit. Getting out of bed is a habi. It is something we do every day, without thinking about it. Eating, driving, walking, even sitting-all of these are habits. When we walk, we don't need to think, "Now put one foot in front of the other." It just happens.
The power of the subconscious mind is what we need to harvest when we want to change anything about ourselves on a permanent basis. The problem is you can't reason with the subconscious. Reasoning comes from the conscious part of our mind. And that is where the difficulty lies. You can verbally tell yourself, "I need to do x y and z to get healthy," but unless that info is somehow translated in a way that the subconscious understands, it will not become ingrained as a habit. And this is where hypnotherapy comes in!
Here is the first step to self-hypnosis: start thinking in the present tense. The subconscious mind doesn't understand future or past; it is engaged in the here and now. Telling yourself that you will eventually quit smoking is less effective than telling yourself that you are a non-smoker even if that is not the case yet. Semantics mean everything here.