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say nothing

Train yourself to say nothing

I got an email today from someone looking for help with their client.

I'm looking for a script that will help eliminate a person from using aahs and ands when he is speaking to groups. He strings his sentences together with and and when he is thinking what to say next he says aah. Do you have anything that would work or that I could tweak to help him?

My reply was:

I have been a university lecturer for over 40 years. Like most speakers, I too used to uummm and ahhhhh during lectures. I only became aware of it after I had to  transcribe some of my lectures. It was embarrassing the number of 'hesitation' noises I made when talking to my classes.

I set out to get rid of them and I have succeeded totally. The trick is to become aware of them. As soon as you become aware of them you can avoid standing there making noises just to fill in the gaps. I found that there are two methods you can use.

Make sure you have something to say.

The first one is to not start speaking without knowing what you're going to say. When you are a teacher or a lecturer you feel there is an intense pressure to talk all the time. You need to show that you have something to say. This in fact is not true. It is immensely freeing to be able to say "I don't know". You can then say "what do you think the answer might be?" Or you can say, "I'll do my best to find out and I will explain it in class next time we meet." Or  just say "let me think about that for a moment, talk amongst yourselves". Once you realize that that is no need to keep up the continuous flow of speech your speaking becomes much more natural.

Train yourself to say nothing.

The second thing you can do is when you don't know what to say next, say nothing. This is my preferred method. When I am searching for the next word, looking for the right phrase, or even when I got no idea whatsoever, I just pause. I make no sound whatsoever. And the great thing is, that most people don't even notice. And certainly, nobody cares.

That is by far the easiest way to get rid of the unnecessary Ummms, Ahhhhs, "youknow", 'like' and all the other fillers. So what I suggest you do with your client is to plant a post hypnotic suggestion that he will become acutely aware of every time he utters a filler noise. And that when he is about to say some pointless syllable he actually stops, pauses in silence, and gives his brain time to catch up with his lips.

I think that will be the easiest way to help your client.

 

How would you deal with this ? Share your ideas below.

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western philosophy

Western philosophy of psychotherapy

The town I live in has been getting more and more immigrants from various parts of Asia. They now make up a noticeable proportion of the local population. This means that I am getting more clients from an Asian background.

Most of these clients are in every way comparable to people who have lived here all their lives. But I do notice that there is a distinct cultural difference with some groups. Indian clients seem to be quite comfortable with standard methods, but it is different when dealing with clients from traditional Chinese or Taiwanese backgrounds.

Western philosophy of psychotherapy

The Western philosophy of psychotherapy is based on the idea that you are what you are because of how you were brought up. If you have a psychosocial problem then it came from your childhood, or at least most of it does. Western psychology does not accept that you are born with predestined problems. Nor do cosmic forces shape who you are, or the alignment of the planets, or anything else.

Blaming your parents is emphatically rejected by many clients from Chinese families. They are so set with the idea that parents have to be venerated and respected. The idea that their parents could have done something wrong is just unthinkable. If the client has a problem it can only be because of some fault that the client has. Even the possibility that you could think of tracing your personal problems back how your parents treated you is unacceptable.

I have tried linking to their beliefs in chi and other external forces with some success, but I feel it is not ideal. I am not at all sure of how to deal with this issue.

How do you deal with different cultural expectations? Share your ideas below.

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newsletter-materials

Newsletter materials available

I received this email the other day:

Dear Mr Mason,

A year or so ago I purchased your excellent book of scripts and have enjoyed studying them. I am at present engaged in writing a doctoral dissertation.  I would like your permission to quote and use a selection of your scripts in my paper, with proper acknowledgement of course. My committee needs proof that I have gained your permission even though you indicate that for educational purposes I would be free to do so.

I of course wrote back giving permission. I am always happy for people to use my scripts for education and training. In fact I have special offers for people who train others and hypnosis schools.

I also am always happy for the editors of newsletters to use any of my material. In the past I have supplied hypnotic metaphors and scripts for the journal of The Australian Society of Clinical Hypnotherapists,  the Hypnotherapy Journal, and the journal of the National Council for Hypnotherapy in the UK.

Everybody wins when we share newsletter materials

Hypnotherapy is a sharing profession. Everyone can improve, and the easiest way to improve your own performance is to learn from others. If the whole profession became more open to sharing then we would all benefit. I subscribe to a lot of blogs from other hypnotherapists. Unfortunately, a great many of these use their blogs for self-promotion. Every blog entry it seems is trying to sell training or appointments of the authors book. For most of these blogs, this format defeats the point of a blog. The blog is supposed to be about sharing your personal opinions and communicating with other people about a particular topic. I guess the trouble is that producing original interesting material is actually quite difficult. On the other hand, genuinely held beliefs and observations are always interesting. That is why newsletters are so popular and such a good way of reaching your membership.

If you run a newsletter or a magazine feel free to contact me.

Should there be more sharing in the hypnotherapy community? Share your ideas below.

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betrayed wife

The case of the betrayed wife

On New Year's Day this client discovered that her husband of many years had been unfaithful. He had been seeing other women, and had been consorting with prostitutes. She felt devastated, despairing, and depressed. She felt worthless. As soon as she sat down I asked "what would you like to have happen?". She started weeping. It was obvious she was in great distress. She told me briefly that her husband had betrayed her with other women.

Visualising her emotional distress

Since she was clearly suffering emotional pain the obvious therapy approach was to change that pain into something else. I told her to close her eyes and focus on the feeling. This immediately brought floods of tears.

However she was very cooperative and when I asked her to focus on the feeling and forget about everything else, she did so. I told her to isolate the feeling and think about it as an object.

She told me that the feeling was like some round shape. I started to develop the metaphor. She told me it was big, greyish white, hard, solid. Then she said it's a rock a stone. She said it was heavy. And it was the same all the way round. I asked her what she wanted to have happen to it. She said "I want it shattered."

I said "And what can you do when it his shattered?" She said "I wouldn't have to look at it, it wouldn't be there". More crying. I then suggested "you want it gone shattered, gone forever?". "Yes, that's right." "And what would that mean for you?" "It would be gone, I wouldn't have to see it, it wouldn't be there. " I was unable to get the usual link between the desired outcome and the emotion, but I decided to press on anyway.

Metaphor transformation therapy

By this point her eye lids were trembling and she had clearly gone into trance. I then repeated all the attributes of grey, hard solid, et cetera. I asked her if she could imagine it a little bit different. She said "yes it smaller, and it is pink". We then quite quickly developed it down into a little stone.

I said, "and what would you like to have happen to that little pink stone?" She said " throw it away." I asked her "and where would you throw it?" She said "into the water." So I asked, "what kind of water would that be? The sea, river, lake?" She said, "a river." So I talked her through what happens to stones that end up in rivers. I suggested that it would get bashed against other rocks, chips and ground down until it was like sand. I then suggested that the sand would end up on a beach and get washed clean by the waves.

Hypnotherapy for the betrayed wife

She was still in trance I decided not to take her out of it and ask her how she felt about the betrayal now. Up to this point the whole process had taken four minutes. I suspected that, based on experience from other cases, much of her problem would be based on her imagination of what other people would think of her. She was probably mortified at the thought that other people might in fact have known about her husband's behavior before she did. There is always a great deal of guilt and embarrassment in this sort of situation.

So I did a short session designed to reinforce her feelings of friendship with other people. I suggested that she was surrounded by all the people who know and love her. I suggested all these people were reaching out to her. I told her to hear them talking. There were all saying "it is not your fault. You didn't do anything wrong."

Connecting to others

I suggested that she imagine hugging all these people together and feeling all the good feelings, all their support for her. Then I suggested that she would notice different behavior from her friends. Some of them would be openly supportive, someone would feel bad about it and not know what to do. She just had to accept that different people react differently.

I emphasised that there would be a difficult few weeks ahead. But deep inside she knows that she is okay. And I repeated the mantra "you have done nothing wrong."

To reinforce the feeling of having banished the distress from the betrayal. I did a metaphor technique of getting her to visualise her distress, and then drain it away. I got her to fill the bad place where it had been with good things.

A reframing metaphor for the betrayed wife

Then I used the metaphor of being in a dark room. That new strength in her allowed her to find the door, and open it, and to get out of that dark place. When she left a dark place, I reframed it as being a new beginning. That she could now choose for herself, be herself do what is best for her.

I then linked relaxation with accepting things as they are. The more she relaxed, the deeper she went, the less value she gave all the things that had happened recently. Then I did a finger move confirmation. I used that to tell her that her own unconscious mind had heard what she wanted. Moving that finger was her guarantee that she had changed. Then I got her to send a message of gratitude to her mind. The whole session took less than 20 minutes.

I asked her how she felt about the events of New Year's Day now. She looks a little puzzled. And then she said "it really doesn't matter now."

How would you approach this case? Share your ideas below.

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unconscious mind

Can you define the unconscious mind?

Hypnosis deals with the unconscious mind. Talk to any hypnotist and they will go on at great length about how they work with the unconscious mind. And yet not one of us can actually give a coherent, defensible definition of "unconscious mind".

How do you know you have an unconscious mind?

The only thing that you and I can say with certainty about the world is that we are conscious of our own thinking. Everything else is supposition. If you have seen the movie "The Matrix" you will know that there is no way of proving that you are not actually living inside a computer simulation. Everything in the world around you comes from your own personal interpretation of external stimuli.

But you have no way of knowing whether the same stimuli are being experienced in other people's brains. It is clear that dogs and cats can think and respond to stimuli. So can computers. But are they "conscious"?

How can you measure your unconscious mind?

It is extraordinarily difficult to define precisely what consciousness is. People have thought about this for centuries. Many philosophers believe that the question is unanswerable. So is the only thing we know for sure, that we personally are conscious, the biggest mystery in the world?

One of the main problems is measuring consciousness. Every year a few people in surgery, who appear totally unconscious under a general anaesthetic, report having felt the scalpels and can recall every word that was said. Is a newborn baby conscious? Can we create consciousness in machines? If we can, does that mean that the same machines might develop an unconscious mind?

Latest research into consciousness

Recently, researchers have attempted to measure consciousness by applying magnetic fields to the brain, and then analysing the subsequent responses. They have found a fairly reliable way of being able to tell if your brain is conscious or not. The test was applied to long-term patients who are totally unresponsive to any outside stimulus. Most showed no response. But 20% of them produced a reading that suggested that they are in fact conscious of what is going on. It is possible that they are completely unable to respond, but actually at some level of consciousness.

However, the test works by measuring how integrated information processing is. The more integration there is, the more confident you can be that consciousness is present. One problem with this approach, is that it means that nonliving things can be conscious. You could argue, as many do, that the universe processes information, and therefore has a "consciousness".

Another objection is that information processing may not be the same as "intelligence". A computer processes information at great speed, but is not by any normal definition intelligent.

But all of this leaves open the question of "what is the unconscious mind?" It appears that that question is no nearer to being answered.

How would you define the unconscious mind? Share your ideas below.

 

Source: https://www.wired.com/story/tricky-business-of-measuring-consciousness?

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bulimia hypnotherapy

Bulimia Hypnotherapy

This client asked me for bulimia hypnotherapy. I really wasn't sure what to do. Bulimia is known for being extraordinarily difficult to treat. I asked her about her history. She was very open and happy to talk about her condition. She said that at its height she would vomit three times a day. Pretty much after every meal. She ended up dangerously thin.

Her life has been dominated by bulimia. It started in her teenage years. She managed to stop on her own when she left university and had to get a new job. She felt that she would now be in control. And it worked.  When she got her first job she realized that she couldn't keep doing this and keep a job. Then she changed jobs. She had a week in between. This allowed her mind to begin to ask "what if?" And she just fell apart. She left the new job after two days and had three months off.

Bulimia Hypnotherapy

Right now she is worried that she is going back into it and vomits twice a week. I couldn't really find any one thing that triggered it or that she was worried about. Her parents had always been helpful and supportive. She could not think of anything in her childhood that might have set it off. She said in it was all about anxiety.

This gave me the idea that I might be able to deal with the anxiety directly through metaphor replacement. I asked her to think about the anxiety and what it was like just before she feels she has to vomit. She said is a mixture of anxiety and fear. I told her to focus on the fear. I got her to concentrate on the fear to allow it to come out to be aware of it. Fortunately for me it was right at the surface and she was able to latch onto the fear immediately.

I asked her where the fear was in her body. She said it was in her chest and in her head. Previous experience has shown that I cannot do anything when the client says the feeling is in the head. So I focused on the feeling in her chest. I asked her what it was like. After a while she said, "it's like a square". I said, "is it a square or a cube?" "It's a cube."

I then got her to describe the cube in increasing levels of detail. She said it had sharp edges. When I asked "how big is it?", She said "it's about the size" and gestured with her hands indicating was about the same width as her body. It was hard, cold, solid, heavy, and grey. When I asked, "and what else to know about this cube?" She said, "I have to carry it about with me."

Metaphor Replacement for Bulimia

Having established the fear as an object, it was just the case then of getting her to change it. I asked "can you imagine making it a little bit bigger?" She immediately said "yes". I asked, "and can you make a little bit bigger still?" "Yes." "And even bigger?" "Yes." "And can you make it a little smaller?" "Yes." And she proceeded to demonstrate that she could make it a little smaller.

I encouraged her to make it smaller and smaller until at some point she said "it's in my hand I can hold it". I asked her, "and what is it look like now? How has that thing changed?" She said, "has rounded edges, like a die". I then asked her what she would like to have happen to this thing. She said, "I would like to throw it away". I asked, "And where would you throw it?". "Into the ocean." I needed to make sure that she got rid of the thing completely. So I asked, "and where would you throw it into the ocean?" She said "from a clifftop".

I then said "now imagine yourself on that hilltop. Imagine you have that die in your hand, and you are throwing it off the cliff". To my surprise, she picked up a hand and made a throwing motion. I said to her, "describe what is happening as that thing goes into the ocean." She said "it's gone into the water with a splash". I wanted to be sure that the object was totally destroyed. So I said to her "what happens to things that went to the ocean?". She said "they settle on the bottom".

I could not get her to give any more detail, so I prompted her to begin thinking of how to destroy the object. I suggested that saltwater might have an effect on it. She said "is beginning to rust the surface is now mottled". I then went on to suggest that the rust would continue, it would flake off, that thing would break up into small parts. I then got her to agree that the thing would get rolled around in the waves and broken up into tiny pieces like sand. They would just be dispersed out and gone forever.

Then  I asked her to take three deep breaths and relax even more.

In that state, I asked her to become aware of her own body. I told her, "now check on around your body. Check your knees and your knuckles in your nose and everywhere. See if there's anything left of that old fear that needs to be dealt with. Or has it all gone?"

After a moment she said "it's all gone".

Her Experience of bulimia therapies

We then spent some time talking about bulimia and how it affected her life. It really is a devastating disease. She was a lovely young woman, and yet had never had a boyfriend. We talked about the various therapies that she had been involved with.

I asked her "what did you find most useful to you in those therapies?" She said "I found a form of group therapy very helpful. I met a lot of people, very ordinary looking people, who also had the same illness. That allowed me to believe that I actually was normal. There wasn't something weird about me. That I wasn't the only person in the world to do this. I also found some of the CBT exercises that I was given were useful in turning off the thoughts".

Then I asked her to check again about the fear that she had been talking about. I wanted to be sure that I had actually made a difference to her. She said, "no, it's really gone. I can feel it. I know that is just not there now."

How would you approach this case? Share your ideas below.

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attract luck

Can you learn to attract luck?

Are some people just naturally born 'lucky'? Or is luck actually the outcome of hard work and natural talent? Suppose you are one of the 'unlucky' ones. Does that mean that you don't work hard, and have no talent? Clearly not.

And yet, some people just seem to be in the right place at the right time. Lucky people just seem to have some sort of magic attraction. What is it that lucky people have that others don't?

Can you learn to attract luck?

This question has actually been researched. It turns out that lucky people actually have a set of specific skills that make 'luck' happen to them. They have learned to maximize life's opportunities.

Obviously, there is more to success than luck. People living in extremely poor countries are not simply unlucky. But even within poor communities there are people who somehow get ahead.

Are you lucky?

Psychologists have run simple experiments to see if they can tell "lucky people" from "unlucky people". In one experiment, the researchers left a $20 note in the street. They discovered that those people who define themselves as lucky noticed it. People who said they were unlucky didn't notice it.

Similar results were found in other experiments. Another study asked volunteers to count the number of photographs in a newspaper. On the second page there was a large plain advertisement saying "stop counting now – there are 58 photographs". The advertisement did not have a photograph in it. Just the words. The "lucky" people noticed it and stop counting. The "unlucky" people scanned right past it, and kept counting.

The differences seems to be that lucky people are always open to opportunities. Unlucky people worried about the task and didn't even notice.

Principles of attracting luck

From these and other experiments four basic principles of "luck" are:

  1. Maximize your chance of opportunities
  2. Listen to your intuition
  3. Expect good things to happen
  4. Find ways to turn your bad luck into good luck

The strategies for learning how to attract luck will be familiar to every hypnotherapist. They include: meditation and self-hypnosis to increase intuition. Relaxation to reduce anxiety. Visualization of success and luck. And Socialisation, making a point of making one new friend or acquaintance every week.

It seems that being lucky is closely associated with good social skills. Other researchers have taught people how to be open to new experiences, relaxation techniques, conversational skills, and interpersonal skills. The key seems to be making yourself open to what is going on around you, and how you feel about yourself.

Bad luck linked to anxiety

What these skills are really doing is reducing anxiety. If you are totally wound up inside, if you're afraid of meeting new people then you are less likely to notice opportunities around you. It is not that lucky people attract more opportunities. Lucky people are just open to seeing opportunities when they arise. Anxious, introverted people are not.

If you are searching for a new job, and you are so anxious that there won't be one there, then you actually will not see what is right in front of you. When you're anxious you lose your peripheral vision. Your body goes into fight or flight mode and creates tunnel vision. You literally do not see the opportunity.

People who are anxious are caught in a circular trap. Because you're anxious, your unconscious mind focuses on threats, and excludes everything else. Anxious people are less likely to talk to strangers, and less likely to develop new friendships. The more people you know, the more supported you feel, and the more likely it is that you will hear about opportunities.

Teaching clients to attract luck

Being lucky is something that can be learned. Once you realize that there opportunities everywhere, you begin to see them.

This means that hypnotherapists really can help their clients achieve and become "lucky". A lot of what we do is called reframing. Reframing is simply seeing the good in bad situations. Once you enable your client to reinterpret their circumstances you are opening the door to them becoming "lucky".

Do you personally attract luck? Leave your comment below.

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smoking again

Why do people start smoking again?

I have had some interesting clients this week. One of them was a woman who came to see me to stop smoking six months ago. It was a success but then suddenly she just felt that she had to start smoking again.

She stopped smoking completely for about five months. She told me that she felt a wonderful sense of freedom. What worked for her was my hypnotic suggestions that she would feel as if she had never smoked. She had no cravings, no weight gain, no desire at all. The result was that she could mingle with smokers and be completely unaffected.

Start smoking again

But then someone close to her died. She went to the ceremony and felt totally devastated, understandably. On the way home she felt the emotional wrench so bad that she stopped and bought a packet of cigarettes, and smoked one, and then a second. She didn't think the cigarettes helped. But she just felt compelled to go on. It was the only thing she could do. So without wanting to, she had started smoking again.

I have never understood how this happens. How can a sensible person who hates smoking and has stopped for months allow themselves to start again?

Why do people start smoking again?

I have interviewed many people who have done this. Sometimes they have not smoked for years, in one case for seven years. Yet given a big enough emotional jolt, their instinct is to reach for a cigarette. I have never seen any explanation of this phenomenon that makes any sense to me.

I think the hypnotist who cracks that problem will become world famous. I'm still trying.

 

Why do you think people start again after a long time? Leave your comment below.

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background music

Background music in hypnotherapy

The question is often asked about whether a hypnotist should play background music. There are three ways music can be used: with clients in the office, as background on hypnosis recordings and for self hypnosis.

Music certainly isn't necessary for hypnosis.

Background music in your office

When you use music in the office you may find some problems. Many people who have music training find themselves analyzing the music. That prevents them from going into trance. Many people cannot stop themselves from mentally singing along with any bit of music they know.

Or thinking about the words of an instrumental version of a song they know.  You don't want to have the client thinking about the song lyrics while you are trying to put other words into their mind. Having music in the background might give analytical clients another stimulus to analyze. It is just one more thing to distract them from listening to your hypnotherapy.

Music is a very personal thing. Everyone has associations with music, either with particular tunes or particular genres. When you introduce music you have no idea what some people will dislike, or more importantly, what memories or associations people have with the music you are playing. I personally dislike the Glenn Miller Big Band style of music. I have no idea why, but the dislike is very strong. Anyone who played that while hypnotizing me wouldn't get very far.

Then there is the unlikely but possible chance that you will anchor the client's hypnotic state to a particular part of the music. They might get anchored on one part going into trance, and another part as you bring them out. The result is that they will go in and out of trance unexpectedly the next time they hear the music.

Background music on hypnosis recordings

The same sort of logic applies to recorded hypnosis tracks. Music is used in recordings of all kinds.  A continuous background music track helps to hide background noise or to give continuity over breaks in the recording.

The problem here is that a client may play a hypnosis recording dozens of times. The music can become repetitive and irritating, and detract from the smooth induction of trance. Some hypno recordings use nature sounds of waves and waterfalls. That just makes the client want to go to the toilet. Some use forest sounds, but a sudden bird call in the middle of quiet passage can jerk the listener right out of trance again. Some clients get anxious and listen intently for dangers in the noises of the forest.

Background music for self hypnosis

Music can help with self hypnosis. In that case you have complete control of the music. But then you also run into the same problems outlined above.

What I prefer personally when I am putting myself into trance, is some kind of white noise that has a cycle to it. The noise of an oscillating cooling fan is ideal for me. I find it just merges into the background and masks any sudden noises from inside like a fridge starting up, or outside traffic noise, police cars, aircraft etc. 

Do you prefer music while you trance? Leave a comment below.

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money happy

How much money would make you happy?

How happy are you? Would having more money make you more happy? Does doubling someone's income double their happiness? There has been a great deal of research into the link between money and happiness. The results are not at all clear.

Money Happy 

In general, people with more money are happier than people with less money. However, it seems that there is a point after which having more money does not make you more happy. Research suggests that in any given society, people above this "satiation point", no matter how much they earn, do not get any happier.

The satiation point varies from country to country. Australia and New Zealand at the highest satiation points in the world. Latin America and the Caribbean have the lowest. The US and Europe are in the middle. The satiation point in general reflects the overall income in any given economy. The wealthier the economy, the higher the satiation point. It also varies by gender. Women report that they need more money to be happy than men do.

What is happiness?

The problem with this type of research is: how do you define happiness? In the hypnotherapy business our job is principally to make people feel happier with their life. And yet, we don't ever try to measure how happy people are. It is quite possible that people change their feelings about personal happiness over time. It is also possible that what makes you happy, or at least what your passion is, has nothing to do with income. 

Many people who live on  next to nothing appeared to be the happiest people around. Many wealthy people are definitely not happy. Is it possible that people with lower incomes are aware that they are unhappy, and seek out hypnotherapy more readily than wealthy people? Or do wealthy peopleseek out hypnotherapy for things that poorer people would just ignore, and put up with?

It is not a simple matter.

Does money determine happiness? Leave your comment below.

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