6 Common Misunderstandings About Hypnosis
Last week I met with Karen Gray of Green Mountain Hypnosis and she filled me in on what hypnosis is like.
I went with my head filled with experiences at magic shows with the hypnotist having volunteers do all sorts of silly things and then they wake up confused. I left my visit learning it is anything but that.
Here are 6 common misconceptions (a lot of them I had before my visit) and what it's really like.
You're Not in Control
After seeing people on tv and in real life confused and embarrassed after hypnosis I didn't want anything to do with being so vulnerable like that. I had these preconceptions that people don't remember and have no control over what's going on, that you're in some kind of trance.
The process is basically imagining memories, situations, places, objects, etc. and working with negative thoughts and feelings to replace them with something positive. So when I got to experience a tiny taste of hypnosis, she had think of the butterflies I get in my stomach when I get anxious and give it a shape and color. Then she had me change the shape and color. Then when I woke up the butterfly feeling would be replaced with a feeling and image associated with my new picture. I remembered everything she said. I was in complete control, and could imagine whatever I wanted.
You Feel Like You're in a Trance
There's no one way of feeling during hypnosis. You might feel a sinking feeling, a floating feeling, or nothing at all, just sitting in a chair. Either way you're relaxed and letting your imagination take over in a safe and guided way.
You Need to Share Private Information
Karen doesn't need to know what you're imagining or thinking about. You can be general or share as much as you feel comfortable. I like how Karen put it: "You keep all your secrets."
All you need to be able to share is what you feel when x happens and how you want to feel. The brain knows what it needs to work on.
It's Only a Last Resort to Quit Smoking or Lose Weight
This is one I thought was true going in. I remember someone telling me that were listening to someone use hypnosis on tape at night to lose weight, but it didn't work. I was surprised to learn hypnosis can work for all sorts of your daily troubles or stresses: "Our focus is helping our clients achieve their goals of overcoming their struggles with weight, smoking, anxiety, stress, pain, fears, personal achievement, habits, sleep, and many other concerns and issues." For example, one woman was afraid of riding horses and afterwards found out the root of her fear had nothing to do with horses. Another client had arthritis and she gave him strategies to help relieve his pain. I'm a worrier; I think I'll have her help me on that.
You Have to Keep Going to See ResultsPeople can see results in one session. Follow-up sessions are to build on the new habits you've created in your mind. One lady had panic attacks when she read the news but after her first session she binge read the news and didn't have a panic attack. The feeling of calm was so foreign to her she remarked to Karen, "That was weird."
Karen will give you the tools to help yourself and keep making progress. She explains, “I give you a tool box and send you away. I don’t want you to depend on me.”
She uses her trade as a gift to help others live a better life.
It Doesn't Work
The process only works if you're truly invested in it. If you go to quit smoking but something inside doesn't really want to quit, the process won't work. If you go in believing it's a hokey process or not fully trusting it, it won't work.
Otherwise, it'll work every time.
Karen described the process as rapid, effective and permanent.
Hypnosis speaks the language of the subconcious that your consciousness can't touch. If we could all tell our subconcious, "Stop worrying so much or motivate me to go the gym more" we wouldn't have an issue, but sometimes our automatic psychological response is hard to rewire and takes a lot of work.
Since we are basically telling our brain to take negative associations and replace them with positive ones, it makes sense that it would be a quick and effective process that's also a long term solution.
My father-in-law knew a woman who went to hypnosis to quit smoking. She wasn't sure about the process going in, but definitely wanted to quit. She left the session and never smoked again. Success!
For a more in-depth article about Karen's background, my first hand account, and how it works read here.