How Can We Change?
I’ve thought about it a lot. Why do we change sometimes, and other times it’s difficult to change? Why is it that, in one situation, we’re not open to advice — but if it’s the right person, and the right setting, a word can shift our thinking and actions?
There are a lot of factors, and there’s a word we can use to describe it, overall — receptiveness. When we are mentally, emotionally, motivationally, and situationally receptive, we find it easier to change.
Breaking A Habit
Let’s say you want to get rid of your elbow licking habit. Imagine that in two weeks, you will see the person we love most in the world, and it will be a happy reunion. Plus, you’re scheduled to pick up that lottery check the same day. You have an appointment with a doctor, and she gives you some bad news. “If you don’t stop licking your elbows, you’ll be dead in a week. I’m going to attach a battery to your elbows that will give you a severe electric shock any time you lick them.”
Then, all the other people who are important to you, and those you admire most gather ’round. They tell you that they care so much, they will be with you every moment for the next two weeks, to make sure you don’t lick your elbows. You make a public commitment to them that you will not. This public commitment is broadcast on television and the internet, and millions of people will know if you break your commitment and lick your elbow.
A bunch of kittens and puppies are placed in a rocket. The instant you lick an elbow, the rocket will shoot up into space, and all the animals will be released out into the cold, heartless vacuum of space, killing them all. Everyone will know you killed the little kittens and puppies. Let’s add bunnies too. Cute little, fluffy bunnies.
In your mind, you imagine the pride and sense of accomplishment you’ll have in two weeks, with your elbows saliva free, and it feels really good when you think about it. There will be parades in your honor.
Then, Ghandi, Jesus, Buddah, Princess Diana, and Steve Buscemi come to talk to you. They each, in turn, look you directly in the eye, tell you their most inspiring stories of how they overcame difficulty, and tell you you can do it too. The tell you to save the little kitties.
Because of all this, you build a strong belief that avoiding the old habit is inevitable, and you can overcome any challenges.
How Difficult Would It Be To Break The Habit?
All these factors and motivations might lead you to be more receptive to change. All the pleasure and pain are pointed in one direction. All the motivation is oriented toward your success. Your beliefs are supportive. You are receptive. You are inspired.
Now, it’s interesting to think about what being receptive to change really means. It’s a state of mind. All the above factors influence your state of mind, and could make you receptive. But you could always close your mind. Maybe you don’t like bunnies, or Steve Buscemi (even though, after 911, he worked multiple 12-hour shifts digging and sifting through the rubble from the World Trade Center looking for survivors).
So, the key factor is a receptive state of mind. All the other factors help create a receptive state of mind.
And guess what? A receptive state of mind can be cultivated. It can be practiced. It’s called self hypnosis.
Self-Hypnosis Helps Create A Receptive State Of Mind
Because, that’s what hypnosis really is. It’s a receptive state of mind. And just like any other receptive state of mind, you have the power to end it, or make it stronger. The principle is pretty simple. When you focus on an idea with an attitude of receptiveness and acceptance, that idea more easily takes hold in your mind, and you’re therefore more likely to carry it out.
The more powerfully you concentrate on that idea, and the more emotion and belief are attached to it, the more ingrained it will be.
But it ain’t magic, folks. It doesn’t make you psychic, or magically make the world change. It may change your perspective, which will make the world seem different. Self-hypnosis won’t create the right circumstances for you to succeed, but it may motivate you to action to change the circumstances. And it may help you notice opportunities that you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.
Who Is In Control?
And what happens when you’re hypnotized is up to you.
If I were to hypnotize you, and suggest that you enjoy eating healthy food and exercising and instead, you thought about how great you’d like to be at playing pool, that’s what you might get. I don’t control your thoughts. You do. The same is true in self-hypnosis.
Habits & Programming
If you have a habit you’d like to change, the habit has been programmed (humans are programmable). And human beings are sometimes more programmable than others. You need to re-program yourself, and that requires a receptive state.
Here are some factors that can help create a programmable state
- Shock and confusion
- Extreme emotion (positive or negative)
- An attitude of acceptance
But Why Do Shock & Confusion Make Us Programmable?
Shock and confusion momentarily scramble our protective systems that hold our current programming in place. Basically, people in shock are more programmable, and you should be careful about what you say in those situations.
Strong emotion is the same way. Situations that contain strong emotions are often important situations and learning may be helpful. So, our minds make us more programmable during highly emotional times. We can use that factor to increase the power of hypnosis, by adding emotion.
An Attitude Of Acceptance & Concentration
We have minds that have beliefs about the way the world works. If we believe change is hard, that might get in the way of change. If we believe the change we seek is immoral, that might stop us (and that’s usually a good thing). If we believe we’re not capable, or worthy of the change, that might get in the way of change.
Here’s why. Singular focus is good for programming. If your mind is divided about something, it’s harder to get singular focus. Hypnosis helps us get there.
Self-Hypnosis Is A Skill
Relaxing and focusing on an idea is a skill. There are techniques that can help you practice. You practice so you get better and the singular focus that helps program your mind. It’s pretty simple though — it only takes a few minutes to learn.