hypnosis skills

The Second Level Of Suggestion Mastery

A lot of hypnotists view their job as hypnotizing people and telling them what to do. That’s simple, direct suggestion. Direct suggestion is great, but there’s a lot more you can do.

You can think of the art of giving suggestions as having three levels.

  1. Direct suggestion
  2. Adding tailored criteria to suggestions
  3. Indirect/covert suggestion

Motivations And Actions

Your mind may have more than one motivation for any action. Let’s say you want to go to the local coffee shop and grab your favorite beverage there.

You might like the taste. You might hope to run into a friend there. You might want to get away from home or the office. Those motivations may be important to you for different reasons. The taste you love gives you a feeling of satisfaction. Running into a friend — fulfillment. Getting away could give you a feeling of relaxation. In other words, we take actions in order to experience more good feelings or get away from things that don’t feel good.

Unconscious Motivations And Actions

A lot of the process of motivation to take an action may happen outside of our conscious awareness. To us, it may seem like we just suddenly thought of going to a coffee shop. Unconsciously, it may go like this…

We are sitting at home, and we look at the gift a dear friend of ours gave us. We miss that friend. We want to escape that feeling. The unconscious mind searches for an action that can help us escape that feeling. “Ah,” it thinks. “We can go down to the coffee shop. Maybe we’ll run into a friend there.” The mind creates a little imaginary scenario and uses those feelings to motivate us to take action. Consciously, we may or may not be aware of that thought process.

That’s all just fine and dandy. That’s how we work. But there are some cases where the programming might be unhealthy or not what we want.

Different Levels Of Mind With Different Motivations


When people go to hypnotists, it’s often because they have an unconscious motivation they want to change. They may smoke and wish to stop, for instance. Their mind may be looking for a way to escape anxiety or experience more pleasure and it believes smoking is a way to do that. But consciously, they know smoking is unhealthy. To paraphrase Milton Erickson, they are out of rapport with their own unconscious minds.

That’s where we come in. As hypnotists (or NLPers), our job is to help them align their conscious and unconscious motivations. It’s to get them on the same page. To get the conscious and unconscious minds in rapport with regards to a particular action.

Buying Socks

Let’s suppose you want to get some socks to keep your feet warm and a salesperson asks you what you’re looking for. “Where are the socks,” you say. The salesperson launches into a long monologue about how rugged the socks they sell are and how they’re made from a material that lasts a long time. Meanwhile, you’re thinking, “Where are the warm socks?”

Now imagine a different scenario. The salesperson asks you what you’re looking for and what’s important about it. “Warmth? Our warmest socks are right here!”

Selling To The Unconscious

When we speak directly to what someone wants, communication is more powerful. How do we speak directly to what the unconscious mind wants? By speaking to the specific feelings that are motivating someone to do something. In other words, if a person is smoking for relaxation, we ask or teach their unconscious mind to create relaxation even more powerfully than a cigarette does in the situations where they would have had a cigarette.

How Do You Do It?

You need to know a couple things in order to do this effectively.

  • Their criteria (what’s important about the action).
  • Their triggers (in what specific instances they perform the action).
  • A replacement action (something they can do as immediately as the old action).

Then you link their criteria to the trigger and/or the replacement action but without the unwanted action.

“Now, when you look at the clock and see it’s time to take a break, you take a deep breath. A feeling of wonderful and powerful relaxation flows into every cell of your body.”

Add to that, direct suggestions that the habit/behavior is gone and you’ve likely got a winner.

Getting criteria

One simple way to find out criteria is to ask a person what they want by, or get from an action. You can ask, “What’s important to you about that?” Ask until the answer is a feeling, not an action. That’s the criteria (motivating emotion). Then, if you know NLP, you can anchor that emotion and attach it to something else. If you know hypnosis, you can suggest the same thing.

Suggestion Mastery

So, the first level of suggestion mastery is direct suggestion. Direct suggestion is simply a command to do something or to stop doing something. It’s when you hypnotize someone and tell them what to do. “You are calm when you speak in front of people,” for example.

The second level is mastery with criteria/emotions. To master this level, you need to find out what emotions are driving a person’s behavior and have their unconscious give them those feelings even more powerfully and immediately than their old behavior. It’s not that difficult to do. I teach it in my hypnosis course.

Hypnotic Language

The third level of suggestion mastery is to deliver suggestions through metaphor, embedded suggestions, presuppositions and other indirect techniques. You can discover how to do that with my Hypnotic Language Mastery Pack.


About The Author:

Keith Livingston is the main instructor for Hypnosis 101. Keith has been studying hypnosis since he was a boy and doing hypnosis & NLP training since 1997.

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