Why hypnosis works is all about the mystery that surrounds it. And I happen to think the “mystery” is a good thing. Here’s why. Everyone has a belief system, without fail. And everyone learns. And we all learn a little differently–except for one thing. And that one thing is essential for optimal learning. In order to explain this, I will need to tell you a story. It is The Tale of Two Teachers, by yours truly.
The Tale of Two Teachers
In the long ago and far away country of my high school days, there existed two teachers. One of these teachers was bright and intelligent, and would come to class every day with wide-eyed enthusiasm for her subject. The atmosphere in her classroom was one of relaxed curiosity. You could ask a question without fear, but even better, you could answer a question wrongly, and never feel the least bit chastised, belittled or humiliated. She would take your wrong answer, find the tiny scrap of rightness in it, and expound on the better answer. The only laughter you heard was from the funny jokes of classmates, or the teacher’s self-deprecating humor used to help students have fun while they were learning. And she did the most magical thing–she inspired her students to want to do more than the assignment. You read it right—more. Unheard of. How often now do you hear of students saying they want to explore an assignment, one with a deadline no less, beyond the requirements stated. Oh yeah, she had very clear requirements and expectations.
The second teacher had a different approach. Again, assignments and deadlines were clear and strict. But the teacher’s demeanor was one of a kind of resentment that came out in the form of harsh interactions with the students. It was as if he no longer wanted to be present and just went through the motions. Further, he called on students randomly, and he had a sixth sense of who had not read the assigned chapters. You dreaded being called on because if you got the answer wrong, not only did he employ stinging sarcastic comments to belittle you in front of the entire class, you got marked down a point for that day in class participation. Many students were brought to public, humiliating tears, mostly to his indifference. It was, in short, a punitive atmosphere.
So in which class do you think it was easier to learn? Both were required college track courses. The students in them were mostly average or above average. And the bell curve of grades achieved was similar. But again, in which course did you actually learn and retain more subject knowledge?
It seems fairly obvious after reading the descriptions, I’m sure, that it is the first teacher that produced more learning in her students. But why?
In the first classroom, the students’ minds were more open, more naturally relaxed. They were not on high alert for possible humiliation and/or embarrassment, much less lowered grades for inadequate answers. When your mind, and more specifically your limbic system, is on high alert, it takes much more energy to protect yourself. Your headspace is consumed mostly by trying not to fail vs absorbing new material. There is little room left to focus on absorbing and integrating new learning.
When your mind is relaxed, and you are not involved in fending off negative emotions, new information is readily absorbed. It is also much easier to calmly sort through what you already know to integrate your insights. This leads me to recall one of my favorite facts to tell clients.
“You already know everything you need to know. You just don’t know that you know.”
Why Hypnosis Works
So back to the headline, why hypnosis works. When you are in trance, your mind is relaxed, and you have purposefully slowed down. Anxiety speeds your thought processes. Think about it. Your brain and your limbic system’s only job is to protect you. This is by evolutionary design. It is totally practical. If you were running across the plains trying to escape the wildebeest chasing you for dinner, moving slowly would not be an option. But nowadays the 24/7 news cycle of terrible, awful, no-good-news keeps many of us on a low level of high alert that means we never really slow down our thoughts. Hypnosis allows this to occur, and can bring you to a place that offers clarity, especially when used regularly.
To summarize, hypnosis works because your mind is relaxed and open to learning, or to sorting through what you already know, but has been temporarily lost due to your due to high anxiety. And furthermore, if you have been in a prolonged state of anxiety, it is because you have self-instructed, self-induced, your own form of anxious trance state. Which means you will be very good at hypnosis. In all likelihood, you have already been practicing it daily, incessantly. Why not put your ability to positive use? Call me or shoot me an email to set up a series of three hypnosis appointments to explore what you already know, but don’t know that you know. It is why hypnosis works. And if you want more information, you can read about it here.