A lot of hypnotists newly venturing into the world of covert conversational hypnosis fear that they will be ‘caught’ using their skills by their unwitting hypnotic subjects. This is an interesting fear to have as it seems to suggest that these hypnotists are doing something wrong or something bad, something which you want to ‘get away with.’ Apart from this being a very unhealthy attitude to have towards what is perhaps one of the most powerful vehicles for positive change and improvement there is, it is also something of a self fulfilling prophecy.
Think about this, the unconscious mind is highly perceptive, even if we are not always able to consciously access these perceptions. I am sure you know what it’s like to see someone, even before you speak to them, and just automatically get a feeling about them. Maybe you’ll like them, maybe you won’t. These feelings will seem totally unjustified, but they’ll be 100% real. If you did use covert hypnosis in an unethical manner, people would unconsciously begin to associate you with the negative results of your hypnotic suggestions, and would just naturally begin to mistrust you. So, as a matter both of ethics and of pragmatism, always use covert and conversational hypnosis for good. My moral compass is to always ask myself ‘who will benefit from this’ if the answer is ‘no one’ or ‘just me’ or anything other than ‘everyone involved in this interaction’ I bite my tongue.
So anyway, now that we have that out of the way, let’s think about this whole ‘getting caught’ thing from another angle. Maybe you can remember or at least imagine a time when one of your friends or a family member has been upset about something. You go to talk to them, to console them, and they turn to you and accusingly challenge you with ‘you’re just trying to make me feel better!’ Now of course in retrospect it’s easy to think ‘well duh! Of course i want you to feel good, what’s wrong with that!’ But in the moment, most of us accept the accusation for what it is, and leave them alone to their sadness. As silly as this definitely is, it reveals to us a very important factor when doing covert hypnosis: People do not like being influenced. No matter whether you are trying to persuade someone to buy a car or simply to feel good and be happy people as a rule do not like knowing about it, very often to their own detriment.
This, of course, presents us with another ethical dilemma. Why influence people if they don’t want to be influenced? Well think about this, every day we influence people, always. We communicate with people every day of our lives, and try and move people to make better decisions, to feel better, to be happier and to get over their own problems. The fact is also, many people accidentally use covert hypnotic tactics without realizing the harmful effects of what they are doing. A teacher will look at a child and say ‘ you got that question wrong, you are not a smart student and will always be a disappointment’ and the hypnotic suggestion takes hold! So what is the harm of learning how to effectively influence people for good, rather than accidentally causing harm.
So, now that we’ve laid the ground rules of only using covert hypnosis as a ‘force for good’ and established that influence is a natural part of everyday life, a crucial skill which covert hypnosis simply allows you to master, let’s get back to the point of this article: getting caught.
Because not that many people know about covert hypnosis by name, it is unlikely that someone is going to turn to you in the street and say ‘hey, stop covertly hypnotizing me!’ If, however you don’t take the following pieces of advice, it is likely that people will consciously realize the fact that what you are having is far more than a normal conversation. The harm of this is that as soon as people become too consciously involved in an interaction the hypnosis stops as the unconscious processes you are creating get interrupted and blocked. But fear not! There are easy ways to prevent this from happening.
Firstly, avoid making the common mistake of talking differently when doing covert hypnosis. A lot of people get the idea that as soon as you start using covert hypnosis, your entire voice and physiology must change. This is just a bit silly, because, think about it, covert hypnosis is an unconscious process, so naturally your unconscious should do most of the work. If you are consciously inside your head going “now i will use a presupposition…’ you interrupt the natural hypnotic flow, you begin to sound robotic and uninteresting, you sound like you are delivering a prepared speech and people immediately realize something’s up and stop absorbing your suggestions.
The way to avoid this is just to talk naturally, and allow the hypnotic patterns to flow automatically from your subconscious mind, then, once your listeners are in trance, once they are hooked on your natural and irresistible flow of smooth suggestions you can begin to gradually lower, and deepen your voice, and set a hypnotic trigger, an anchor, which will instantly send them back into trance whenever you use it.
Along this vein, be congruent, as I have previously posted about ‘go there first’ and always be sure that the place you are taking them is far nicer than the place where they are.
The astute reader will already have realized how ironic the idea of being caught doing covert hypnosis really is. Specifically, I mean that if you really are doing covert hypnosis, by definition their conscious mind will be out of the picture, and therefore you will not get caught:) The only way you could ever get ‘caught’ is if they were not hypnotized, therefore you can get caught trying to do covert hypnosis, but you can never get caught if you actually do it right. Make sure you just follow the typical rules of covert hypnosis and keep the critical factor tied up. Use stories, conversational devices, linguistic patterns and rapport techniques to induce a state of hyper suggestibility, where the conscious mind is no longer able to ‘catch you.’
If however your flow is broken or by some fluke of chance or mistake of yours they do consciously catch on to the fact that you are unconsciously influencing them, then if you think on your feet you can utilise this also. I remember hearing the audio of one lecture Milton Erickson did, he spent the entire time thoroughly entrancing the many doctors and psychiatrists in the audience with many hypnotic stories, and unconsciously installing in them the skills required to be a great hypnotist. Near the end of the lecture one of the doctors challenges Erickson, accusing him of hypnotizing the entire room as he talked. Erickson remained calm and simply said “that’s right, you have all been listening to me whilst being in a trance, and you can sit back and find yourself getting more and more comfortable, and realize that you’ll learn all the better for it.” Here Erickson utilised the fact that one of the many listeners had finally ‘caught him’ to his advantage, so really, if per chance you do get caught, it’s not a problem as after all, you won’t have been doing anything wrong anyway.
Finally, realize that covert hypnosis is not something you do, it’s something you become. it’s part of who you are, the ability to unconsciously move people to where they want to be, and to achieve success in your own life simply because you have mastered what is probably the most important skill of this modern age. The art of communication.
So, get out there and enjoy being a conversational hypnotist!
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