Every year I train thousands of people in hypnosis and the role of positive psychology in overcoming difficulties and maximizing success. So I see every day how crucial attitude is for human performance and happiness. So why do I link attitude to hypnosis? Well, another word for ‘attitude’ is ‘focus’. And when you narrow your focus – either inward or outward – you begin to go into a hypnotic trance. When your attitude is strong, then you have strong focus and a strong focus is always hypnotic. Now the content of that focus is vitally important. A negative attitude means you expect things to go wrong or to be difficult or unpleasant. A positive attitude, on the other hand, means you expect things to be fun or productive or worth the effort. In other words, you expect success.
Hypnosis can help create success because hypnosis is about creating expectations. These expectations aren’t the so called ‘positive thinking’, or just hoping for the best. They are a part of you. They become your instincts. Now because your instincts work for you automatically, this positive attitude means you’re freed from the effort of trying to be positive – which never really works. You just can’t help it. You can’t help being positive. You begin to expect the best quite naturally.
With hypnosis you can change unhelpful patterns so your expectations and instincts start to work productively for you. The advantages are huge. Even setbacks are seen in positive ways. Positive people learn from setbacks and often say afterwards that in fact they didn’t see them as setbacks at all.
So where do you get your attitudes from? Well, you learn attitudes in two ways. Either they get conditioned into you by others, or you condition yourself through natural self-hypnotic experiences. Every time you learn something new to the extent that it becomes automatic, then you’ve been hypnotized. Remember, hypnosis can last just a few seconds and your eyes can be wide open. This is why we talk about anger, pessimism, anxiety, addictions and depression as hypnotic trance states, because they all require a restrictive, narrowed focus combined with a use (or misuse) of imagination.
People trance out just as much when they’re being negative as when they’re strongly positive, because your instincts are essentially programmed through natural hypnotic focus states. So it’s perfectly possible to program yourself to believe unhelpful or limiting things about yourself. The argument of pessimists usually comes back to what they call realism. You know the kind of thing. I’m just being realistic. Things really are that bad.
In our work we don’t use unrealistic and simplistic positive thinking ideas, but we do encourage life transformation through developing productive creativity, optimism and staying power. Remember, expectation is powerful. Your brain works towards what it’s been programmed to expect. This principle can be much more powerful than you may currently realize.
I’ve sometimes set my alarm clock for seven and then – due to high expectation in my brain – I’ve woken up one minute before the alarm goes off. Friends and colleagues tell me of similar experiences. People often talk of consciously struggling to remember someone’s name – so creating expectation for their brain to manifest. Hours later they may have been mowing the lawn or taking a bath and suddenly the name pops up, even though they were no longer thinking about it consciously. Expectation is powerful stuff and works below the level of your conscious mind.
It’s the power of unconscious expectation that determines your attitudes in life, and attitude is really a subconscious expectation; and, as any medic will tell you, expectation can even cure some illnesses. This is why placebos work in reducing swelling or pain even when they’re just sugar pills. Placebos also make excellent anti-depressants. It’s the expectancy produced by the positive belief that these substances are powerful healing medications that produces the positive result.
Hypnosis is a medium through which positive subconscious expectancy can be programmed and maintained. The more the patient’s attention is locked onto the placebo and the more their imagination is engaged, the more successful the placebo will be in actually reorganizing cellular structures in the patient’s body. This is the hypnotic part and the success of the placebo is the completion of the expectancy. Few doctors understand that the working of a placebo pill is a post-hypnotic response, but that’s exactly what it is.
If you truly believe that things are going to work out well, then you’ll feel confident and have more staying power to keep trying longer. You’ll also have more energy and enthusiasm, which is more likely to attract others to your project, and your creative mind will be working for you, so you’ll produce unexpected solutions and ideas.
Your subconscious mind will be constantly working towards manifesting the expectation and your brain is a powerful engine and what it is geared towards is absolutely crucial. Research shows that optimists have better immune systems, live longer, become less stressed by challenges and persevere longer, meaning they’re more likely to ultimately succeed.
Hypnosis is a natural learning state and happens spontaneously and continually, and most of the time we’re unaware of it happening. This means we can easily get hypnotized by the attitudes of people around us, and by TV and advertising.
Fortunately, optimism is a strategy that anyone can learn and the quickest way to do this is also through hypnosis. Optimists see positive things as part of who they are – permanent and relating to life as a whole. It’s as simple as this. The more times you enter positive and productive hypnotic trance states relating to your life, the more positive – and likely to be successful – you become.
Because negative emotional states also work on people in hypnotic ways, we can use hypnosis as the optimum tool to overcoming depression, anger and other conditions. Similarly, because determination, inspiration and the ability to enter performance flow states are also hypnotic, we can again use hypnosis to create and enhance positive states until they become a lasting way of relating to your life.
Of course, anything worthwhile takes perseverance. But individuals who can keep creative, upbeat and determined and see through the limitations of negativity are the ones who’ll thrive.
All psychological limitations are learned through natural trance states. Likewise, all skills, abilities and positive attitudes become fixed through hypnotic experiences. Negative attitudes produce negative expectations – which makes people give up too early and miss opportunities. Positive expectation means more energy and likelihood of success and happiness. Both optimism and pessimism tend to be infectious. Positive expectation and focus can be programmed through regular and effective hypnosis.