The Hypnosis Suggestion Tips

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Can self-hypnosis keep me from making mistakes?

Avoid Perfectionism

It is possible to go too far with being positive in your self-hypnosis suggestions. Beware of perfectionism.

With perfectionism, you cross the line from being positive to being unrealistic. In fact, if being a perfectionist is part of your character, you may want to use self-hypnosis to tone it down a bit. Don't be too hard on yourself. Don't be too hard on others. It just builds up stress.

Let's look at examples of why perfectionism is unrealistic.

You want to be happy, but you can't be always happy. Tragedy enters everyone's life at some time. You can approach life with an optimistic attitude, but you can't always be happy.

Let's say you play the stock market. You can give yourself suggestions to do your research before investing, or not to put more than 5% or your portfolio in any one investment. But you are unlikely to always invest in winners. There are too many other factors in play.

Let's say you're a golfer. As a perfectionist, you want to shoot par or better on every hole. Not even Tiger Woods pars every hole. You can improve your game. You can improve aspects of your game. You can improve your score. You may even get a hole-in-one. But you won't par every hole.

It's a great goal to run or walk every morning, and a few people have done that for an amazing period of time. Still, things may come up that make it impractical on a given day. Don't overdo the emphasis on always. If you miss a day and you feel bad about it, you may want to re-program youself to get started again, maybe giving yourself a little more leeway.

What are key words and how are they used in self-hypnosis?

Key Words

As you compose your suggestion, make sure you sprinkle it with key words. Key words are those that are specific to your suggestion. If you're using self-hypnosis to make your tennis serve more accurate, use the word accurate, as well as words like improve, power, and serve. If you're using hypnosis to stop smoking, don't avoid smoking words. Describe how you walk right past cigarettes, politely refuse a cigarette, and grind a cigarette under your heel.

Other important words to use are those with emotional significance. Emotional connections probably helped those fixed ideas take hold, so use emotion to dislodge them. If you came to believe you weren't a good student and as a result would freeze up on tests, turn it around. Don't fight to get through the test; tell yourself you're having a great time and enjoying yourself immensely while taking the test. You're joyful when you complete it, because you know you did a great job. You plan to celebrate.

What makes a good suggestion?

Here's Your Quiz

Look over these one-line suggestions, and see what you think or them and why. Do you agree with my analysis?


I will stop striking out.

I always hit a home run.

I swing the bat smoothly, in the groove, with perfect timing, and hit the ball solidly.

The first option, as you see, is not a good one, because it is phrased in the negative. The second is surely positive, but it is not realistic. The third concentrates on improving the process. This is something you can do. You may not have a perfect swing every time, but this approach will give you the attitude you need to improve your skills and your confidence. Phrase the suggestion in a way that is meaningful for you. If you are a baseball player, you will be able to come up with a better suggestion than this one.


I am a famous guitarist.

I am an expert guitar player.

I learn more from each guitar lesson and practice every day, playing better each day.

The first option here, although positive, is unrealistic. Chances are, the second is also not accurate although you can become expert. Now, if you are an expert who is suffering a problem with your confidence, this may be appropriate. For most guitar students, the third is the best option. It will give you the mindset to get the most from your sessions and continue to improve your playing.


I will stop eating junk food.

I dislike eating junk food.

I always eat healthy food.

The first option is negative. The second may be seen as negative or positive, but it is not realistic, though this approach does work for some people. The third is probably best, although it may not be realistic either. Don't dilute it with words like "'almost," which have a negative effect. "I eat healthy food and continue to improve my diet. I enjoy eating a healthy diet," may work better. See what works for you. You will know what matches your attitudes and goals. A variant of the second option does work for smoking cessation. In this, you convince yourself that cigarettes have a disgusting taste, and you will just throw any cigarette down and put it out because the taste is so revolting. You can try convincing yourself that fried food, for instance, is greasy and unpleasant. (It is greasy and after avoiding it for a while, it will seem unpleasant.) Analyze your own problems with food, and work on those.

How do I make my suggestion more emphatic?

Repeat, Repeat

Repetition makes your suggestion more effective. It reinforces your ideas to your subconscious.

Repetition is one of the secondary criteria for a good suggestion. The primary ones are to use the present tense and be positive. You also have to be realistic and choose appropriate goals, as is described in the section on goal setting.

Once you have the primary criteria covered, polish your suggestion by saying the same thing in many different ways. Although you need to be realistic, you can exaggerate.

Be careful of superlatives, like best, greatest, most intelligent. Your subconscious may not be buying it.

Wonderful, fabulous, best ever, applied to your own performance are fine. If you're working alone, no one else has to hear it. If you're working with partners, they will be exaggerating just as much as you are.

Go ahead and get creative. Have fun with it.

Is there any problem with using negative words in a suggestion?

Be Positive

The subconscious doesn't readily recognize negative words. It just filters them out, so you may end up communicating the opposite of what you mean. By negative words, we mean not, don't, won't, can't, never, stop, as well as conditional words like maybe and a few others we will discuss later. As you see, these are common, everyday words and phrases, and you have to be careful they don't sneak into your suggestion.

If you say, for instance, "I am not afraid to speak in front of a group," your subconscious may hear, "I am afraid to speak in front of a group." Occassionally a suggestion may work in spite of negative constructions. I remember reading a book written by a man who had cured himself of debilitating allergies through self-hypnosis. His suggestions were all wrong, but they worked. This is due to the power of his intention, which got through to his subconscious regardless of the phrasing of the suggestion. But you don't have to take that chance. Do it right.

This is not will power. Will power doesn't work, so take it out of your vocabulary. When you try to use will power, you just pound your conscious mind and end up thinking there is something wrong with you for not succeeding, which just reinforces the fixed ideas that kept you from succeeding in the first place.

I can use negative words here, because I'm talking to your conscious mind and it recognizes and knows how to interpret them. The suggestions that use negative words and still work are from such a powerful intention that they break through the conscious barrier. Make things easy on yourself and get the best results by phrasing your suggestions with positive words from the beginning.

Does it matter what tense the hypnotic suggestion is phrased in?

Be Present

Your subconscious doesn't distinguish between now and later. Whatever you tell it, it takes as now. The past is gone and the future never comes. When it gets here, it's the present.

Always phrase your suggestion in the present. Your subconscious takes things literally. If you use future tense, why should it work on the suggestion now? Even if what you are programming your subconscious for will occur in the future, you have to phrase your suggestion in the present.

If your suggestion says, for instance, "I am going to practice the piano every day," you are allowed to put it off because it implies the future. It's better to say, "I practice the piano every day," or "I practice playing the piano every day after dinner."

If you say, "I am convinced that I should floss my teeth," it doesn't say you are going to do it. Use something like, "I floss my teeth after brushing every night."

Note that you can give yourself a suggestion to do something in the future. This is called post-hypnotic suggestion. In stage hypnosis, the hypnotist may tell his subject that she will jump up and start dancing when she hears a bell. In self-hypnosis, you might tell yourself that you will get up at 6 the next morning and go running.

How do you put a hypnotic suggestion together?

Building the Suggestion

Take some time putting your suggestion together. A good suggestion is important to reaching your self-hypnosis goal. I won't go so far as to say that the lack of a good suggestion means you will not succeed. I am often surprised by what people achieve in spite of not following precisely a set of rules.

There is probably no bad suggestion, unless it would be one that tries to harm somebody in some way. But you wouldn't do that anyway.

Write out your suggestion however it comes to you. Write it longhand. Don't worry about getting it right the first fime. Then polish it to make sure it says what you want it to. Compare it to the characteristics of a good suggestion described in this section, and make changes if you need to.

Make sure you have enough detail so the whole thing is clear and really says what you want it to.

Put the suggestion aside and go back to it the next day, after your subconscious mind has had a chance to work on it. You will probably find that new and/or better phrases will easily come to mind. Don't spend too much time on your suggestion. It doesn't have to be perfect. It's really just a tool, or a means to an end.

The grammar is up to you. If you're bothered by grammar that isn't precise, fix it. If you don't really care, then don't worry about it (at least not here). After all, you're talking to yourself.

If you are more comfortable with a language other than English, use that for your suggestion.

Who is Emile Coue?

The Birth of Suggestion

Emile Coue (1857-1926) is an interesting and important figure in the development of self-hypnosis. A French psychologist and pharmacist, he began using positive suggestions with his patients and found that to be more effective than using medicine alone.

Coue's theories have followers to this day. He is perhaps best known for encouraging people to say repeatedly: Every day in every way, I am getting better and better. How's that for a direct suggestion!

He is also notable for formulating the Laws of Suggestion. These are, according to Adam Eason in The Secrets of Self-Hypnosis, as follows:

"Whenever attention is concentrated on an idea over and over again, it spontaneously tends to realise itself.

The harder one tries to do something, the less chance one has of success.

A stronger emotion tends to replace a weaker one."

That is to say, use repetition, forget about will power, and emotion contributes to the acceptance of fixed ideas.

Although hypnosis is a natural state, and self-hypnosis has been around for centuries, Coue deserves credit for popularizing autosuggestion (suggestions you give yourself). Although he eventually concentrated on suggestion to the exclusion of other forms of hypnosis, we can see that it all runs together.

Keep in mind Coue's Laws when you develop your suggestions.

And if you want to walk around saying, "Every day in every way I am getting better and better," that's fine too. But I wouldn't say it out loud in public places.

What is the suggestion in self-hypnosis?

The Suggestion

The suggestion is what you use to communicate your goal to your subconscious. It is where you tell yourself what you want yourself to do.

In this section we describe what a suggestion is, discuss the elements of a good suggestion, and tell how to deliver it. In the section on sample scripts, we give examples of suggestions for various common self-hypnosis goals.

A good suggestion is the key to successful goal-oriented self-hypnosis.

You can, as we have mentioned, do self-hypnosis without the suggestion and still get the benefits of stress reduction and enhanced ability to concentrate. If you want to get more specific results, you have to use a suggestion.

If you have been practicing the self-hypnosis procedure and can hypnotize yourself, you're ready to add the suggestion. (Remember, you don't need a deep trance.)

Insert the suggestion in your routine after the deepening. The visualization goes along with, and right after, the suggestion. You will probably want to add both together.

The suggestion should be at least a few sentences but can be as long as you want. When you have experience, you may want to experiment with brief suggestions.

Keep your suggestion to one topic, and work on one goal at a time.

In my suggestions, should I emphasize my abilities?

Action, Progressive, and Others

You want to use action words, not ability descriptors, for your self-hypnosis suggestions. It's not, "I can reach my sales quota," but "I reach my sales quota every month." Don't tell yourself, "I am able to be creative when I sit down to write," but, "I am very creative when I write." Who cares what you can do if you never do it?

There are times when the present tense if not realistic, because your goal will take a while to be realized. An example is if you are recovering from a broken leg. It doesn't work to say, "My leg is healed," the day after you break it. We're not dealing in miracles. Use the progressive tense. "My leg is healing quickly. It is stronger every day." You can recover 20% faster with self-hypnosis, and obeying the doctor's orders.

Although you can't use self-hypnosis to control someone else's actions, you can still include other people in your suggestions. You can see your audience enjoying your speech. You can hear the applause at the end of your recital. They're responding to your excellence, not your will.

In the same way, if you want to help someone, work on the way you will act toward them, not on forcing them to make changes you dictate.

How do I give myself my self-hypnosis suggestion?

Delivering the Suggestion

Now that you have your suggestion, what do you do with it?

You can tape record your whole self-hypnosis session, including the suggestion, and just play it to yourself. Realistically, most people do not want to do that because they don't like the sound of their own voice. This is mostly because it sounds different than when you just hear it in your head as you speak. It doesn't sound like you. In this case, it doesn't matter if it sounds like you or not. Once you become proficient at entering the trance, it won't matter.

You can get someone else to record it for you. This is good if you are working with a partner. You can record for each other.

Do not try to be expressive. Remember, we are going to bypass the conscious mind, and a good way to do that is to bore it. My self-hypnosis students often complimented me on the monotone voice I used in delivering suggestions. This is not something that is often praised in other situations.

If you can't or don't want to tape record your suggestion, there is an alternative. First, write out the suggestion longhand. (Do this even if you are going to tape record it.) Before you enter self-hypnosis, read the suggestion to yourself. The suggestion will be the same as if you were recording it, except that you add a key word. Do this on the written copy.

If the goal of the suggestion is to build confidence, you could use the word "confidence" as your key word. If it is to be a better public speaker, you could use the word "speaking." For confidence, at the end of the suggestion, add, "I recall this beneficial suggestion when I say the word confidence."

Then all you have to do after you do the induction, relaxation, and deepening, is to take a deep breath and say to yourself "confidence," and your subconscious will replay the suggestion. You won't be aware of the words, but if you just relax and clear your mind for a short time, they will be delivered.

As with meditation, you will probably have extraneous thoughts. Just ignore them, and get back to your self-hypnosis routine. The stray thoughts won't interfere with your success as long as you don't pay attention to them.

How positive do hypnotic suggestions have to be?

Negative Positive Words

Let's look at some stealth negative words. These are words that your conscious mind may think of as strong, but your subconscious knows are negative. Keep them out of your suggestions.

The word "try" is interesting. Usually it's positive, as in: I'll give it a try. But often there is an underlying excuse involved. "I tried my best," or "all I can do is try" are really excuses for not sticking with something. Maybe you don't want to do it anyway. Your subconscious knows that when you tell it, "I try to quit smoking," your're giving yourself an out. It has a built-in excuse for failing. That's no way to change fixed ideas.

"Hope" is just as bad, although it generally has a positive connotation. Having hope or giving somebody hope means you're not giving up. When you're dealing with your subconscious, you want a resolution, not an open-ended "maybe."

"Should," "could," and all their variations let doubt in where you are supposed to be positive. Be confident and leave those words out. The word "can" sounds positive but doesn't work for our purposes. Just being able to do something doesn't mean you will do it. So see yourself doing it, in the present.

I do want to mention that there might be an occasion when trying, not getting there, is your goal. It's important for you to use your own discretion and override even my recommendations if necessary. Such occasions are rare and most of us won't encounter them.

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