Originally appeared in Self Magazine 2017
Doctors know that if they tell patients that being overweight is dangerous for their health, it has little or no impact on habit change. But why? Because they are speaking directly to the conscious mind. The subconscious is where the decisions are made! And the reason hypnosis works to create change is that it talks directly to the subconscious.
But what is hypnosis?
When a hypnotherapist works with you, you will become deeply relaxed by the way that the therapist speaks to you, the words and word patterns that they use and the types of language that they use. The words induce a state of relaxation in which the brain waves are slower than normal, the attention is hyper-focused and peripheral stimuli are out of the awareness. In this state, you are much more able to accept new ideas, become empowered and resourceful and accept suggestions that fuel your life.
One of the many things that doctors often suggest are increasing exercise and changing your diet. If you choose to include hypnosis in your health regimen, you may achieve greater success and there are several ways to change dietary habits with hypnosis. Some include:
- Pattern interruption, in which an individual is encouraged during hypnosis to interrupt a pattern that causes overeating, such as coming home from work and crashing on the couch, eating too much socially or eating too many sweets. When you discover the beginning of the pattern and interrupt it at the start it is most effective. So you would use language and visualization during a hypnosis session that involves choosing a new or different pattern and the client would see the new pattern becoming stronger over time.
- Pleasure centers in the brain are at work in preventing dieters from being successful because they cause a desire for things that were pleasurable in the past. Anchoring is also responsible for the happy memories around food. The positive association with food is anchored to the food. The association can be changed as all associations can; since they are learned, they can be unlearned. So you could set new positive anchors for food during a hypnosis session, such as associations with how good you feel when eating well, and even use aversion to associate the feeling of the food hangover with overeating.
- Another hypnotic technique is called choice. Once reminded in hypnosis that they have a choice every time there is an opportunity to eat or not eat, eat healthy or make poor choices, eat too much or just enough, the mind remembers when in eating situations. Without this reminder, the old habits and patterns automatically rule eating. Once the mind is empowered, you realize that you can choose at any given moment.
And all the methods are “paced,” during hypnosis, into the future so that you see the positive patterns becoming stronger over time!
Can you think about one of these three ideas and how you might begin to Use it now?
I generally only perform hypnosis as part of a treatment plan that also includes other methods like cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR or N.E.T. The best candidates for hypnosis are people who are making progress in life or in therapy but are having trouble incorporating their insights into their everyday behaviors. Some good advice is to explore hypnosis with a psychotherapist, or hypnotherapist with university training in social work, counseling or psychology because deep-seated issues could come up during the process that may require a therapist to unravel. But if you choose to try hypnosis, be sure to work with a highly qualified person in an individual setting. And you may achieve your goals much more easily and painlessly!