Hypnotic trance is sometimes defined as a state where “there is a bypass of the critical faculty of the mind, and selective attention to suggestions given”.
Of course, when we get into that state during hypnotherapy, it’s for the positive purpose of learning, healing, and growth.
But can that state of mind work against us?
The answer, unfortunately, is yes.
Have you ever started a new project only to hear a voice in your head saying something like, “You can’t do that…it’s going to be too hard.” Sometimes that voice is so persistent that it may keep you from starting at all.
This is what is called negative self-talk and when we look at it closely we see that it has all the qualities of the above definition of a hypnotic trance.
I’ll give a personal example.
A few years ago, we were doing some home remodeling and I promised to install an antique ceiling light fixture. The fixture didn’t have all its parts so I was tasked with figuring out what was needed and how to put it all together.
I put off that job for at least three months because I kept listening to a voice that was telling me, “Oh boy, that looks scary. I don’t know what parts I need and I’ve never done anything like that before. It’s going to be hard…and I’m going to get frustrated…and…oh no…what if I FAIL!?!”
One day, I’d finally had enough and I decided to watch a few YouTube videos then go into the local hardware store to ask for help. It turned out that all I needed was a single, simple part. What’s more, it was something I was familiar with anyway. Once I got home, I finished the job in less than 15 minutes.
As I look back I clearly see that, for at least three months, I was bypassing my critical faculty and paying selective attention to the suggestions I was giving myself.
I wasn’t seeing clearly that all I needed to get started was to do a few minutes of research and to ask for help (bypassing the critical faculty). I then let my fear of the unknown and my lack of self confidence grow unchecked in the form of fearful fantasies of how everything might go wrong in the future (bypassing the critical faculty and selective attention to suggestion).
Had I known then what I know now, I could have applied a few simple self-hypnosis techniques and found a solution much more quickly.
By simply entering the relaxed state of body and mind that we achieve in hypnosis, I would have been able to invite my inner fears and criticisms into a dialog. While relying on the inner resources and guidance that I’ve cultivated and nurtured over the years, I would have realized that my negative self talk was, ironically, a subconscious strategy to protect myself from the very criticism I was laying on myself. I would have seen clearly that all of this had its source in negative, early childhood experiences that had shaped my core self-image and left the thought imprints that would later solidify as the trance-like habits of negative self-talk. Then, with loving care and attention, I could have allowed myself to release all that unresolved hurt and suggested new, more beneficial strategies and solutions to my subconscious mind.
Of course, my situation was a fairly mild case of negative self talk. For many people, cruel self criticism can be a nightmare reality. It can lead to all kinds of serious conditions like depression, anxiety, addiction, and more.
But this kind of negative self talk is different only in degree.
The same solutions and resolutions can be found through a well planned, heart-centered program of hypnotherapy.