I would like to offer you a new way to look at your world. A new lens through which to perceive life and your actions within it. A new perspective on what it means to be conscious and mindful, and present. Because many of you think that you are conscious human beings, capable of exercising free will and making your own decisions as you go through life. And perhaps that is true for some of you, some of the time. But do you know what is true for most of you, most of the time? A truth that most of you are not even remotely aware of? The truth is that each of you, to varying degrees, has been hypnotized and each of you is not as conscious as you think you are.
But what does it mean to be hypnotized? When I look around, I see only the most negative examples of the use of hypnosis, especially in the movies, usually involving an evil villain who hypnotizes an innocent person against their will in order to harm them in some way. There’s usually a black and white spiral, or a pocket watch, or a steaming cup of coffee with a silver spoon. The person appears helpless against the power of the hypnotist and succumbs to the villain’s will, handing over state secrets, turning over national treasures, and abandoning their free will completely.
As a professional, Board Certified Hypnotist and coach who uses hypnosis on a regular basis to help others overcome personal or professional limiting beliefs, I often find myself dissecting these media portrayals of hypnosis and hypnotists in order to assure my clients that they will always remain in control, even during a hypnotic, that everything I say during hypnosis is only to help them achieve their desired outcome and that even if I were to say something evil or mean, their conscious mind would pick up on my transgression and they would immediately emerge from hypnosis and bitch slap me in the face!
And all this explaining away of these misconceptions got me thinking…
Aren’t we actually all already hypnotized? Haven’t we already been programmed to behave one way in certain situations and another way in other situations? Haven’t we already been conditioned to smile and feel good when someone gives us a compliment and to get upset when someone “insults” us? Haven’t we already been programmed to believe certain behavior is good and other behavior is bad? When we say that someone pushes our buttons, isn’t that just hypnosis?
So, I decided to Google hypnosis and get the exact definition for myself and here’s what I found:
Hypnosis: a trancelike condition usually induced by another person, in which the subject is in a state of altered consciousness and responds, with certain limitations, to the suggestions of the hypnotist.
Hm… okay. A trancelike condition. Induced by another person. In which the subject responds to the suggestions of the hypnotist. So… like the 30-second video commercial that convinces you to save 15% or more on your car insurance? Or maybe the movie that inspires you to move to Europe and buy a villa in Tuscany? Or maybe like the powerful TED talk that compels you to start that non-profit you dreamed of when you were a child?!
Many of us go through life hypnotized and never even know it. We think that the choices we make throughout the day are our own ideas. We think that the route we took to work was our own idea. We think that the choice of clothes in the morning was our own choice. We think that the food we ate throughout the day was our own choice too. We think that the way we reacted to the people in our lives was our own choice as well. These are not our choices. At least not the way we think they are. These choices are programmed into us.
The activities we engage in, the words that we speak, and the behaviors that we exhibit throughout the day are all the result of prior programming. Programming from our parents. Programming from the media. Programming from our church. Programming from our environment. Programming from our past. Programming from the story that we keep telling ourselves about who we are and who we are not, about why we are successful or why we keep failing, about why we are happy or why we are doomed to suffer. All of our behavior throughout the day and all of our thoughts are the result of this programming, programming which is nothing more, and nothing less, than hypnosis, by another name.