The posthypnotic suggestion is a tool often used by hypnotherapists to stimulate their clients into correcting their behavior. As you could probably tell from the name, the posthypnotic suggestion is an instruction the client carries out after the hypnosis session is over. If done correctly, posthypnotic suggestions will encourage you to correct your behavior for an indefinite amount of time after the hypnosis session.
Hypnosis helps people think about their problems from different perspectives. This helps people identify the triggers for their unwanted behaviors, and it teaches them to overpower the triggers and stop the behavior from happening in the first place. Those who are under hypnosis are more susceptible to suggestions.
The suggestions you hear while you’re hypnotized allows you to identify your triggers and overcome them, but what happens when you’re not hypnotized? Well, that’s where posthypnotic suggestions come in handy.
When performed properly, a posthypnotic suggestion is enforced on the subconscious part of the brain when you’re under a trance. When the hypnosis session is over, you will carry out this suggestion in your daily life without even thinking about it. This shows how important our subconscious mind is for our decision-making process, and it also shows the power of a posthypnotic suggestion carried out correctly.
In a simplified manner, you will feel like a little voice in the back of your mind will tell you to do something when you’re facing a particular situation. Of course, the little voice in the back of your mind only recommends doing things that can implement positive change when you’re facing your issues.
You might have noticed the little voice in the back of your head recommends doing something when you’re facing a particular situation. Well, that’s because the posthypnotic suggestion needs a trigger.
The trigger for the posthypnotic suggestion can be anything from a specific time, an event, a moment in your daily routine, etc. Experienced hypnotherapists implement the trigger for the posthypnotic suggestion so it will come before or at the same time with the trigger for the unwanted behavior.
Let’s say you want to want to use hypnosis to lose weight. Naturally, you have to diet. But once in a while, you get a craving for sugary drinks. We all know how bad sugary drinks can be for someone who wants to lose weight, so the hypnotherapist might suggest that every time you crave for sugary drinks, you will drink water instead. If done correctly, you will instinctively choose water over sugary drinks, without giving your decision much thought. This will happen for an indefinite amount of time after the hypnosis session, with the obvious result of helping you lose weight.
But the trigger for the posthypnotic suggestion can also be an external stimulus. Many people who want to quit smoking complain that they sometimes pick up the cigarettes pack without even knowing it. Well, picking up the pack of cigarettes might be one of the triggers that make it difficult for you to quit smoking. At the same time, the hypnotherapist could make the act of picking up the pack a trigger for the posthypnotic suggestion. Every time you put your hand on the pack of cigarettes, the little voice in the back of your head will suggest you don’t really need to smoke or that when you do this it triggers a thought of something that is repulsive. Over time this then helps to stop your cravings in the first place.
You might be wondering why the posthypnotic suggestion trigger is so powerful. The truth is, this is a very complex matter. Simply put, the trigger makes you re-enter a brief trance, one that has a depth and quality almost identical to the hypnotic state that was used when the suggestion was enforced.
Even if your eyes are open and you’re in the middle of doing something – such as picking up a pack of cigarettes or getting a sugary drink – you will enter a hypnotic state without knowing it. This will not affect your daily routine, and it won’t even interrupt your thinking process. The brief hypnotic state you enter cannot be used for anything but delivering the trigger from your subconscious to your conscious mind and making you act on it. Remember that we go in and out of the trance/hypnotic state many times a day and it is entirely natural. With the posthypnotic suggestion this is having a very beneficial impact upon your life.
You might find it difficult to believe you would act on a posthypnotic suggestion. After all, how could a message implemented in your subconscious mind determine you to do or avoid doing something without you even realizing it?
Here’s the deal, most of us live our lives on “autopilot mode”. We make a lot of decisions without even thinking about them. And that’s normal. Our lives are too busy and our brains are too efficient to think about every single thing we do individually. You surely experienced this yourself.
Our brains make decisions for us on a daily basis. Our behavior is actually governed by automatic processes. We perform routine tasks such as taking a shower, washing the dishes or painting a wall without thinking about them.
We are aware of what we’re doing, though. If one dish is not clean enough, we will scrub it better. But the mechanical tasks of moving our hands and fingers are engaged by our brain’s autopilot. Actively thinking about moving our hands and fingers might even interrupt the process and inhibit our ability to perform it well.
Our brains are so efficient they can even automatize complex tasks such as driving from home to work from time to time. But our brains do so much more than this. When we’re performing tasks without conscious thought, the brain can still perceive stimuli without interrupting us.
The environment presents us stimuli in the form of sounds, odours, images, and internal cues such as hunger, pain, and sleepiness. This makes us think about someone in particular when we catch a whiff of a familiar perfume or relieve long-lost feelings when we see something from our past.
The posthypnotic suggestion is nothing but a stimulus. When we perform a task without giving it any thought, such as picking up a packet of cigarettes, our brains interpret the suggestion as a stimulus to do something else.
Because the posthypnotic suggestion is embedded in our subconscious minds, we carry it out without actively thinking about it. Simply put, a well-formed suggestion will become a part of our brain’s automatic decision process.
Posthypnotic suggestions last differently according to the person’s subconscious and the hypnotherapist’s skill and training. When it’s done correctly, a posthypnotic suggestion can last as long as the client identifies himself or herself with the idea that led to the suggestion’s implementation.
For example, a person who wants to quit smoking could benefit from the posthypnotic suggestion as long as he or she sees himself or herself as a smoker. Once the person no longer identifies himself as a smoker, he will be able to pick up a pack of cigarettes without feeling the need to do something else.
Some posthypnotic suggestions have been known to remain potent for many years. As long as the person performs a certain act in the right context and conditions, the suggestion will become active without him or her having any knowledge of activating it.
Remember that anything we do consistently builds into a habit. So it is likely that the posthypnotic suggestion will be conditioned into us if it is being triggered often.
You might be wondering how hypnotherapists create good post hypnotic suggestions. Well, the truth is, this skill requires training and practice experience. Implementing posthypnotic suggestions in hypnosis sessions require meticulously developed scripts. Using them in hypnosis audio sessions is even more difficult.
Every respectable hypnotherapist will create the posthypnotic suggestions according to his or her client’s personality and triggers. Including posthypnotic suggestions in audio hypnosis sessions is more difficult because an audio session caters to more individuals, each of them with his or her own personality and triggers. To make sure the suggestions included in the audio sessions are effective, the therapist has to be experienced enough to be familiar with the most common triggers of every targeted group.
Each suggestion must be thoroughly examined and reduced to its simplest form. Despite the complexity of the human subconscious, simple messages are always better understood by the subconscious than complex ones. So the hypnotherapist has to make sure that every suggestion he or she includes in the hypnosis session is simple and powerful enough to embed itself in the subconscious.
Another thing therapists have to be aware of is the client’s susceptibility to suggestions. Some people have a natural inclination to listen to suggestions, while others do not. If the suggestion is not clear or powerful enough, those who are not easily persuaded by suggestions might not respond to them at all.
Even though each posthypnotic suggestion is developed individually, the great ones share the following traits:
Posthypnotic suggestions are helpful tools for hypnotherapists. Even though they cannot be used on their own, the suggestions complement other hypnotherapy techniques and practices, making them indispensable for experienced therapists.
These suggestions have clear and traceable outcomes, and they define a clear behavior. Once you follow a hypnosis session that implements posthypnotic suggestions, you can tap into the power of your subconscious and overcome your difficulties.