From: L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections – 2010 – #15
April 5, 2010


While “hypnosis” is not real (Meta Reflection #14), not real externally, not an objective thing, it is subjectively compelling and can be transformative.  Well, it can also be destructive and neurotizing.  It all depends on what suggestions you are giving yourself in the process.  In other words, the content of what you are programming into yourself with your images, sounds, words, language, ideas, frames, and meanings determines the quality (or lack thereof) of the state you are inducing.

That’s what “hypnosis” is—an induction of state and you are always inducing yourself into states.  And every time you alter your state and go into an inward focus of attention on something that you are remembering or imagining that’s not currently present— you are in a hypnotic state.  There’s really nothing mysterious about it, it is how “thinking” works.  You can be present listening to someone or walking down the street or driving on a highway or working out in the gym, but on the inside you are not there.  You are somewhere else!

Realizing and recognizing that such state inductions is a trance, de-mystifies hypnosis a bit.  It also highlights the fact that you, and only you, can hypnotize you.  That’s why it is said in the literature on hypnosis that ultimately all hypnosis is self-hypnosis.  You are doing it to yourself.  Yes, someone may be leading the process, but it only works if you allow it to, if you follow along and use the words to go somewhere in your mind.  You can always resist.

So all of the myths about a hypnotist “controlling” you and making you do things you don’t want to do is just that—myths.  It is not hypnosis that makes some flap their wings and make sounds like a chicken.  They are doing that and they are choosing to do that.  Yes, this myth makes for fascinating Hollywood movies for those who don’t know better: a hypnotist hypnotizes someone to murder someone and then gives a post-hypnotic suggestion that they won’t remember it!  But it does not work that way.  Milton Erickson once said that if hypnosis had that kind of power, “there would be a whole lot of people healthier and more sane.”

Do we use hypnosis in Neuro-Semantics?  Do we induce states so that people transition (trance) from the state that they are in and access new and more resourceful states?  Yes, of course.  In fact, every pattern is actually a hypnotic pattern.  That’s because every “pattern” invites a person to go up, up and away, into the higher realms of the mind, to set new higher frames that will create more positive and resourceful states.

When we do this, we participate in accessing higher states of mind that we find enjoyable and effective.  We move upward to our frames of reference.  Now in writing this, I’m using the “up” metaphor for trance rather than the “down” metaphor.  Both also are metaphors and so not real!  It’s just a way of talking about things.  The “down” metaphor is more traditional and in NLP history, it came from Transformational Grammar (TG) that talked about surface sentences and the “deep” structure.

Using the Meta-States Model, in Neuro-Semantics we turn the metaphor upside down. We talk about going inside and then up to your reference system as your frames of references by which you create the meanings that you give to something.  These higher frames establish the structure for how you are thinking about something.  And whenever you set a frame, you are programming into your mind a meaning that contains suggestions and implications and these will induce you into a state.

What do you think about criticism?  Wherever you go in your mind as you answer that question, you are inducing yourself into a hypnotic state.  Do you know that?  That’s because “criticism” is not real. It does not exist in the real world.  What you call “criticism” is a construct that you have created.  If it means to you that someone is saying something that disagrees with you or your ideas, or saying something that attacks your behaviors, your person, your reputation, etc., then you probably have some movie playing in your mind about someone saying words in a certain way that you call “criticism.”  If I could peak into the movie of your mind, what would I see playing?  What do you see?  Or hear?  Or sense?  What hypnotic induction have you used on yourself?

Now given that movie, how much fun do you have playing that movie?  Not much?  How much fun would you like to have?  And how could you create that fun, that humor, that silliness?  Are you skilled at exaggerating your pictures?  At editing the sounds so that you can alter the way the “criticism” is spoken so that sounds really different?  What if it was sung by someone who can’t carry a tune?  What if it was spoken with a sexy voice?  Or a lisp?  By Yoda?  Donald Duck?  Now did you recognize those questions as a hypnotic induction?  They were!

If you went along and playfully entertained fun representations, then you radically altered the suggestions and implications you have about criticism, didn’t you?  Suppose you access a state of un-insultability and then entertain those representations and try really hard, as hard as you can try, to feel the hurt of the criticism.  What happens then?  What if you step into a state of unconditional love and appreciation for people, knowing that there’s a little insecure child inside the person criticizing.

Ah, another paragraph is full of hypnotic language inviting you into more resourceful trances!  Did you notice?  I invited you to go up to new frames linguistically.  And it was so easy.   I just used some modifiers (adverbs and adjectives).

I qualified your “representations” by the word “entertaining” and that word by “playfully” — playfully entertained fun representations of criticism.

I invited you to access un-insultability and hard trying to feel the hurt.

I invited you to step into unconditional love, knowing there’s a little child …

None of these are externally real; but if you want them to be subjectively compelling to your way of being in the world and processing criticism, then you can go into those higher states about your primary experience.  And if you do, then they set up various suggestions and implications as post-hypnotic suggestions that will generate a more resourceful response.  All of this “hypnotic” language and framing is just another way to talk about self-development.

To your expertise with great hypnotic self-actualization!