In previous posts, I’ve discussed hypnosis. I’m a big fan of hypnosis. I believe it is a collaborative process that gives people fantastic tools to help themselves. This post explores how understanding hypnosis, and how trance states are induced, can help you guard your mind against undesirable influences.
I’ve mentioned that hypnosis is a natural state people experience throughout their day. When you get lost in a good read, or veg-out watching TV, you are entering a trance state. After all, a trance state is nothing more than a deeply relaxed state, typically involving slower brainwaves, and a decreased critical thinking.
The decrease in critical thinking is how we can still enjoy unrealistic movies with big plot holes. The magic of television and Hollywood helps us to suspend our disbelief. This decrease in our critical faculties is also what makes hypnosis so effective.
Because we’re deeply relaxed, and in a trance state, we’re more suggestible. In fact, you are more suggestible anytime you are relaxed: in the bath or shower, before bed and as you awaken etc. Therefore it follows that we are in an extremely suggestible state while watching movies or TV, YouTube or social media videos, and even while getting into a good read or podcast. Advertisers have known this for a very long time.
If you remember life before streaming services, then this might sound familiar:
You’re vegging-out and watching your favourite TV show. Then, a commercial break interrupts the show. You’re bombarded by commercial after commercial of food porn. Burgers are built before your eyes. Ten times larger than the real life versions you got at that fast food joint. The sizzle of the grill seeps from the speakers. For a moment, you can almost smell it. You imagine the flavours. Your mouth waters. A deep-voiced man says, “Mmm…that’s good!” in a sultry, sexy tone. You see people smiling with their friends, ripping into their combo meal. You want everything you’ve just seen. You’re suddenly hungry. Food is all you can think about. You head to the kitchen, looking for anything fast and easy. Bag of chips: perfect. You rush back to the TV, and begin snacking as the commercial ends. You enjoy the rest of your show, and then it ends. You look down, and the chip bag is empty. Huh!?
What Just Happened?
Advertisers are really good at their job. They ensure that their commercials are an appealing, sensory experience. By involving all of the senses, you’re more able to imagine the food. This virtual experience creates a real desire.
However, having no fast food joint in your living room, you grab the next best thing. Usually whatever you grab is fast and unhealthy, like the chips. Then, because you’re eating while distracted by the show, you mechanically overeat, thus blowing you’re healthy eating goals right out of the water!
Don’t feel bad if this has happened to you. It’s happened to me too.
Conflicting Goals Gum Up The Works
How can this happen!? Kim, you said I couldn’t be hypnotized against my will. I want to eat healthy. Why am I gorging on junk food?
Great point! I’ll tell you.
While you may want to lose weight, and be more healthy, you also really like burgers. When the commercial comes on, your love of burgers, and the immediate, sensual pleasure of eating, outweighs your healthy goals. Let’s face it, dieting is typically neither easy, nor pleasurable, at least in the short term. Rather, dieting often feels punitive, and makes you feel bad about yourself. Added downside: feeling bad can trigger unhealthy emotional eating.
When you have competing goals, the easiest, quickest, most pleasurable, and least painful option will always win.
You know the junk food isn’t good for you. In the long run, you’ll be unhappy with yourself. However, the immediate pleasure and gratification is difficult to resist.
Commercials AND Content
It’s not just the commercials that can influence you. Have you ever started using catch phrases from movies and TV shows? It goes to show that the content of what you watch can also have a profound impact on your thoughts and actions.
It’s been said that you become the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. I believe this is true.
However, I believe people also take on the attitudes and beliefs of characters in movies and TV shows. If you calculate the amount of time a person spends watching a television show, they can be exposed to particular character traits for hours and hours everyday. This is true of both binge-watching, and regular TV or movie watching.
We all have beliefs. Our brains filter the information we receive through our senses to confirm our beliefs. This is known as cognitive bias. We’re likely drawn to shows and movies that reinforce our beliefs, even if they, like the chips, may not be healthy in the long run.
However, the movies and TV shows and other media to which we expose ourselves on a daily basis can also shape our beliefs and attitudes. Sad movies make you cry. Greed and corruption in dramatic shows can influence our perceptions of various professions, income brackets etc.
In short, we are inundated with influencing ideas. This occurs throughout out day, however we are particularly vulnerable to influence when we’re trying to veg-out and relax.
You must learn to stand guard at the door of your mind.
So what are your options? Never watch another show or movie? Throw your smartphone way, and take a sledgehammer to your computer? Not likely. (Although, sometimes I’m tempted, I’ll admit.)
There’s a Way to Minimize Unwanted External Influences
Rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water, a much better solution is to increase your awareness of your auto-pilot moments, like when you veg-out. Only with increased awareness can you begin to exercise choices. Only by exercising choice can you steer your own course.
Self-Hypnosis Can Help!
Odd as it sounds, you can hypnotize yourself to be more immune to external influence. I’ll walk you through the simple process.
- First, take 6 deep, slow breaths while comfortably staring at a point on the far wall or ceiling. This will put you into a more relaxed, trance-like state.
- Next, set your intention for what you want (not what you don’t want) to happen. For example, you can say to yourself, either in your head or out loud, that you will only accept external suggestions that help you reach goal (x) – whatever your goal is. Or you could say to yourself, “I will take in suggestions and beliefs that are resourceful and help me reach a greater level of health, success and fulfilment, and I will ignore suggestions that do not serve my highest good.”
- Next, watch (or continue watching) whatever you were watching, or whatever you were listening to, or reading.
It really can be that simple!
Increase your awareness. Set your intention, and continue on. This is a basic recipe for self-improvement that can be applied to virtually any area of your life.