Posted on May 26th, 2006

Hypnosis is a term that brings up a variety of images: of people sleepwalking, stage shows with people doing odd things or a man with a thick German accent, saying, "You are getting very sleepy …" Thanks to talk shows, it also brings up fears about repressed memories and painful accusations.

Although all of the above can and does happen, hypnosis, well and ethically used, is in reality simply a way to help people achieve the changes they desire.

It is really a very commonplace phenomenon. We all go into a state of something like hypnosis at least twice a day: when we are waking up and when we are going to sleep.

Our bodies are relaxed and out minds are able to focus. How many of you get some of your best ideas as you are waking or falling asleep?

In addition, if you have ever driven on the interstate for a lengthy period of time, you have been hypnotized.

Think for a moment about the process of "highway hypnosis." You arrive at your destination and may not remember going through certain parts of your journey. The important thing to consider is you were in control the whole time. It’s much the same with the process of hypnosis. Many patients have called it "conscious dreaming."

In my practice, I have found hypnosis to be very useful in helping people achieve the changes they want, simply and quickly. Many of the methods I use in hypnosis are just problem-solving techniques, or what I call "change techniques."

One of my favorites is the "Three-Picture Technique." It involves the use of your imagination and some well-considered questions.

Before I describe the Three-Picture Technique further, it’s very important for you to know two things: 1) If you read on, you will not be hypnotized; and 2) You can use this problem-solving technique without hypnosis. Hypnosis can simply make it happen faster.

This technique can be used on a variety of problems, and it’s particularly useful in struggles with self-esteem.

Here’s a brief outline of the four steps of this technique:

Step one In your own imagination, come up with pictures of yourself in three different situations to do with the problem you want to solve: 1) how the problem started, 2) how it is now and 3) how you would like it to be in the near future.

It’s important to create these pictures as if you were watching a scene on a movie screen, not as if you were seeing them through your own eyes. Remember to picture yourself in each scene.

Step two Place these three pictures on a screen in your mind at the same time. Place the first picture on the left, the second in the middle and the third on the right.

Step three Now we will set up a conference call between the three people pictured. First, let’s pretend that you can talk with the person you were when the problem started. Now ask yourself the following questions: 1) What have you learned about dealing with this problem in the time between then and now? 2) If you could send a letter to the person in the past, titled, "Things I Wish I Had Known When I Was You," what would it say?

Step four Next, let’s have you talk with the person you will be in the near future, when this problem is solved. Looking through the eyes of the future you, what will you know then that you don’t know now?

This is my favorite part of this exercise: If you could walk out to your mailbox today and receive a letter from the person you will be in the future, titled, "Here Are The Things I Wish I Had Known When I Was You," what would it say?

Here’s the last question: Looking through the eyes of the person you’ll be in the future, what is the very next step you need to take to head in that direction? And then the next step? And so on.

These are simply questions you can ask yourself about any problem you want to solve. It can give you very clear direction on how to get where you want to be.

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