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May 13, 2013

Self-hypnosis: Using the Subconscious to Affect Change

According to William Hewitt, “the subconscious mind is like an obedient servant—it just does what it is told to do. The subconscious mind doesn’t think, reason, or rationalize. It only adheres to instructions. Conversely, you conscious mind does think, reason, and rationalize—and often argues against what you want. This is why the conscious mind needs to be relaxed and quieted so it won’t counter what you are instructing your subconscious mind to do.”1

 When using your subconscious mind through self-hypnosis, the efficiency of your concentration can double and may even increase tenfold! How does this happen? Like a computer or recording instrument, the subconscious mind stores all of your perceptions—sights, sounds, smells, touch, thoughts, etc.  You can significantly increase your brain functioning with self-hypnosis because hypnosis accesses your subconscious. Whereas it may be difficult to change subconscious behaviors through your conscious mind or willpower, it is much easier to make desired changes with hypnosis. This is because hypnosis bypasses the conscious mind and goes directly to the subconscious where those behaviors are stored. In other words, hypnosis may more quickly and easily allow you to re-program your mind so that you can finally make those changes you’ve been struggling with for years. 1  Now, isn’t that exciting?

Through hypnosis, you can use your imagination to modify your internal experience. As you change how you perceive things and think about things, your feelings and behavior transform. This, in turn, will help you meet your goals.  For example, “if (you) program (yourself) to be average…, that will be (y)our reality. Using…hypnosis, however, (you) can bring to fruition a very powerful reprogramming and change (your) behavior and attitudes.”  You present an ideal such as stress-free living to your subconscious. The subconscious then materializes this suggestion into reality.1

With the help of creative visualization, self-hypnosis taps your unconscious through imagery or asking it for ideas. Once you have reached a relaxed, suggestible state of mind, you can consider a problem and create a solution. You do this by “daydreaming” about the future and making special suggestions to yourself. You can then improve your life by telling your subconscious mind what you want to achieve. Because hypnotic suggestion usually fades within a couple weeks, you must repeat and reinforce the suggestions you give your subconscious.1

Hypnosis is usually administered by a trained, certified hypno-therapist to address clinical problems such as overeating/obesity, impotency, premature ejaculation, inability to achieve orgasm, smoking, depression, ulcers, hypertension, asthma, phobias, cardiac disease, or traumatic memories. Hypnosis may also address several common, everyday wellness or performance issues. Following is a partial list from Goldberg (2006):

1.Increased relaxation & elimination of tension.
2.Increased & focused concentration.
3.Improved memory.
4.Improved reflexes.
5.Increased self-confidence.
6.More effective pain control.
7.Improved sex life.
8.Increased organization and efficiency.
9.Increased motivation.
10.  Improved interpersonal relationships.
11.  Slower aging process.
12.  An enhanced career path.
13.  Elimination of headaches.
14.  Strengthening the immune system.
15.  Elimination of habits.1

Whether you are addressing serious clinical issues or you are aiming to achieve one or more of the above wellness goals, using hypnotic relaxation to reduce muscular tension from anxiety and stress will improve your functioning significantly. Goldberg lists several principles of hypnosis. Those principles are as follows:

Principles of Hypnosis.

1.Every thought or idea produces a physical response. You need to learn to change your thoughts if you want to reduce or eliminate your stress. Self-hypnosis can help you see things more positively and replace unhealthy, negative beliefs with healthy ones.

2.What is imagined or expected tends to be realized. If your subconscious receives a goal, it attempts to reach that goal. If you strongly believe in a goal, you will subconsciously attract whatever brings you that result. When you expect good things, they will happen. Unfortunately, the opposite is true as well.

3.Law of reversed effect. The harder you try to achieve a goal, the more difficult it becomes. When your conscious intentions conflict with your (subconscious) imagination, you tend to do nothing, or worse yet, do the opposite of what you want to do. Let’s say you think you want to do something, but you feel you can’t. The more you try, the less likely you are to accomplish it. For example, have you ever tried to remember a movie, book, or name, only to be frustrated in your conscious attempts?  However, once you stop trying, while you are engaged in some other task, you finally recall that movie, book, or name.

4.New habit patterns can be formed with visualized images. Your nervous system cannot decipher between a real experience and an imagined one. Therefore, you can change habits by rehearsing the new behavior in your imagination. This is how the Olympic athletes practice their sport and program their minds to succeed.

5.Habit patterns can be performed with auto suggestions. Using suggestions, you can create actual situations consistent with the goals you want to achieve. Then, repeating those suggestions helps you establish new behavior.

6.The law of dominant effect. When you pair strong emotion to each suggestion, you increase the power of those suggestions. Hence, you can use these new emotionally-charged suggestions to replace any previous suggestions.

Your goals may be physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. You might imagine yourself in a new home, a new job, or a more satisfying relationship. You can visualize yourself feeling more calm and relaxed; having a more balanced, healthy lifestyle; approaching your desired weight; or, handling a difficult situation easily. Or, you may see yourself as a more loving, positive person with a magnetic personality. Whatever your goals, you can achieve them through self-hypnosis!

Once you feel deeply relaxed, envision that which you want as well as exactly how you would like it. You could imagine what people might say or do, or any other specifics that may make it more realistic to you. This should be a pleasant experience, like a child daydreaming what she wants for Christmas. While holding this image in your mind or while moving through the dream, say some positive things relevant to your goals either silently or aloud. For example, you could think, “Here I am spending a wonderful weekend with so and so. What a pleasure. It’s such a relief to resolve our differences and spend peaceful moments together.” Or, “I love the warm, sunny beach, the soft breezes, and the festive island music. It is so relaxing to enjoy a vacation to an island.” Or, “I am learning to become more relaxed and assertive as I speak up, make direct requests, say no, and set limits.” See others responding favorably to your intentions and actions.

These positive statements, referred to as affirmations, are a very important part of your self-hypnosis visualization. You may end your visualization with a positive, summarizing self-statement such as, “This will happen for me. I will feel happy, fulfilled, and satisfied.” This affirmation reinforces and enhances your goal, making it more likely to become reality. Furthermore, you should repeat your affirmations throughout the creative visualization. In order to convince your subconscious that your goal is truly what you desire, you need to tell it repeatedly what to do. When your intention aligns with your attention and positive action, magic happens! Relaxation, self-hypnosis, and creative visualization are very empowering. As the saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for; it may come true.”


  1. Goldberg, Bruce, Dr. (2006) Self-hypnosis: Easy Ways to Hypnotize Your Problems Away, Career Press
  2. Hewitt, William (2008) Self-hypnosis for a Better Life, Llewellyn Publications

Barbara Jordan, LPC, CSAC, ICS
Author “Achieve Success in Spite of Stress”
Barbara Jordan is a counselor, counselor educator, author, trainer, and leadership coach. For more information go to

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1 Comment

  1. 1 Liam Eber 27 Dec
    Improved memory
    Increased focus and concentration


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