In all our ordinary activity, without even knowing it, we rely enormously on unconscious
programs which ‘ do ’ the majority of things we need with only a minimum of conscious
These programs are seamless and VERY powerful. ( For example - we can become aware
of the colossal energy which is effortlessly managed in our legs as we climb the
stairs in the dark. When we make an error and attempt to go up the next step that
isn’t there, the sheer power of the downward thrust as the foot misses its mark
is almost appalling in its violence )
The vast majority of our mental processes operate in similar ways. This has the enormous
advantage of allowing us to be consciously aware of things other than the petty
details of our performance - whether thinking or doing. The downside is that these
seamless automatic processes are mostly ' up and running ' before we realise, even
where they may be about to plunge us into embarrassment, conflict or even greater
Many times when attempting to ‘wilfully’ deal with a difficult situation, we
find ourselves in a process which is going wrong - but are already too ‘locked in’.
We become unable to find a perspective to allow us to get back on the rails. This
is often somewhat disorientating. Already feeling uncomfortable and slightly out
of control we cannot then help but become ' over-aware ' of our inadequacy to deal
with the process.
This ‘over-awareness’ then further blocks our ‘freedom of mind’ - preventing unconscious
access to far more useful options. ( How frustrated one can be to think of the right
thing to have said or done after the event - when the mind is calm and the original
opportunity past ! )
But by ‘ trying harder ’ to put it right or get what we want, we find ourselves
playing out programmed behaviour or persisting with efforts that have a minimal chance
of success. We often upset ourselves or others in the process.
Although we don’t want these things to happen, the difficulty is that these habitual
programmes are very deeply entrenched and powerfully reinforced.
In order to change the operation of automatic programmes our cerebral processes
need a way of going 'off-line' to find better options - as we do every night when
we sleep. With the automatic programs disengaged the brain can adopt a much more
flexible mode where it can re-organise its internal neurological structures.
Numerous experiments have demonstrated consistent improvement in many kinds of physical
and mental performance without further practice - after we have slept. But it is
seldom in everyday life that we can ‘sleep on the job’ sufficiently to give unconscious
process a break .
This is where hypnotic work comes in. Hypnosis can take the brain offline in a different
way. By using unconscious process - incredibly fast by comparison with our conscious
modes - it can allow the mind to de-activate dysfunctional processes and to ‘cue’
appropriate new ways of seeing and doing things in their place.
Choice is not removed but it becomes much easier, and more natural and obvious
how to do something better. Instead of a desperate struggle against the seemingly
uncontrollable there is a sense of expanded possibilities and the leisurely arrival
of good options.
This relaxed sense is the clearly recognisable indicator that lightning fast unconscious
options have replaced the old pattern.
This is one of the ways in which we can experience ourselves becoming a changed and
more capable person.