The confusing and controversial link between hypnosis and your unconscious

I wanted to write an article connecting hypnosis and your unconscious mind.

This is that article, so obviously I succeeded.

But I have to say this now:

None of this is definitive. It’s my best attempt to explain it to a broad audience. Even so, plenty of hypnotists will disagree with me on every point. Some will emphatically argue the opposite.

What’s worse – they’re probably right.

Imagine someone describing the ocean. They say some things like it’s big and wet. Then they focus on a small part, talking about how it’s blue-green and has plankton.

No one could adequately describe the entire ocean like this, even if they understood it all, which no one does.

Some parts aren’t blue-green, don’t have plankton and probably aren’t even wet.

Can you even draw a clear line between what ‘is’ ocean and what ‘isn’t’? The surface of the water seems like a clear candidate, so to speak, but what about the air above it? The ocean controls it, changes it, shapes its weather – is it part of it too, or not?

If there’s a deep sea cave filled with an air bubble, is that in the ocean even though it’s dry?

Does it even matter? Can’t you still sail across it, even if your definitions, labels and boundaries are all wrong?

This is what it’s like talking about hypnosis and your unconscious.

We talk about something called the conscious mind. This is everything you’re aware of and can control, sort of.

That assumes consciousness isn’t an illusion… or does it?

And let’s not argue what is conscious thinking and what’s your unconscious – the lines are among the blurriest on the planet.

During your normal day, you’re conscious to a certain degree. Sure, sometimes you zone out and do things without thinking. And sometimes you fall asleep.

But, at least some of the time, you are to some degree ‘aware’ of what’s going on.

Notice how I’m over 300 words into this article and I haven’t said anything about hypnosis yet. I can’t even tell if I need to slow down or skip over some stuff.

This is an exceptionally murky topic.

But going back to looking at your conscious mind:

Hypnosis is a process that, to some degree, bypasses your awareness in an unusual way.

It doesn’t make you unconscious – at least, it doesn’t have to.

You can (and usually will) remain fully conscious throughout.

The hypnotist will engage parts of your unconscious you normally ignore.

We might give it instructions, ask it questions, use its symbols and speak its language.

And how much of that is a metaphor? How much is literal?

Some of you will find that explanation too vague to argue against, although some will insist it’s wrong. And many of you are just confused.

That’s okay. One of the secrets to mastering hypnosis is to give up your desire for cosy explanations.

Everything that happens in your mind makes sense… but most of it won’t make sense to you.

That’s not a comment on your intelligence. The smarter you are, the more sophisticated, interconnected and fast your thinking is. In other words, the smarter you are, the harder it is to understand your thinking.

Sometimes you just have to trust in the process.

Trust your unconscious mind.

Trust your genetic legacy. Your ancestors survived long enough to reproduce – something that demanded instincts, intuition and inner genius. You carry that in your blood. You’re smart enough to survive the worst the savannah throws at you, including other humans.

It’s not like your ancestors survived through logic alone.

So trust in everything teeming inside you. At least some of it is the key to your even greater mind.

When theorising gets you nowhere, the best thing to do is to take action.

To experience hypnosis, rather than philosophise about it, check me out here:

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