This is one of the more powerful principles in hypnosis.
Maybe even all of psychology.
Master this one concept and everything becomes easier. And I do mean everything. Whether you’re building a business, trying to be a better parent or partner, recovering from an injury or simply getting through the days, this is useful.
Heck, it might even be vital.
I’ve talked a lot about how powerful your unconscious is – how it’s the source of more than just your instincts and intuition. It’s the operating system of your entire body and mind, controlling everything from your heart beating to how memories are retrieved…
To more advanced stuff, like insight, creativity and elite performance.
Maybe using a computer analogy isn’t the best one, but there’s one way in which it’s perfect:
You can have the best hardware in the world.
You can load it up with the most advanced, sophisticated, elegant and powerful software around.
But if you don’t give it anything to do, it’s a waste.
Your unconscious mind is similar, but there’s one key difference.
Given how complex computer programming is, you tend not to give computers instructions accidentally. Sure, you might give them the wrong instruction… but it’s not like you sleepwalk to your desk and start typing assembly.
With your unconscious mind, you give it instructions all the time.
Whether you mean to or not.
Because the interface between your conscious mind and your unconscious is subtle and surprising:
What you focus on informs your unconscious about what’s important.
Let’s say you’re lost in the desert. You’re going to fixate on a few things – water, shelter, rescue. It’d be hard to think of anything else. And so your unconscious, rightly, takes this is an instruction.
If you hear even the faintest murmur of an aircraft engine, you’ll pay attention to it.
Or the faintest sparkle on the horizon, suggesting there’s an oasis there.
In this case, the system works.
Here’s how it can, and does, go wrong:
Many folks pay attention to the wrong things.
They fixate on their failures… which the unconscious mind takes as an instruction to fail more.
Or they fixate on their chronic pain… which the unconscious takes to mean the pain is important, so it creates more of it.
That might sound ridiculous. After all, ignoring pain doesn’t make it go away. And ignoring your mistakes means you don’t learn from them.
Well, there’s a difference between noticing something and fixating on it.
But consider it this way:
Imagine someone who goes through life, noticing the failures and weaknesses of everyone around them. They ignore what virtues they see, only paying attention to vulgarity, mistakes and suffering.
A naïve person might think this person is happy. Look how much better off they are than everyone else!
But, no. By paying attention to only the bad stuff, they unconsciously seek out more of it.
Now consider the opposite.
Someone who sees the good inside everyone.
Someone who recognises that, sure, people make mistakes, but they tend to have reasons for them.
Everyone is talented and virtuous in some way.
Oh no – everyone else is so much better than them…! They must be miserable!
Hardly – people with this mindset are among the happiest you’ll ever meet.
It’s a simple idea: where attention goes, energy flows.
And for hypnosis, changing what you pay attention to is easy.
As always, feel free to experience this for yourself: