Hypnosis and NLP

Changework with NLP Submodalities

Quick Introduction to Changing NLP Submodalities

One of the most useful techniques from NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) is changing what are called visual submodalities. For this article we will be doing a simple exploration of how this works.

The technique you’re about to learn is something that I use a lot in the office (The Washington DC Hypnosis Center) when someone comes in with a fear for instance. Although it’s not the only technique we use, it tends to get rid of the emotional ties that are connected to memories (literally, the pictures we see in our heads when we think about something that happened in the past).

Have you ever gotten bad feelings from remembering something?

Now, chances are that if you’re human, you have memories of things in your life that didn’t turn out perfectly. If I ask you right now to think of something really not great that happened to you, some version of sadness, anger, guilt, or another less than positive emotion will probably come up.

This technique works wonders to wipe out those negative feelings from the memory. Once you have learned the lesson that was there for you to learn, there is no need to keep having yourself feel bad. But, for most people, they have no idea how to get rid of that feeling, and are being triggered by that memory — in a sense, they are living at the “effect” of life.

What we want to do is to shift this, so that you can think about whatever happened and instead of having the same reaction, you’ll be able to feel peaceful and in control. Got it? 🙂

The prerequisite to this technique is that you can see a picture, movie, or polaroid of the event, which most people can do well.

A quick and very effective NLP submodality process

  1. View the “problem” image that you don’t like
  2. Change it to black and white
  3. Push it further away from you as if putting it on a movie screen
  4. Now move your awareness a couple steps back, and look at yourself looking at that black and white picture
  5. Make the picture smaller and push it way back, so that it’s about the size of a postage stamp, way off into the distance
  6. Make it translucent or transparent so you can see through it
  7. Turn the picture upside down
  8. Start to fill in that postage stamp picture with your favorite color that makes you feel good
  9. Now see only the solid color that you like in that space, and zoom that forward into the place where the other picture used to be.
  10. Notice how you feel. Try to get back the same feeling you had at Step #1. Rinse and repeat if desired.

That’s It!

I highly encourage you to use this process often. It isn’t in any particular order, but this is the way I tend to use it. Once someone has the process down, they can usually do it very quickly. Have fun!

Hypnosis and NLP

Post Hypnotic Suggestions and Hypnotic Anchoring

One of our TRANCED OUT coaching clients recently wrote us this e-mail:

During the third call, Taylor was explaining the difference between post-hypnotic suggestions and anchors. A trigger was compared to a computer program – “When X happens, Y follows after”. He talked about anchors being something learned at the neurological level. The example given seemed more like a non-verbal trigger, he referenced the process of getting Oleg to smile (Y) when Taylor touched his knee (X).

Given these definitions do all anchors begin as triggers? Are triggers “upgraded” to anchors due to repetition or compounding?
How does learning at the neurological level compare to the stimulus/response cycle of classical conditioning?

This is a fascinating topic to explore, and a great distinction to make as a hypnotist. The question is:

What is the difference in the MECHANISM and the EFFECT of a Post Hypnotic Suggestion versus Hypnotic Anchoring?

Here is my answer…

Hypnotic Anchoring

An anchor is the process of classical conditioning (AKA Pavlov).  The dog salivates and Pavlov rings a bell. The dog salivates, and Pavlov rings a bell. Pavlov rings a bell, and the dog salivates!

What we are doing with a hypnotic anchor is pairing two stimuli together — and we’re training the brain to neurologically connect them. What makes them hypnotic, of course, is the suggestion, which we will get to in a moment.

Now for those of you who know a thing or two about anchoring, you know that the intensity of the stimulus (feeling) that you attach the anchor to, the moment in time at which you attach the anchor, and the uniqueness of the “trigger” are all important facts.

So an anchor works by one thing happening, and then another thing being triggered, as a “knee jerk” response. It is a below conscious response, and in fact happens at the level of the neurology.

Post Hypnotic Suggestions

Now, a suggestion on the other hand works primarily in a psychological way. It involves the mind, not the brain. Whereas an anchor is a one-way set of events (X trigger -> Y event), we can actually give two contrasting suggestions only a few seconds apart from each other and switch the direction of the effect.

Confused yet? What I am saying is that we can give a suggestion to a hypnotized person that “You have now forgotten your first name.”  And then, seconds later, we can tap them on the head and say, “Now you remember! What’s your name?” And the second they remember we can say “Oops, it’s gone again! Where did your name go?”

And the suggestions will tend to be taken literally.

But with an anchor, there is no “literal” or “not literal.” It is kind of like getting a dog to salivate. It happens, and it happens, and it happens, but it never goes through the mind in order to work. It works below the mind.

What I advocate to hypnotists is that if something happens automatically at the neurological level, you are set for a much more powerful mechanism… Rather than having the pesky analytical side of the mind come in and mess up all your good work.

My Reply!

I thought it would be useful to include a segment of my reply to our coaching client. Here it is:

Now one way to examine this is what would happen if we needed to change these anchors/suggestions. If we needed to change an anchor, we would either need to nullify it’s effects by doing something like collapsing anchors, or we would need to re-pair the stimulus to do something else. With a suggestion, we don’t need to do all that, we just remove the suggestion.

So in a practical sense, it’s like how I compare/contrast direct suggestion with regression work. This is a discussion I have with a lot of clients. Most hypnosis tries to re-arrange the subconscious programming without regard to the feelings. If you follow the analogy, the effects of a direct suggestion results from the following of post-hypnotic suggestions, whereas regression work deals with changing/releasing the anchors involved (in an emotional sense) for the person’s issue.

Hypnotic Anchoring == emotional / neurological.  A post-hypnotic suggestion = Almost feeling-less at the core, unless following the suggestion also involves invoking feelings.

Comments? Do you have a different view on the workings of these two techniques?

I’ll leave you with a thought:  One of the marks of a professional hypnotist is being able to set an anchor… and make it look like a post-hypnotic suggestion. Hint, hint. Until next time!

Hypnosis and NLP

NLP Swish Pattern: Pragmagraphic Swish

Not too long ago at the Maryland NLP Group, I taught an NLP technique known as the Pragmagraphic Swish which is an NLP pattern by Robert Dilts. This is not the classic “Swish” that many people have learned; instead, it’s a wonderful technique that brings more choice to a previously compulsive behavior.

For example, one great way to use this technique is in helping someone to eliminate their need to eat sugary snacks. In fact, this was an actual example from the class. One of the participants shared that when he even took a little bite of a sweet snack, he couldn’t stop and would then be compelled to keep eating more.

Here were the Class Notes: The Pragmagraphic Swish Article, and this technique being outlined as the NLP Pattern of the Month. Read both of these pages for the full understanding of doing this technique.

With the sugary snacks problem, First I had him get into the state of being in the compulsion. How does it feel when you “Have To” do this behavior — where you simply must have it? The next step is to take a physical step back, and elicit the state he was in just before being in the “Have To” space. This is the “Want To” state. Another way of describing this is to ask, if time continued naturally, would would happen right before he got in that state of absolute compulsion?

Then the third step in the process is that he takes another step back, into what Dilts calls the “?” space, which is the state that comes right before the “Want To.” When I first learned this technique, I was very confused as to what the question-mark state was. I didn’t get it — what was this state supposed to accomplish?

The “?” state is what comes right before the “Want To.” So, what is the state, before the state, that leads to the state… of having to do something? We are 2 steps removed from actually being “compelled” to do it, but it is linear — in other words, if we continued to stay in the “?” state long enough, as time progressed we would then move into “Want To” and then to “Have To,” and in fact, for someone with a compulsion, this is exactly what they’ve been doing. Look at the diagram on the NLP Pattern of the Month page for a visual layout of this.

Now the interesting part of the technique is that after getting into the question-mark state, you then have the person take a step to the right, which you establish as the “Choice/Creativity” state. In this space, you elicit a state of choice, where they could choose to continue doing the compulsive behavior, OR they could make another decision which leads them to a better place.

Then what you do, is move the person back and forth between the “?” state and the “Creativity/Choice” state while playing around with the submodalities, so that you “collapse” both of the states and the natural consequence of being in the new, transformed “?” state is that they are pulled more into creativity and choice, and less into the compulsive behavior.

I find this pattern to be very useful for a situation where someone wants to reduce the impact of a particular compulsive behavior, or even to work on lessening the impact of negative internal voices which was another example that was demonstrated in the class.

My challenge to everyone is to go and USE this technique… If you have clients, use it on every client that you can for a week or so, just to drill it into your brain. This will allow you to have a tool bag full of skills, so that if you have a tough client, you can pick exactly the right technique for them and use it skillfully.

This is a great technique. Read both of Dilts’ webpages on it (He has an entire encyclopedia of NLP patterns online), and if you have ANY questions on this … post a response to this article and I’ll do my best to solve anything that is unclear. Have fun!

Hypnosis and NLP

10 Hypnosis Blogs On My Daily Must-Read List

Do you enjoy reading hypnosis blogs?  I think it’s great that hypnotists are blogging about their experiences, although some of them don’t know how to start a blog. If that’s you, then contact me and we’ll talk.

At any rate, here are the Top 10 Blogs that I always find myself reading:

1)  Whats On My Brain Hypnosis Blog

One of the most popular hypnosis blogs on the internet, Whats On My Brain is updated by my good friend Joshua Houghton, who puts all sorts of good content on there. This is probably the blog I check most often. Highly recommended.

2) Life of Brian

Second on the list is this site by Brian David Phillips. This site gets updated probably once a day, and even though the blog does go “off topic” of hypnosis quite a bit, Brian’s worthwhile posts often make up for it.

3) Champion Mind Skills

This is VelvetMallet’s blog, and he posts all sorts of great things on here! Definitely one to check out and put on your RSS feed.

4) (This one is no longer working)

5)  Regression Hypnotherapy Blog

Matt Sison and Randy Shaw’s blog talks about Advanced Hypnotherapy concepts and techniques.

6) (This one is no longer working)

7) (This one is no longer working)

8 ) Dave Sabat’s Exuberance Hypnotherapy

This blog is updated once in a while with some interesting things — the latest post while I am writing this is one on persistence, which I am sure all of us can use in our lives.

9) Success Work Hypnosis

Even though I’ve never met Jeff, this is a pretty cool blog with lots of interesting documents intermixed in. It might appeal more to the “conversational hypnosis” or “persuasion” crowd rather than the clinical hypnotist, though.

10) (This one is no longer working)

And last by not least, Andy Mitchell’s blog contains guest articles and information for professional hypnotists. Andy and I have been friends for some time, and it’s always interesting to see what he comes up with!

That’s it! Did I miss any? Let me know if I did, and your thoughts on how you like these blogs. These are the ones that I read so you should be good in adding all of these to your RSS reader!

Hypnosis and NLP

Three Things Learning Hypnotherapy Taught Me About Living In The Moment

Here are three things that have come about as a result of my learning hypnotherapy (and learning hypnosis). Each one of these things has been a major force in my life, and has provided plenty of changes!

1) Sensory Acuity and Reading Body Language.

I used have a quality that a lot of guys have — which is being totally ignorant about body language. I didn’t know how to distinguish between different “eye codes,” and I wasn’t aware of the differences between confident and non-confident body language.

Through my study of Hypnosis and NLP, I’ve become very acutely aware of these presences, and it’s not because I am “analyzing” the different patterns. One of my friends does this — he will look for clusters of body language cues. I don’t do that. For me, it has become largely unconscious.

Because I am able to tell exactly what is going on, I actually know when the right time is to drop someone’s arm, or the exact intonation I’m going to use with an induction. It helps me to live much more in the moment instead of having to catch up with whatever just happened.

2) Dreams Are The First Step Of Any Outcome

In order to do anything, you have to go inside and make a picture, sound, or feeling. It might not even be consciously noticeable.  What I have found is that by simply making an intention or a dream towards what I want to have happen, my brain rewires itself to meet that goal.

What is really cool is that if my goal is to be in the moment with someone, I can do that. There’s a specific strategy for how to do it, and now it’s just automatic. Learning hypnosis helped me to understand consciously how all of this worked, so that I could trigger it.

3) It’s Okay To RELAX!

While it might be funny to a lot of experienced hypnotists out there, most people do not believe that they can simply decide to relax. They believe you have to do something before it. Hey, I used to think the same thing! Emotions just happen to me, right?

What I know now is that I can simply decide to relax and go with the flow. And I can do it in cool ways! The other day I was doing a hypnosis training, and I did the “Drug of Choice” induction with one of the women.

She wanted to have a “hypnotic joint”. What’s great about this is that she can now feel relaxed and feel pleasurable feelings any time she wants, without breaking any laws or spending any money!

Learning hypnotherapy has taught me that you can relax in the moment, be peaceful about whatever is going on, and feel complete all without effort.

Hypnosis and NLP

How to Meet Up With Other Hypnotists: The Top 5 Ways and Why Your Training in Hypnosis Absolutely Depends On It

There is no doubt about it

Networking, meeting, and knowing other hypnotists when you wish to become better is one of the most  helpful things you can do.

Just yesterday I had a bi-weekly hypnosis lunch here in Washington DC, next week I will be going to a monthly talk that a group here does, and a couple hours from now I am due to talk hypnosis yet again.

It is priceless to attend this type of hypnosis meeting, because you will learn insider information that most people simply are not exposed to. It is akin to getting free training.

Here are the Top 5 Ways to Meet Other Hypnotists:

1)  The Sleepwalkers Organization

In most major  cities, there is a sleepwalkers hypnosis group which you can get in touch with and go to the meetings. Not all of the groups are active (for example, the one here in DC is not very active), but I have had a lot of fun by attending the sleepwalkers meetings and by instructing them.

2)  Groups on allows you to create groups which have local meetings on topics that might interest you. Don’t just look for a “hypnosis meeting” but also “hypnotherapy meetups” and “NLP meetups”.

There’s at least 4 major Meetup groups near me that I could go to that are listed on the site. It happens that I know more than that, but this is a great start.

3) Visit Hypnosis Communities and Groups

Oftentimes with a simple search on a community site (such as, you can find people locally who are practicing in your same area. When you get active in discussions and post your name and location, you are announcing for the world to come and find you.

Also participate in groups such as the HypnosisTechniqueExchange, where you will not only find great information, but by posting your location you will attract the attention of others near you. You could even do an introductory post asking people to introduce you to other hypnotists!

4) Call up any practicing hypnotists in the area and introduce yourself.

This can be very effective. It may seem scary at first, and some hypnotists may be off-putting on even talking to you, but MOST hypnotists will be more than glad to help you out and become friends with you.

Offer to buy them lunch and find out about them. You will be surprised at the high-level responses you get. Whenever someone calls me in this way, I am always VERY impressed.

5) If no groups exist, create one.

This is how I started up The Hypnosis Club, which turned into the biggest hypnosis group in my area during college. I’ll never forget the first time we got 20 people to come to a hypnosis seminar in a near-by hotel. It was an experience, and because I had put so much publicity out about it, a professional stage hypnotist (Hypnotic Blaze) decided to drive down and do a show for us.

Are you ready to lead up your own events? This is the way to go. When you get a regular amount of people coming to the group, you can sponsor professional trainers to come and do trainings there. I’ve flown across the country just because someone took the time to start up a group and followed through with it!

Whatever the way that you meet up with others, it is very important to get out there and start learning techniques. You will grow much faster, and I have learned tons from my friends who are hypnotists, completely free of charge.