Bob Lieberman's Blog

Commentary and Tools For Empowering Change

Still Hypnotized?

Our beliefs influence our perceptions, and we see what we want to see. I think most of us believe that. We assume that the influence is solely psychological – that our bodies have the real physical experience, and we just (unconsciously) choose to ignore it.

But what of hypnosis? Can psychology alone account for someone acting like a dog? Well, now we have a neurological study of hypnosis that sheds some light on that question. To paraphrase the study's conclusion, hypnotic suggestion causes a part of your brain to butt in on the process that normally makes your body move.

The study is about beliefs affecting your ability to move, but it implies that your beliefs can butt in to any of your physical processes – movement, sensation, and thinking. And if your beliefs affect your ability to think, imagine how capable you'd be if you could discard the ones that impair it and choose only those that improved it.

Well, actually you can.

Start by observing which of your beliefs are operative in the present moment. Observation practice is a form of mindfulness that is very powerful. For example, if you were at work you might discover that you have beliefs about about what is appropriate behavior, what accomplishments are possible, what is important, and what is not.

Be specific in your observations. Then reflect on the beliefs you discover. Check them against reality. Offer humorous or perverse replacements just for fun.

There's no need to justify or defend yourself, no pride to protect, and no outcome to seek. Just observe. The more you can let go of ego and ambition while doing this, the freer you can be to fully appreciate, accept, and explore your beliefs. And by knowing them in that way, you'll gain control over them, reversing the balance of power that keeps you from realizing your full potential.

Byron Katie's book I Need Your Love – Is That True? suggests that you use this technique in your relationships to people, but it also works in your relationship to tasks and to the work environment. So try it! You may find it's the beginning of your creative awakening.