Avoid hypnosis pitfalls

Learning Hypnosis? Avoid The Biggest Pitfall

learning hypnosisI see it over and over again in classes I teach. There’s one mistake that, more than any other, gets in the way of folks effectively learning hypnosis or NLP. What is it and how do you avoid it?

It’s an attitude and a form of self-suggestion.

You see, the thing is, hypnosis is a great learning state. And when a teacher talks about hypnosis, in order to understand what he or she is talking about, you search inside your mind for what it must be like. It’s similar to times when a friend is telling you about a time when they were really excited and you get excited with them.

How The Mind Understands

In order to understand experiences, we search through our own similar experiences. In doing so, we often activate those experiences and the feelings that go with them in ourselves. It’s the same reason we may feel tension when a character we identify with in a movie is in a dangerous situation. It’s the same concept we use when we use metaphor to elicit states in a client.

Why is that a problem in a hypnosis or NLP class? One word — conditioning.


In school, many of us have been trained to pay attention and maintain focus. There is little recognition that a wandering mind, or staring off into space, or moving your body can be valid learning experiences. “Sit down, don’t move, and quit doodling on your notepad. Are you even listening?”

There’s a growing body of scientific evidence that we are paying attention, even when we’re not paying conscious attention. As one example, in an article, Improving What You Know Without Knowing It, they take a look at how the information that’s made available to our senses, when we’re not paying attention to it, is available to us when we make decisions. In other words, we learn, even when we’re not aware we’re learning or consciously focused on the subject.

Integrated, Whole-Mind Learning For Learning Hypnosis

And in my experience, learning hypnosis and NLP is deepest, fastest and most integrated when both conscious and unconscious learning takes place. Those two types of learning are good for different things and each adds to the richness of the experience. A good hypnosis instructor will recognize when conscious attention is not present and teach to it. We may even deliberately create a lack of focus in order to facilitate a particular type of unconscious learning.

So, what’s the mistake I see over and over again?

Well, when people’s minds wander in hypnosis class, sometimes they suggest to themselves that they’re not learning anything. It goes something like this…

  • They suddenly realize they don’t remember anything the instructor has said for the past ten minutes.
  • The internally say, “Gee, I guess I didn’t get that. I’m not very good at this stuff, maybe I’m not good enough to do it.”
  • Their mind (being in a suggestible state) takes those suggestions as hypnotic suggestions.

Here’s What To Do

Don’t do that! Instead, do this…

When you find yourself coming back to conscious, focused attention, suggest something else to yourself. “I wonder what I learned unconsciously?” If you don’t trust your instructor, get another.

If you trust your instructor, trust that they know when conscious and unconscious instruction is best.

Suggest that you are both consciously and unconsciously building a nice, solid, rich foundation for learning and the details are pouring into that foundation in multiple ways and via multiple states.


About The Author:

Keith Livingston is the main instructor for Hypnosis 101. Keith has been studying hypnosis since he was a boy and doing hypnosis & NLP training since 1997.

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