By Susanna Sweeney, MSC, MBACP, CHT
Most people understand hypnosis for habit change to be one of the most popular uses of hypnosis.
But what is a habit?
A habit is understood to be a behaviour that occurs frequently, acquired through repetition and based on fixed ways of thinking and feeling.
People commonly understand cigarette smoking to fall into this category. Emotional eating is viewed in the same light. So is procrastination. So is nail biting. And often, alcohol addiction is, too. Clearly, these are all issues of different magnitude.
Therefore, what I want to do in this article is pull them apart and then set realistic expectations of what you can hope to achieve by using different types of hypnosis programs.
A key point I want to make here is this: In reality, what is a bad habit, and what is an addiction? Often, I think, people call things a ‘bad habit’ because it sounds better. On average, people want to feel like they are okay, and find it hard to admit when something more serious is going wrong in their lives.
For example, cigarette smoking being a ‘bad habit’ sounds so much better than cigarette smoking being a psychological addiction.
The thing is, the transition from habit to addiction is probably fluid here. There is no hard, clear cut delineation.
Some substances and some behaviors are more addictive than others- that’s one factor. And there are individual differences- some people are more prone to becoming addicted than others. This can be based on genetic factors as well as on underlying trauma.
Use these pointers now to form a realistic picture of your bad habit. Do so with total honesty to yourself, while at the same time being really gentle and compassionate with yourself. There is no judgement! You have these issues for a reason.
Write your findings down in a notebook or stick them on a note on your fridge. Now you are ready to develop realistic expectations of bad habits hypnosis.
None of this is to say that you cannot benefit from hypnosis to cure bad habits. It’s just that I would encourage you to form realistic expectations.
Now that you have a clearer picture of your ‘bad habit’, consider what different types of hypnotherapeutic interventions can do for you:
If you purchase a self hypnosis recording for changing your bad habit, you are getting a voice recording you can play to yourself at home daily while relaxing. Self hypnosis done in this way is great brain food. It can produce great results for you.
Consider that you may need more than one session to break that bad habit. Factors for higher rates of success here are the same as for the individual session.
Can you break bad habits with hypnosis? Hypnosis, by either changing your brain state or by interrupting your usual thinking pattern and opening up new options, can be a powerful intervention.
There is a lot of anecdotal evidence for hypnosis for habit change working well for people who want to stop smoking, for example. You will likely have heard success stories in your circle of acquaintances. Hypnosis for habit change works. But does it work equally as quickly and reliably for everyone, for every habit and in every situation?
In reality, no therapy can do that. Whatever method you use, your results will always depend on what you bring to it, how much you engage with it, how much you engage with it and how well you like it, among other things. That seems straightforward logic when looking at most therapies, unfortunately with hypnotherapy, hypnosis myths prevail a lot of the time and lead to unrealistic expectations.
If you take up hypnotherapy with a miracle expectation that your issue will be solved in one session, in most cases, you will end up setting yourself up for failure.
Follow the steps above and start by evaluating your ‘habit’ realistically. Most importantly, is there a chance there may be underlying issues? If so, don’t contend yourself with hypnosis for habit change, but rather address the underlying cause and make breaking your bad habits the starting point for changing your life.
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