Hypnosis for Habit Change

A Starting Point for Changing Your Life

By Susanna Sweeney, MSC, MBACP, CHT

Most people understand hypnosis for habit change to be one of the most popular uses of hypnosis.  

hypnosis for habit changeSome examples for 'bad habits' people attend hypnosis for habit change for.

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.

The Difference Between a Bad Habit and an Addiction

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. 

Evaluate Your ‘Bad Habit’

When evaluating the issue or ‘bad habit’ that you want to change, consider the following factors:

  • How long has this ‘habit’ dominated your life?
  • How dangerous is this ‘habit’ for your health?
  • How physically addictive is the substance you have developed a ‘habit’ for?
  • Are you using this ‘bad habit’ to manage other underlying emotional or traumatic issues such as, for example, anxiety?
  • On a scale from zero to ten, with ten being the worst your particular habit or addiction could play out, and zero being an absence of that habit or addiction, being completely honest with yourself, where would you rate yourself right now?

The rule of thumb is that:

  • The longer you have had a ‘habit’, the more ingrained it will be.
  • The more you are using it to manage the underlying symptoms of trauma, the harder it will be to drop without dismantling the traumatic encoding alongside habit management.
  • The more physically addictive the substance or behavior is that you are engaging with, the harder it will be to drop the ‘habit’.
  • And the more dangerous the ‘habit’ is to your health, the more urgent it is that you deal with it! (Deep down you probably know this very well...)

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.

Realistic Expectations of Hypnosis for Habit Change

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:

A self hypnosis program for habit change

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. 

Your chances of getting great results are higher if:

  • The program also gives you a workbook alongside that engages you conscious mind and gets you to learn things/ evaluate your life and your habit more deeply.
  • You have the self discipline and motivation to engage with this every day- until you get a result.
  • Your bad habit does not cover underlying trauma or emotional issues.

hypnosis for habit change

A once-off hypnosis session

If you attend a hypnotist once, for habit change only, your chances of success are higher if:

  • You have a good rapport with the practitioner which means you can trust them and you like how they work
  • You choose a hypnotist who does NOT work with scripts, but engages with you actively throughout the session, for example through NLP or hypnosis for permanent rapid change.
  • You really do not have any underlying issues.
  • If you accept that there are or may be underlying issues and are open to them coming up so that they can be cleared.
  • You have worked on the underlying issues already.

A more comprehensive hypnosis program

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.

In Summary: Can you Break bad Habits with Hypnosis?

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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