English: Brain on hypnosis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Self Hypnosis techniques are pretty useful to substitute healthy habits to bad ones. As I said in another article habits can be seen as a kind of highways of the mind, a preferred road to answer to a stimulus so creating a better road is the best way to drop the old one.
We can’t leave the Subconscious without instructions. Conditioning define habits as a conditioned response, something that due to a strong experience or constant repetition becomes an automatic answer, or an automated behavior. And many Self Hypnosis techniques aim at changing habits modifying this automatic response.
The wonderful thing about conditioning and conditioned response is that as well as habits are learned throughout experience they can be substituted or abandoned for something better. It is definitely possible to substitute healthy habits to unhealthy or bad ones. Pavlov, the father of conditioning, found out that it was possible to match a stimulus with a different response than the natural one but also that, and this is the most important thing in the field of self improvement, if for a while this match isn’t repeated then the conditioning fades away and the original response comes back.
Using as an example again the woman who scratches herself: before developing the OCD disorder she had a different way to deal with stress like having a walk, cycling or whatever. Then at a certain point she developed scratching herself as a way to discharge tensions and release stress so now her habit is that anytime she feels nervous she scratches herself, sometimes simply to feel better. Her conditioned response to tension is scratching. Somewhere there is an anchor between feeling good and scratching.
But let’s not forget that scratching brings pleasure in itself as a physical act. It might be that the anchor was established because once she was stressed and feeling an itch at the same time scratching herself she found out that together with the physical itch also the mental tension was released and in a snap the anchor was established and being reinforced anytime she scratched herself now the habit of scratching to release tensions is established. It’s just a theory but it’s probably correct.
So, to summarize, scratching is the habit, the conditioned response and the anchor to feel better. Now, to substitute healthy habits to bad ones there are two ways: one is trying to break the bad habit, maybe digging to find the reasons for developing it, and another one is substituting it with a healthy one. I would go for the second one using both the Conscious and the Subconscious to develop a healthy habit to deal with stress and tensions through a Self Hypnosis technique.
That is I would use affirmations to create a positive conditioned response. Now, the reason why I strongly advocate the use of positive suggestions is that focusing on a single sentence has much better chances to substitute a highway to another one. A lot of talking and useless words instead just dilute the message we want to send to the Subconscious. That’s why affirmations are one of the best Self Hypnosis techniques, they are easy to use and extremely effective. And remember, when something gets automated we are into the realm of the Subconscious mind.
Using affirmations through the Conscious mind we aim at establishing healthy habits in the Subconscious as answers to stimuli; we create a new track for the mind to follow in order to quit using the highway. I hope I’m being clear enough. Now I’ll give you an example of affirmations to use to substitute bad habits; use them if they sound correct to you, drop me a line through the contact page if you need something different.
How to develop healthy habits:
- Affirmation 1: I can easily and safely release any stress and tension during my dreams at night. This begins to prepare you to have another way to release tension than the bad habit. It might cause nightmares sometimes but nightmares can’t hurt you. Given that dreams are the realm of the Subconscious and that habits and emotions lay there too it makes sense to let the Subconscious deal with them.
- Affirmation 2: Any time I’m going to …. (put here the specific habit you’re addressing) I am instantly aware of it. (This way you can prevent the unwanted habit remain automatic and begin taking control again of your behavior).
- Affirmation 3: Taking ten deep breaths immediately and safely releases any tension and stress. Deep breathing is a kind of complete holistic healing technique in itself and by its nature totally relaxing. You simply can’t feel stressed while deep breathing and can find some instructions on my article about an Easy Deep Breathing Technique.
- Affirmation 4: Any time I feel tension rising (you can substitute this with your unwanted habit as in Affirmation 2) I immediately take ten deep and relaxing breaths (imagining calm entering you as you breath in and relax flowing everywhere as you breath out). This gives you a different way to deal with stress and creates the new track we are looking for. This is the new anchor and conditioned response we want to create so that any time tension is rising it’s automatically released through breathing. Something that you can do everywhere and every time.
Begin with affirmation 1, once it gets established move to the second and on until the end. They will get established if you are committed and stick to using them everyday and possibly more than once a day. The trick with affirmations is to stick until they work and they will.
Final step: remember to add emotions to every affirmation by imagining, while repeating it, that it really takes effect. That is to say while repeating the affirmation 4 try to visualize, or imagine to, that when stressed just by taking ten deep breaths you become completely relaxed. The key to use the power of the Subconscious is to use Imagination.
That’s it, this is how you can develop healthy habits and drop bad ones. It won’t happen overnight but as well as you, and only you, created the bad habit you and only you can create a new good one. Keep in mind that a conditioned response can be created or deleted and stick to your affirmations practice until they work.
Because affirmations well written always work, you just have to use them until they do. They are one of the most important Self Hypnosis techniques for their reliability and efficiency but you must be consistent and use them until you get your desired outcome.
If you have developed a bad conditioned response than you can surely develop a positive one, right?
What’s your opinion?