Psychological Self-Help

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time. Dwell on those images...then add to the images...a helium
balloon might be attached to the left arm by a soft ribbon and it is
gently lifting that arm higher and higher into the air. On the right arm
there is a bookstrap and several heavy books are pulling it
down...further and further down. After imagining this for a minute or
so, open your eyes and see how far your hands have actually moved.
Six inches or more is not unusual but an inch or two makes the point
that thoughts influence behavior. 
Consider some other factors about hypnosis. It should be an
interesting experience and it may be helpful. However, if you have had
a bad experience with hypnosis, you should not use this method by
yourself. If you expect magical, instant, major changes, like a cure for
cancer or a new personality, forget it. Yet, pain can be lessened and
new attitudes learned. Also, you can get started on a diet or quitting
smoking, but one hypnotic session isn't all you need. 
You may wonder if you will be able to respond, e.g. to a telephone
or the door, while hypnotized or if you will remember what happened.
The answers to both are yes. You can come out of it at any time. Is
hypnosis like sleep? No, you know what is going on (although it is easy
to fall asleep while so relaxed). If you fall asleep, don't be concerned,
just take a nap. You won't do anything weird, like with a stage
hypnotist, because you are in control. You won't hurt yourself although
a warning is in order: very rarely a person trying hypnosis for the
first time will have a reaction that alarms or scares them, such as
going into a trance state very quicky (within a minute or so) or having
some fantasy or sensory experience they didn't expect. My advice to a
person having such a reaction is to stop trying to use this method,
unless one seeks the services of a professional with hypnotic
experience. Much of the effects of self-hypnosis is due to expectations
or placebo or suggestion; therefore, only use hypnosis if you believe it
can be helpful and safe. 
Decide if you want to use self-hypnosis and what you want to use it for.
Before trying self-hypnosis, you may want to do some reading or
talk to a friend or a professional. But in the kind of experiences I will
suggest you try, there are no more dangers than in using other self-
help methods. As suggested under purposes above, hypnosis is best
used with (a) problems that primarily concern only you, not your
spouse or boss or family, (b) recent problems, (c) problems that
involve your feelings (e.g. anxiety), not your performance (take a
speech class if you want to be a more skillful speaker), and (d)
problems that can be helped by new cognitions--thoughts, attitudes or
images--not problems requiring insight or new knowledge. 
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