Find a quiet, private place. Don't schedule anything for 20 minutes.
If you are interrupted, you can answer the phone or the door, but it
may be better to turn off the phone and ignore a knock. Have your
self-instructions prepared. Go through the entire routine, just as you
planned it, even though you don't believe you are truly hypnotized or
deeply into the visualization. Try to develop a routine so you will have
the experience at the same time each day. Be patient, it takes time to
learn any new skill. Measure your progress.
A couple of hours will be needed to plan and prepare the procedure
you want to use. Since the effects of hypnosis and visualization are
frequently short-lived, you need to schedule a 20-minute session
every day. To give self-hypnosis a fair trial, expect to use it daily for at
least a month.
As with meditation, some people expect too much too fast from
hypnosis or mental imagery. So, guard against premature
disappointment or excessive expectations. Likewise, some people
wanting instant "magic" resist having to write a script and make a
tape. Such people should seek a hypnotist.
Occasionally, you may become so relaxed that you fall asleep. No
problem. In fact, if you feel you have lost control for any reason in
self-hypnosis, simply relax and wake up using the counting procedure
or just go to sleep and wake up naturally.
Effectiveness, advantages and dangers
The evidence for the effectiveness of hypnosis is mostly in clinical
reports. Clinical cases make it clear that some people are helped, but
it is hard to know what percentage of the general population would
respond satisfactorily to hypnosis. Soskis (1986) estimates that only
about 10% of us are able to use hypnosis to avoid intense pain, as in
surgery or childbirth. The fact is that the effectiveness of self-hypnosis
suggestions, such as those given above, has not been objectively
evaluated and compared to other methods. You will just have to try it
and find out how well it works for you. Be objective.
An additional problem is that scientists have not yet separated the
effects of hypnosis from the accompanying suggestion or placebo
effects. If we think a method will work, it probably will. For example,
Theodore Barber (1969) has found that a simple request without any
hypnosis can produce remarkable changes, e.g. making one hand
warmer and the other colder or changing heart rate. It isn't clear how
the body does these things but it can be done without hypnosis.