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What Exactly Is Hypnosis?

Although there are many definitions, in basic terms, hypnosis is a process which produces relaxation, distraction of the conscious mind, heightened suggestibility and increased awareness, allowing access to the subconscious mind through the imagination. It also produces the ability to experience thoughts and images as real.

In order for the process to be effective, there are two components which must be present:  Belief and Expectation.

Belief  + Expectation = Hypnosis

A belief is a guiding principle that gives direction and meaning to life. Our beliefs form the basis for our perceptions of the world. When we believe something or believe in something, we are delivering a message to the brain about what is occurring. The brain then orders the body how to respond. Beliefs have great powers in our lives.

Expectation is like a self-fulfilling prophecy. The expectation of an event changes our behavior in such a way to make the event more likely to happen.

Therefore, if a person has the belief that he CAN be hypnotized and the expectation that he WILL be hypnotized, then he will be hypnotized – every time.


There are many myths and misconceptions about hypnosis. Here are just a few:

Myth of the Weak Mind 

Incredibly, there still exists a pervasive belief that only the weak-minded and/or gullible can be hypnotized. Actually, quite the opposite is true. People of above average intelligence who are capable of concentrating and those who have active, vivid imaginations make the best hypnotic subjects. 

Fear of Revealing Secrets 

Many still think that if they are hypnotized that they have no choice but to obey the commands given to them, and that they might “spill the beans” on deep, dark secrets. In truth, the hypnotist/subject relationship is anything but a power relationship. The only “power” lies in the mind of the subject because in hypnosis, he has greater awareness than when he is fully awake, and he completely retains his powers of selectivity. His secrets are secure.

Fear of Loss of Control

“I don’t want anyone to control my mind!”

This is a classic fear that, like the others, stems from past negative and false images. A hypnotized subject is in full control of himself, fully aware of the environment and completely capable of making decisions. If a subject is presented with an idea or suggestion that he finds objectionable in full consciousness, rest assured he will find it equally objectionable in hypnosis and can reject it outright. You cannot be made to do anything against your morals or values while in a hypnotic state. The subject is always the one in control.

Fear of Being “Knocked Out” or Unconscious 

One of the biggest barriers many people have in experiencing hypnosis is their expectation that they’ll be “asleep” during the process.  Sometimes people will say, “I don’t think I was hypnotized because I could hear every word you said.”  Of course you can hear every word! You are never asleep in hypnosis – in fact, you will be acutely aware of everything that is going on around you! Your attention is actually much more focused in hypnosis than in the normal waking state. The only “feeling” of being hypnotized is the feeling of total and complete relaxation, similar to a day-dreaming state…something to look forward to!

Fear of Not Waking Up 

Again, HYPNOSIS IS NOT SLEEP! The two states, (sleep and hypnosis) are different both psychologically and physiologically. Although I regularly use the terms “wake up” or “wide awake,” it is technically inappropriate terminology. A person just does not “get stuck” in a hypnotic state. It can’t happen. What might happen, though, is that he may enjoy the relaxed state so much that he does not want to come back to full waking consciousness just yet! He will either 1) come out on his own in a very short time, or 2) he will fall into a natural sleep (if he’s doing this at nighttime) until he wakes up naturally.

Feel free to hit “reply” to this newsletter and send me any questions you may have about the state of hypnosis. I’d be happy to answer those questions!

Until next time,

Connie Kvilhaug, Cert. Hypnotist
Mindset Trainer/Coach