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OTHER ITA SITES:
Agatha Christie Was A Hypnotist? The Power of Story Telling Part 1
This week I learned even more about my beloved field of hypnosis: Agatha Christies work has been identified as being extremely hypnotic!
Stories are brilliantly powerful and a most engaging way to communicate.
Pretty much every culture, religion and tradition has storytelling as a teaching component, many traditions pass their history on through stories. I remember hosting a story telling evening with a wonderful man from the Chippa-Waa Cree nation, he is a metis from a nomadic shamanic tribe in Canada.
He learned his peopleís history in stories, he also learned about life and humour through stories, he laughed and cried at stories told by his elders each evening in much the same way that I laughed and cried in front of the TV as a youngster!
Parables from the bible are another wonderful example;
I can remember that following a truly brilliant training course I attended by here in Bournemouth that I had a very problematic client who was extremely difficult and I had concerns about. I discussed this with the trainer and he told me one or two stories, one of which was a parable from the bible. He did not tell me directly what he thought I should do, rather, he guided me through stories and metaphor and it helped wonderfully.
In addition to bible parables, we can look at Sufi stories, fairy tales, Native American storytelling, Norse sagas, Indian Puranas (stories of wisdom), childrenís fables - they all have stories as an integral part of them.
These arenít just random stories. Theyíre often used to teach people valuable moral principles and life lessons. And theyíre stories designed to have a specific effect upon the listener.
Why do they work so well? They work because they engage both the conscious mind (the linear, sequential mind) and the unconscious mind (the emotional, symbolic mind). A story has both a linear, logical sequence and emotional and symbolic content. Engaging the mind at both the levels is an extremely powerful way to communicate. Imagine how that can develop rapport, enhance relationships, increase sales and much more.
This brings me on nicely to my main topic today. A metaphor is also a story. A metaphor is a covertly hypnotic way of talking about something without talking about it. Let me explain that:
"Never try to teach your pet dog to sing. It wastes your time and irritates your dog."
If you wanted to get the message across to someone that they were going to a lot of effort that would only result in problems and frustration, you might use the dog quote. Firstly, it is a more gentle way of introducing an idea. It is much softer than saying "Youíre just wasting your time. Donít bother doing it." Itís softer because youíre talking about something without talking about it directly. Do you see what I mean?
Equally, I tend to open my speaking events with stories about myself and my experiences. If I were to stand up and say: "hello everyone, I am Adam Eason and I am windswept and interesting and extremely funny!"
That would make me look full of myself, conceited and ridiculous (Even if it is all true!!). I have job enough trying to make sure I donít appear that way! If instead, I decide to mention an incident that happened to me while speaking in Dubai last year that I responded to in a witty way, then it shows me to be well-travelled, quick witted, successful and other things, without me having to actually spell those traits out to my audience.
Both of my books to date open with chapters telling a story from my life to illustrate a point and introduce myself and my take on the subject. That is how important I think stories are to our communication.
Why is it then, that I think metaphors and stories are so Powerful?
In order to explain why metaphors and stories are so powerful, letís get into the roles of the different parts of the mind. (For a fuller understanding of this, read my article Hypnosis Explained)
Part of the role of the conscious mind is to analyze incoming information to determine whether or not the incoming information agrees with your current beliefs, behaviour patterns and attitudes.
When new information disagrees with current beliefs, the new information is often ignored or rejected. We call this part of the mind the critical factor.
When youíre using metaphors, telling stories or using other covert hypnotic language, we donít want the personís conscious defence systems and resistance to be activated. One way to make sure we successfully avoid this trap is to avoid activating the critical factor.
If we avoid the critical factor; the analytical, reasoning, evaluating, judging part of the mind is subsequently relaxed, allowing new information and ideas to more easily enter the subconscious/unconscious mind, with less emphasis on previously held beliefs.
When the critical factor is inactive, new ideas are accepted more easily.
When the critical factor is relaxed and the mind of the listener is fully engaged by a story, we can get the same results that a good hypnotherapist achieves in their office!
In short, a good compelling story puts a person in a trance state; it keeps the critical factor out of the way and gets them concentrating powerfully on an idea. The unconscious mind recognizes the parallels between the story and the listenerís life and applies the lessons of the metaphor or story.
There are lots of ways to either bypass the critical factor or avoid it in everyday life. For example, people often suspend their judgement in favor of an authority figureís judgment. I know I would believe everything my doctor, Dad or early school teachers told me as a young man. Things they told me I just accepted as the truth without thinking; this is bypassing the critical factor.
Daydreaming and hypnosis are other ways that we bypass the critical factor intentionally. Becoming involved in a story is a natural way to bypass the mindís critical factor.
As you all know, my first love is hypnosis. One famous definition of hypnosis is: The bypass of the critical factor of the mind and the establishment of acceptable selective thinking. Let me explain how metaphor and stories, conversationally, can accomplish the same thing.
I have mentioned the critical factor bypass but whatís acceptable selective thinking?
Well, selective thinking occurs when a person concentrates fully on an idea. A stage hypnotist might ask a person to concentrate on the idea that a raw onion tastes as good as an apple. (That does make me laugh to think about!) A hypnotherapist might ask a client to focus on the idea that theyíre accomplishing a personal development goal. With the critical factor out of the equation, the unconscious mind concentrates on those ideas so completely that they become the subjectís reality!
What can get in the way? When the subject doesnít want to do it! If they donít want to accomplish the goal (or eat an onion!), their critical factor may be activated and then fight the suggestion. Thatís one reason it is known as acceptable selective thinking.
So, how do we keep the critical factor out of the way and at the same time get someone concentrating powerfully on an idea?
A powerful, compelling story (a metaphor) does just that. The critical factor does not get activated because youíre not talking about them! Yet the unconscious mind gets involved emotionally. In other words, the mind concentrates on the ideas presented in the metaphor (acceptable selective thinking). The unconscious mind is also a lot better than the conscious mind at spotting symbolism. So, if a metaphor is symbolic of a situation in a personís life, the person will relate the story to their situation. You donít even have to consciously point it out! Their unconscious mind does that for you! Cool eh?
Coming up, I am going to explain how to design your own metaphors, when and how to use them and much more. Look out for that article (part 2) very soon.
For now, think about your own stories from your own life; when did you overcome great odds to achieve something? What is something really self-deprecating or humorous that happened to you? Describe a time when someone you know acted with great kindness to you. I will tell you how to use these stories to enhance your communication, develop better relationships and create more success in your life in that next article.
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