Add as bookmark

Can I Be Hypnotized?

by Sally Stubbs(more info)

listed in holistic psychotherapy, originally published in issue 203 - February 2013

“Can I be hypnotized?” is a question which I’ve been asked countless times over the past 30 years. The question is often followed with: “I can’t be hypnotized, I’ve tried it….”

My first simple answer is: Yes you can. And you have, unwittingly, been ‘hypnotized’ at certain times in your life. The ‘state’ of hypnosis is when, basically, our unconscious mind is available - to our self to explore - and - our unconscious mind is available for others to impact.

Caan I Be Hypnotized?
“I always carry it around with me. It’s like a big heavy coat with a big heavy hood - it weighs me down -
it makes me stoop.  The coat is black and heavy, heavy. It does have a bright red
light shiny lining - like satin. But the black heavy coat and hood completely encase me and no one can see my
bright light shininess. No one can see me; I’m like a stooped broken figure."

So, pretty much all of us have been in the ‘state’ of hypnosis, particularly in the time of our life from the age of around two, to the age of around fourteen or so, and important adults have impacted our unconscious with ‘their’ beliefs and behaviours. Some of ‘their’ beliefs and behaviours will impact us positively and some will, more than likely, have impacted us negatively. The effects of this can remain with us throughout our life.

Here is a simple example of what I am saying:

An important adult in our childhood impacts our unconscious with: You are beautiful. Their behaviour is consistent: they look at us with adoring looks, they cuddle and cherish us, they speak the words, “….you are beautiful”. And so we grow in life with a certainty and confidence in our inner beauty.

The same important adult in our childhood impacts our unconscious with: You must be quiet (or you will be in big trouble). You must not speak up (or you will be in big trouble). You must not say NO! to staying over at grandmas, you must not say NO! to eating disgusting sprouts (or there will be big trouble).

And so part of our persona that wants and needs to speak and needs to say NO! withdraws deep into the unconscious mind in a state of fear; we have to acquiesce because we rely on this important adult for our physical survival. We withdraw; and as we progress through life, part of our persona remains ‘withdrawn’ unable to speak up, unable to say NO!, because the fear remains impacting our unconscious, a ‘marker’ throughout our life.

I will just add here that the fear that the child we were experienced was originally a protective mechanism; the fear, paradoxically wanted to stop us from speaking up and saying NO! - because if we do, speak up, say NO!, the adult might abandon us - and we will not survive abandonment. Or, the adult, with looks and sighs, will let us know we are responsible for causing them ‘pain’ and we cannot carry such a responsibility; it is far too crushing for us when we are little.

Then, later in life, we go and consult a hypnotist when the nervousness and panic in our stomach, or chest, or heart or throat, at the very thought of speaking up or saying NO! finally overwhelms us. We go in the hope that the hypnotist will make us calm and confident, and get rid of the nervousness and panic.

My second simple answer to the question, (and we will be exploring the question in more depth), “Can I be hypnotized?” “What if I can’t be hypnotized, I’ve tried it….”

is:  “Mostly, I sincerely hope that you will resist being hypnotized!”

A person in a therapeutic state of hypnosis is in a ‘state’ where they can communicate correctly with their unconscious mind. Whereas a hypnotist is attempting to instruct another person’s unconscious to do something. This being hypnotized is not, (or is very rarely) lastingly therapeutic.

Absolutely everyone can, and does enter a state of hypnosis naturally several times a day, spontaneously, without the aid of a hypnotist. Milton H Erickson has been called the most influential hypnotherapist of our time. Dr Milton Erickson would sit with his patients and guide this natural state to occur. To you, in your daily life, the state feels like day dreaming.

Why would I say, when I am a practising hypnotherapist (and psychotherapist)

 “Mostly, I sincerely hope that you will resist being hypnotized!”

I say this because when someone is being hypnotized by another person - the person, the hypnotist, is in the power position, is in control.

And the whole deal about hypnotherapy and psychotherapy is that a person who is suffering a psychological, emotional, or psychosomatic symptom discovers and releases their own unconscious power. A person suffering with a symptom needs to differentiate, within their own unconscious, a problem state where their own inner power, resources, strengths and freedom to comfortably be them selves became ‘stuck’.

David Grove made one of thee most life changes statements I’ve ever heard: “The symptom is the solution; it is searching for the problem”.

My hope is that you will take a few moments to just wonder about this statement.

So a state of hypnosis will occur naturally when a hypnotherapist is utilizing the correct and elegant language.  This language communicates with the unconscious mind and assists the individual’s unconscious to communicate with the problem and the individual’s unconscious solutions to the problem.

Let’s consider the child who was in a state of hypnosis, just to recap - hypnosis is a state when the unconscious mind was/is ‘open’ to be impacted by others, (which for young children is most of the time!). The important adult impacted their unconscious with: you must not speak up - you must be quiet - you must not say NO!

The child’s fear of speaking up and saying NO! remains into adult life as a protective mechanism. The ‘child’ within the unconscious will not respond to: “Be calm be confident - you can say NO!” from a hypnotist. The child however will communicate their own needs to bring about solutions and resolutions.

Here, for your interest is a wonderful case study of a client named Annie (not her real name).

Did I ever hypnotize her? No, not once!  Did Annie go into a natural state of hypnosis or trance? Yes, with my guidance she did, and Annie discovered her own unique solutions and resolutions to her symptoms and resolved her problems.

Annie’s Story

Annie had been suffering complex symptoms for many years. She told me that her (unconscious) mind had been cloaked and buried beneath dark, heavy fears.

The ‘fire’ in her had almost died, yet Annie had the great courage to keep discovering some ‘fuel’ from hope to keep the fading ‘embers’ of her life force alight. Annie told me she felt her ‘bones’ were almost totally without substance. She put great effort into maintaining her good humour and creativity.

When Annie first came to work with me she told me that she felt almost utterly lifeless, as though her ‘life force’ had, over the past eight years, finally just drained away. She could walk, albeit it slowly, but felt as though her young, thirty year old body was almost paralysed. She had spent most of those eight years before I met her practically living on the sofa.

Annie and I worked intently together over a number of weeks but Annie had a sense of trepidation about trusting the stirring of energy in her body. What if she trusted and was wrong; she couldn’t bear being wrong. Eight years prior to my meeting Annie, and to me having the great privilege to work with her, she had been in a seriously abusive relationship. She and her partner had been sharing a flat together; she told me that he had drained her of every last ‘molecule’ of her sense of self.

Then one day, as she was summoning some last vestige of energy to walk away from the relationship, she had an experience of vertigo which terrified her, and from that moment she had hardly slept for more than an hour or so at a time. Together she and I discovered the deep inherent logic behind her not sleeping, and that was; if she kept her eyes open she could ascertain that her world was not spinning out of control, as during the first terrifying attack of vertigo.

By the time Annie knocked at my door asking for my help, she was suffering not only chronic lack of sleep, attacks of vertigo, debilitating tinnitus, coeliac disease and anaemia; the poor girl also had cancer. I so respect Annie and her efforts in her life.

As Annie and I worked intently towards her goal; “To have energy to be healthy and be as fresh as a daisy,” she had an Epiphany.

Annie said “I’ve been trying to visualize having energy, being healthy and as fresh as a daisy.  But, I’m finding it really hard to make the image; the image just keeps disappearing.”

My next question was a stroke of genius and that genius came, not directly from me, but from the teachings and work of my great teacher and mentor David Grove.

I asked: “And, when you are finding it really hard to make the image how do you know that you are finding it really hard?” Annie responded immediately, her story pouring from her; “This is important, to get the image right, and if I try to do something important I will fail. I feel a failure. I feel I am no good. I feel I am not good enough. When something important has to be done, it has to be done correctly and I never trust myself to do it right. So, I don’t try to do it.

If I do try I will fail!

So, I don’t try for fear of failing! At school and at college I was always hiding in the background. At work I always wanted someone else to do whatever was important. If I tried I believed I would fail.

So, I didn’t try for fear of failing.”

This information was key to Annie’s healing journey - her - ‘I’m not good enough – fear of failing’.

I asked Annie; “And when you have the feeling of not being good enough, and when you have a fear of failing whereabouts inside of you or around you do you have these feelings?”

Annie answered, a flow of consciousness;

“I always carry it around with me.

It’s like a big heavy coat with a big heavy hood - it weighs me down - it makes me stoop. It exhausts me.

The hood covers the whole of my head; I can barely see.

The coat is black and heavy, heavy.

It does have a bright red light shiny lining - like satin. But the black heavy coat and hood completely encase me and no one can see my bright light shininess.

No one can see me; I’m like a stooped broken figure. The heaviness of it has built up over all the years; it has got heavier and heavier. I can never rest; even when I lie down the heaviness is so tiring, always so uncomfortable and exhausting. It makes me too tired to sleep. The weight of it is dragging me down and down it is crushing me.

The pressure that it puts on me, I can feel it physically as well as mentally; it is destroying the real me. I don’t think anyone has ever seen the real me! Including me! I feel the real ‘me’ has been stifled - the real ‘me’ can never shine properly…….”

As Annie and I engaged with the ‘heavy coat’, searching for the right solutions for her,  she came to the realization that this heavy burden of such self doubt and fear of failure had originated, sadly, from the beliefs of significant adults in the world.

They had ‘burdened’ Annie, during her childhood years, with their beliefs about her lack of ability. Oh, the sadness for little Annie that her brightness had been so dulled and shadowed and weighed down by the doubts of others.

This is not a negative criticism of the adults’ behaviours and attitudes towards Annie when she was a child, simply an important observation of the lack of knowledge and information that adults so often display when relating to children who are different.

I believe that Annie as a small child was using her brain very differently from the ‘normal’. I understand that little Annie had truly profound thoughts, and saw the world in an unusual and distinctive way. A child with ‘gifts’.

Annie faced the questions; “Am I up to trusting myself to be successful? How can I know?” What seemed like a complex dilemma for Annie was truly simple to resolve.

Of course Annie had felt completely overwhelmed by such a massive obstacle, the burden of her fear of failure. The solution came to her. Annie in one defining moment let it go. She let go the fear that had so overwhelmed her throughout her life in the moment that she validated, with consummate passion, her own intelligence and her own differences.

And I was so privileged to truly witness that moment for her and with her.

Annie in her mind, and with the assistance of the clarity of her true identity, her real sense of her ‘me’, turned the heavy, heavy coat with the hood, to vapour, and banished the weight of the burden she had carried nearly her entire life.

And we can relate to Annie’s own unique metaphor of transforming this burden to vapour, when, after all, the weight of her fear had originated in the ‘hot air’ beliefs from others about little Annie’s lack of capabilities! Annie began, in that defining moment to accept her own light, bright, shininess.

Annie is a lesson to us all.

Her energy is coming back, she is no longer anaemic, she sleeps well now, her vertigo is cured, and her scan results are clear.

Annie recently told me of a mysterious and happy event.

She had gone for a walk and as she walked she asked her unconscious to give her a ‘sign’ about her goal and how close she could now be to getting there.

If you remember her goal was: “To have energy to be healthy and be as fresh as a daisy.”

As she asked for a sign Annie instantly saw a woodpecker in its nest, something she had longed to see, but never had. I asked what was important to her about seeing the woodpecker and Annie answered vibrantly; “The nest is important and Oh, the amazing sound.”

“What kind of a sound is that amazing sound?” I asked.

Annie answered immediately; “Ki, Ki, Ki.”

We looked up the word “Ki” - and very simplistically it means energy!

And the importance of the ‘nest’? Annie got married a few months ago to a strong and gentle loving man……. They ‘nest’ happily together.

Happy life to you Annie…………

Further Information

Your questions and points of view are most welcomed by me, at my private email address:

Tel: 017687 71377


  1. No Article Comments available

Post Your Comments:

About Sally Stubbs

Sally Stubbs MNCP (Snr Accred) FACH DACH is a licensed Psychotherapist and Hypnotherapist with advance training in cutting edge strategies with nearly 30 years solid therapeutic experience. Since 1990 she has been specifically writing and compiling her Therapeutic Courses, in the style of and based on the amazing and successful work of Dr Milton Erickson. Erickson is globally considered to be the 'Grand Father' of Hypnotherapeutic work, and she has been fortunate to study under his prodigy, Dr Ernest Rossi.

Her practice in the Lake District offers therapeutic courses on ailments such as stress, confidence, weight, smoking, phobias and Sally has treated well-known media figures including the columnist Liz Jones, and Brookside actor Steven Pinder as well as others. She has recently written a book called If Life Gives You Lemons - A Short Guide to Happiness and has launched a series of easy to follow CDs on these common ailments that enable you to achieve your goals by changing your mind patterns. Sally may be contacted on Tel: 017687 71377;

top of the page