More Advanced Script Writing Techniques
If you haven't already done so, we recommend reading part 1 of this series, "Hypnosis Scripts: To Use or Not To Use, That Is The Question."
You can write your own hypnotic script by creating instructions in a certain format and following certain guidelines.
So let's talk about a more advanced set of guidelines that work well for scripting -- the NLP well-formedness conditions.
NLP Well-formed Outcomes, or "Well-formedness Conditions"
The NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) well-formedness conditions are a set of guidelines for making goals very compelling to the subconscious mind. That's why they work so well for writing hypnotic scripts. Here are the conditions to meet.
- Stated in the positive present
- Described in sensory-based language
- Initiated and maintained by self
- Appropriate chunk size
- Maintains the benefits of the present behavior
Let's take a look at these one-by-one . . .
Stated In The Positive Present
Your suggestions should be stated in the positive, and as if they are happening in the present moment.
That's not about being cheery; it's about saying what you want rather than what you don't want.
"I don't want to avoid exercise" is not stated in the positive present.
"I exercise regularly" is stated in the positive present.
Described In Sensory-Based Language
Suggestions can describe what you see, feel, and hear when you've achieved your goal.
Representing your suggestions in the 3 major senses makes the suggestions more compelling. These senses can be either external, or internal.
In other words, you might suggest what you see externally, what you imagine, what you hear externally, what you say to yourself in your mind, what emotions you feel inside, or what you feel physically.
"You step on the scale and look down. You see the scale reads 160 pounds. 'Yes' you say enthusiastically as you pump your fist in the air. You feel an incredible sense of pride."
These will be specific to each person, and therefore can't really be taken into account with a free hypnosis script you find on a web site, unless you add them yourself.
Initiated And Maintained By Self
Suggestions should be oriented toward the person receiving them, and not to create change in other people. If Bob is being hypnotized, the suggestions should deal with things Bob has some control over.
If Bob wants a raise, that's great! However, a suggestion such as "Bob, your boss will now give you a raise" is unlikely to be effective.
It's better to suggest things Bob has some measure of control over.
Maybe Bob needs to be better at pointing out how he contributes at work. Maybe he needs to feel more comfortable when talking to his boss. Maybe he needs to build skill in being persuasive. These are factors under his control. In other words, Bob's persuasiveness is initiated and maintained by Bob.
Suggestions should be ecological in order to have the maximum impact.
But in this case, we're talking about the ecology of someone's life, and not clean air or water. In other words, how will a suggestion affect other areas of someone's life?
How will a suggestion affect health, relationships, career and finances, emotions?
Lots of people think of hypnosis as a way to force themselves to do something. That's not quite the way it works. The best suggestions take life balance into account.
A suggestion that you exercise ten hours a day, or work 16 hours a day is probably not ecological. Your mind may rebel against these suggestions, and rightfully so. Suggestions that you exercise a healthy amount, or that you are focused and efficient at work are more ecological.
Frankly, this is one area in which a competent hypnotherapist will be better than a script. A good hypnotherapist is an expert at seeing ecology traps and formulating suggestions to avoid them.
If you're writing a script, just do your best to take other aspects of life into account. Keep your suggestions reasonable.
Doable/Appropriate Chunk Size
People are often capable of much more than they imagine. But some people also have grandiose ideas.
How should suggestions deal with this?
Well, start with something doable, and what we call appropriate chunk size.
Appropriate chunk size can be likened to eating a meal.
If we eat only a tiny sliver of food, the size of a grain of rice, it will take forever to eat. However, if we try to put an entire meal in our mouth at once, it will not go well, either.
The same is true with goals. If your goal is big, perhaps think about including suggestions that are smaller steps, in addition to the big goal. If your goal is world peace, perhaps starting with feeling more peace at home is appropriate. (Also, world peace is unlikely to be initiated and maintained by self.)
If you need a smaller size goal, ask yourself what the first step toward the big goal is and include that in your suggestions. If you want to be a concert-level pianist, but you've just started piano lessons, create some suggestions about smaller steps.
"I practice piano 4 times a week, with focus and concentration. I improve rapidly with each practice."
As always, a hypnotherapist can help you to choose the proper chunk size for your goals. You can have some larger suggestions about being a concert pianist in there as well. Your mind has a greater chance of seeing that as a reality as you can connect the dots between the smaller goals and the larger.
The larger goals by themselves, may seem like a fantasy. We want them to feel real. The smaller goals helps with that.
Certain suggestions should be contextualized in terms of time, place, context, or who is around. As a general guideline, if you want to break a habit, whatever triggers the habit should contextualize the suggestion.
For instance, if you smoke on your work breaks, your suggestion could start, "Whenever I'm on break at work . . ."
If you get anxious whenever a report is due at work, the suggestion might start, "Whenever a report is due at work . . ."
More specific is even better. 'When I see in my email that the report is due . . ."
A script, of course, cannot cover all these bases. A thorough hypnotherapist can.
Suggestions should also take safety into account. Particularly with fears and phobias, suggestions should be oriented toward safety. Most snakes are harmless, but we want to make sure first, right? We don't necessarily want someone to be relaxed around a venomous snake. So a suggestion might start, "Whenever you see a snake you know is not venomous, or ou see a snake on TV, in a movie, or you're in a safe environment . . ."
As an example, when working with clients with a fear of heights, I (Keith Livingston) spend some time talking with them about what is safe and what requires caution. Up on a ladder? That requires caution. Looking out of a closed, second-story window? Probably not.
That way, during an intervention, they know what I mean when I talk about safety.
Maintains The Benefits Of The Present Behavior
Every behavior is trying to accomplish something for us. Drinking might be fun. Smoking might give us a feeling of peace. We might get frustrated in order to overcome feelings of powerlessness.
There's nothing wrong with fun, peace, or avoiding frustration. It's the behaviors of excessive drinking, smoking or becoming frustrated that may cause us problems.
If we find a negative emotion, we can think about what the opposite feeling can be. The opposite of frustration can be calmness for some people. For others it might be ease.
It's good for some suggestions take the benefits of the old behavior into account. Suggestions can be formulated in this way . . .
Trigger for old behavior + new behavior = good feeling = wanted behavior.
"Whenever you come home and see the dog has scratched the furniture (trigger) you instantly take a deep breath (new behavior) and feelings of calmness automatically flow through your body (good feeling). You pet the dog with affection (wanted behavior)."
"Whenever you see your friends drinking (trigger), you instantly remember al the good times you've had with them and you automatically feel a deep sense of connection with them. You order a water (wanted behavior)."
Regression techniques are used to guide the individual back to a specific event in their past, allowing them to explore and resolve any issues related to that event. Personally, I'd leave regression techniques to the professionals, who may have a whole range of regression techniques to bring to the problem, and a variety of solutions should you discover something that needs working with.
Parts Therapy Techniques
Parts therapy techniques are used to help the individual resolve internal conflicts by exploring and communicating with different parts of their subconscious mind.
Again, I'd leave this to the pros. I (Keith Livingston) have never done a parts session that didn't require some bit of guidance from me.
It's difficult for competing aspects of the personality to see from the perspective of the other aspects of the personality without help.
Metaphor techniques are used to provide the individual with a story or analogy that can help them understand and resolve their issues. The best hypnotic metaphors have parallel characters to the presenting problem and have the same emotional journey. But the metaphors provide a solution at the end.
A good Ericksonian hypnotherapist can construct a metaphor unique to your situation. It's unlikely you'll find a pre-written story that happens to match what you need.
Future Pacing Techniques
Future pacing techniques are used to help the individual visualize and prepare for future situations, allowing them to feel more confident and prepared.
This can be done reasonably well with a script, but it's not as specific as a hypnotherapist can do.
Once suggestions have been made to solve the issue and resources have been provided, you imagine things going the way you want in a few future situations. The basic format is this . . .
Imagine a time and context in the future in which, in the past you would have had the old problem. Now notice how you automatically have these good feelings, and take new actions and how great it feels.
"Now, go to a time in the future in which, in the past, you would have started drinking with your friends. Notice how you automatically think about all the good times you've had with them and you feel a sense of connection with them. You order a water and it feels great."
When Should You Consult A Hypnotherapist?
Scripts are great for your basic self-help. I (Keith Livingston) write my own scripts and use them for basic goal setting. When do I consult someone else? Well, when a script doesn't get it done.
Here are my thoughts on it.
You should be able to accomplish any reasonable goal. If you can't, you might ask why not? The answers tend to fall into the following categories.
- You don't have the right information
- You don't have the ability
- You have some part of you that doesn't want to do it, or wants to do something else
People tend to default to the first two of these three. However, we live in the age of the internet. Information is freely available to everyone. It's true, sometimes you have to sift through to find good info. But lack of information is not likely the cause of failure to achieve a goal.
And not 'having the ability' is probably also an excuse. We have egos. It may be easier to believe in some ethereal 'talent' that we don't have. That way, the failure is not our fault. But let's put it this way. I've seen a lot of people who didn't seem to have much talent become successful at something. But I rarely see anyone become successful who has a belief that their lack of ability is ingrained, genetic, or intractable.
My conclusion is that yes, some people are hit with the talent stick. But probably 90 % of results have to do with other factors. So, if you think you don’t have a talent for something, that’s a belief. Shifting beliefs is something hypnotherapists can help you with.
So, if you don't have the right information, get a book, a program, a teacher, or a mentor. If you feel you have good info, use self-hypnosis and a script from the internet, or one you write and record yourself.
If that doesn't work, consult a hypnotherapist.
Who Shouldn't Use Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a common state. We all go through it many times each day. It's not dangerous, in general. However, if you're hallucinating or are unable to control your thoughts, consult with a mental health profession before doing formal hypnosis.
Hypnosis scripts are tools for inducing a trance-like state in individuals, allowing them to access their subconscious mind and make positive changes in their behavior, thoughts, and emotions. They also provide a starting point for hypnotherapists and a resource for new hypnotherapists.
Scripts can be useful for self-help.