There are seven words as a hypnotist you should NEVER use. Those seven words are: What I want you to do is…
I hear that phrase often from hypnotists, whether they’re people who are new to hypnosis or whether it’s people with decades of experience. They guide somebody through a process of hypnosis and they say, “What I want you to do is close your eyes now,” or, “What I want you to do now is imagine this,” or they say after the induction and after the deepener, “What I want you to do is just step into blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” That phrase: What I want you to do is, is a phrase that’ll sabotage any of your professional hypnosis sessions.
This phrase often creeps into our vocabulary and our repertoire of scripts that we use, both as a time filler and because we actually want somebody to take a specific action and to do something. The problem with that is when we ask somebody to do something, when we tell somebody to do something, it’s actually our idea. It’s not from within them. Effective hypnotists know how to create language so that it gives the client ownership of everything and those seven words, “What I want you to do is”, actually doesn’t give people ownership. It’s our idea rather than their own idea.
To be a more effective hypnotist, this phrase should be banished from your repertoire of suggestions. You should never use this with a client, ever again. Let me give you an example of how this might work. I could say, “What I want you to do now is close your eyes and as you close your eyes, relax the muscles of your body. What I want you to do now is unclench the jaw. Let the relaxation extend to your shoulders and your upper arms and what I want you to do now is just pay attention to your breathing as you breathe in and breathe out.” Now, of course, I’m just doing a stereotypical, short, progressive muscle relaxation induction here. And you can see that that language has crept into this basic induction.
Now let’s take a look at the same induction with direct suggestions and avoiding those seven words. Imagine now that I’m guiding you through a process of hypnosis. “Go ahead and close the eyes down and as you close the eyes down, you’ll notice how heavy the eyelids feel. Relaxation causes the muscles often to feel very heavy. With your eyes closed down, can you sense the heaviness in those eyelids? I bet you it feels wonderful at the end of a busy day to actually let go for a few minutes and let those eyelids simply close. And as you continue to relax, you’ll find that it’s far more comfortable to unclench the jaw and let the muscles of the jaw relax as well. And as you pay attention to the breath, breathing in and out, allow yourself to notice what it feels like to have relaxation extend through the neck and shoulders and the upper back. It feels pretty awesome, doesn’t it, to create this experience of hypnosis.”
This was just a short example, but did you notice the difference between the two inductions? In the second example, everything I did gave them ownership. It was something that they created, something that they experienced, something that they did. And it’s far more powerful and far more engaging when we take out those seven words: What I want you to do is, and instead ask people to share a trance with us, where we’re co-creating an experience. Something that arises from within them that they can then use to act on the hypnotic suggestions, it’s going to be far more powerful.
Your homework assignment this week is every time you catch yourself using the phrase: What I want you to do is, is think to yourself what other language could I have used there? Language that allows the client to have ownership and language that allows the client to create from within. If you spend some time really focusing on alternatives to this common bad habit that hypnotists fall into, you’ll find that your hypnosis sessions are far more powerful. You’ll have far more confidence and that you’ll move quicker to an expert level of professional hypnosis.