One of my clients came to me to because she thought hypnosis could help her wake up in the morning. She wanted to be alert and rested enough that she could get out of bed without having to hit the snooze alarm five or six times. She found consistently running late and feeling sluggish in the mornings frustrating and inefficient.
So the first step was to gather information that would allow me to know what to do to help her shift her morning awakening routine. Although it is sometimes effective to just give direct commands, “When you awaken in the morning, you will feel alert, refreshed, and ready to go” while the client is in hypnosis, it is frequently more effective to take a more specific approach. It’s also necessary to determine if there are any unconscious objections to the desired changes. One of the best ways that I have found to gather that information is by using the meta model from NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming).
Briefly, the meta model gives us questions that help unearth a person’s underlying obstructing beliefs or objections that may be there so that they can be addressed. In this case the meta model also gave me a way to determine the structure of how my client went about making waking up a struggle every morning.
As it turns out, when she first began to wake up, my client started talking to herself in a drowsy reluctant voice telling herself that she had to get up. She also kept bargaining with herself for just a few more minutes. She would finally increase the intensity of the unpleasant inner dialog, “I’m tired. I don’t want to get up. If I don’t get up I’ll be late, and get fired…but, I can sleep for a few more minutes” until she finally said, “If you don’t get up NOW, you will be late!” at which point she dragged out of bed.
The solution was simple. After determining that there were no unconscious objections, I had my client rehearse a few simple routines to change the habitual dialog. First, I found out the location of the drowsy reluctant voice. It was on the left side of her head. Then I had her say something to herself that was untrue like, “I’m 10 feet tall,” to determine the location of a statement that she knew was false. That voice seemed to come from the area of her throat.
For a great many people, the location of the internal voice determines how they respond to what they say to themselves. Typically, there will be one location for true statements, another for untrue statements, a third location for uncertainty, and so on. For others, the voice tone, volume, or other qualities will determine how much the person believes an statement.
The next step was to have my client try saying the words of the drowsy reluctant voice beginning in its usual location, and then, as she spoke, she mentally shifted the location so that the sentence ended in the untrue location, in the throat. When the sentence ended in location of false statements, her response to it was to be completely indifferent to the message. Then I had her rehearse shifting the voice enough times so that it automatically moved to her throat whenever she started hearing the original drowsy reluctant thoughts.
That may seem like it would be enough to fix the problem, but she was not yet saying anything to herself that motivated her to get out of bed. So, after some discussion, we found something that she could say to herself in an enthusiastic voice that made her feel like he day was going to be so fantastically good that she could hardly wait to get started. Then I had her rehearse starting with the old thought, which ended up in the “untrue” location, and immediately follow it with the the new thought from the left side of her head, which was the location of statements that were both true, and motivating. Talking to herself from that location had originally worked to make her to want to stay in bed. And, when she told herself she was going to have a wonderful day from that same location on the left side of her head, she really felt like getting up and enjoying her day.
My client reported that her husband was amazed to see her not only getting up much earlier, but actually cheerful every morning. She said that he almost wondered who the new person living in his wife’s body was.
I finished my session with a little formal hypnosis to reinforce my client’s new habits. It was simple enough to have her rehearse getting up energized and chipper in the mornings while she was in hypnosis.
Of course, a great many people use mental images to motivate themselves to get up in the mornings, or a combination of internal dialog and images. So it is useful for a hypnotherapist to determine each person’s unique awakening strategy before attempting to help them change it.