Wednesday, November 5, 2008


This blog is moving! Actually, this blog has Moved!
Please make note of the new address and use it from now on:

It's actually easier.

It gives me more flexibility and the ability to make the blog better.

Please forgive and inconvenience.

See you at the new address!


Friday, October 31, 2008

Committing the Crime of your own Uniqueness

A long time ago I had the good fortune of needing therapy. Of course, such life passages happen to all of us, but what was fortunate for me is I fell into the office of Jungian Analyst David Bennett.

David was great. From day one he offered me insights and ways of looking and thinking about life's journey that will stay with me forever. Among them was what he called "the Renegade factor."

As I'm sure you are aware, Carl Jung classified different human characteristics in terms of "archetypes," perceiving that we can gain great understanding of our selves and the forces that drive us by recognizing them in terms of these symbolic representations. It is also important to note that, according to Jung, the most important thing for a person to do in life is to "individuate." In Jungian psychology, Individuation is "the gradual integration and unification of the self through the resolution of successive layers of psychological conflict. "

More easily said it's to be yourself. But really yourself.

Steven Gilligan said some of the power that Milton Erickson had was that he was "totally comfortable with his own weirdness." So, when you were with him, there was that implicit permission to be comfortable with your own weirdness. I think it might be true, that perhaps Dr. Erickson had individuated and thus was an exemplar of that way of being.

But let's get back to David.

David Bennett said this... He said there will be times, along your path toward individuation, that your true self will require that you renege on the expectations of society, even of those people closest to you, and "commit the crime of your own uniqueness."

In other words, you might sometimes have to take actions in your life that are true to you, true to your soul, right for you and your genuine personal best interests, and these actions might really piss somebody else off. But you have to do it. Someone may hate you, but you have to live with that. To them, from their perception, your actions are tantamount to committing a crime. "You said you would! You promised!" But you are being lead by the renegade archetype down a path that perhaps no one else can appreciate, but is right , is necessary for you.

It's hard.
But you do it because you must.
You do it because it is the right thing to do... for you.
And you deserve it.
You're entitled to it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Ericksonian Hypnotic Language Patterns
Binds come in two forms, single and double. Seems like most people have heard of double binds and we'll get to that next time. Right now we're going to talk about the elegantly effective single bind. It goes something like this:

Don't (x) unless you want (y).

More Specifically it is this:

"Don't (their current behavior) unless you really want (your outcome for them)."

If you link their current behavior to your outcome for them, you are putting them in a bind.

As you read this, dear reader, I could say to you,
"Don't read this unless you really want to be unreasonably happy."

If your roommate is watching TV, you could say,
"Don't watch TV unless you want to call my mother for me."

If your agent is carefully reading the contract, you could say,
"Don't read this contract carefully unless you want to be confident it's everything you've been looking for."

One of my favorite binds is when the client is awakening from the trance experience, (by the way, when a client is in this state they are exceedingly open to suggestion) I say to them,
"Don't open your eyes unless you are really ready.. to see things in a completely new way... now."

Now, don't continue reading unless you're ready to write your own examples.

Have I mentioned that the best way to learn is by doing? To Practice, won't you.
Perhaps, by now, you're already putting all the different patterns you've already learned together into a whole induction, or not.
I wonder what would happen it you were to say them aloud to another human being with the proper tonal shift?
What if you were to...use them this week?
Here's an idea: REVIEW. Use all the patterns learned thus far once a day, everyday this week and thoroughly enjoy the process.

There's an ancient Chinese proverb that says
I hear and I forget
I see and I remember
I do and I understand.

I always say, use them and they are YOURS.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rail Trail run fun

I've lost count of how many marathons I've run. It's under 18 and more than 12.
Along the way I've run thousands of miles in an effort to get in shape enough to run them well and ultimately qualify for Boston. The thing is, I can't really do that anymore. I mean, never say never, but it would appear my calf muscles have other ideas. Every time I get competitive and try to race or do too much, they cramp or tear or do something dreadfully painful.

So, what to do?

I am endeavoring to embrace my limitations... to thoroughly enjoy what I CAN do.

The other day I was out running ( I still call it running although I believe many people can walk at a faster clip) along this beautiful rail trail in upstate New York. And with every step I took I attempted to just be in the moment and savor the full sensory experience along the way. It was like what Stephen Wolinsky calls a "no-trance trance." In other words, not trancing out by age regression or imagining the future, but being simply in the here and now - which is for most people an altered state.

Hence a "no-trance trance."

It's a lovely practice... listening to the breathing, feeling the feet on the changing surface of the trail, appreciating all the different colors of the leaves and the dirt and the stones, smelling the variety of fragrances as I pass streams and farm land and cut grass.

Dave Dobson used to call himself a "De-Hypnotist." He said that people were in trance most of the time and it was his job to wake them up. Not to "hypnotize" them but to pop them out of their old, habitual trances and get them to adopt new, more productive trances.

I think Steve Wolinsky would agree. In his book, "Trances People Live," he draws a parallel between what meditators call Samadhi and Erickson called a "Therapeutic Trance." Saying they were in fact the same state - what Wolinsky termed the "No-Trance trance."

Maybe this is what my calf muscles have been trying to get me to do.

Sly devils.


Sunday, October 12, 2008


Ericksonian Hypnotic Language Patterns
Truisms are like bread and butter... you can make a meal out of them if you have to. Truisms are simply statements that are true for just about everybody, AND are a perfect setup for embedded commands. Keeping in mind, of course, that an embedded command comes from altering your vocal tonality and accompanying analog marking.

As an example you can make Truisms about Time.
"Sooner or later people always go in trance when sitting in that chair listening to me."
"Sometimes, you can go into trance with your eyes wide open."

You can create Truisms about Sensations.
"Most people really enjoy the feeling of a nice hot shower."
"Everyone knows how it feels when you're drifting off to sleep and you're not quite awake and not quite asleep."

(NOTE: In some of these examples there is more than one language pattern happening. Like in that last sentence there is also a pattern called "Switching Referential Index." According to proper grammatical rules, the sentence should read, "Everyone knows how it feels when they're drifting off to sleep..." But, in Ericksonian Hypnosis you sometime break the rules of grammar in order to get a good embedded command. In this case I'm telling my client, "You are drifting off to sleep.")

You can create Truisms about Abilities.
"You don't have to learn how to employ these skills to feel confident."
"You are able to relax you hands completely."
"A person is able to make profound changes from just one session."

Truisms often start with soft phrases.

"Some People...You may...One might...You could...learn all sorts of different possibilities for truisms."

Truisms, because they are true statements are great opportunities for adding the 'you know' clause. While people often overdo the clause "you know" in sloppy grammar, when used purposely it implies in an ambiguous way that you knew this already.
"People can, you know...learn rapidly and easily, even without knowing that they're learning."

Now, you're probably wondering how you can get good at using truisms.

People can, you know, write your own examples. The best way to learn is by doing. Write them out. Practice.
Like the New York City cop who was asked, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?"
"Practice, Practice, Practice."
Say them aloud to a human being with the proper tonal shift.
Use them on bank tellers: "Some people will, sooner or later, feel good and smile."
Use them on your kids, your parents, your servants, your masters.
Use them with respect and courtesy.
Have fun.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Ericksonian Hypnotic Language Patterns
Early in my NLP/Hypnosis training I was in Santa Cruz, California, attending a workshop. After class one day I walked along the beach with a more advanced student who knew a lot about language patterns. When I asked her how to begin gaining facility with them she turned to me and said, "you'll find that the pattern called 'Quotes' is one of the easiest, yet most effective, patterns of all."

She went on to explain, "When you quote somebody else, your listener doesn't realize that you're indirectly giving him or her a direct command. It goes right in!"

Now, I wasn't sure if I believed her or not so I put it to the test. I'd be at a restaurant and say to the waiter, "my father always told me, 'just make sure the food's served hot and everyone will be happy.'" I'd ask a cop for directions and say, "My travel agent told me 'Always ask a cop, because you're really nice to tourists.'"

When you start to learn about "Quotes" you'll notice them everywhere.

Storytellers will put them in the middle of a story or metaphor, where one character addresses another. "...and the cobbler said to the boy, 'Remember, you're only as happy as you make up your mind to be.'"

They will have the quote appear as the thought or sudden realization of the main character. "...and Alice suddenly realized that it's not how hard you work, it's how you work hard."

Quotes can be attributed to famous people. (It is likely even better when they actually said it.) "Benjamin Franklin always said, 'The more you practice, the luckier you'll be.'"

Referring to a previous client is useful in a variety of ways. Milton Erickson would often talk about an earlier patient and use the quotes pattern to give suggestions. "And as my client listened to me talk, she realized how true the old saying is that, 'when you are in trance, you learn rapidly and effectively.'"

Please note that in the above examples, the part of the quote that is the suggestion is put in the second person, present tense. In other words, because you want to tell your listener to do something, make sure the suggestion is in the form of "you do this," or "you learn that." NOT "she did this," or "he learned that."

So, now, I wonder what would happen if you were to write your own examples. Aristotle once said, "The best way to learn is by doing."
So maybe you'll want to write them out.
Maybe you'll Say them aloud to a human being with the proper tonal shift. (See the earlier post about tonality if you need more clarity on that)
I'd write at least ten. You might want to write more. Or not.
Be careful when you use them with your spouse, but playfully use them with your pet (they'll like it).
Most certainly use them with your clients.
Because as Milton Erickson once said that Mark Twain once wrote, "Don't put off til tomorrow that you can just as easily do the day after that."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pacing and Leading

Ericksonian Hypnotic Language Patterns
In an expanded form, 'Pacing and Leading' can be used as a trance induction in and of itself. The general concept of pacing and leading is central to Erickson's work. You establish a rapport with a person when you pace their experience.

In this language pattern, you make note of true, experiential facts (or 'wonder' about them) then connect them with a suggestion. Salesmen might say that you are setting up a 'yes' frame. People will tend to go with the flow of affirmative responses.

I used this pattern frequently when I used to work at New York's Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital's Department of Complementary Medicine. I was there as a Hypnotherapist to assist people in feeling better about their operations, facilitate healing and recovery, develop new, healthier patterns of living (e.g. becoming a non-smoker) and to help manage pain. Often I would walk into the patient's room and say, "Hello, my name is Doug (easily verifiable due to the name tag on my lapel), I'm with the Department of Surgery (also on the tag), and I'm here to help you with your pain." The two verifiably true statements set up the following statement to be accepted as true, too. By the way, did you notice that the patient was not in a formal trance at the time?

Some Connecting Words or Phrases:

and, as, while, so, since, you can also, like, at the same time, such as, begin to, meanwhile, being, as you know, also, then, etc.

A. Basic form

"You can feel the chair, you can feel your feet on the floor, you can hear the sound of my voice, and drift off into a nice, comfortable trance."

B. 'Might'

"You might notice the sensations in your hands as you being to drift deeper into trance."

C. 'Might notice how'
(In many of these patterns it is always a good idea to suggest that they will enjoy whatever they're going to experience)
"You might notice how good it feels to relax deeply as you close your eyes and breathe comfortably."

So now as you read these words and make sense of the material, you can stop and imagine how you will use these language patterns in your professional life.

By the way, as you read these posts regarding Ericksonian Language patterns, and appreciate the persuasive power their use can offer you, consider taking a pad and paper and writing out your own examples that you can actually use in your own life.

As an example, if you're a dentist, write out twenty examples of things you can say to your patients to get them to floss more often. Or to make them feel more comfortable in the dentist chair. Or to get them to come to the dentist every six months for regular check ups.

Find the situations in YOUR life where you desire more influence and write out language patterns IN ADVANCE of the situation so that you can be ready to USE THEM when that situation presents itself.

You'll be glad you did.