Overcoming Imposter Syndrome and Acquiring Hypnotic Confidence

Filed under: Hypnosis Training

Mike Mandel hypnotic confidence

Confidence is a Funny Thing

We know when we have it, and we know when we’re lacking it too. It’s actually on a continuum, and runs all the way from super-confident narcissistic know-it-alls, to: I haven’t got a clue about this subject!

And interestingly, confidence may have little or no connection to actual ability or knowledge.

We see this in something called the Dunning Kruger effect, which happens when we know a little bit about something, and because we don’t know how vast the field is, we mistakenly believe we’re now experts on the subject.

It’s only over time when we see the true scope of the subject matter, that we realize we’ve been fooling ourselves about our own competence.

But there’s another aspect to this: There are also those who have real knowledge and competency in a given field, but still lack self-confidence. 

We see this in hypnosis all the time, as many skilled hypnotists, even with years of experience, doubt their own abilities. This may be so bad that they actually feel like frauds. 

But this self-doubt doesn’t have to be permanent. In fact, it can actually be a normal but temporary phase when learning something new, and often comes on the heels of the Dunning Kruger effect.

That’s because as our knowledge of a subject grows, we start to realize how little of the total subject matter we actually know. 

Enter the Imposter Syndrome…

Socrates quote I know nothing

The Imposter Syndrome is widespread, and occurs when we doubt our abilities to the point that we feel that we’re just faking it.

This occurs a lot with trainers as well as other people in the public eye. Imposter Syndrome may manifest as a simple lack of confidence, or a fear of being “found out” by others who are the true experts.

Over time however, those who keep studying, learn to leave the imposter syndrome behind. They come to recognize that although they don’t know absolutely everything about hypnosis, they know enough to be confident in their abilities. 

Remember: In a court of law you can be considered to be an “expert” in any given subject, provided you know more than the judge and jury.

The bottom line is: All hypnotists need hypnotic confidence, whether they work onstage or in a clinic. This is the kind of confidence that enables a person to function efficiently and without undue stress.

Over the fifty years I’ve been doing and teaching hypnosis, I’ve seen a lot of amazingly confident hypnotists, like Anthony and Freddy Jacquin, Karl Smith, and James Tripp, to name just a few. These are the sort of hypnotists who can do hypnosis, anytime and anywhere. 

The true masters of the art of hypnosis are confident in what they can do.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have the hypnotists who really doubt their abilities, even though they might be very confident in other areas of their lives. And this leads to one of the key components of hypnotic confidence, which is mastery of the fundamentals.

Back to basics

That’s because the people who are true masters of hypnosis, are the ones who took the time and made the effort to learn the basics - really, really well.

You can start learning the basics of 7 POWER Therapies for Trauma here.

And learning the basics in real depth was just the beginning. That’s because mastery requires constant vigilance, or it will fade away.

Unfortunately, learning in depth takes work and dedication, and is not optional. There is simply no substitute for learning the basics thoroughly.

In order to be one of the hypnotic greats, you need the theory, the practice, and lot’s of real-world experience. And for someone who’s just taken a weekend hypnosis course, that means there’s a long way to go.

Without practice and experience, a beginner will tend to keep things safe. He’ll use lots of progressive muscle relaxation, and his induction will take half an hour to make sure it will work.

Typically, this sort of hypnotist will read scripts at their subjects, instead of interacting with them. Unfortunately, this lack of experience naturally leads to lack of hypnotic confidence, which in turn, prevents the hypnotist from getting the experience he needs to grow.

There’s good news though.

Even if you never aspire to be a hypnotic superstar, there are plenty of things you can do, to build your confidence in your own ability.

The first thing is something I’ve already mentioned: Study thoroughly and learn the basics. There’s nothing that will substitute for mastering the foundational principles, until they’re second nature.

Hit the books, surf the Web, and get involved with online hypnosis forums. Look into courses you can take in both hypnosis and related fields. Meeting and speaking with other hypnotists will help you, and it will help them too!

Remember: Nobody has all the answers. Including me. 

So as you master the basics, you start to get a sense that you know what you’re doing. So what’s next?

Study the Hypnotic Giants

Dave Elman Milton Erickson

Let their experience work for you!

In every field of endeavour, there are those who have excelled, and I’ve already named a few of them. Some, for example, excel in the field of smoking cessation. You can learn about their strategies here.

One way to learn from the greats is to build (and read) a good sized library. Of course, a lot of this information is online, but I prefer a physical book where I can highlight and make notes. 

Milton Erickson, Dave Elman, and George Estabrooks are a good starting point. If you’re up to the task, you can go back further in time, and learn about Mesmer, Esdaile, Bernheim, Charcot, and Braid.

Everything you learn about hypnosis will add to your schema; the primary knowledge base you’ll be able to draw from. If you’re new to hypnosis, make sure you practice as much as you can; especially on strangers, or people you don’t know well. 

Friends and family can be the worst subjects to start with, as they’ll probably have trouble taking it seriously. It can be very deflating to try to hypnotize someone who keeps smirking and giggling.

Of course you are completely free to choose, but generally, acquaintances will be easier to hypnotize than friends, and friends will be easier than family. Strangers have no idea that you're new to hypnosis, so don’t tell them. That leads us to the next point:

Prestige

Hypnotist with pendulum

Ever notice how much some hypnotists attempt to look like hypnotists? They might wear vampire-bat belt-buckles, spiral patterned shirts. They might carry pendulums and have their promotional pictures taken with their hands stretched out at the camera.

These are all attempts to gain prestige in the eyes of their subjects. It’s true that these images can be overdone and look silly, but looking like the public perception of a hypnotist, can actually be very powerful.

Anything that makes you stand out as what Anthony Jacquin calls “The Hypnotist” is by and large a good thing. If you look and act like a hypnotist, you’ll probably be more effective, at least at first.

As your hypnotic abilities increase, you’ll discover that it won’t matter anymore, as you’ll be able to do hypnosis pretty much anytime, and anywhere.

Curiosity is one of the best mental attitudes you can have, when mastering hypnosis. When you’re curious, all your sensory channels are wide open, and your brain is taking in information like a vacuum cleaner.

That’s why we are so good at learning things we’re interested in. When we like a subject, our  brain engages our natural curiosity.

There’s a great technique from neuro linguistic programming (NLP) that you can use to dramatically increase your confidence. All you need is a role model; somebody who’s already really confident. And best of all, it doesn’t even have to be a hypnotist - just someone who radiates self-confidence.

Column of Excellence

This technique is surprisingly easy to use.

Find some space and mark a spot on the floor. It should be an area a couple of feet wide. You can use chalk, a wooden hoop, whatever.

Now imagine that the super-confident person you admire is standing in that place. Imagine what he or she looks like, including how your role model is standing, gesturing, and even what he or she is wearing. Imagine that the person is in a column of brightly coloured light. 

Now turn the brightness way up, and as you do, allow the colour to become much more vivid, as the role model becomes even more confident. Take a moment to imagine this in powerful detail.

Now suddenly step into that column and become that other person. Stand and breathe deeply and let their confidence infuse your entire being. Once you’ve done this, step away from that spot and take all the confidence with you. 

Now imagine that you grab that column of light, and as you do, it folds up and you put it in your pocket. Now it’s ready and with you no matter where you are, or what clothes you're wearing. Just pretend, and it will work for you!

Superhero shadow

If you have a hypnosis session coming up, simply reach into your pocket and imagine you toss that column onto the floor, noticing where it lands. Simply step in and breathe in all your confidence. Then put it back in your pocket until you need it again. 

The AS IF frame

Here’s one more simple but effective way to gain hypnotic confidence quickly. It’s another awesome technique, and it’s called the AS IF frame.

The AS IF frame is such a simple technique, you might be tempted to skip it, but that would be a mistake. This technique alone can be startlingly effective in boosting your hypnotic skills and confidence in your abilities.

You might have heard it said: Fake it until you make it.  

The AS IF frame is sort of like that, but we prefer to say: 

Act it until you become it! 

How would you behave if you were really self-confident? How would you stand, move, speak, make eye-contact? Think about it.

Then begin doing it now! 

And continue doing it...

Great actors do this all the time by acting as though the part they are playing is real. It’s no coincidence that on-screen lovers often fall in love with each other during the making of the film. That’s because the human brain cannot tell the difference between a real and a vividly imagined experience.

By acting AS IF you have already achieved excellence, you’ll quickly burn in the neural pathways that will make it real and true for you. 

Obviously, there are limits, and you can’t do this with some skills, like brain surgery or flying a fighter jet. Those fields require very specific skill-sets that you cannot pretend to have, without going to prison.

Confidence, on the other hand, is quite easy, and adapts perfectly to the AS IF frame. 

Failure

Finally, I want to discuss one of the most powerful methods of becoming an excellent and confident hypnotist. In fact, if you do just this as well as the AS IF frame, you’ll become a confident hypnotist in record time.

I’m talking about failure. 

Not just minor, mildly embarrassing moments, but deep-down, earth-shaking feel like an idiot failure. The kind of failure where you crash and burn and wish you’d never heard of hypnosis in the first place.

Man with head buried

Failure is one of your best friends, and one of your greatest strengths.

That’s because when you have a less than enjoyable result when doing hypnosis, it’s only information. You just got information on something that doesn’t work.

You can think of it as just part of your ongoing hypnosis education, because that’s exactly what it is. As crazy as it sounds, making mistakes, even embarrassing ones, can be one of the best ways to learn. 

Remember:

  • Being a confident hypnotist comes from having solid skills.
  • Solid skills come from experience.
  • Experience comes from making mistakes. 

I’ve hypnotized probably close to 100,000 people since 1965, but that includes there were a lot of bad shows, poor subjects, failed methods, etc.

But that’s where the mastery comes in: Treating every hypnotic session as a learning experience will remind you that it’s only information! 

If we maintain curiosity and a willingness to learn, our hypnotic confidence will increase in leaps and bounds. When we add the AS IF frame to the mix, all the other pieces will fall into place.

So what if your hypnotic abilities were unstoppable? What kind of person would you be? How would you stand, gesture, move, think, speak, if you were no longer a hypnotist, but The Hypnotist

Now get out there and do it...

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