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What if Hypnosis Didn’t Work?

Hypnosis is a very effective tool for change and self-development but sometimes a client later reports that it “didn’t work”, or that it “only worked for a while”, or “it wore off”. It doesn’t happen very often, but let’s examine some of these reports, their possible causes, and what we can do about them.

Misconceptions about Hypnosis

Strangely enough, the most common report that “hypnosis didn’t work” comes from people who successfully achieved their desired outcome. For example, someone who used hypnosis to stop smoking and never smoked another cigarette may say with a straight face that the hypnosis “didn’t work”. The same occurs with clients who lose weight after using hypnosis to improve weight management or diet compliance. It can happen in nearly every case.

This is usually caused by misconceptions about hypnosis. A great example is the former smoker who says they could choose to smoke if they wanted to but “they just don’t want to”. What they really mean is that they are in control.

Well, of course they are! Thanks to hypnosis, they are more in control of themselves than they were previously. Their misconception is that hypnosis will “control” them instead of empowering them.

Your hypnotist should explain these misconceptions very early in your working relationship and you should always feel free to ask questions about hypnosis.

Self-Defeating Perfectionism

Sometimes clients expect perfection from themselves or from hypnosis and overreact when “life happens”. If a simple mistake or misstep occurs, they take this as evidence that hypnosis did not work, or that they are “not good enough” or “do not deserve” their goal.

This occurs outside hypnosis as well. You may know someone who has tried a diet to lose weight, who “slipped” or “cheated” one time and then gave up on the entire idea of a diet or losing weight. They may make the claim that the diet “just doesn’t work”, or that they “just don’t have the self-discipline”, or some other self-defeating belief.

The simple fact is that no one is perfect and “life” does indeed happen. We fell down many times when we first learned to walk. We make many mistakes whenever we first learn a new skill.

This is no different. A client who leaves a hypnosis session as a non-smoker but smokes one cigarette six months later has simply made a mistake. Their choice then is whether they want to continue making the mistake and become a smoker again, or whether they want to learn from the mistake and remain a non-smoker.

The best way of dealing with this is to not beat yourself up over it. That is self-defeating and only helps drive you back to the old way of being.

It’s okay to contact your hypnotist for more help, too!

The Dog Ate Their Homework

Sometimes the hypnotist gives the client some homework. These may be tasks like writing a journal or drinking water, or practicing skills like relaxation or deep breathing that they are taught during their sessions.

And as with any other assignment, sometimes people just don’t do the work. They may not write that journal or drink the extra water. They may not practice the relaxation technique. They may not perform the deep breathing exercise.

The thing is that the “homework” is an important part of the overall process of change. You must be invested in your own success and engaged in your own change. Any tasks your hypnotist gives you have a purpose behind them: helping you achieve your desired outcome.

Doing the work is the simplest way to avoid this, but, again, if you encounter difficulties with that then you should contact your hypnotist. That’s better than beating yourself up over it, isn’t it?

A Little More Help

Sometimes a client experiences a definite change but does not believe the change was “strong enough” or begins to feel as if it is “wearing off”.

Why? Sometimes the client has not been completely honest with themselves or with the hypnotist. Sometimes the client is experiencing a secondary gain that was not addressed during the earlier session(s). And sometimes there isn’t any specific cause beyond “life happens”.

The solution in this case is to contact your hypnotist for another session. Explain what you are experiencing and work from there. The changes will be even easier now because you are starting from a different place than you were before.

Think of it like being on a swing. Sometimes you just need another little push to keep swinging.

Magic Wands

Hypnosis can certainly seem like magic. And many times changes are so fast, so easy, and so permanent that even the hypnotist can begin to believe they are waving a magic wand.

Unfortunately it is not always that simple. However, if you are willing to communicate openly with your hypnotist, to ask questions and be sure you understand the answers, to remain engaged in your changes, and to reach out for help when you need it, you really can achieve your desired outcomes with hypnosis.