I was working with ah hypnosis client today – a world class golfer (top tier professional) who flew into Taiwan to have a few sessions with me before returning to his home country – and the pink elephant came up. Oddly enough, lately it seems I get more clients flying in from other countries for private hypnosis sessions or tutorials than I get local bookings.
Without stating specifics, my client said that he had been hit with an issue lately that was frustrating in that he was getting hit with attitude issues where he would be reminded of an event where something would go off and he would just keep telling himself to not think about it but it would keep popping in his head and throw off his concentration.
I smiled and told him to sit back and close his eyes – you can do this too – once your eyes are closed then try not to think of a pink elephant but if you do think of a pink elephant open your eyes. I don’t know about you but I do know about most people and this includes my client, his eyes popped open very quickly.
First, the idea of trying to do something implies failure (Yoda was very very right, there is no try, only do and you should remember that). Second, and more importantly, in order for the unconscious mind to understand the absence of something (NOTness), it must first understand the presence of that something. So, the very act of trying not to think of something conjures compelling thoughts of the very think one doesn’t want to think of.
The more we try to suppress a thought, the more likely it will pop on out and bite us in the ass. In psychology this is known as Ironic Process Theory and there have been a number of studies that verify it. Of course, The Game is played on the same principles and even a very young Ambrose Bierce played a variation of it to strengthen his mind (which may explain some of the oddness in his sharp wit).
For some folks, this can be a fun game but for some folks this can really fuck up your life game plan, especially if the element of pharsing comes into play in which the unconscious edits negatives from suggestions and reinforces the positive variations (so while I consciously want to stop doing something my unconscious reinforces the actual act of doing it). This is not as universal a principle as some hypnotists believe but it is an effect that can be observed so it’s worth noting.
So, instead of concentrating on not for a behavior, find a positive behavior or effect or emotion that floods it out instead.
Of course, that’s all well and good . . . but . . . sometimes . . . and this is only sometimes . . . a pink elephant really is just a pink elephant.
Well, I thought it was funny.
All the best,