Autosuggestion is an effective technique within psychology that is strongly related to the placebo effect. The method is often used in self-hypnosis. The autosuggestion methodology became best known through the pharmacist Émile Coué at the beginning of the 20th century. He applied the form of self-induced suggestion to his patients, who proved capable of miraculously curing themselves of even severe illnesses.
What is autosuggestion?
In autosuggestion, the person in question controls feelings and behavior with their thoughts. Autosuggestion can take place in two ways. Émile Coué distinguished them as follows:
- Intentional, also called reflective autosuggestion: in this case, the person involved deliberately and with conscious effort arouses specific thoughts.
- Unintentional or spontaneous autosuggestion: this is a natural way the human brain functions. We “have conversations with ourselves” and make considerations to make confident choices.
Both modes of autosuggestion can be of a positive or negative nature and thus have a corresponding effect on our beliefs and behavior. If we keep repeating to ourselves how tired we feel all day, we will notice that it does not make us more energetic. This is the so-called nocebo effect.
On the other hand, we can program our subconscious with positive thoughts. For example, Coué had his patients say the following positive affirmation, “Every day, I get a little better in all areas.”
The Coué Method for autosuggestion
Émile Coué’s method relies on routinely repeating a specific ritual in a particular physical state. In modern terms, we would describe this process as operant conditioning, combined with mental rehearsal and the NLP technique Anchoring.
Coué had the firm belief that for healing symptoms, a change had to take place in our subconscious. To bring about this change, he made frequent use of metaphors.
The method Coué developed relied primarily on working with beliefs. The basic principle of his method was that every idea in our brain becomes a reality, as long as it is within the range of possibility. As an example, people will never be able to fly, no matter how convinced they are. However, a person who has breathing problems will be able to bring themselves to at least control the symptoms if the beliefs support it.
Thus, our often deeply rooted beliefs play a crucial role. On the other hand, our negative beliefs also perpetuate a situation and keep us from healing. Thoughts like “The doctor said I only have two months to live” or “I can’t manage to run the 100 meters in 12 seconds” will not contribute to a successful outcome.
Thus, for the Coué method to be successful, it is critical to know how (deep-seated) beliefs can change and people can initiate healing.
Coué found that the biggest obstacle to autosuggestion was willpower. For the method to work, the patient must refrain from any independent judgment, i.e., he must not allow his own will to impose positive ideas. Thus, every effort must ensure that the patient consciously accepts the positive “autosuggestive” idea. Otherwise, one may end up with the opposite effect of what is desired.
Coué noted that young children consistently applied his method perfectly because they lacked the willpower of adults. Thus, when he instructed a child by saying, “clasp your hands” and then “you cannot pull them apart,” the child immediately followed his instructions and was unable to unclasp his hands.
Coué was convinced of the conflict situation, in which a patient found himself when willpower and imagination were in opposition to each other. Coué called this “self-conflict.” An excellent example of such conflict is that the greater the desire to sleep, the more you wake up. So it is essential to give up willpower and instead focus on imagination.
As you can see, “surrendering” to the situation plays an important role here. It may seem to contradict the goal of healing. However, this form of surrender is not a ‘resignation’ to the situation but gives room for the imagination. When we invoke willpower, the effect is considerably limited, according to Coué.
As you can see, “surrender” to the situation plays an important role here. This seems to contradict the goal of healing. However, this form of surrender is not a ‘resignation’ to the situation but gives room for the imagination. When we invoke willpower, the effect is considerably limited, according to Coué.
Coué and his “trick”
With his method, which Coué called “un truc,” he helped heal patients of all kinds. He did not claim that he cured his patients. No, they did that themselves. He merely facilitated them with his “trick.”
In fact, the Coué method is a trick, where you trick the mind (in a positive way) to initiate the healing process. His method is a perfect example of how the placebo effect works.
Autosuggestion and hypnosis
In the process of autosuggestion, Coué applied autogenic training. This desensitization relaxation technique developed by the German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz triggers a psychophysiological relaxation response.
In effect, Coué applied techniques to his patients that today we would call hypnosis techniques. Finally, the relaxation of the mind causes brain waves to slow down, increasing suggestibility – especially in the low alpha and theta spectrum.
10 Autosuggestion techniques for taking control of your life
With autosuggestion, we are able to install new beliefs in ourselves. By doing so, we can change our behavior, empower ourselves to initiate a healing process, or copy the traits of successful people and apply them to ourselves.
1. Work on your self-awareness
Awareness is at the root of our success in every respect. When we are aware of our thought patterns, beliefs, and behavior, we can direct ourselves and tap into the resources to achieve our goals. These goals can range from a successful career and living in a dream home to a happy, stress-free life or pure wealth. Consciousness ensures that we can distinguish between what is essential and what is merely noise.
Refining your self-awareness is the first step in autosuggestion. Self-awareness is the knowledge of your way of thinking, reasoning, and the resulting behavior, as well as your mental well-being, perception of yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, and where you could improve yourself.
2. Autosuggestion and working with positions
For autosuggestion to work for you, put your behavior in perspective to ‘the bigger picture’. To do this, empathize with someone else’s situation. You can ask yourself why your neighbor is capable of something, and you are not.
Keep in mind: “The map is not the territory,” or your perception does not represent the real situation. There are always perceptual filters at play that cloud your reality. You have developed these filters over time through your upbringing and the experiences you have had.
By putting yourself in his situation, you gain a different perspective. From your neighbor’s shoes, problems and barriers seem to disappear, and you get options while you yourself see obstacles.
Taking it a step further, you can look down on yourself and your neighbor from a helicopter view. From this position, you can see both and compare behaviors. You can even make a 3D model of this. Do you look up to your neighbor? Or perhaps look down on him? Why is he, or are you better at certain skills?
Let’s take a closer look at your neighbor’s skills. He seems to get everything done just a little easier than you. What makes him have his affairs in order, and you don’t? What are his skills?
With the NLP technique Modeling, you can map out in great detail what the success factors of someone else are. What is his train of thought? What makes him do everything just a little bit better than you? Why does he have a job as a bank director, and you have a middle management position?
By talking to your neighbor, you can get a lot of information that you can use to improve yourself with autosuggestion. If your neighbor expresses that he always thinks in possibilities instead of obstacles, you can learn from that. If he sees failure as valuable feedback on how not to do things, then that is a wise lesson for you.
Then, through autosuggestion, you can print those beliefs into your own subconscious by repeating them endlessly until you have them planted in your brain as beliefs.
4. Discover the power of visualization
Visualization has perhaps the most powerful and dynamic effect on our subconscious mind. The golden combination of autosuggestion and visualization can produce immediate changes in the mind. By constantly repeating this process, you establish the neurological connections to perpetuate these changes.
As you have read by now, a relaxed mind is the best state to apply autosuggestion. In a meditative state, your brain produces dominant theta brainwaves, and you are most receptive to autosuggestion. As you visualize these suggestions simultaneously, you will lay out the neurology of your future self in your brain.
Over time, you will experience how your subconscious is steering you toward achieving your predetermined goals. It’s important to keep it simple, don’t bombard your mind with an overwhelming array of mental images. Visualize simple goals and make the experience more intense by using submodalities. Stay within reason and visualize what you want to achieve.
5. Create a roadmap
By creating a good schedule with an ultimate goal, you are able to develop a routine, and it is this habit that is invaluable. Consistency is key. The more often you do something, the better you get at it and feel more natural. Every day that you use the techniques of autosuggestion, you can increase the power of “The Law of Attraction.” You will, without a doubt, attract the necessary thoughts, ideas, and people to achieve your ultimate goals.
In fact, it doesn’t matter which goals you pursue: you can:
- attract a specific person
- eliminate undesirable behavior
- incorporate desired behavior
- attract a particular job etc.
Start and end each day – your brain is in a theta state just before bed and when you have just woken up – with autosuggestion. As soon as you wake up, clear your mind and focus on your goals, visualizing them with a linear perspective. Throughout the day, keep the positive affirmations coming. The more often, the better. ‘Soak’ your mind with these suggestions. You will notice how you make progress if you do this consistently and how each situation bends more and more toward you and your goals get closer.
6. Eliminate negative thoughts
Just as positive thoughts help live a positive life, the same is true for negative thoughts. You will have experienced how you can exhaust yourself with negative self-talk at one time or another.
Negativity is an insidious trap for many people. It is often the path of least resistance. A misjudged situation in traffic can quickly result in a middle finger being raised, and cursing and swearing are a nice outlet for your pent-up frustrations.
Yet nothing kills your positive mindset like this negativity. Expressing frustrations stands in the way of developing your positive attitude – with which you pursue your goals. In fact, you are making a huge fool of yourself and are therefore essentially self-sabotaging. You can think of it as a (neurological) pathway that you are building. With your efforts with autosuggestion, you build 50 meters of road, and by expressing your frustrations, you cut another 30 meters off.
So a positive mindset is essential to making as much progress as possible. Raise a hand to your fellow road user who made an error in judgment. Put a smile on your face and marvel at the beautiful little things in life. It will make a world of difference.
7. Be adaptive
We all know that humans are creatures of habit. Not only do we like routine because then we know what to expect, but for most people, the comfort zone is a sacred house. We prefer not to have to deal with unforeseen circumstances. The same goes for our thought patterns: the more often we think about them, the more resistant they become, both positively and negatively.
So when learning new skills, you will need to break your fixed thought patterns and get outside your comfort zone. You don’t have to worry about jumping into the deep end; you can do it at your own pace in small steps. Remember that even the smallest actions will get you closer to your goals as long as you keep taking consistent steps.
It is crucial to adapt to new situations and use them to your advantage. By being open to change, you enable yourself to grow, learn and adjust your approach so that nothing gets in the way of your progress.
8. Surround yourself with positivity
When you have applied the previous points, you can keep control over your actions and thoughts. You can expand the process of autosuggestion and your positive goals by interacting with people who support you or have a similar vision.
We all know that criticism and negative feedback from our environment kills all positivity. People who constantly tear down your plans or are negative in life stay far away from them! Studies show that negative statements even make plants wilt. Imagine what that does to you as a human being. We are influenced, intentionally or unintentionally, by the autosuggestions of others.
The saying is, “Stay away from people who feel like sunlight.” A person’s energy is as important as the words he or she speaks. So seek out people who support you in achieving your goals, who welcome and encourage you. Positive energy attracts positivity, and together the power is greater than the sum of its parts.
9. Timing: repeat your autosuggestion at the most amenable times
When applying autosuggestion, it is important to keep good timing. The best way to do this is to keep a journal to keep track of what you’ve done and your progress. By regularly reading back, you can fathom patterns and see what works well for you and what doesn’t. So it’s a piece of self-education. So, in fact, it is a piece of self-analysis.
In any case, you know that the moments when you are in a sleep-wake state are the best times for autosuggestion. Of course, you can also choose to insert moments to meditate or apply (self)hypnosis.
10. Help others
You will notice that when you make progress, the people around you will find you more attractive. They will ask what’s on your mind and notice that you are doing well.
Nothing is more fun than sharing your successes with other people. Therefore, it can be very satisfying to transfer your skills to others to experience the same satisfaction. In effect, they are modeling you.
By introducing autosuggestion to the people around you, you can build a network around you, in which together you ‘infect’ an exponential group of people with the positivity virus. You will notice what enormous energy this generates, and when you combine this with a strong passion, love, and faith together, you can make the world a lot more beautiful.