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Many seem to think the power of suggestion is one for weak minded people. others believe that thoughts can be so easily implanted that it doesn’t matter how strong minded you are, brainwashing is inevitable. I believe that when what you believe and what you expect are in line with the suggestion it is likely you will buy into it. Marketers and advertisers are constantly commanding you to do something because someone else is doing it. The reason being that research indicates that when you indicate others are doing it, those that want to be part of the whole will often be persuaded even if they would not have been otherwise. This isn’t just about buying things. A hotel chain put signs up saying ‘ 78% of people hang their towels up after use’ and had a huge increase in guests doing just that. We are bombarded with negative suggestions around food every single minute and facebookers are the the worst for trying to instill their fears into others. If you have a fear of cancer or ill health with no real indications of health issues, un-follow those ones, do what you know and carry on. Who wants to live that expectation before age gives us no option? You don’t need to guard against the suggestions others may give you, what you need to do, is spruce up your own expectations so your responses are not a slave to negative gearing.

These are not random suggestions, years of surveys and testing have shown that you can’t catch everyone with an idea, but you can catch many that would not otherwise be influenced. For example if you like a particular brand of food, it is easy to sell you that brand, even when the product itself is no better than others. The trick for retailers is to sell that brand to anyone who may not otherwise buy it. That is the game and we are all part of it. Moving beyond selling, we give ourselves suggestions every day, possibly every minute of every day.

These can be good or bad, they can buoy you up for something difficult or induce anxiety. Our moods are so susceptible to our expectation or fears, that it is easy to increase them by suggestion. The implication that someone knows the experience you will have has huge power and does indeed frame your experience.

Doctors do this if they give you a worst case scenario without also giving you a best possible chance. The name for this is D.I.Ds (Doctor Induced Disease), but they are not the only ones with a reputation for playing on peoples minds. Ever had someone tell you that a dental or medical procedure “will really hurt,” that a test “was really hard,” or that a new boss “is impossible to deal with”—and then had those scenarios play out just as predicted? The reality here is each one of those statements plays into a fear you already have, when you truly don’t believe something, or are confident enough to let things play out to find out, it has no effect whatsoever.

Unfortunately we all have fears at some point. Just as unfortunately there always seems to be someone prepared to express theirs in relation to something you are about to experience. According to research by Maryanne Garry, Robert Michael, and Irving Kirsch.

‘Across many studies, research has shown that deliberate suggestion can influence how people perform on learning and memory tasks, which products they prefer, and how they respond to supplements and medicines, which accounts for the well-known placebo effect. But what can explain the powerful and pervasive effect that suggestion has in our lives? The answer lies in our ‘response expectancies,’ or the ways in which we anticipate our responses in various situations. These expectancies set us up for automatic responses that actively influence how we get to the outcome we expect. Once we anticipate a specific outcome will occur, our subsequent thoughts and behaviors will actually help to bring that outcome to fruition.’

But it’s not just deliberate suggestion that influences our thoughts and behaviors – suggestions that are not deliberate can have the very same effects. As the authors point out, “simply observing people or otherwise making them feel special can be suggestive,” a phenomenon termed the Hawthorne effect. As a result, people might work harder, or stick to a task for longer. And this case is more worrying, says Garry, “because although we might then give credit to some new drug or treatment, we don’t realize that we are the ones who are actually wielding the influence.”

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This process translates to some pretty amazing things. For example, if you get a bad nights sleep, there is no actual proof this affects your ability to think clearly or work productively. Your expectation however, is that you will have these problems. Sleep deprivation is an issue although it is unlikely to have a deep effect unless it is days rather than hours you have missed. Scientists from Colorado College published a study in an experimental psychology magazine that showed: if you believe you are well rested, even when you are not, your brain does function better. They used a blindly simple technique. They had sleep deprived individuals, tell themselves they had, had a great nights sleep and noticed consistent improvements in problem solving and productivity. The trick of course, is believing it. I have used sleep hypnosis many times over the years to great effect, sometimes with interesting results. Once client felt it worked for a while but she was again struggling with sleep, thanked me for the 5 months peace she had had, but was going to a sleep specialist. He suggested that before she underwent any programs she spent 1 month keeping a sleep diary. When she did this, she was meant to write in it every hour she was awake. If she woke at 1 am, she was to write this in the diary, if she got up ate or drank she was to write when and what time. At the end of her month she came back to me and apologized, she wasn’t waking. She told herself that because she was tired, she must have been awake and not sleeping. She was both shocked and found it funny.

We all talk about this power we have, we call it a power. I call it your super power. Much of my mentoring is to encourage clients to look at what they need to say, think or feel to improve their day to day experience. I often find myself listening to ‘a story’. Something that matches their expectations that often doesn’t make sense. The only time suggestion is a genuine power, is when you are using it for good, whether for yourself or others. Remember the next time you want to give someone a negative expectations because of your own past, which to be fair, may not represent what will happen for them. In a modern world with marriage and divorce behind them, too many give a negative expectation to those just entering into those states. Why would you do that? Why would anyone want to do that? How would you feel if you had hopes and optimism for a venture and were told before you even started, that it would be too hard and it would never work. The chances are pretty high for most, that they would either not start, or have a half hearted approach. There will always be the stubborn souls out there that will do it in spite of the suggestions, but they are not the norm.

For a brighter, happier future ask yourself every morning, “How can I use my power today?” If you are having a difficult day or hour, what can you say to yourself to shift your energy? There is ALWAYS something you can say or do to alter your expectation. Practice suggestions and you will become a super power in your own life.