What I'm about to discuss is so simple, yet profoundly important for achieving success in just about every endeavor one can pursue.  Perhaps the simplicity of it is what makes it easy to overlook.  In any case, if you take this blog post to heart, and truly raise your awareness afterward, it could save you thousands of dollars and countless wasted hours.  It could propel your achievement in your personal health, wealth, and happiness.

I was recently participating in an online forum, where a user asked why self-hypnosis wasn't working when she attempted to use if for sleep improvement.  My answer was short and direct: because you're doing it wrong.

Several years ago I was speaking at a national convention for hypnotists.  My topic was marketing.  At one point in the presentation, I was talking about how even though I mostly use social media and content marketing for my business, I still occasionally use press releases and direct mail, which would be considered by many to be "old school" in today's landscape.  A gentleman in the audience raised his hand, and when I called on him, said, "You seriously still use press releases?  I have never had a single press release work."

"That's because you're doing it wrong" I replied.  He made a face as if somebody had just passed gas in front of him.

I wasn't insulting the guy, and I wasn't insulting the woman in the online forum; I was making a simple statement.  If you do something with a certain intention, and the action you commit doesn't produce the desired outcome, then either you chose the wrong action in the first place, or you chose the right action, but you did it wrong.

Why do we struggle so much with admitting that we're wrong?  Failing, making mistakes, and doing things the wrong way are all part of the learning process.  It's normal to make mistakes.  It's human to fail.  If you can't put your ego aside and accept that, you're going to struggle unnecessarily.  Why make it harder on yourself?

Whether you're an aspiring stage hypnotist, consulting hypnotist, or a lay person learning self-hypnosis for your own personal enrichment, as you explore various techniques, avoid the rush to judgement that if you try something and it doesn't work, then IT must just not work.  Instead, adopt the practice of first assuming that perhaps you didn't do it the right way in that particular instance, and review the experience to see if there's an adjustment you can make.  Talk with other practitioners who have done the same technique, and get into the deeper details of how they did it.  When you break down a skill into smaller component parts, and examine each part carefully, you're engaging in what is called "deep practice." That's how you build true mastery and get truly effective results.

Patience is a virtue not often practiced these days.  Too often, when something doesn't work the first time, we move right on to something else because we don't like the feeling of failure.  When it comes to hypnotism training, I've seen it many times.  People hop from trainer to trainer, class to class, because sitting there learning feels good, but when it comes time to practice, that good feeling isn't as easy to attain, and so folks give up pretty quickly and move on to a new training.  Some hypnotists have a whole wall of their office covered in certificates from trainings they have done, yet they're not particularly successful hypnotists.  Education, or knowing something, isn't the same as mastery.

I recently had a show at a boarding school.  It was a gorgeous campus, made up of classic federal style buildings from the 1800's and newer contemporary buildings that glistened with glass that allowed the warm light of the interior to spill out into the cold January evening.  The campus was nicer than many colleges I perform at, which is often the case when I do shows at private schools.  They are places of great privilege and means.

There were about four hundred students at the show, and their enthusiasm was wonderful.  (It was a Saturday night in January, and the nearest town to the campus was a 15 minute drive away.  They were genuinely glad to have a fun event attend.) I gave my standard pre-talk to the audience, explaining hypnosis and debunking some of the most popular myths and misperceptions people have about hypnotism.  I then conducted my hypnotic induction, got twelve students who were well-hypnotized onto the stage, and proceeded to do my standard show.  It was well received, with lots of laughter and photos and videos being taken on phones to capture the memories.  By usual standards, it was a typical show.

But it didn't end like a typical show.

As I was packing up my things and preparing to leave the theater, some students came to me and said that their friend was having difficulty walking.  "Was she in the show?" I asked.  They answered no, that she had simply sat quietly through the entire show, but upon leaving the theater she seemed groggy and sluggish.  This was not a surprise to me.

In my sixteen years of hypnotizing people for my stage show, I have seen hundreds of people go into hypnosis in the audience.  They are people who are curious about what is like to be hypnotized, but don't want to be in the show.  That's how discerning our minds can be.  One can allow oneself to be hypnotized, but reject all suggestions after being hypnotized that would end up getting you on stage.  The catch is that when this happens, the person doesn't always follow the emergence procedure at the end of the show, since they don't see themselves as part of the volunteer group, and then they end up still hypnotized after the show is over.

Since hypnosis is a natural state, there is no risk from being hypnotized.  Hypnosis cannot harm us in any way.  It's just a state of increased focus and narrowed attention.  When people are sitting in a darkened theater, listening to a hypnotist give suggestions for relaxation and enjoyment, they tend to become pretty low energy, which feels wonderful at the time, but then when the show is over, if they are clinging to that hypnotic state, it can be a challenge for them to get up and get moving again, since it feels so much better to just sit and relax.  So the description of the student as "groggy" and "sluggish" actually made sense to me.  She was super, super relaxed.  Nevertheless, I wanted to check in on her, so I started following the students out of the theater.

As I left the theater, another student came around a corner toward us.  "Where is she?" the friends asked.

"She left and went back to her room" answered the other girl.

"Perfect" I said.  "She can chill out in her room, and then when she goes to sleep she'll probably have the best night's sleep she's had in ages." When people are hypnotized in the evening, the shift in their brain waves often helps them fall asleep faster and sleep really well when they return home and go to bed.

That's not how it turned out.

When the young woman went back to her room, her friends kept talking to her about her experience, and the young woman wasn't talking back.  This concerned them, so they got the young woman on a video call with her mother.  The mother was asking her questions about what was going on, but the young woman would not answer, instead just staring at the computer screen.  This concerned the mom, understandably, so she called the school and had the student taken to the infirmary, where she was observed until morning.  Of course, nothing happened to her, because hypnosis cannot harm you, but the general public bases what they know about hypnosis on the way it's portrayed in movies and television episodes, which is always dark and dramatic.  I don't blame the mother for worrying about her kid; that's what parents do, but it's unfortunate that anyone had to go through stress and concern about this situation, because it just wasn't necessary.

Here's the bigger issue behind all of this, the reason I'm really writing about it: I'm seeing this kind of incident more and more often in my shows with young people.  It's important to understand that hypnosis didn't cause this incident with the student.  Hypnosis uncovered an existing issue.  Young people today are more stressed and anxious than ever.  They severely lack self-care skills.  When they get stressed, they are using avoidant strategies like playing games on their phones or browsing social media, but these are distractions.  They provide no actual benefit with regard to the stressed state.

So in the rare times when these students have an opportunity to be formally hypnotized, upon entering the hypnotic state they immediately feel a sense of relief, and often an urge to release their stress energy.  In the best cases, they sit quietly and enjoy the peace in tranquility.  In more uncomfortable circumstances for those around them, they will cry and vent out the stress energy.  This makes their friends, and faculty members, uncomfortable, and there's a tendency to think something's really wrong with them, when in fact what is happening is good for them.  That's how out of touch we have become with the emotional conflict of others.

I have more of these "incidents" at private schools than anywhere else.  I won't presume to know what is causing this, but I have one of these student experiences at one out of every three or four private school shows.  For comparison, it happens at one out of every ten public school shows, and one of every fifteen college shows.  And for further reference, those numbers are all more frequent.  Ten years ago it would happen half as often as it does today.

There is a certain amount of cultural commentary that I'm making here, but since this is a hypnosis training site, I do want the focus more to be on how this impacts hypnotists.  Stage hypnotists should be making note of the trends they see in their audiences, and adjust their practices when they can.  I work hard at making show an inspirational experience for young people.  I want their hypnosis experience to be so positive that they will then want to use hypnosis to improve their life somehow, in the future.  It saddens me when someone at my show slips into hypnosis and then has any kind of negative experience.  Since hypnosis is not mind control, I can't control this outcome 100% of the time, but I do want to find better and better ways of handling these interactions with people so that they don't end up scared of hypnosis and avoiding it for the rest of their lives.

Finally, if you're a practicing hypnotist, I think there's a silver lining to all of this.  This unfortunate trend can be viewed as a signal to all hypnotists that we have something to offer.  Perhaps by going into schools MORE and demonstrating hypnotism, we might be able to educate the broader public about hypnosis as a self-care tool and we could even develop programs in partnerships with schools to help young people better manage their stress and anxiety using self-hypnosis.

There has long been a division in the profession of hypnotism between consulting (or clinical) hypnotists and stage hypnotists.  Many consulting hypnotists believe that stage hypnotists misrepresent the true value of hypnotism, and some would even say that stage hypnotists hurt the profession with their playful use of a skill set that can help people change their lives.  As a hypnotist who keeps a foot in each circle of hypnotism, I believe that there is tremendous value in the work stage hypnotists do, when they do it well.  In fact, I would argue that besides the internet, stage hypnotists are the greatest asset that the profession of hypnotism has today.

Our modern culture is obsessed with entertainment.  Movies, television shows, podcasts, video games, and social media bring us not a stream, but multiple streams of novelty that can be accessed at any moment of the day, on any day of the year.  We crave novelty so much that we have built a digital delivery system that allows us to purchase a book and start reading it immediately, without a trip to the book store, or rent a movie online and avoid a trip to the theater.  We want it all, and we want it now.

Unfortunately, consulting hypnotism isn't entertaining to most folks.  It's powerful, and fascinating at times, but sitting in a chair in a hypnotist's office and being led through a hypnosis experience isn't something mainstream people are clambering to do.  If you ask the average person what they know about hypnosis, the answers you will get will mostly revolve around the ways that hypnosis has been depicted in movies in television shows.  The cliche, "cluck like a chicken" reference will usually be followed up with a reference to the brain stealing hypnotist in "Get Out" or Woody Harrelson's character's shady hypnosis moves in "Now You See Me." The drama around hypnotism in movies and television far exceeds how it works in real life.

And yet, it is fascinating.

Stage hypnotists have a wonderful opportunity to play upon that fascination, and when they do so properly, to generate much more interest in the general public about what hypnotism can really do for people and how effective it is in helping people change behavior.  And they have this opportunity at a scale that everyday consulting hypnotists simply don't have.  That's where the value to the greater profession can be found.

I have spent over fifteen years performing for high schools, colleges, and universities all over the United States.  I have performed for audiences as large as 1,600 people.  It's this notion of scale that seems to be overlooked by so many in the consulting side of hypnotism.  I sat down once and conservatively estimated how many people I had entertained.  It was at least 150,000.  My shows give me a way to make a living as an entertainer, but they also afford me the opportunity to be an evangelist.  Each night that I perform, I focus mainly on getting laughs and bringing amusement to my audience, but I also always work in another angle during my show: raising awareness of the power of the mind.

Yes, it's fun to watch the look on someone's face when they realize that they have forgotten their own first name while in hypnosis, but if you think that's cool, just think of how cool it would be to use hypnosis to quit smoking, or stop chewing your finger nails, or release your fear of flying, to actually create a change that improves the quality of your life.  How cool would that be?

The message resonates.  There's always someone who approaches me after a show and asks if hypnosis could help them with ____.  And the answer is almost always "yes." Then, I tell the individual that if they prefer in-person sessions they can find someone in their local area (there are more hypnotists out there than people realize) or if they think they'd prefer to work with me, we can do video sessions using an online webinar service.  If the issue the person is interested in is one that I don't specialize in, I encourage them to do a web search for a hypnotist who does specialize in that area.  When I perform, I'm generating leads for other hypnotists.

Not all stage hypnotists have this effect.  Some are choosing to brand themselves as "R-rated" or even "X-rated" acts, which involves show content that is risque, even offensive to some.  This is what tends to grab the attention of those consulting hypnotists who look down their noses at stage hypnotists.  They often voice the opinion that such acts are tawdry and don't show the true value of hypnotism.  It's a valid opinion, and I'm not trying to change that opinion.  I would simply say that painting all stage hypnotists with that brush would be like portraying all comedians in a negative light because some comedians use a lot of foul language and tell dirty jokes.  It's reductionist.

I would even suggest that if you're a consulting or clinical hypnotist, you should get stage training and use those skills to do public demonstrations of hypnotism that bring more awareness to the public.  I'm not saying that all hypnotists should be putting on shows, but that when you can give a demonstration of hypnotism that's more interesting than a typical office session, you will capture more attention and bring more interest to what hypnotists have to offer the general public.  Hypnosis is a safe, natural, and effective way for people to achieve new mindsets, habits, and lifestyles that will lead to healthier, happier lives.  Stage hypnotists are, and should continue to be, a critical part of that effort.

Have you thought about getting into stage hypnotism?  What would you leave behind in order to fulfill that desire?  In this video, Paul talks about his own journey to a new career as a hypnotist.

Zach Pincince trained with us in 2018, and when he finished his training he immediately started working on his social media branding, primarily through Instagram and YouTube.  But then, Zach heard about a lesser-known platform called Tik Tok, which was getting more attention with young people.  He joined the platform, and in just months skyrocketed to the top hypnotist profile on the platform amassing over two MILLION followers.  In this interview, Paul and Zach talk about what it's been like for Zach to become "Tik Tok famous," how he's leveraged that fame to help him on his other social platforms, and what it has meant for his business so far.

When asked to speak at a conference for stage hypnotists in 2018, I framed my presentation right away from a perspective that was bound to make some people in the room uncomfortable, but it's important that we be honest about what's going on in our profession: there's a serious lack of innovation.

Training in the skills of stage hypnotism simply isn't enough.  You must also receive guidance and mentorship.  Make sure you ask about this when you consider what training program you sign up for.

 

I was fortunate to spend time discussing entrepreneurship in hypnotism with Helen Mitas and Jason Linett.  Besides being fantastic human beings, Helen and Jason are great hypnotists and savvy business people.  Each of them has built a hypnotism practice in less than a decade that generates nearly half a million dollars per year.  That puts them in the top 5% of hypnotism practitioners worldwide.

Forgive the rawness of the video, but I wanted to show the real process I go through when I'm generating content for my show.  No fancy lighting, no effects.  This is me in my living room grinding through the creative process.

In this video, Paul briefly explains how some of the less popular, or less common, markets for stage hypnotists operate.  Each market has different pay levels, buyers, and time commitments.