Auto-suggestion is a psychological technique that involves a form of self-induced suggestion in which individuals guide their own thoughts, feelings, or behavior to bring about the specific changes in themselves. We all have been using auto-suggestion techniques our whole life. For instance, if you have ever told yourself to wake up at a certain time, you have used an auto- suggestion.
Autosuggestion is a simple and easy mind programming tool, which is very effective too. It was developed by an apothecary, named Émile Coué, at the beginning of the 20th century. He mainly identified two different types of self-suggestion:
- Intentional – Also called reflective autosuggestion, it is made by deliberate and conscious effort, and
- Unintentional – Also called spontaneous auto-suggestion, it is a natural phenomenon of our mental life, which takes place without conscious effort with intensity proportional to the keenness of our attention.
Subsequently, some other psychologists divided the unintentional auto-suggestion into three useful distinctions as follows:
- Those belonging to the representative domain such as sensations, mental images, dreams, visions, memories, opinions, and all intellectual phenomena.
- Those belonging to the affective domain joy or sorrow, emotions, sentiments, tendencies, passions.
- Those belonging to the motor domain actions, volitions, desires, gestures, movements at the periphery or in the interior of the body, functional or organic modifications.
The term auto-suggestion applies to all suggestions and all self-administered stimuli which reach one’s mind through the five senses. It is a way of communication between that part of the mind where conscious thought takes place, and that which serves as the seat of action for the subconscious mind.
A number of studies have shown that the brain can’t differentiate between a real memory and a visualized one. It means that when you imagine something, you can experience it with real emotions and brain chemistry. Because of this, visualization could have the ability to help you overcome fears and build self-confidence so that you can take more empowered action towards what you want most in life.
A study, published in Social Cognitive and Effective Neuroscience, investigated the effects of affirmations on the brain with an MRI scan. Researchers found that self-affirmations activated parts of the brain that were associated with self-related processing and reward. Participants who showed greater activity in these parts of the brain exhibited less sedentary behavior after the study than those who didn’t use positive self-affirmations.
Whether you have a goal you’re looking to hit or want to improve your outlook, positive affirmations can have a huge impact. They can also help one to improve self-confidence and the ability to overcome obstacles. By reducing negative thoughts and focusing on the positive ones, you can influence your life and enhance your overall well being. The more you repeat positive affirmations, the better it is.
It has been well established that a deliberate suggestion can influence how well people remember things, how they respond to medical treatments, and even how well they will perform and behave.
Auto suggestion techniques, when used with positivity, can be used to improve performance in every domain of life. Used negatively, or in ignorance, it can do the opposite as well. And it does.
Auto-suggestion techniques -
Primarily, the following auto suggestion techniques for Mind Programming have been recommended:
Pay attention to the self-talk –
Whenever you catch yourself in negative self-talk, especially internal dialogue that expresses fear, doubt, or self-loathing, delete it. Then replace it with more encouraging positive words that is appropriate to the situation, such as “I am getting better and better, etc.” You can also give yourself a direct suggestion that will assist you such as “slow down, focus, or relax.”
Use affirmations –
Affirmations are positive, present tense language stated in the first person. Never form positive sentences or phrases with negative nuances. For example, we say, “I am tired”, “I am useless”, and then wonder why we actually feel that way. This means, our thoughts are so powerful that they can either build or destroy us. So, we must focus on positives instead of negatives since energy flows where attention does.
Pay attention to them while using. Positive affirmations can be used anywhere. A lot of people like to use affirmations in the shower, while driving, at the bus stop, or on a bus, plane, or train.
Use visualizations –
Visualization is the language of the subconscious mind. When you visualize yourself doing something the right way while using auto-suggestion, it makes a strong impression on the subconscious mind. The combination makes for a very powerful mind programming strategy. This will be more effective when it is applied in an alpha state of mind.
Use repetitions –
One must counter the negative programming with lots of repetitions of positive language before it can be replaced. It can be done silently or aloud if you prefer and the situation permits. Use boring repetitive tasks as an opportunity for programming yourself with auto suggestion.
What is the alpha state of mind? –
When you are actively awake with brain wave activity between 14 and 30 HZ, you are typically in a state of mind known as Beta. In contrast, when your brain wave activity slows down to between 7 and 14 HZ, you are said to be in an alpha state. It is considered a relaxed state of mind that allows you to be more receptive, open, creative, and less critical.
We access this state quite naturally during sleep, when day-dreaming, or more consciously with meditation and self-hypnosis. In fact, many times throughout the day, your brain will dip into an alpha state, even when you are awake with your eyes open. Learning to access an alpha state can help you with memory, creativity, and intuition.
In an alpha state of mind, we have more influence over our subconscious programming. You can easily access the alpha state of mind by simply closing your eyes and following your breath going in and out for a few minutes while sitting in an easy posture. Then use the auto suggestion techniques mentioned above. Obviously, you should avoid using the visualization techniques while driving etc. because it requires you to close your eyes or de-focus your vision.
The bottom line –
Auto-suggestion is the easiest way to re-programme our subconscious mind. Each of us has used auto-suggestion at some point in our lives. It has been found that most of us use auto-suggestion to focus on negative things rather than positive ones. That is why negativity keeps on increasing but instead we must focus on positivity in our life.
November 2015 Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 11(4)