My friend once asked me – Does Autosuggestion Work? I said ‘Yes’ it works. She replied, so if I keep saying “I am rich” for the next 30 days will I become rich? What do you think, will she become rich? What would you reply to her?
I said ‘No’ – She got irritated and said then what’s the use of autosuggestion, I don’t think it will work for me.
Are you like my friend who has probably heard about autosuggestion, perhaps tried it and failed at it? If ‘Yes’, then give me five minutes and continue reading this post to discover the truth about autosuggestion.
In the last few decades there has been a revolution going on in the area of self-development. Now it has become very clear that one of the main things influencing the quality of people’s lives is their way of thinking. It is one’s mental attitude which is playing a major role in the areas of self-esteem, confidence, health, relationships and finances – Do you agree with me on this?
Autosuggestion is a technique, if used properly, can immensely help in shaping our thoughts or mental attitude to improve the quality of our life. Before I explain the science of why autosuggestion works, let us understand how it originated and what is autosuggestion all about.
Origin of Autosuggestion
The man who is considered to be the father of autosuggestion is Emile Coue. He was a French pharmacist and self trained psychologist who lived in the early 1900s. He operated a free clinic in France where students from around the world to learn autosuggestion techniques.
The main premise of his method was that if you repeat a statement orally or mentally, with feeling for about 15 minutes a day and do it consecutively for 21 days then it will become a command for your brain which it will execute.
His most famous sentence, which helped many people to heal from various illness was “Every day in every way I am getting better and better”. This statement was recited 20 times every morning right after waking up and 20 times every night right before going to bed. The key thing is this statement was to be recited verbally, softly with faith but without brutal force or effort.
Remember my friend above, I told her “No” when she asked me “Will I become rich, if I keep repeating I am rich for the next 30 days”. The reason I said ‘No’ is that there was no faith or emotion behind that statement, she was merely trying to produce an outcome through sheer effort – This is not the correct way and you will never succeed with autosuggestion if you use it in this manner. I shall talk about this more but first let’s understand the science behind autosuggestion.
How & Why Autosuggestion Works (Scientific Explanation)
The question that many people and I am assuming you reading this post might also have is how can life change by merely repeating a bunch of statements. Is life so simple?
I know people who often laugh when they hear about autosuggestion or affirmations and even mock at people who are doing or practicing autosuggestion. So let’s understand what is the actual mechanism behind autosuggestion.
The answer lies in the field of neuroscience. Simply stated, autosuggestion reinforces a chemical pathway in the brain, making the connection between neurons stronger. It is known that neurons that are routinely fired in a specific pattern will strengthen their bond, that way wiring in a complex network that will be automatically set off whenever a trigger is presented in one’s life. We might conclude that something similar to this process is what goes on in someone’s brain when they practice autosuggestion.
This reminds me of a famous experiment which was once done on dogs. Every time the owner gave food to his dogs he would at the same time ring a bell. Over a period of time after repeating this enough number of times, the dogs would salivate by just hearing the bell with no food around. Practically the dogs created a new neural pathway in their brains in which they connected sight of the food with the sound of the bell.
Coming back to human beings we also have also created millions of neural pathway in our brains. Some pathways are created consciously and some have been created subconsciously. According to psychologists the child’s character is created in the first several years of its life. If the child repeatedly hears ‘You are no good’ or ‘You are stupid’ it creates an appropriate neural pathway in its brain and his or her character is shaped accordingly. The same is true for positive statements like ‘You are smart’ or ‘You are a good boy or girl’. This is the very reason why some people have positive or negative beliefs about themselves.
So the question is can these negative beliefs be changed?
The answer is ‘Yes’ by autosuggestion the neurons will keep firing and the appropriate neural pathway will be formed and strengthened. When this new pathway becomes strong enough the person will enact or behave as per the new belief. This process is not that simple as it sounds. Now that the science behind how autosuggestion is clear, we shall look into the difficulties or challenges while practicing autosuggestion.
Challenges While Practicing Autosuggestion
Lack of patience is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to practicing autosuggestion. Majority of us including me want quick results, we expect the programming of our mind to happen within few days of practicing autosuggestion. Let’s understand this in more detail.
Let’s assume you have a belief ‘I am stupid’ and you want to change this to ‘I am smart’. First thing to understand is that most of our beliefs are formed in our early childhood days. Since your childhood days you may have faced innumerable experiences / situations in which this belief got reinforced. Perhaps you did something wrong and your teacher passed a remark ‘How stupid are you to do this’ or your parents told you this or your friends kept mocking at you all the time that ‘You are a stupid fellow’.
Now here’s my point – The belief ‘I am stupid’ is strongly ingrained in your brain, now when you start to practice an autosuggestion “I am smart” you will feel weird in the beginning because you feel that the opposite is true (I am stupid). This happens because the neural pathway containing this belief (I am stupid) is stronger than the new pathway (I am smart).
As you practice autosuggestion there can be a recurrence of situation or event which makes you believe or reinforce the belief ‘I am stupid’. This can be counterproductive. This happens to me several times as I practice autosuggestion. In such instances it is important to remind ourselves that it is the old pathway which is still dominant in our brain and we need to continue with the practice of autosuggestion. Sometimes it is like a war going on between the old pathway & new pathway and one has to be persistent enough until the new pathway wins i.e. it should become stronger than the old pathway.
You might wonder so how do you need to practice autosuggestion to implant new beliefs or to create a new neural pathway ? Is it the magic number 21 days?
Unfortunately the answer is “No”, the time period of 21 days would be enough for a person who does not have any negative pathway and wants to create new positive one. Most people already have a lot of negative stuff which they want to change. Hence, to reprogram or to replace the old pathways you need to be persistent.
Quite frankly there is no ‘magic number’ because every person is different and so is their programming, so until you don’t feel / see improvement keep repeating the autosuggestion. This is the major hurdle for many people as they don’t know how much time will it take to replace their old beliefs. Hence, many people try autosuggestion and quit after a couple of weeks as they don’t see any change. They forget the fact that these old neural pathways have been formed as a result of their thinking over the years (probably since childhood) and you cannot expect these to change in 2 or 3 weeks.
So here is my question to you:
How do you effectively use autosuggestion to bring about the change in your old neural pathways or replace the old ones with new pathways? The answer is you need to incorporate autosuggestion as a part of your daily routine. In simple words; make autosuggestion a daily practice. Let me show you some ways to do this.
How To Use Autosuggestion in 3 Powerful Ways
If you have read so far, by now you know that autosuggestion is a powerful technique through which you can influence your mind and thereby your attitude. Now I shall share with you three powerful ways of integrating autosuggestion in your daily routine;
Writing is a traditional however an effective method to reprogram your mind. Take a piece of paper and fold it from the center so that we have two sides of the paper i.e. left and right.
On the left side of the page mention the list of negative things you wish to change. On the right side of the page rewrite every negative statement into a positive statement.
While writing positive statements avoid sentences starting with “I will be” instead use statements in present tense “I am”. Here are some examples:
- I am enjoying good health.
- I am getting better at my work every day.
- I am transforming into a loving and kind person every day.
Use powerful words so that you can feel the emotions as you write them. Once you are done writing, you can fold the paper in half. Make sure the positive statement side is showing. You can now pin it near your dressing table or refrigerator. The idea is to read the positive statements on a daily basis.
Another option (if you have the time) is to write the positive statements on a daily basis in a journal. Research by neuroscientists suggests when you are writing something down with a pen and paper, you are stimulating a collection of cells in the base of your brain known as the Reticular Activating System (RAS). The RAS is the filter for all the information your brain needs to process and it gives more attention to what you are currently focusing on. In other words, the physical act of writing brings the information to the forefront and triggers your brain to pay close attention. if you have the time I would definitely recommend you this method.
Visualization is type of exercise wherein you need to imagine or have a mental imagery of your desired outcome. The best part about visualization is that it helps to trigger an emotion with the desired image. As explained earlier, when it comes to autosuggestion sheer mental force of repeating statements will not be of any help. However, if you can feel, imagine then it will be of great help to you for programming your mind with positive beliefs.
One very important point to note is that visualization and autosuggestion work best when you are in relaxed state of mind. Hence, before you practice autosuggestion, take a minute or two to relax your mind.
As you repeat your autosuggestion, visualize yourself experiencing them. Create a mental image and associate with it, the more meaning and emotion you can evoke with that image the more efficient it becomes. For example: If you want a promotion or a raise in salary then see yourself talking to your manager regarding the same and see in your mind the manager congratulating you on your promotion or salary hike.
Repetition is the key for success, so try to visualize two or three times a day and be consistent with your practice.
This is very similar to a guided meditation track. The idea here is to record your autosuggestion through a voice recorder and then play it on your phone or any music player. These tracks can have your own voice or you can purchase a self suggestion kit (I have shared a link below, you can check it). I personally prefer this method and use it till today.
You can use headphones and listen to these recordings before you go to sleep. Always remember your mind is most open to suggestion when it is relaxed so do not forget to relax, take some deep breaths so that you get into the right state of mind.
Again as you hear the recordings put as much emotion you can into the autosuggestion. You can visualize yourself to create the feelings and emotions while listening to the recordings.
So that’s it my friend, I hope you now have answers to the what and how of autosuggestion. If you still need help, feel free to post your questions in the comments box. Also, always remember there are no shortcuts, you need to be persistent, diligent and repeat it on a daily basis to see your life change in astonishing ways.