Self-Hypnosis in the Digital Age

Self-hypnosis is used as a tool for creating focus in your subconscious mind. The primary emphasis revolved around how learning the technique could help you reach your personal as well as business goals. There are, however, other reasons why you may wish to master this simple, yet effective, technique. Almost without exception, people who have learned self-hypnosis report an increased ability to concentrate and relax. This is not surprising, since the technique involves completely, yet effortlessly, focusing your attention for a period of time as you repeatedly suggest the goal that you are trying to achieve to your subconscious mind. With practice, most people become better   at entering the state of focus at will. This effortless focus, or what is technically known as response attentiveness, is often the exact opposite state of mind that most of us strive to achieve in our business lives. In the high-speed, complex, and technologically advanced world that we currently live in, rapid processing of information is typically given priority over the slow, meditative contemplation of solutions. There are advantages and disadvantages inherent to each style of information processing. Having access to and developing your skills in both ways of thinking can be advantageous for a number of reasons.

We live in what many are calling the digital age. Digital devices have become so ubiquitous and have been interwoven into our everyday lives so deeply that it is easy to forget that the first personal computer was sold just 40 years ago in 1975 as a kit. In 1983, less than 10% of the US population reported using a computer. Today, over 95% of the US population owns a personal computer and uses a cell phone. (Pew Research)

I was born in the analog world. On the day I was born, there were no personal computers, no cell phones or smartphones, no color TV, no Internet, no email, no personal printers or fax machines, no digital calculators, no Facebook and no Twitter. The speed with which these devices have been integrated into our lives is nothing short of breathtaking. Many people forget that none of these digital enhancements would have been possible without the adoption of the binary system. In 1946, the first electronic computer using the binary system was invented and it set the stage for all of the future digital inventions. By switching from analog to a binary system the potential speed with which computations could be made was instantly increased by orders of magnitude. Instead of manipulating multiple digits, (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), which was cumbersome and slow, only two digits were used. Even though the binary system was first proposed in 1701, it took nearly 350 years for technology to catch up and be able to produce a machine capable of taking advantage of the speed that type of counting system offered as opposed to analog. Once that happened, however, things took off like a rocket.

I have been witness to our society’s conversion from the analog system to the digital. And as an observer of human behavior, I almost immediately began to notice changes in the way people behaved in relation to all of the new digital equipment that they began using. The huge increase in processing speed resulted in information being manipulated and delivered to people much faster than ever before. Instead of generating computations longhand or with the use of a slide rule, they could generate an answer in seconds by simply pressing buttons on handheld calculator. Instead of going to a library, finding a reference book and looking through it to research a particular piece of information, one can now simply query a search engine and get specific information or the most obscure facts almost effortlessly. Today, we carry the internet in our pocket and have virtually instant access to the largest encyclopedic body of knowledge in the history of mankind.

The positive benefits from the use of digital equipment are too long to list here. Suffice it to say that as information processing got faster, people have adapted to it and benefited from it. Historically, change was slow to be adopted, typically feared and often resisted. In the last few decades, as the speed with which information is processed and delivered increased so dramatically, we have become comfortable with the concept of newer, better, and faster. Today’s customers not only expect rapid change — they demand it. As access to large amounts of information and data has become available to a wider population, subtle changes have begun to take place in our collective thinking process as well as many of our behaviors in order to handle the increase in the speed with which the information is delivered to us.In short, the machines are beginning to change us.

We have begun to mimic many of the actions of the computers we’ve invented. Many people now think in what I call “frozen instants in time.” Take a moment and try to remember the last half hour of your life and you will be lucky if you can actively recall even five of those minutes. Where were you the rest of the time? It certainly wasn’t in the present. People are starting to incorporate computer jargon and shorthand within their everyday speech. Some people say shorthand phrases like “brb, lol and jk” during a normal conversation. Even the number of people showing up at emergency rooms because they have walked into a door or a telephone pole while looking at their Smartphone has been increasing 1400% yearly.

When I was being trained as a psychologist in college and graduate school, there was no reference listed as Attention Deficit Disorder. It was added for the first time in 1994. Today, some estimates of the number of schoolchildren exhibiting symptoms of the problem range as high as one in five. What could have caused so many people have their attention span affected in such a short period of time? I gave a speech in 2012 to a large group of insurance executives where I made the case that the adoption of digital devices was a primary cause. I titled the talk “The Age of Change” and you can view it here. Within that same time frame, physical ailments related to stress have also increased. Sleep disorders have become much more common and the number of anxiety disorders has increased dramatically in the last 20 years.

It would be foolhardy to suggest that all of the above-mentioned changes are due solely to the introduction of digital devices into our lives. However, as the use of personal digital computing has increased, it is undeniable that measurable changes have taken place in how long the average person can concentrate or focus their attention and stress related problems are certainly on the rise. When was last time you saw a 60 second commercial? Advertisers no longer use them because the average person simply cannot pay attention that long.

By learning and practicing a simple meditative technique such as self-hypnosis, much of the negative effects of high speed mental processing can be ameliorated or counteracted. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to turn off all of the distracting thoughts going through your mind and focus on just one thing whenever you wanted to? If you know anyone who has experienced hypnosis, ask them how it felt. Somewhere in their description they will undoubtedly report that they were incredibly relaxed. By just spending a few minutes a day in quiet reflection, you can learn to return to a resting state, which, after all, is the natural state of your body and mind. Relaxation is simply what is left when all the tension is gone.

Many years ago, while I was in graduate school, I became friends with a medical student who described stress to me from a physician’s point of view. He said “the sleeping human body is a thing of great beauty. There are dozens of systems working in perfect harmony. If the sleeping person rolls over and exposes one of their legs to a draft, a signal is sent to their brain and — without having to wake up — the person rolls over and covers up the cold leg. They are fast asleep, yet the sleeping body regulates hormones, respiration, blood pressure, heart rate and dozens of other systems flawlessly. Then the person wakes up, starts worrying, and screws up the whole thing!”

Practicing self-hypnosis for just a few minutes each day could prove to be one of the simplest, yet smartest things you could do for yourself to recharge both your mind as well as your body.

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