Last updated: 25 October 2016
What’s the point of hypnosis?
If you said to help people, you’d be right. That’s the ultimate goal. To be a force for good in the world. No arguments there.
However, there’s a problem. Because, as a hypnotist, you can only help people if you’re able to hypnotize them. While that statement seems a little contradictory, it’s not. And here’s why.
You have to make contact with their unconscious mind, because that’s where the power to make change resides. And the only way you can do that is by breaking down their resistance.
That’s a particularly useful skill to have with certain kinds of people – people who think things through too much, or perhaps who’ve never been hypnotized before. Reason being, in these types of cases, you may encounter more resistance, at least during the initial phases.
As a hypnotist, you might already know lots of techniques you can use to break down someone’s resistance.
But, they take time. Ideally you need something that’s fast, reliable, effective and easy to use. Something that fits into the 4-stage hypnosis protocol like a glove.
Something like the Non-Awareness Set.
5 Things You Need To Know About Mastering The Non-Awareness Set
The Non-Awareness Set is a technique created by hypnosis pioneer Dr. Milton Erickson. Check out the points below so you can master it just like the late and great Erickson did:
We’ll take a detailed look at all 4 components that make up the Non-Awareness Set shortly. But first, what’s the point of using it in the first place?
Why Is The Non-Awareness Set So Effective When It Comes To Breaking Down Resistance In Hypnosis?
Practicing hypnosis on anyone means putting them into a trance. And the way to put someone into a trance is by using some type of induction.
The Non-Awareness Set is essentially another method for inducing a trance. There are a couple of reasons why it’s particularly effective at doing that:
- It mirrors the 4-stage hypnosis protocol – it absorbs attention, bypasses the critical factor, stimulates the unconscious mind and leads the unconscious to a desired outcome, a change or transformation.
- It causes a conscious/unconscious dissociation, which is beyond the conscious mind’s ability to process, meaning that it breaks down resistance so the unconscious can take over.
Here are the 4 components in the Non-Awareness Set, with details on what they mean:
1. Orienting Question
Your goal is to draw your subject’s attention to something happening outside their normal conscious awareness. You do that by asking simple questions. Each question highlights something your subject isn’t aware of, something happening outside their conscious experience. For instance:
“Did you know that your breathing has changed since we started talking?”
2. Echo Effect
Whatever question you ask, you echo it to imply that your subject is going into a hypnotic trance. When you ask about their breathing, they might reply that they weren’t aware it had changed. Then you echo the question to imply that hypnosis is taking place:
“You weren’t aware that your breathing had changed, were you?”
If they say “no” you can move on to the reframe.
You’ve already indicated that things are happening outside their awareness. Next you want to drive that point home with more questions to confirm exactly what’s happening. You might say something like this:
“But your breathing has changed, hasn’t it? Isn’t that amazing? How it can change without you even noticing?”
They can’t argue the point because they’ve already agreed it was happening.
4. Deepening Question
Now you need to deepen the trance. There are lots of ways to do this, but the most effective is perhaps to simply keep asking questions.
You’ve already shown your subject that things are happening beyond their control, i.e. they’re going into hypnosis. So now you can build on that while at the same time encouraging them to go even deeper. For instance, you might ask:
“How did you know to change your breathing like that?”
“How did you know that slowing down your breathing was the perfect way to enter hypnosis?”
As you can see, the questions are pretty basic. The questions themselves are not important, however. What is important is that they break down your subject’s resistance by shifting awareness away from their conscious mind and towards their unconscious mind. Every time you ask a question they have to go back inside their head and deal with it.
Questions such as this imply that things are happening outside your subject’s awareness. Or to put it another way, that they’re going into hypnosis. Whether or not they think they’re going into hypnosis is irrelevant, because by the time they notice it, it will already have happened.
Part of the reason why the Non-Awareness Set is so effective is because it follows the 4-stage hypnosis protocol exactly. Here’s a quick reminder of the protocol:
Step 1. Absorb attention
Step 2. Bypass the critical factor
Step 3. Activate an unconscious response
Step 4. Use the response to lead towards a desired outcome
>>Interested in watching a breakdown of this technique? Watch the below 15-minute video with master hypnotist Igor Ledochowski.
How To Seamlessly Weave The Non-Awareness Set Into The 4-Stage Hypnosis Protocol And Break Down Resistance
Now let’s see how the Non-Awareness Set can be seamlessly woven into this protocol. This creates the induction process without having to do anything else. Here’s how it all fits together:
This is the beginning of the 4-stage protocol where the idea is to absorb the subject’s attention. You do this with your orienting questions.
You don’t have to learn a specific set of questions, either. In fact, it’s probably better that you don’t, because every subject is different and you’ll naturally want to create your own patterns and style.
Your questions can revolve around whatever is happening at the time. You might ask them how they’re feeling at that particular moment.
Or you might choose to comment on other behaviors besides breathing. Maybe they’re tapping their foot, blinking a lot, or fidgeting in their chair.
Any behavior can be used as a starting point to get their attention and begin shifting their awareness.
Once you’ve got their attention, the next step is to bypass the critical factor.
A great way to get around the critical part of the conscious mind is to constantly surprise your subjects.
You can do that with questions, with humor, or anything that puts them off their stride.
The goal is to create a situation where your subject doesn’t know what’s going to happen next.
When you keep introducing new questions, for example, it creates a feeling of uncertainty. And when people feel uncertain, they naturally become more suggestible.
By asking questions that lead them in a chosen direction, and echoing those questions with information that’s relevant to their experience, you build a loop that keeps the momentum moving forward.
At this stage of the process, it’s all about attitude. Think H+. Positive energy that’s infused with elements of surprise and/or humor.
The third part of the 4-stage protocol is all about getting an unconscious response. With the Non-Awareness Set, you want to do more than that. You want to get your subject to realize that this conscious/unconscious dissociation is taking place.
Why? Well, there are 3 main reasons:
- They’ll feel like they’re part of an amazing experience
- They’ll be keen to keep following along to see what else is going to happen
- They’ll be more willing to enter hypnosis the next time
NOTE: This is all assuming that the subject goes along with what you’re asking. If there is still resistance, do more rapport building to increase their trust with you as the hypnotist and then begin with the Non-Awareness Set.
How can you help them to recognize they’ve had an unconscious response? Easy – by asking questions. For instance, you might ask:
“Have you had this kind of sensation/experience before?”
“Does X, Y or Z feel less normal?” (i.e. your hands, your feet, your arms etc.)
The final step is where you lead the unconscious to the desired outcome, or where you use what’s going on to create change.
This is the utilization stage where you do the actual hypnotic work.
Once you get used to the technique, the previous steps will smoothly induce a trance that makes it possible for change work to take place.
From here, it’s up to you how you take things forward, based on the hypnotic techniques that best suit your subject. These may include any or all of the following:
- Hypnotic Blitz
- Hypnotic Stories
Whatever works for you, and whatever you’re comfortable with, that’s what you should use.
One of the secrets of making this stage work is patience. Give your subject a suggestion and then keep quiet – allowing them time to process your suggestion and naturally deepen the hypnotic trance at the same time.
How To Build Subtlety Into The Non-Awareness Set
The Non-Awareness Set is nothing if not subtle. The more subtle, and even slightly mind bending your questions are, the more effective your induction becomes.
Allow your unconscious mind to use whatever responses they’re giving you to take your subject deeper into trance. One way of accomplishing this is to use a decision tree.
What’s a decision tree, you may be wondering?
It’s a name used to describe possibilities. You can choose to move your subject in direction A, B, C or D, which means there are plenty of branches or offshoots you can follow.
And when you get to wherever that direction takes you, you can choose to follow A, B, C or D again.
For instance, think of a fork in the road. You can go left, or you can go right. Suppose you go right and come to a wall. Do you turn left? Right? Jump over it? Whichever way you decide to go will open up a whole new set of choices.
The point is that the Non-Awareness Set is something that’s fluid and that evolves. It’s a communication between you and your subject that’s designed to bring them into a trance effectively, just by asking a few simple questions. And if you’re not sure how to get the process going, here are a few default questions that will help:
- What part of your body is heaviest (or lightest) right now?
- Did you notice the feeling of your feet touching the floor?
- What part of your body feels different?
- How are you feeling right now?
- Where do you feel that in your body?
- What’s happening right now?
The Benefits Of The Non-Awareness Set
When you use the Non-Awareness Set on a regular basis, it’ll help you become a better hypnotist.
You’ll begin to recognize the signs that someone is going into a trance.
So watch for hypnotic trance signals such as breathing changes, color changes in the face, change of blink rate and signs of relaxation – as you ask your questions.
(Oh… by the way, if you want instant access to an entire list of trance signals, you’ll want to pick up this free report,pick up this free report, which reveals 14 trance signs to look out for when you’re working with your subject.)
Then, as you receive these trance signals, travel down that path and develop it into a deeper trance that is free from resistance.
If you think about it, there aren’t many techniques that are as easy to implement. After all, you only need to ask a few questions to get the ball rolling. And asking those questions enables you to:
- Get the hypnotic interaction going
- Get feedback from your subject
- Use that feedback to expand the induction process so it becomes more powerful
When To Use The Non-Awareness Set
You can use the Non-Awareness Set on its own or in combination with other inductions. Here are a few ideas about when you might put it into practice:
- Add it into your chit chat when you meet a new client
- Start your induction with the Non-Awareness Set
- Add the Non-Awareness Set in the middle of another induction – this is particularly useful if you’re introducing something new to your subject, or if you’re trying to troubleshoot a specific issue
There aren’t any rules about when to use the Non-Awareness Set. The only thing that matters is that it gets results, so use it when you want a powerful induction that bypasses the critical factor almost effortlessly.
Also remember that the Non-Awareness Set is just another hypotonic technique for inducing a trance.
It’s not meant as a way to trick people into hypnosis, or to show off your hypnotic powers. Like any other induction method, it exists to help you break down resistance and communicate with your subject’s unconscious.
As long as you start things off with H+, and as long as your aim is to help your subject in some way, then the Non-Awareness Set puts another useful tool into your hypnosis toolbox.