People who don’t know much about it often associate hypnosis or NLP with coercion or manipulation. This is deeply tragic, for I experience hypnosis and NLP as radically non-coercive approaches.
I say “radically” because most methods of change make some part of us wrong or bad. Many therapists and coaches tell people to aggressively argue with their inner critics or internalized parents…but this is more of the same. People are already self-aggressive, that is in fact the problem with inner critics. Similarly many people encourage depressed individuals to aggressively fight their moods, perhaps by smiling when they don’t feel happy. But the solution to violence is not more violence, it is peacemaking.
Peace begins with us. When we welcome, listen to, and integrate all parts of ourselves — without exception — we find a natural inner peace emerges. This inner peace is simply the absence of inner conflict and struggle, of always having to do and not able to just be. Many people experience their first taste of this peace as profound and even life-changing.
As this non-violence towards one’s self integrates as a way of being, it becomes really quite ordinary and simple. This non-aggression then also projects outwards. The people who used to stir anger or annoyance in us no longer bother us so much. We find it is easier to accept people on the margins, becoming more inclusive and seeking justice for all.
Many practitioners believe it is their job to fix their clients, or even to manipulate them into changing. They might do this overtly, confronting an addict to quit drugs, or subtly by considering the client “resistant” because they don’t accept the facilitator’s suggestions.
A non-coercive way of working presupposes that full responsibility for change lies with the individual, not the facilitator. A facilitator is there only to make change easier, which only applies if the individual congruently desires change. At first I didn’t realize that not all my clients are gung ho to change, so I subtly pushed them by launching right into change work. Since then I’ve learned to sit back and help people sort through their ambivalence until they find an outcome they are congruent with pursuing, that they want to go for. Only then do I suggest ways of facilitating the change.
Of course there are some individuals who use tools like hypnosis and NLP to pursue their own selfish agendas at the expense of others. To deny this would be foolish. Sadly, some of these people even teach hypnosis or NLP, and encourage others to also use these tools coercively. I think this is a huge mistake. Not only does it cause harm to others, it causes harm to our field as well. Hypnosis and NLP, when used in a radically non-coercive manner, contribute to greater inner and outer peace. In these challenging times, we ought to do what we can to actualize wholeness and non-violence in our daily lives.
How specifically do we do this? The method known as Core Transformation (from Connirae Andreas) is an amazing way to do just that.