How to De-Hypnotize Yourself | Self-Help Psychology Podcasts

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Today’s podcast has been edited and adapted from The Philosophy of Self-Help, An Application of Practical Psychology to Daily Life, by Stanton Davis Kirkham, published in 1912.

When you recognize the principles upon which the philosophy of self-help is based, you can hardly fail to have a new sense of freedom. It will begin to occur to you that the most prevalent form of slavery is a bondage to false beliefs and to the tyranny of the senses. You will conclude, therefore, that true freedom lies in the perception of truth, and in perfect self-control, and that (since you have been in slavery to your own sensations and opinions), you may now be your own liberator.

As ignorance binds, truth makes free. Every false belief is a link in the chain; but wisdom overcomes ignorance, as love casts out fear and light dispels darkness. Mental Freedom and moral evolution is, therefore, always in the direction of freedom. Defects of character and disposition are obstacles we interpose between ourselves and the light, obstacles to our own progress. As these are surmounted one by one, we begin to see more clearly, and experience greater freedom.

Enlightenment and freedom go hand in hand. False beliefs shackle us — for whatever we believe, stands to us, in the place of truth. And usurpers are never just rulers. The Aztecs were vanquished more by their own fear and superstition than by any prowess of the Spaniards, and thus were enslaved because of beliefs which obscured their vision of the facts and paralyzed their activity.

In a like manner, we are all victims to our own fears and to false concepts, which shut out the light of truth and diminish our native energy, if they do not wholly obstruct our activity. Let us not blame either Society or Fate, then, for conditions which are personal to us and for which we have the remedy in our own hands.

While there has been much discussion regarding self-help via hypnosis, apparently no one has recognized the fact that we are all hypnotized, more or less, by the group-think of the world around us. As this is one of the factors which militates against our freedom, there is something to be said of the necessity for de-hypnotization. The important question is not — can we be hypnotized or not; but being already in a state of hypnosis, how are we to be de-hypnotized and freed from the tyranny of false world-beliefs?

Some are in a profound hypnotic sleep and their acts are purely automatic, their opinions wholly reflected. Others are merely in a drowsy state and are obedient only to the hypnosis of certain ideas from which they have never been free. This hypnosis, begun by their parents and by a corrupt education system, has been fostered ever since by the verbose nonsense of the news media and by the pressure of the group-think itself.

There is only one remedy for ignorance and that is enlightenment. But if you do not know you are in slavery, you will not seek freedom. The most hopeless class intellectually are the half-educated who think they are wise. And in this day of the mass distribution of cheap knowledge and half-truths, when everyone has a smattering of information, and people learn from the news media a thousand things which are not true, this class is growing rapidly.

Instead of thinking for ourselves, as we fondly suppose, we are merely reflecting opinions and our point of view depends on the newspaper, website, or TV show that we take in.

It is a hopeful sign when we become intellectually self-reliant — a sign of developing character, when we accept a theory because on our own recognizance we believe it to be essentially good and not simply because others think so; when we essay to examine popular notions concerning ethics, religion, and health, and reject or accept them at our own discretion — for this is the way we free ourselves from the false beliefs which cramp the mind and begin to travel the road to intellectual freedom.

Self-trust is inseparable from character, and to inspire anyone to a greater degree of self-trust is above all to help them to help themselves. If we do not think for ourselves — if we have the habit of delegating others to do our thinking for us — the fibre of the mind grows flabby like an unused muscle. If we are to run a race, we must gradually strengthen the muscles and the lungs to that end. And if we are to work out our salvation, we must so strengthen the mind by use that we are able to think for ourselves, to detect error from truth, and be able to withstand the pressure of group-think and the foolish opinions of our neighbors and associates.

It is only by thinking for ourselves, and the enlightenment which ensues, that we are able to awake from the hypnotic trance in which tradition, superstition, and false belief have held us.

There has been much discussion regarding the freedom of the will. So far as our destiny is cosmic, we have no choice: inasmuch as we did not elect that there should be a Universe or that we should be an integral part of it. But in so far as we build our own characters, and by the quality of our thought invite the mental state and the nervous reactions which follow, we certainly have the freedom of the will.

”But,” say the Fatalists, ”you had to think that way because you are you, and therefore you are not responsible for what follows.” Determinism is always the refuge of the weak and the self-indulgent and always will be. When we grow strong we renounce it. This specious argument of determinism can be refuted by anyone if they simply look at the facts of their own life, if they will look squarely at them and attempt no evasion or self-apology.

It is, more often than not, the force of habit that overcomes our personal will power. And this habit (whatever it is), is a habit of our own creation. What power this habit has, we ourselves gave it by persistent recognition and cultivation.

We have always energy enough to form new habits while life lasts. Let us cultivate some healthy habits, and as these grow, they will withdraw the attention from the bad habits until the spell is broken. By continued lack of recognition, the habit will die, for habits are only kept alive by use. The power that any bad habit has over us is always in the mental attitude we cultivate. It is our own force which we invoke and then turn against ourselves.

To help another person, then, is primarily to help them turn their force in the right direction and to further develop it. The individual may need help at the start (most of us have at one time or another); but once started in the right direction, their own force increases with cultivation, for the same reason that their bad habits developed with use.

Freedom is thus largely an adjustment of inner states to outer conditions. It is not so much the environment which counts, as the manner in which we react upon that environment. To act under the stimulus of will and of reason is the part of the free man, the free woman. To act simply from sensory impressions, from the tickling of the senses, is to play the part of the slave.

Sensation is good if it serves, bad if it rules. But whether it rules or serves depends upon the efficiency of the will and also upon interest. There is no freedom for us so long as we are dominated by the senses or tyrannized by an over-consciousness of the body. If such be the case, let us withdraw the attention from bodily conditions and distribute it among spiritual and intellectual considerations — for freedom is in that quarter, never in any other. And Freedom, like the muse, must be invited. She dwells only in high places, and in the lower strata of consciousness she cannot live.

As we cultivate an interest in spiritual things, in truth, and in beauty, the attention is provided with a healthy field upon which to focus itself. This is the value of such resources — that they take us out of ourselves. The personality is like a mechanism devised for a certain work. To be self-centered is to be so absorbed in the machine as to entirely lose sight of the purpose for which it is designed, the work it is to do.

Self-centered persons are always self-hypnotized. The mental currents stagnate within them. But to love the work, to be absorbed in the Purpose for which the personal instrument came into existence, is to keep the current circulating from within outward, to expand in the direction of freedom. We may cherish our whims and our self-love if we will, but we must remember they are links in the chain which binds. Only the wise and spiritually minded are free.

As we increase in freedom, so do we increase in power. However, in truth, we have no power in ourselves: we can only regulate and adjust the mind and body, so that the power of the universe shall flow through it. This is what science does with the forces of Nature: it does not create force in any sense, it merely renders it available. If we understood ourselves, as well as we understand mechanics, we could do the same with spiritual and mental forces. We could admit more power, as it were, from the power-house, by enlarging the mains and making more perfect connections.

Self-Realization is the fruit of the inner life alone. Without meditation, without silence, without quietude, it is never achieved. It is through the inner life that we shall strengthen and reinforce the mind for contact with the world; it is through the inner life that we shall seek refuge from the vanities and vexations of the world and shall renew ourselves. Therefore cultivate the silence and make it friendly to you.

Relax! Stop thinking and acting to no worthwhile purpose — it is a waste of power. Consider well that it does not matter how fast you run, if you are going the wrong way. Why be in such a hurry? Pause and get your bearings every day. Cease the futile effort to generate power. Go into the silence and cultivate instead an attitude of mind that will admit the power from above.

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