03 Jan Self-Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion | Emile Coué Books
Podcast Transcript: Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast. With the new year approaching many of us have begun contemplating how we can make 2017 our best year yet—how we can overcome old self-defeating habits and live up to our fullest potential. I hope that over the past year our podcast has given you lots of ideas about how to transform your life for the better. But if you would like some additional help, I am pleased to announce today the launch of The Living Hour’s Majesty Program.
The Majesty Program is an affirmations meditation for self-development in every aspect of your personal and professional life. The program uses our powerful Autosuggestion Sound Method, which we developed through our research in the science of autosuggestion and the field of neuroscience.
This unique meditation audio program is available for only $11.99. And right now, you can get a 30% discount by using the coupon code: inspiration. To learn more, please go to LivingHour.org (forward slash) majesty. That’s LivingHour.org/majesty.
In keeping with the launch of our autosuggestion audio meditation, I thought it only appropriate to conduct a reading today from the work of Dr. Emile Coue, who led scientific research in the field of autosuggestion at his French clinic during the early 1900s.
Our reading was edited and adapted from the book Self-Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion, published in 1922.
Suggestion, or rather Autosuggestion, is quite a new subject, and yet at the same time it is as old as the world.
It is new in the sense that until now it has been wrongly studied and in consequence wrongly understood; it is old because it dates from the appearance of human beings on earth. In fact, autosuggestion is an instrument that we possess at birth, and in this instrument, or rather in this force, resides a marvelous and incalculable power, which according to circumstances produces the best or the worst results.
Knowledge of this force is useful to each one of us, but it is especially indispensable to doctors, judges, lawyers, and to those engaged in the work of education.
By knowing how to practice autosuggestion consciously it is possible, in the first place, to avoid provoking in others bad autosuggestions which may have disastrous consequences, and secondly, consciously to provoke good ones instead, thus bringing physical health to the sick, and moral health to the neurotic and the erring, the unconscious victims of earlier autosuggestions, and to guide into the right path those who had a tendency to take the wrong one.
In order to understand properly the phenomena of suggestion, or to speak more correctly of autosuggestion, it is necessary to know that two absolutely distinct selves exist within us. Both are intelligent, but while one is conscious, the other is unconscious. For this reason the existence of the latter generally escapes notice. It is however easy to prove its existence if one merely takes the trouble to examine certain phenomena and to reflect a few moments upon them. Let us take for instance the following examples:
Everyone has heard of sleep walking; everyone knows that a sleep walker gets up at night without waking, leaves their room after either dressing themselves or not, goes downstairs, walks along corridors, and after having executed certain acts or accomplished certain work, returns to their room, goes to bed again, and shows next day the greatest astonishment at discovering what they did while sleeping.
What force has their body obeyed if it is not an unconscious force, in fact their unconscious self?
Let us now examine the case of an alcoholic attacked by delirium tremens. As though seized with madness they might pick up the nearest weapon, knife, hammer, or hatchet, as the case may be, and strike furiously those who are unlucky enough to be in their vicinity. Once the attack is over, they recover their senses and contemplate with horror the scene of carnage around them, without realizing that they themselves are the author of it. Here again is it not the unconscious self which has caused the afflicted person to act in this way?
What aversions, what ills, we create for ourselves, every one of us and in every domain by not “immediately” bringing into play “good conscious autosuggestions” against our “bad unconscious autosuggestions,” thus bringing about the disappearance of all unjust suffering.
If we compare the conscious with the unconscious self, we see that the conscious self is often possessed of a very unreliable memory, while the unconscious self on the contrary is provided with a marvelous and impeccable memory which registers without our knowledge the smallest events, the least important acts of our existence.
Furthermore, it is credulous and accepts with unreasoning docility what it is told. Thus, as it is the unconscious that is responsible for the functioning of all our organs except the intermediary of the brain, a result is produced which may seem rather paradoxical to you: that is, if the unconscious believes that a certain organ functions well or ill, or that we feel such and such an impression, the organ in question does indeed function well or ill, or we do feel that impression.
Not only does the unconscious self preside over the functions of our organism, but also over all our actions whatever they are. It is this that we call imagination, and it is this which, contrary to accepted opinion, always makes us act even, and above all, against our will when there is antagonism between these two forces.
If we open a dictionary and look up the word “will”, we find this definition: “The faculty of freely determining certain acts”. We accept this definition as true and unassailable, although nothing could be more false. This “will” that we claim so proudly, always yields to the imagination. This is an absolute rule that admits of no exception.
“Blasphemy! Paradox!” you might be thinking. “Not at all! On the contrary, it is the purest truth.”
In order to convince yourself of it, open your eyes, look round you and try to understand what you see. You will then come to the conclusion that what I tell you is not an idle theory, offspring of a sick brain, but the simple expression of a fact.
Suppose that we place on the ground a plank 30 feet long by 1 foot wide. It is evident that everybody will be capable of going from one end to the other of this plank without stepping over the edge. But now change the conditions of the experiment, and imagine this plank placed at the height of the towers of a cathedral. Who then will be capable of advancing even a few feet along this narrow path? Before you had taken two steps you would begin to tremble, and in spite of every effort of your will you would almost certainly fall to the ground.
Why is it then that you would not fall if the plank is on the ground, and why should you fall if it is raised to a height above the ground? Simply because in the first case you imagine that it is easy to go to the end of this plank, while in the second case you imagine that you cannot do so.
Notice that your “will” is powerless to make you advance; if you imagine that you cannot, it is absolutely impossible for you to do so. If tilers and carpenters are able to accomplish this feat, it is because they think they can do it.
Vertigo is entirely caused by the picture we make in our minds that we are going to fall. This picture transforms itself immediately into fact in spite of all the efforts of our will, and the more violent these efforts are, the quicker is the opposite to the desired result brought about.
Let us now consider the case of a person suffering from insomnia. If they do not make any effort to sleep, they will lie quietly in bed. If on the contrary, they try to force themselves to sleep by their will, the more efforts they make, the more restless they become.
Have you not noticed that the more you try to remember the name of a person which you have forgotten, the more it eludes you, until, substituting in your mind the idea “I shall remember in a minute what I have forgotten”, the name comes back to you of its own accord without the least effort?
Who has not suffered from an attack of uncontrollable laughter, which bursts out more violently the more one tries to control it?
What was the state of mind of each person in these different circumstances? “I do not want to fall but I cannot help doing so”; “I want to sleep but I cannot“; “I want to remember the name of Mrs. So and So, but I cannot“; “I want to stop laughing, but I cannot.”
As you see, in each of these conflicts it is always the imagination which gains the victory over the will, without any exception.
To the same order of ideas belongs the case of the military leader who rushes forward at the head of his troops and always carries them along with him, while the cry “Each man for himself!” is almost certain to cause a defeat. Why is this? It is because in the first case the soldiers imagine that they must go forward, and in the second they imagine that they are conquered and must fly for their lives.
There is an old story about this “contagion of example,” that is to say the action of the imagination. There once was a businessman who wanted to avenge himself upon a merchant on board the same boat; so he bought the merchant’s biggest sheep and threw it into the sea, certain beforehand that the entire flock would follow, which indeed is what happened.
We human beings have a certain resemblance to sheep, and involuntarily, we are irresistibly compelled to follow other people’s examples, imagining that we cannot do otherwise.
I could quote a thousand other examples, but I fear I would bore you with it all. I cannot however pass by in silence this one fact which shows the enormous power of the imagination, or in other words of the unconscious in its struggle against the will.
There are certain heavy drinkers who wish to give up drinking, but who cannot do so. Ask them, and they will reply in all sincerity that they desire to be sober, that drink disgusts them, but that they are irresistibly compelled to drink against their will, in spite of the harm they know it will do them.
In the same way, certain criminals commit crimes in spite of themselves, and when they are asked why they acted so, they answer “I could not help it, something compelled me, it was stronger than I.”
And the drinker and the criminal speak the truth; they are forced to do what they do, for the simple reason they imagine they cannot prevent themselves from doing so. Thus we who are so proud of our will, who believe that we are free to act as we like, are in reality nothing but wretched puppets of which our imagination holds all the strings. We only cease to be puppets when we have learned to guide our own imagination.
To illustrate, we could compare the imagination to a torrent of water which fatally sweeps away the poor person who has fallen into it, in spite of their efforts to gain the bank. This torrent seems indomitable; but if you know how, you can turn it from its course and conduct it to the factory, and there you can transform its force into movement, heat, and electricity.
If this simile is not enough, we may compare the imagination—the quote “madman at home” as it has been called–to an unbroken horse which has neither bridle nor reins. What can the rider do except let themselves go wherever the horse wishes to take them? And often if the latter runs away, the person’s mad career only comes to end in the ditch. If however the rider succeeds in putting a bridle on the horse, the parts are reversed. It is no longer the horse who goes where it likes, it is the rider who obliges the horse to take them wherever they wish to go.
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