A few weeks ago, I had the honor of spending some time with a handful of mindbodygreen staffers—writers, editors, illustrators, and advertisers—in their sunny Brooklyn headquarters. I was there for one reason: to help them increase their creativity with the use of group hypnotherapy.
For a number of people in the room, the 30-minute session was their first experience with hypnosis. About a week later, feedback from participants included, "Thank you again for the creativity session last week. Since then, I’ve felt really jazzed about writing, and another editor who was in the session said she’s been feeling the same way!" as well as "This past week has been great creatively for me."
If you feel you’ve hit a wall and all of the good ideas have already been used up, that you’re too tired or overwhelmed to think clearly (let alone brilliantly), or you’re not sure how to cultivate a mindset that welcomes inspiration on a regular basis, hypnosis might be the answer.
While people are starting to get on board with the idea that hypnosis can only help them quit smoking or lose weight, that’s only the beginning. As a hypnotherapist, I've been hired to help actors get into character for a role, help singers overcome stage fright, or help screenwriters break through procrastination and self-doubt in order to meet their deadlines.
The bottom line is that hypnosis is extremely powerful and likely the most effective self-development tool you haven’t tried yet. It can be used to transform any limiting habits, beliefs, or emotions in your life, including anything and everything that is hindering your creativity. It’s thrilling and rewarding work, especially because of how quickly you can see results.
So how does it work?
In terms of creativity, there are a few key steps anyone can follow in order to access the creative state quickly and easily. Keep in mind, though, that it does require consistency and conditioning to make this state your "new normal" rather than a fluke you experience every so often.
We begin by removing the two biggest blocks to creativity: stress and self-doubt.
Let's begin with stress.
When we’re operating from fight/flight/freeze we are in our least creative state because we are living in survival mode. We don’t need to be able to think outside the box or design something gorgeous or write a click-worthy headline that can ignite a flurry of viral activity while in survival mode...we just need to run or hide!
If stress is a blaring alarm sounding off with red flashing lights inside our conscious mind, creativity is a soft whisper that gently lands inside our subconscious mind. If it’s not noticed and cultivated right away, it simply disappears—often without us ever registering that it was there in the first place.
While deactivating the blaring alarm of survival mode (aka the stress state) won’t necessarily allow you to see or prove the creative forces flowing through you, it will absolutely help you to notice when inspiration arrives and cultivate it immediately.
Then let's move on to self-doubt.
Next, we have to make sure self-doubt doesn’t sabotage your discovery of this new, delicate piece of inspiration. We need to get out of our own way, relax, and trust the whispers to see where they lead. Not every idea needs to be perfect or groundbreaking, but shutting ideas down or being overly negative about your talents and abilities is a feedback loop that leads right back to higher levels of stress, making it very difficult to hear the next whisper.
Your 6-step action plan:
These are the six steps I use to help my clients break out of this stress/self-doubt cycle and open up to an endless wave of creativity.
Step 1: Start by relaxing.
Relax your entire body, especially your jaw and shoulders. The psychophysiological connection is really powerful. By actively relaxing our bodies, we’re sending a message to our minds that it’s safe to relax.
Step 2: Deepen your technique.
A deepening technique in hypnotherapy is what allows us to access the theta brainwave state. This is our most creative state, one where problem-solving becomes effortless and new ideas flow freely, without criticism from ego. Take a few deep breaths to tune out the surrounding noise and enter this state.
Step 3: Ask stress to (politely) take a hike.
The truth is, our subconscious is always trying to help us. It just sometimes falls way short by thinking that a neurotic behavior, limiting belief, or out-of-whack emotional response is actually benefiting us in some way. Once you are relaxed, start internally telling your stress that it’s hurting you and not helping you and provide your subconscious with a healthy alternative.
Step 4: Imagine, in vivid detail, the outcome you desire.
For unleashing creativity, I love visualizing a fountain or a faucet turning on—one that continues to flow and flow and flow with ideas. All you need to do is fill up your pail, carry it back to desk or studio, and see where these new ideas lead you. Imagine both accessing new ideas as well as following through with their execution easily and effortlessly, all the while being kind to yourself. For many of you, this will be the first time you ever create something with a fully supportive mental narrative running in the background, and it will be life-changing.
Step 5: Say hypno-affirmations.
This step is what strengthens everything that came before it. We repeat, repeat, repeat, giving those new neural connections lots of nourishment so that they can overpower the old way of thinking and behaving.
Step 6: Look out for bonus miracles.
Using hypnotherapy to work on one very specific area of your life can have a ripple effect on other, seemingly unrelated areas. Rising tides truly lift all ships with this work. While you’re focused now on unleashing your creativity, be on the lookout for things like improved sleep, increased self-confidence, and a more positive outlook. I call these "bonus miracles" and they’re the best. Jot them down when you notice them.
Now it’s your turn to experience these six steps in action. The power of hypnotherapy awaits along with the joy that comes from silencing unnecessary survival mode alarms, transforming self-doubt into curiosity, and letting those ideas continue to flow day and night.
Grace Smith is a renowned hypnotherapist, founder of Grace Space Hypnosis, a provider of hypnosis education, products and services, and Grace Space Hypnotherapy School, a hypnotherapy certification program. Smith is a recurring guest on CBS’s hit show The Doctors, and her work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Bustle, the Atlantic, Marie Claire, Forbes, InStyle, and more. Her private clients include celebrities, CEOs, professional athletes, and government officials; her keynote speeches and workshops have taken her to Procter & Gamble, Summit.Live, Women Empowerment Expo, Ritz Carlton, PSE&G, Soul Camp, and Verizon.