Stories have a unique power in our lives. Just think about the number of stories you experience in your everyday life.
- Stories we tell others
- Stories others tell us
- Stories in the news
- Stories in books, movies and TV shows
- Advertising and sales pitches
It should be clear that human beings are natural storytellers. Stories are so natural to us that it’s important to use them in hypnotic conversations.
There is a part of your mind which creates stories from your past experiences. It takes the facts which stand out the most for you and builds them into a plausible narrative. This is the story of your life.
In the words of Hollywood screenwriter Robert McKee:
“Storytelling is the creative demonstration of truth. A story is the living proof of an idea, the conversion of idea to action.”
Stories can capture a person’s attention, activate their imagination and create a change in their state of mind. However, stories can do much more than this.
When you think about the stories which make up your life, remember that this story isn’t true or false – it’s just a story which fits the facts you are aware of.
If you changed one of those stories, it would change your life.
The stories we use to describe everyday events convey a multitude of assumptions about how we perceive the world around us. For example:
- “it’s just a roll of the dice”
Conveys random chance, no control over the outcome.
- “he’s keeping his cards close to his chest”
Conveys secrecy, control and an underlying strategy.
When you compare these two phrases, they might describe the same world, but they express very different attitudes to it. For example, the first is reactive, the second is proactive.
Again, neither story is right or wrong. They just have different implications. The story you choose determines the implications you or another person will experience. The effect is extremely potent.
But won’t the reality of the situation overrule our story? Not often. To explain why, I first need to tell you about what I call ‘tiger theories’.
Once I read a story about a man in the jungle who had just made contact with a lost tribe. He was trying to impress the Head Man of the tribe, so he showed him his jeep.
When the Head Man asked how it worked, the explorer started to talk about pistons, engines and valves. The Head Man understood none of this and wasn’t impressed.
So the explorer instead told him that there was a tiger in the box at the front of the machine.
“If you turn this”, he said, pointing to the ignition key, “it twists the tiger’s ear and you will hear him roar”. He turned the key and sure enough, there was a roaring noise from the front of the jeep.
“If you push this with your foot”, he said, pointing to the accelerator, “it pokes the tiger with a stick and he will run forward.” He pushed the pedal and the jeep moved forward.
“If you push this other pedal”, he said, pointing to the brake, “it pulls back on a rope around the tiger’s neck and slows him down again”. He pushed the brake and the vehicle slowed.
“This wheel is connected to ropes on the tiger’s front legs”, he told the Head Man about the steering wheel. “Turning the wheel pulls the tiger in that direction.” He demonstrated the steering.
Knowing this, the Head Man was very impressed and now knew how to operate the explorer’s jeep.
This is what I call a ‘tiger theory’ – a story that is useful because it fits the available facts. However, fitting the facts well or being useful does not make it true, though we often behave as though it does.
Think about something we take for granted – think about gravity. The observable fact is this: things fall downwards. However, there is a story about how gravity works which has changed many times over the centuries. The story fits the observable facts. It even uses math. It certainly is useful, but is it true?
The trick is this: every time we observe something new that doesn’t fit the current story, we change the story. That is why the story changes and develops. Think about what would have happened if the Head Man had looked into the jeep’s engine compartment – the tiger story wouldn’t fit the observable facts and a new story would be needed to make sense of the jeep.
Now, what about the stories which make up your life? If you focus on different aspects of your experience, or if new facts come to light, the story changes – and so do you.
This process is at the very heart of all change and that’s why hypnotic storytelling is a secret key to the unconscious self.
If you want to know more about hypnotic storytelling, or to be led through the hypnotic process in detail, with plenty of examples and practical exercises, get my book Hypnotic Conversations: The Secret Structure Behind Everyday Hypnosis.
Or if you want to know even more first, then watch my next video – Suggestion at a distance – create precise post-hypnotic effects with a light touch.