Tools for Effective Guided Imagery: The Language of the Subconscious Mind
By Deborah Spiegel MT-BC, CCHt
1. Keep it positive. The subconscious mind does not hear the word “not.” So if you are creating guided imagery, keep your language positive. Instead of saying “You are not stressed” phrase it in the positive: “Feel how good it feels to be stress free.”
The classic example is this. Close your eyes. Now, don’t think about pink elephants. And especially don’t think about pink elephants with purple polka dots.
Did you try it? What did you think about? Elephants right? So what do you think your client will think about when you tell them they will no longer have any cravings for sugar? Or that they won’t argue with people? How can you word those suggestions in a positive way?
Instead of saying the negative statement “You won’t have any cravings for sugar” you can say something like: “You can find it easy to choose healthy foods and can feel proud of yourself for being on a sugar free diet.” Instead of “You don’t argue anymore,” you can say something like: “You can find it easy to notice when you are feeling angry and take a time out to cool down before you talk with people.”
I even used this with my child when he was little. Instead of “quit splashing water out of the tub” I would say “keep the water inside the tub.” Reinforcing what I do want rather than what I don’t want.
Food for thought.
2. Use present tense. In the subconscious mind all time is now. If you describe your imagery in present tense as if it is happening now it works better, more effectively, and more powerfully. It can be experienced in the moment. “ Imagine walking in a natural place. You can feel your feet on the ground. Notice how the temperature of the air feels on your skin.” Notice that it is in present tense and is positive.
3. Use the senses. The above example also uses the senses. Utilize all the senses with your imagery scripts.
I hope you found this piece of my Tools for Effective Guided Imagery useful and I look forward to reading your thoughts.