Typically, suggestion is demonstrated with a challenge. For example:
Your leg is made of lead/ and has become so heavy that you cannot lift it/ you can try to lift your leg/ but it will be so heavy/ that you won't be able to do it.
This sounds like a battle of wills between the hypnotist and the subject, but it is not. In fact the phenomenon is produced completely by the subject; the hypnotist is merely reciting a script. Suggestion is an intra-personal rather than an inter-personal phenomenon and results from the subject's willingness to pay attention to certain stimuli - in this case, the hypnotist's words - and, for whatever reason, to act "as if" these assertions were valid.
Suggestion is so potent and can produce such dramatic effects that audiences are drawn to night clubs to witness stage hypnosis shows. It is unfortunate that this powerful technique is employed in such a foolish manner. The single benefit of stage hypnosis is to demonstrate the power of suggestion to a wide audience. This family of techniques can produce dramatic changes in subjective reality and behavior, and is worthy of respect.
You don't have to go to a night club to see the mechanisms of suggestion unfold before your eyes. A used car salesman, for example, suggests a reality in which a certain automobile, previously owned by an elderly woman who only drove it to church, is available for a limited time only at this special price. He, like the stage hypnotist, has an ulterior motive and is attempting to influence his customer to act in a way that would further his own goals, not the customer's. Both base their suggestions on objective falsehoods.
Not all suggestions are based on objective facts that can be true or false. Some suggestions are based upon assertions that have no objective reality, so they can be neither true nor false - for example, "I am a hero," or "I am a loser." Concepts such as "hero" and "loser" do not exist in the objective world; they are subjective realities that exist only in your mind. But how you act largely depends upon the subjective reality that you buy into at that moment. One subjective reality elicits the heroic version of you, and another elicits your loser persona.
You are always in one state [trance] or another, and the filters through which you perceive the world, your motivation, and your behavioral tendencies are all state-dependent. You are a different person when you are in an angry trance than when you are in a light-hearted trance.
Because of the Soul Illusion, your state-dependent biases will always be invisible to you. While the overt behavior that resulted from an angry trance has become part of objective reality [and so can never be undone], the trance that gave rise to it was a creation of the Psyche.
Each trance is the result of antecedent conditions. Angry trances may come about unintentionally, but there are also angry trances that were intentionally created. Two examples of intentional attempts to elicit an angry trance:
- External influence - a politician uses a smear campaign to make you angry at an opponent.
- Internal influence - you make yourself angry so you can talk sternly to a store clerk.
Self hypnosis refers to intentionally influencing your own trance in real time. The Heavy Shoe exercise demonstrates how your imagination can be used to influence your subjective reality. Individuals with good imaginative powers will discover that if they fully participate in the imagery, their leg will actually feel heavy!
Naive subjects often attribute the perceived heaviness to the power of the hypnotist, especially when this belief is promoted. A more sophisticated subject appreciates that the effect occurred because he or she willingly suspended rational processing and went along with the suggestions, even though they were clearly false [as you will see, the heavy shoe script is full of lies such as "your leg is too heavy to lift. . . your shoe is made of lead, etc."].