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THE PRACTICE OF AUTOSUGGESTION

Autosuggestion And The Child
Conclusion
General Rules
How To Deal With Pain
Particular Suggestions
The General Formula
Thought And The Will




Particular Suggestions








The use of particular suggestions outlined in this chapter is of minor
importance compared with that of the general formula--"Day by day, in
every way, I'm getting better and better." The more deeply Coue
pursues his investigations, the more fully he becomes convinced that
all else is secondary to this. It is not difficult to make a guess as
to why this should be. In the general formula the attention is fully
absorbed by the idea of betterment. The mind is directed away from all
that hinders and impedes and fixed on a positive goal. In formulating
particular suggestions, however, we are always skating on the thin ice
round our faults and ailments, always touching on subjects which have
the most painful associations. So that our ideas have not the same
creative positiveness. However that may be, it is a matter of
experience that the general formula is the basis of the whole method,
and that all else is merely an adjuvant, an auxiliary--useful, but
inessential to the main object.

We have seen that a partial outcropping of the Unconscious takes place
whenever we relax our mental and physical control, and let the mind
wander; in popular language, when we fall into a "brown study" or a
"day-dream." This outcropping should be sought before the special
suggestions are formulated.

But again we must beware of making simple things seem hard. Baudouin
would have us perform a number of elaborate preparatives, which,
however valuable to the student of psychology, serve with the layman
only to distract the mind, and by fixing the attention on the mechanism
impair the power of the creative idea. Moreover, they cause the
subject to exert efforts to attain a state the very essence of which is
effortlessness, like the victim of insomnia who "tries his hardest" to
fall asleep.

In order to formulate particular suggestions, go to a room where you
will be free from interruption, sit down in a comfortable chair, close
your eyes, and let your muscles relax. In other words, act precisely
as if you were going to take a siesta. In doing so you allow the
Unconscious tide to rise to a sufficient height to make your particular
suggestions effective. Now call up the desired ideas through the
medium of speech. Tell yourself that such and such ameliorations are
going to occur.

But here we must give a few hints as to the form these suggestions
should take.

We should never set our faith a greater task than it can accomplish. A
patient suffering from deafness would be ill-advised to make the
suggestion: "I can hear perfectly." In the partial state of
outcropping association is not entirely cut off, and such an idea would
certainly call up its contrary. Thus we should initiate a suggestion
antagonistic to the one we desired. In this way we only court
disappointment and by losing faith in our instrument rob it of its
efficacy.

Further, we should avoid as far as possible all mention of the ailment
or difficulty against which the suggestion is aimed. Indeed, our own
attention should be directed not so much to getting rid of wrong
conditions as to cultivating the opposite right ones in their place.
If you are inclined to be neurasthenic your mind is frequently occupied
with fear. This fear haunts you because some thwarted element in your
personality, surviving in the Unconscious, gains through it a perverse
satisfaction. In other words, your Unconscious enjoys the morbid
emotional condition which fear brings with it. Should you succeed in
banishing your fears you would probably feel dissatisfied, life would
seem empty. The old ideas would beckon you with promises, not of
happiness truly, but of emotion and excitement. But if your
suggestions take a positive form, if you fill your mind with thoughts
of self-confidence, courage, outward activity, and interest in the
glowing and vital things of life, the morbid ideas will be turned out
of doors and there will be no vacant spot to which they can return.

Whatever the disorder may be, we should refer to it as little as
possible, letting the whole attention go out to the contrary state of
health. We must dwell on the "Yes-idea," affirming with faith the
realisation of our hopes, seeing ourselves endowed with the triumphant
qualities we lack. For a similar reason we should never employ a form
of words which connotes doubt. The phrases, "I should like to," "I am
going to try," if realised by the Unconscious, can only produce a state
of longing or desire, very different from the actual physical and
mental modifications we are seeking.

Finally, we should not speak of the desired improvement entirely as a
thing of the future. We should affirm that the change has already
begun, and will continue to operate more and more rapidly until our end
is fully attained.

Here are a few examples of special suggestions which may prove useful.

For deafness: Having closed the eyes and relaxed body and mind, say to
yourself something of this nature: "From this day forth my hearing will
gradually improve. Each day I shall hear a little better. Gradually
this improvement will become more and more rapid until, in a
comparatively short space of time, I shall hear quite well and I shall
continue to do so until the end of my life."

A person suffering from unfounded fears and forebodings might proceed
as follows: "From to-day onward I shall become more and more conscious
of all that is happy, positive and cheerful. The thoughts which enter
my mind will be strong and healthful ones. I shall gain daily in
self-confidence, shall believe in my own powers, which indeed at the
same time will manifest themselves in greater strength. My life is
growing smoother, easier, brighter. These changes become from day to
day more profound; in a short space of time I shall have risen to a new
plane of life, and all the troubles which used to perplex me will have
vanished and will never return."

A bad memory might be treated in some such terms as these: "My memory
from to-day on will improve in every department. The impressions
received will be clearer and more definite; I shall retain them
automatically and without any effort on my part, and when I wish to
recall them they will immediately present themselves in their correct
form to my mind. This improvement will be accomplished rapidly, and
very soon my memory will be better than it has ever been before."

Irritability and bad temper are very susceptible to autosuggestion and
might be thus treated: "Henceforth I shall daily grow more
good-humoured. Equanimity and cheerfulness will become my normal
states of mind, and in a short time all the little happenings of life
will be received in this spirit. I shall be a centre of cheer and
helpfulness to those about me, infecting them with my own good humour,
and this cheerful mood will become so habitual that nothing can rob me
of it."

Asthma is a disease which has always baffled and still baffles the
ordinary methods of medicine. It has shown itself, however, in Coue's
experience, pre-eminently susceptible to autosuggestive treatment.
Particular suggestions for its removal might take this form: "From this
day forward my breathing will become rapidly easier. Quite without my
knowledge, and without any effort on my part, my organism will do all
that is necessary to restore perfect health to my lungs and bronchial
passages. I shall be able to undergo any exertion without
inconvenience. My breathing will be free, deep, delightful. I shall
draw in all the pure health-giving air I need, and thus my whole system
will be invigorated and strengthened. Moreover, I shall sleep calmly
and peacefully, with the maximum of refreshment and repose, so that I
awake cheerful and looking forward with pleasure to the day's tasks.
This process has this day begun and in a short time I shall be wholly
and permanently restored to health."

It will be noticed that each of these suggestions comprises three
stages: (1) Immediate commencement of the amelioration. (2) Rapid
progress. (3) Complete and permanent cure. While this scheme is not
essential, it is a convenient one and should be utilised whenever
applicable. The examples are framed as the first autosuggestions of
persons new to the method. On succeeding occasions the phrase "from
this day forth," or its variants, should be replaced by a statement
that the amelioration has already begun. Thus, in the case of the
asthmatic, "My breathing is already becoming easier," etc.

Particular suggestions, though subsidiary in value to the general
formula, are at times of very great service. The general formula looks
after the foundations of our life, building in the depths where eye
cannot see or ear hear. Particular suggestions are useful on the
surface. By their means we can deal with individual difficulties as
they arise. The two methods are complementary.

Particular suggestions prove very valuable in reinforcing and rendering
permanent the effects obtained by the technique for overcoming pain,
which will be outlined in the next chapter. Before commencing the
attack we should sit down, close our eyes and say calmly and
confidently to ourselves: "I am now going to rid myself of this pain."
When the desired result has been obtained, we should suggest that the
state of ease and painlessness now re-established will be permanent,
that the affected part will rapidly be toned up into a condition of
normal health, and will remain always in that desirable state. Should
we have obtained only a lessening of the trouble without its complete
removal our suggestion should take this form: "I have obtained a
considerable degree of relief, and in the next few minutes it will
become complete. I shall be restored to my normal condition of health
and shall continue so for the future." Thus our assault upon the pain
is made under the best conditions, and should in every case prove
successful.

We should employ particular suggestions also for overcoming the
difficulties which confront us from time to time in our daily lives,
and for securing the full success of any task we take in hand. The use
of the general suggestion will gradually strengthen our
self-confidence, until we shall expect success in any enterprise of
which the reason approves. But until this consummation is reached,
until our balance of self-confidence is adequate for all our needs, we
can obtain an overdraft for immediate use by means of particular
suggestion.

We have already seen that the dimensions of any obstacle depend at
least as much upon our mental attitude towards it as upon its intrinsic
difficulty. The neurasthenic, who imagines he cannot rise from his
bed, cannot do so because this simple operation is endowed by his mind
with immense difficulty. The great mass of normal people commit the
same fault in a less degree. Their energy is expended partly in doing
their daily work, and partly in overcoming the resistance in their own
minds. By the action of the law of reversed effort the negative idea
they foster frequently brings their efforts to naught, and the very
exertions they make condemn their activities to failure.

For this reason it is necessary, before undertaking any task which
seems to us difficult, to suggest that it is in fact easy. We close
our eyes and say quietly to ourselves, "The work I have to do is easy,
quite easy. Since it is easy I can do it, and I shall do it
efficiently and successfully. Moreover, I shall enjoy doing it; it
will give me pleasure, my whole personality will apply itself
harmoniously to the task, and the results will be even beyond my
expectation." We should dwell on these ideas, repeating them
tranquilly and effortlessly. Soon our mind will become serene, full of
hope and confidence. Then we can begin to think out our method of
procedure, to let the mind dwell on the means best suited to attain our
object. Since the impediments created by fear and anxiety are now
removed our ideas will flow freely, our plans will construct themselves
in the quiet of the mind, and we shall come to the actual work with a
creative vigour and singleness of purpose.

By a similar procedure the problems of conduct which defy solution by
conscious thought will frequently yield to autosuggestion. When we are
"at our wits' ends," as the saying goes, to discover the best path out
of a dilemma, when choice between conflicting possibilities seems
impossible, it is worse than useless to continue the struggle. The law
of reversed effort is at work paralysing our mental faculties. We
should put it aside, let the waves of effort subside, and suggest to
ourselves that at a particular point of time the solution will come to
us of its own accord. If we can conveniently do so, it is well to let
a period of sleep intervene, to suggest that the solution will come to
us on the morrow; for during sleep the Unconscious is left undisturbed
to realise in its own way the end we have consciously set before it.

This operation often takes place spontaneously, as when a problem left
unsolved the night before yields its solution apparently by an
inspiration when we arise in the morning. "Sleep on it" still remains
the best counsel for those in perplexity, but they should preface their
slumbers by the positive autosuggestion that on waking they will find
the difficulty resolved. In this connection it is interesting to note
that autosuggestion is already widely made use of as a means of waking
at a particular hour. A person who falls asleep with the idea in his
mind of the time at which he wishes to wake, will wake at that time.
It may be added that wherever sleep is utilised for the realisation of
particular suggestions, these suggestions should be made in addition to
the general formula, either immediately before or immediately after;
they should never be substituted for it.

With some afflictions, such as fits, the attack is often so sudden and
unexpected that the patient is smitten down before he has a chance to
defend himself. Particular suggestions should be aimed first of all at
securing due warning of the approaching attack. We should employ such
terms as these: "In future I shall always know well in advance when a
fit is coming on. I shall be amply warned of its approach. When these
warnings occur I shall feel no fear or anxiety. I shall be quite
confident of my power to avert it." As soon as the warning comes--as
it will come, quite unmistakably--the sufferer should isolate himself
and use a particular suggestion to prevent the fit from developing. He
should first suggest calm and self-control, then affirm repeatedly, but
of course without effort, that the normal state of health is
reasserting itself, that the mind is fully under control, and that
nothing can disturb its balance. All sudden paroxysms, liable to take
us unexpectedly, should be treated by the same method, which in Coue's
experience has amply justified itself.

Nervous troubles and violent emotions, such as fear and anger, often
express themselves by physical movements. Fear may cause trembling,
palpitation, chattering of the teeth; anger a violent clenching of the
fists. Baudouin advises that particular suggestions in these cases
should be directed rather against the motor expression than against the
psychic cause, that our aim should be to cultivate a state of physical
impassibility. But since a positive suggestion possesses greater force
than a negative, it would seem better to attack simultaneously both the
cause and the effect. Instead of anger, suggest that you will feel
sympathy, patience, good-humour, and consequently that your bodily
state will be easy and unconstrained.

A form of particular suggestion which possesses distinct advantages of
its own is the quiet repetition of a single word. If your mind is
distracted and confused, sit down, close your eyes, and murmur slowly
and reflectively the single word "Calm." Say it reverently, drawing it
out to its full length and pausing after each repetition. Gradually
your mind will be stilled and quietened, and you will be filled with a
sense of harmony and peace. This method seems most applicable to the
attainment of moral qualities. An evil passion can be quelled by the
use of the word denoting the contrary virtue. The power of the word
depends largely upon its aesthetic and moral associations. Words like
joy, strength, love, purity, denoting the highest ideals of the human
mind, possess great potency and are capable, thus used, of dispelling
mental states in which their opposites predominate. The name
Reflective Suggestion, which Baudouin applies indifferently to all
autosuggestions induced by the subject's own choice, might well be
reserved for this specific form of particular suggestion.

The field for the exercise of particular suggestions is practically
limitless. Whenever you feel a need for betterment, of whatever nature
it may be, a particular suggestion will help you. But it must once
more be repeated that these particular suggestions are merely aids and
auxiliaries, which may, if leisure is scant, be neglected.





Next: How To Deal With Pain

Previous: The General Formula



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