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.





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