Category: Mind Power Techniques
Autosuggestion is a form of self-hypnosis developed by the French psychologist Émile Coué (or Émile Coué de la Châtaigneraie) in the late 19th century. It basically refers to the practice of administering suggestions to oneself to be able to communicate and influence the activities of the subconscious mind. However, there are people who regard autosuggestion and self-hypnosis as two different things.
Coué defines autosuggestion as the influence of the imagination upon the moral and physical being of mankind. It is the accurate and conscious application of hypnotic techniques on oneself to manifest a certain belief whether it concerns healing yourself or reaching a desired objective.
According to Coué, autosuggestion is an instrument that we possess at birth, and with which we play unconsciously all our life. It could be quite a dangerous instrument as it can wound or even kill you if you handle it carelessly. On the contrary, it can save your life when you know how to employ it thoughtfully.
The Origin of Autosuggestion
While working as a medical professional at Troyes during the late 19th century, Émile Coué discovered that his patients usually experienced a noticeable improvement in their health whenever he praised the effectiveness of the medicine he prescribes to them. This later came to be known as the placebo effect.
Due to this discovery, Coue began studying hypnosis and the role of imagination in the healing of patients. He believed that although medicine can cure many of our ailments, changing the way we think of ourselves can be just as effective if we simply learn how to directly control our unconscious thoughts using our imagination. And so he developed his method of autosuggestion and published his first book in 1920 entitled Self-Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion.
Coue’s method in using autosuggestion centers on a short phrase that is to be repeated routinely using a procedure that he specified in his book. That phrase states: "EVERY DAY, IN EVERY RESPECT, I AM GETTING BETTER AND BETTER." According to Coue, his method should work effectively as long as you keep in mind the basic principles involved the application of autosuggestion.
Basic Principles in Autosuggestion
In no particular order, here are some of the principles described by Émile Coué in Self-Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion.
The Subconscious Mind and Thoughts
Not only does the subconscious mind have almost complete control over the functions of the whole body, but it also has a huge influence over our activities. According to Coue, the subconscious plays a major role in the production of thoughts. Every thought that entirely fills your mind becomes true and tends to transform itself into action. In other words, any kind of idea has the potential to manifest itself physically.
The Subconscious Mind and Memory
Coue stated that the subconscious mind possesses a marvelous and impeccable memory. He claimed that while the conscious part of the mind is unreliable in remembering things, the subconscious mind can register every single detail of the events that happen in our lives. If you can learn how to hypnotize yourself, you can gain access to this memory.
The Subconscious Mind and Suggestions
Coue believed that the subconscious mind is very open to suggestions and will accept almost anything that you tell it as long as you know how to properly apply autosuggestion.
Regarding the body, he wrote:
“When your mind believes that a certain organ functions well or ill or that you feel such and such an impression, the organ in question does indeed function well or ill, or you do feel that impression. To relieve your body of pain, stress, and illness, you must constantly and habitually imagine that your body is incapable of feeling such things.”
Regarding our actions, he wrote:
"If you persuade yourself that you can do a certain thing, provided this thing be possible, you will do it however difficult it may be. If on the contrary, you imagine that you cannot do the simplest thing in the world, it is impossible for you to do it, and molehills become for you unscalable mountains."
Imagination versus Will
According to Coue, when Will and Imagination are in conflict, Imagination always gains the victory over the Will. A patient’s problems only tend to get worse when his Will and Imagination are opposing each other. Take the case of a person who is trying to but unable to sleep. The more he forces himself, the more he is unable to fall asleep. If your will is not in agreement with your imagination, like when you say to yourself, "I will make such and such a thing happen", but you constantly imagine yourself to be a loser, then not only will you not get what you want, but even the exact reverse of what you’ve been hoping to achieve will become a reality. Simply speaking, the Imagination is stronger than the Will.
The Will and Autosuggestion
Coue observed that the main hindrance to the proper application of autosuggestion was the Will. He claimed that the Will must not be brought into play in practicing autosuggestion. Anyone who is trying to apply autosuggestion must not use willpower and instead put more focus on imaginative power in order to fully succeed with anything. Coue noted that this principle can be clearly observed among very young children since they lack the willpower that is present among adults. When you instruct a child, for example, by saying “clasp your hands and you can’t open them,” the child would always immediately follow.
Directing The Imagination
Coue compared the imagination to a wild horse which has neither bridle nor reins. When you ride this horse, you cannot do anything except let yourself go wherever it wishes to take you. However, he also claimed that even if this is the case, the imagination can still be directed. Through autosuggestion, you can put a bridle on the horse and reverse your role. It is no longer the horse who goes where it likes, it is you who controls the horse to take you wherever you want to go.
The Power of Imagination
Coue compared the imagination to a violent flow of water which can fatally sweep away a man who falls into it in spite of his efforts to reach the riverbank. He claimed that if you allow your imagination to swell up, its force will transform into a powerful torrent. However, if you can turn the current from its course, you will be able to make use of its power for your own benefit similar to constructing a damn which transforms the river’s flow into electricity.
Will and Imagination Combined
Let’s say that you want to accomplish something impressive like getting a promotion. You wake up each morning, take a bath, put on your clothes, eat breakfast, and say to yourself on your way to work, “I’m going to get promoted.” If that’s all you do, it doesn’t have that much effect. Instead of just willing it, imagine yourself as if you already got the position. Coue claimed that when the will and the imagination are in agreement, one does not add to the other, but one is multiplied by the other.
Creating Conscious Suggestions
Autosuggestion, according to Coue, can only work if the subconscious mind accepts your suggestion. We always apply autosuggestion, but whenever we do, we do it unconsciously. Coue believed that if we really want to control the things that happen in our lives, all we have to do is to give ourselves conscious suggestions. Just remember that there must be a certain degree of probability of attaining your desired objective (at least in your Imagination) so that the unconscious can accept this suggestion and turn it into an autosuggestion. Absurd notions like riding a bicycle on the moon or dancing at the bottom of the sea with mermaids are not covered by this method.
Reference: Coué, Émile (1922). Self Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion. American library service.