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Use this trick to be more creative

By on October 8, 2014
Picture courtesy of Ambro and

We love to post little physiological tricks that can make you more effective in your everyday life. We especially like this one because it has a myriad of uses in the hypnosis office as well. It’s all about mind-body dissonance.

Dissonance refers to a state where we ‘think’ two conflicting ideas at the same time. It can be a very powerful tool, for example law enforcement uses dissonance to extract confessions from subjects. They do this by suggesting to the suspect that whoever did the crime must have had a good reason, because no one could be depraved enough to do that without such a reason. The police will then suggest a reason that would make the action understandable. The suspect is faced with the dissonance of knowing they did the crime, but not able to view themselves as depraved, and will latch onto the mitigating reason offered by the interrogator.

In this case you can use dissonance for a more positive outcome, creativity. We are talking about dissonance between an emotional state and a physiological state. For example if you are feeling sad, but you force yourself to smile, than the contrast between your state and your facial expression, your smile, creates dissonance.

Researchers at Northwestern University showed that this type of dissonance leads to increased creativity. It is not clear why people who are experiencing this sort of dissonance are more creative, although perhaps it relates to a relaxation of the critical factor.  The researchers forced their subjects to use the facial muscles used in smiling or frowning, for example by asking them to hold a pencil between their teeth (smiling). At the same time they would ask them to recite a story about an episode in their life that carried the opposite emotional affect, so for example if they were holding a pencil between their teeth and smiling they would be asked to talk about a sad experience.

What the researchers found was that with this type of dissonance the subjects were more creative on a standard test of creativity.

 Application to hypnosis

Not only can you use this technique to become more creative yourself, you can also use it to seriously mess with your hypnosis client’s head within the hypnosis session. Invariably your client will come to see you feeling a range of emotions, very often negative emotions. By talking about this research you can lead your client to make ‘happy faces’  all in the name of being more creative. Not only will your client be more easily able to find a solution to their problem, but they may also find it very difficult to maintain their negative state while they go through facial gyrations of happiness!

The researchers also found that this type of dissonance led to a temporary weakening of short-term memory. Given the many benefits of hypnotic amnesia, we will leave you to consider how many ways you can use this short-term memory loss to help your clients even more!

The study shows that when bodily expressions are in conflict with ones actual feelings such as recalling a happy memory while frowning or listening to sad music while smiling people become more likely to accept and embrace atypical ideas… Mind-body dissonance, when our thoughts and bodily expressions diverge, sheds lights on how internal conflict can be beneficial for breaking unwarranted mental sets and solving problems creatively. Conflict Between the Mind and Body Helps People Think Outside the Box – Health News

Picture courtesy of Ambro and

The CafeHypno editorial team, Sarah Carson, Jess Marion and Shawn Carson

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