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Understanding the Subconscious: Its Central Role in Hypnosis

7 methods for having conversations with your subconscious.

Key points

  • Your subconscious is the part of your mind of which you are usually unaware but that plays vital roles in your life.
  • Once you’ve connected to your subconscious through hypnosis, you can have actual conversations with it.
  • Information gained through interactions with the subconscious often leads to much more effective therapy.

Your subconscious is an invaluable potential source of knowledge, wisdom, insights, and guidance. However, most of us never fully tap that potential.

Source: GDJ/Pixabay

Hypnosis is a tool for tapping into your subconscious. In a hypnotic state, you can connect and even directly converse with it. This can help you obtain crucial information and make life-altering changes for the better (Anbar, 2021).

What is the Subconscious?

Your subconscious is the part of your mind of which you are usually unaware but that plays vital roles in your life.

For example, your subconscious helps regulate such fundamental functions as your lungs breathing and heart beating.

Your subconscious can also be observed in action when you shake your head without realizing it, shift your gaze when you’re not telling the truth, or suddenly come up with an inspirational idea “out of the blue.”

In addition, your subconscious is a storehouse of thoughts and feelings you’re not even aware exist, but that can have profound influences on your behavior and well-being.

For instance, if you developed a fear that you could no longer trust a long-time friend, but you couldn’t bear to admit this to yourself, you might develop dizziness when around this friend without knowing why. A hypnotic trance that allowed you to ask your subconscious why you’re getting dizzy, could uncover the trust issue.

In addition, you could ask your subconscious to end the dizziness, and use memories and feelings you didn’t consciously remember to help you determine if the distrustful feelings are justified.

Further, because your subconscious has its own special wisdom and insights—in part gleaned from continually finding patterns among and forming connections between your memories, thoughts, and feelings—it could help guide you in what next steps to take with your friend.

Allowing Your Subconscious to Express Itself

If you’ve ever seen stage hypnosis, you know volunteers are induced to say or do things they didn’t intend on a conscious level. To audiences unfamiliar with hypnosis, such behavior might appear magical and inexplicable, but they're actually the result of encouraging the subconscious to come forward and overtly change behavior.

Such stage shows might make it seem the volunteers are losing control of their bodies and minds. However, whether you fall into a trance with someone’s help or on your own, all hypnosis is essentially self-hypnosis. You can’t be forced into a trance against your will, and you can’t be made to do anything under hypnosis that you truly don’t want to do.

Further, when you enter a hypnotic session intended for self-improvement, allowing your subconscious to express itself often leads to healing, greater understanding, and/or a more positive and effective path forward.

Courtney Cook/Unsplash
Source: Courtney Cook/Unsplash

On rare occasions, the subconscious may appear to lead you in a negative direction. In those situations, it is advisable to pause the subconscious work and explore possible reasons for its orientation. Consultation with a mental health professional can be especially beneficial in this setting. For example, sometimes the subconscious negativity reflects fears that have not yet risen to a conscious level. Working through those fears can help reorient the subconscious and promotes healing.

With long practice, you might learn how to powerfully connect and collaborate with your subconscious even when you’re not in hypnosis, achieving a condition of co-consciousness. This state is sometimes referred to as being “in the zone,” and can be very empowering. For example, a top golf pro will use his conscious mind to assess how far the ball needs to travel, which club will be the best tool for the job, which direction the wind is blowing, and so on, but at the moment of the golf swing, that pro will cede most of the control to the subconscious—which can process data more comprehensively and quickly than the conscious mind—to achieve maximum power and precision.

Conversing With Your Subconscious

Once you’ve connected to your subconscious through hypnosis, you can have actual conversations with it (Anbar & Cherry, 2021). Methods for doing so include having your subconscious:

  • Move your fingers to indicate “yes” or “no” answers
  • Handwrite answers to your questions on paper
  • Type answers on a computer keyboard into a word processing program
  • Write answers within your mind on an imaginary whiteboard or computer screen
  • Talk with you in the guise of being an imagined person or animal acting as your inner advisor
  • Speak answers out loud by alternating control of your vocal cords with your conscious mind
  • Give answers silently within your mind

You can choose to remember the conversation or forget the details on a conscious level but enjoy the positive results of the changes made by your subconscious. Either way, such discussions with your subconscious can be immensely helpful.

Source: Makamuki0/Pixabay

Post-Hypnotic Suggestions and Metaphors

A skilled practitioner can make suggestions while you’re in a hypnotic state that prompt change on a subconscious level. Such suggestions can even have an effect after you are out of hypnosis, and can lead you to perform actions without conscious awareness of why you’re doing them. They can also help you to end select behaviors—for example, quit smoking or overeating.

Use of metaphors is a way clinicians frequently indirectly interact with the subconscious. Further, savvy writers use metaphors to move you emotionally on both conscious and subconscious levels.

Letting Your Subconscious Converse With Your Therapist

If you’re being treated with hypnosis by a highly experienced clinician, that practitioner might be able to engage in conversations with your subconscious—for example, to ask for advice on the best ways to address your symptoms and help you.

Why have your clinician speak with your subconscious even if you can do so yourself? First, your practitioner will be more experienced than you are in asking the right questions. And second, sometimes your subconscious may be shielding you from information you’re not ready to consciously handle but that your therapist will have no trouble hearing. Information gained this way often leads to much more effective treatments.

Takeaway Message

Your subconscious can be a source of deep understanding and invaluable advice. Hypnosis is a powerful tool for helping you and/or your therapist connect to your subconscious so you can benefit from its insights and guidance.


Anbar, Ran D. 2021. “Changing Children’s Lives with Hypnosis: A Journey to the Center.” Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Anbar Ran D, Rebecca N. Cherry. 2021. “Communicating with the Subconscious: Ideomotor and Visualization Techniques.” In: Mark P. Jensen (ed), Handbook of Hypnotic Techniques, Vol. 2. Kirkland, WA: Denny Creek Press, pp. 196-231.

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