“…but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Voltaire
May Rep. Gabrielle Giffords recover. May the families of the injured and dead in Pima County, Arizona find peace and renewal. May we all resolve to promote non-violence and mutual respect.
As a hypnotherapist, I find my contention that language is inherently hypnotic to be confirmed in sad and tragic ways in the news on a daily basis. This most recent tragedy is forcing us to look at the level of violence we have cultivated in our political dialogue and at our growing tendency to demonize those we disagree with.
It may inspire us to challenge our fearful assumptions if we understand that they are not true or necessary. They are vivid but untrue — products of negative hypnotic suggestions.
For our subconscious mind, what is most vivid and most repeated is determined to be real. It is for this reason that voices of fear and anger seem to be winning out over voices for tolerance and constructive debate. Intensely fearful and repeated messages freeze our capacity to think and choose rationally. We tend to accept fearful propositions, not because they are accurate and rational but because they are vivid and repeated. Our subconscious mind says “yes” to them.
Under the influence of fear and anger, our own “self-talk” becomes a stream of fearful hypnotic suggestions that we accept as reasonable even when they are highly irrational. The slightest bit of questionable “evidence” is accepted as justification for total commitment to hateful divisive tirades.
In politics contests it seems a proven and accepted fact that negative ads are more effective in swaying voters’ opinions than positive ads. Millions of dollars are spent in marketing research to determine how to shape the attitudes of target audiences. In other words, to assessing the best way to deliver the hypnotic suggestion you want them to accept.
When negative and fearful suggestions are delivered repeatedly and vividly, they influence us subconsciously and make it hard to have reasonable discourse and debate in constructive and respectful ways.
The courageous and loving spirit embodied in Voltaire’s statement seems a rare commodity today in the absence of reasoned debate. To live up to this standard of concern for the welfare of our fellow beings, we must be immune to the negative suggestions that our well-being requires us to fear and harm others.
Strength of character comes from a practiced allegiance to positive suggestions that embody compassion and virtue. We must make the effort to transform our “self-talk” into repeated and vivid statements that embody love and consideration for the greater good of all, even for those with whom we disagree.
Hypnotic suggestions must be accepted by us in order to affect us. Thye do not have an automatic effect. Therefore we must practice accepting thoughts that embody compassion and kindness as we practice rejecting fearful thoughts that erode our self respect and respect for others.
Being willing to defend another to the death, even if you disagree with them, is an extraordinary achievement of character strength. It is a standard for real democracy by which we must live if want the idea of “American Exceptionalism” to have any worthwhile meaning or integrity. Otherwise it may become a slogan for arrogance, paranoia, and an excuse to exploit others. Such harmful qualities indicate that negative hypnotic suggestions are ruling the day.
A second standard for considering ourselves exceptional in a virtuous way, would be to make the courageous and sincere effort to debate with honesty and respect.
This seems to be very difficult for us to do, and, in fact, some defend our right not to speak with honesty and respect with the first amendment and the Supreme Court’s decision that lying in political advertising is a protected act. Yes, it must be left to us as individuals to choose to act with integrity even though we have the freedom and right to lie. What is the nature of our exceptionalism if we do not choose integrity and respect?
However, arguing for these honorable standards as a moral position is very ineffectual. Almost everyone will claim to be a moral person, and yet we have the state of affairs that has eroded our public affections and dialogue and very possibly contributed to this tragedy in Arizona.
Arguing that the shooter was a “nut job” in order to defend the use of violent images and lies in political “discourse” is a red herring. I’ll agree he was a nut job. But we have been creating an intensifying atmosphere of negativity, suspicion, hate, and disinformation for many years.
When we act without integrity and respect because we have the right to, we breed an acceptance for hypocrisy, disillusionment, and cynicism in our children. We do the same preaching to them and punishing them for swearing and lying, all the while swearing and lying ourselves. Our children are always watching and noticing how we walk our talk. Actions speak louder than words because they impact the subconscious mind creating biased beliefs and attitudes.
We were the watching children once. Our conscious minds can speak of virtue and yet the fear in our subconscious minds is in control. So we find ourselves intensifying the disrespect, the attacks, and the lies in every area of our national lives, not just in politics.
To reemphasize, this is not an attempt to make a moral argument. I think the only hope for lasting constructive change is to recognize that intellectually honest dialogue with mutual respect and a genuine interest to benefit everyone is simply what works the best!
It is simply the nature of the law of cause and effect. Choosing lies, fear and disinformation expecting to get a genuine positive outcome (vs. an apparent immediate positive outcome) is like planting lemon seeds expecting to get sweet apples.
Let us strive for honest dialogue with mutual respect, not because we want to be good girls and boys, but because we have the maturity to recognize and accept the real laws of cause and effect. And where we don’t clearly understand the function of the laws of cause and effect, let us test our varied theories with mutual respect and kindness — the respect and kindness that is prepared to die defending the rights and dignity of those we are contesting with.
May we all flourish in peace and harmony.

Author's Bio: 

Jack Elias, CHT is founder and director of the Institute for Therapeutic Learning in Seattle, Washington. He is the author of Finding True Magic: Transpersonal Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy/NLP, a book and course which blends NLP training modalities with philosophical traditions of both East and West. Jack offers private sessions in Lucid Heart Therapy and Life Coaching. He offers live trainings and distance learning trainingsin Transpersonal Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy/NLP. Jack also presents keynotes and other programs to teach audiences how to use the techniques of Transpersonal Hypnotherapy/NLP to achieve success, confidence, and a consistent sense of well-being.
Visit his website at http://FindingTrueMagic.com