The Four Essential Aspects of Every Relationship

Everything we manifest, both as individuals and in relationships, has its origins in our subconscious.

“Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes, and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives.”Robert Collier

Lincoln Stoller, PhD, 2024. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

State Work is More Than Hypnosis

Hypnosis gets overblown. Sure, some people enter a trance state more easily than others, but what’s the point? I feel my clients enter the trance states appropriate for them at the right time and context. My job is not to induce trace, it’s creating context and suggest trance.

All states are trance states. Each has its role and purpose. I’m not particularly concerned with somnambulistic states because they’re disconnected from normal states and, in my work, I’m not providing assertive suggestions. I’m interested in evoking emotional insights connected with conscious awareness.

I’m working across states, trying to get a person’s parts to align. I contrast this with a hierarchical approach, where a higher level action rests on a lower level attitude or inclination. Much of psychotherapy takes a hierarchical approach.

I ask clients to relax, disconnect, and imagine themselves in a different state of mind. While they’re in that different state of mind, I want them to speak from their ego state. I work them back and forth between emotional and rational states to create a broader dialog.

Drawing from Past Life Regression, during which a person takes an authorial role, I ask clients to speak as a witness. I regress not so much to cause as to ideas, looking for ways to explore whatever we can uncover. These causes need not be any more real than the parts or the past lives.

I’m motivated by parts therapy, which says there are embedded personalities within us that exist with a degree of independence. I may explain it’s like Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy if that’s what someone is familiar with, but it’s not really. It’s more personal.

A recent client had a shadowy character that appeared beside their bed in recurring childhood nightmares. The shadow held a knife and it would stab them. I asked them to recreate the dream and for the shadow to give them what it held in its other hand. It gave them a golden ring, and that made them laugh. Not exactly IFS!

Reality Versus Honesty

Each state has its own reality. What’s important is to be honest in each. People’s situations are made more complex and intractable when they are evasive or dishonest—and most people are both to varying degrees.

I am willing to be brash and uncivil. I will call out a person’s pretensions in a manner that is both invitational and confrontational. I want to out-game their ego. I will be offensive if that’s what it takes to break the container. Nothing works better than breaking character. When in trance, honesty is relative.

Once a client has established and I have affirmed that they are smart and capable, I may point out their misunderstandings and contradictions. I may gently accuse them of twisting the truth. Once it’s clear they are generous, I’ll point out their selfishness.

These are emotional forms of distraction and confusion, much as we employ in a hypnotic induction or pre-induction patter. I want to challenge preconceptions of what we’re allowed to say, whose side I’m on, and what parts are present. This is semi-conscious state hypnosis.

I don’t use arm levitation or eye lock inductions as I feel these distract from the emotional conflicts between the parts. Such convincers seem like doing yoga before entering a conflict.

Couples and Relationships

Most clients come with a relationship issue. Hypnotherapy sounds as relevant as a vacation, and that’s not what they’ve come for. Relationship issues carry a legacy I don’t expect to fix. I don’t even expect to understand the issues as they go far back in memory, family, and culture.

I will do couples therapy, but I’m inclined to think it’s an oxymoron. A couple’s success is built on the success of each individual. If that cannot be achieved, then I don’t think deep couple repair can be accomplished.

Couples usually come with preservation first in mind. I do not endorse alignment if the individuals are not aligned. Even where kids are involved, I place honesty over status quo. No kid grows up straight when the parents are twisted.

The Main Ingredients

The four ingredients of all relationships are each person’s attitude toward themselves and each other. Each person of a pair is responsible for two of these attitudes. In dealing mostly with single clients, I ask for clarity on the two issues that pertain to them.

Two complementary issues reside in the partner. One needs to be clear on where you stand before making conjectures about the other person’s positions. This applies to all sorts of relationships: family, romantic, social, and business. It’s not until you know yourself that you can effectively hear another person. Until you’re clear, you’ll be too busy digging yourself out to clearly hear another person’s story.

Hypnotherapy is a tool; relationship is a vehicle. The client’s issue defines their destination, but it’s rarely the true destination. The opportunities a client makes available to me likely reflect their dead end attitude. They rarely abandon it willingly, so I use hypnosis to help them get them lost in themselves. As Joseph Campbell said, “where you stumble and fall, there you will find gold.”

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The Truth is Not as it Appears To Be

I would be misled if I were to start hammering on the first obstacles with which I’m presented. I employ my tools in unusual manners. A psychic martial artist, I use hypnotherapy only when I’ve maneuvered my client into a receptive position.

For example, the real issues of a couple who come with marital discord are likely ones of autonomy, commitment, and codependence. The real issues between a mother and her teenage son are likely to be ones of failed attachment, insecurity, and trauma.

I’m not particularly interested in solving the problems my clients initially present because these are symptomatic. My desire to foster power and change leads me to search for deeper problems.

I am gob-smacked by those therapists who feel their job is to find a solution that makes their clients feel better. If I was paid by the solution, I might not get paid at all. I follow the advice of the mathematician George Cantor, who said, “Proposing a question must be held of higher value than solving it.”

This is where I find hypnosis useful, and similarly with the use of dreams. Both allow me to explore what does not fit, and by those means to understand the symptoms. Hypnosis may not play a role when the conflict is raging between conscious attitudes. Maybe, maybe not.

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A Mother-Son Puppet Show

I have a mother who wants me to correct the lackadaisical attitude of her 18-year-old son. He is the client that needs repair, brought by his mother who is not present. The mother is so desperate that she will sit in his room until he finishes his school assignments. She ends a long letter to me detailing his irresponsible attitude with the phrase, “Please, help me.”

It becomes clear that, indeed, the mother needs help. Both mother and son feel the other is the problem. This is not a task the son has signed up for. He has his own issues. In an attempt to avoid his mother’s dysfunctions, he has become part of them.

I’m preparing the son for what will probably be a lifelong task of finding autonomy. He has been born to play a not-so-obvious role in his mother’s world. Just as the mother does not want to accept responsibility for her distress, so he does not want to accept responsibility for his mother. A lot of basic explanation will be necessary before I enter into his subconscious.

A hypnotherapist must gain a client’s trust before a client will open up. Even more trust is needed for access to difficult subconscious territory. Hypnosis is a tool for amplifying subconscious inclinations, but when subconscious inclinations are unclear, hypnotherapeutic clarity may be unavailable.

A Little Goes a Long Way

I don’t know how far I’ll go with this pair. I am ready to stop work at whatever point they decide. I won’t focus on the problem of school performance, but it is not my right to push beyond it.

If we do move to deeper issues, we’ll enter subconscious territory. A permissive form of hypnosis becomes appropriate. If I’m given the chance, I’ll ask the son to imagine all the forms resolution can take. I don’t know the answers. He must tell me.

My most important contribution to the growth of their relationship may be to clear the path. And while I am not working with the mother, I am working with a close couple. The picture may seem cruel, but I have the image of Perseus confronting the Medusa. The mother is possessed by something.

Whatever the son understands will be seen by his mother. To give the mother strength, he must gain strength himself. In some sense, the four ingredients are one ingredient: self-love. From this can sprout service and commitment, even in relationships where you have no choice.

If you’d like to talk to me about your relations, I’d be happy to oblige.
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