I could look up who said this, but it’s not important.

A hypnotist once said you should be surprised by something, every time you hypnotise someone.

The idea is if you’re following the script instead of your hunches, you won’t achieve great results. If you dig deep enough, explore and be curious, you’ll not only find something surprising, the subject will get a lot more out of it.

It’s great advice for many folks.

So many people see hypnosis is a simple process, rather than a sophisticated relationship.

If they tried to be surprised, they’d look beyond the simple and remember there is, in fact, a human being sitting in front of them.

Every human being can surprise you, if you let them.

But I don’t follow this advice, good as it is.

In fact, I go the other way.

I can’t remember the last time anyone surprised me when I hypnotised them.

Even when they warned me they would.

So many folks have been nervous to open up, afraid that I’d judge them for their issues. It hasn’t happened yet.

I come from a place of radical acceptance. Whatever is true for you is okay by me. Your actions might have undesirable outcomes, sure, but your beliefs, identity and stuff you have rolling around in your head is welcome here.

That freaks some people out, to the point where they deliberately misunderstand it. People are so addicted to judging that radical acceptance sounds horrifying to them.

“What, so you’re okay with people being serial killers, child abusers and supporters of that politician I don’t like??”

Firstly, I judge people on their actions, not on their thoughts or intentions. Give me a millionaire who donates to charity solely for the PR and tax breaks – they do more good than someone thinking nice thoughts about the world.

Secondly, every honest thought you have is a valid part of your experience. This is how I’m more liberal than liberals – I accept whatever goes on in someone’s head, even as they beg me to help them change it.

Thirdly, you have dark desires too, you know. If you acted on them, you’d be a monster. But you’re a good person, so you don’t act on them. So what sort of idiot would judge you for thoughts you don’t act on – that you probably don’t even like?

If you want folks to do better, you lower a rope into the pit and help them climb out.

You don’t toss them into an even deeper one.

That’s my philosophy, at least. I know the majority goes against that and that’s okay too. I know why they do it, so it’s not so easy to judge them for it.

But I would struggle to do good hypnotic work if I saw part of you as the ‘bad part’ that needs ‘fixing’. Change isn’t the first step; acceptance is.

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