Ask An Adult: How To Get The Presents You Actually Want This Christmas
The Debrief: Because no one deserves a pen pot this year
Artwork by Emma Dajska
There’s nothing worse than spending the entirety of Christmas wearing your ‘This wasn’t what I wanted’ face. Especially not when you’re old enough to know better than throwing a tantrum because your gran bought you a pen pot for the fourth year running.
Imagine if there was some way you could hypnotise her to get you that scarf you’ve been eyeing up. Or a house.
Hypnotherapy might ordinarily be used for things like helping you quit smoking or lose weight, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hypnotise the shit out of your gran in the run-up to Christmas. Sure, if you don’t tell her what you’re doing beforehand, it runs into all sorts of moral grey areas, but what would you rather be: an immoral person with that thing you wanted, or a moral person with four pen pots?
I spoke to clinical hypnotherapist Ilona Latta to see how I could try and get the Christmas presents I truly deserve this year, so I don’t have to spend the whole day face-acting. Which is hard after you’ve eaten four dinners and a bottle of some weird blue stuff you found in your mum’s drinks cabinet. That could possibly be Cif.
Turns out that, while you obviously can’t force people to buy you a MacBook, there are definitely some techniques that can at least embed the idea into the hearts of your loved ones. Because that’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it? Forcing people to buy you nice things.
Attack from all angles
‘In a hypnotherapy session, you pick one thing your client wants to deal with, and you come at it from lots of different directions,’ explains Ilona. ‘For getting the right Christmas present, you should mention it in lots of ways, rather than whining about wanting something, or having a screaming match. Drop the word into conversations, work the name of the thing you want into sentences.’
For example, if you want an iPhone, then every time you mention someone’s phone in an anecdote, call it an iPhone. Tell your parents you’re going to call them when you’re coming home from your mate’s iPhone. Call the landline an iPhone, why not? When you ask for it – or, if you already have – it’s going to be imprinted on their subconscious.
Use hypnotic language
Less pocket watches and telling someone they’re feeling sleepy, another hypnotic trigger (ie, a technique to trigger a hypnotic response) is to get alliterative.
‘Your subconscious responds to sentences that are more like flowing prose, and less like you’re having a meeting,’ says Ilona. ‘For reasons that haven’t been proven scientifically, your subconscious love alliteration and describing things in groups of three – so the candle glows, flickers and shimmers.’
Or the new Mango coat you’re dying to get your hands on is warm, cosy and good value. If you get alliteration in there, then bonus points: the new Mango coat is warm, wosy and wood walue. Look, I’m not a poet.
Pounce when they’re already hypnotised
Yes, you could actually hypnotise them (see below), but a lot of grans won’t like you lying them down and telling them to visualise a third eye in their forehead. They’ve got things to do, misguided presents to buy. Ilona suggests you make the most of the times in the day when your victim, sorry, subject, is already partially hypnotised. Because, yep, you do spend a fair bit of your day in a light hypnotic state.
‘We go in and out of hypnosis as we’re going to sleep and waking up, if you’re commuting a well-known route, if you’re a musician and you’re playing your instrument, doing a sport you get absorbed in, or even reading a really good book,’ she tells me.
‘You want to use those everyday moments of hypnosis and use hypnosis triggers. If you’re trying to talk about a Christmas present, talk to them when they’re receptive. When they’ve just woken up, come back from sport, or just been listening to music, so their subconscious is quite receptive.’
Describe what you want using all the senses
Yet another hypnotic trigger is getting the person to really experience that present you’ve asked for. Don’t just say you want a pair of shoes, and start working the word ‘shoe’ into every conversation you have with them. Really evoke some visualisations of what those shoes are going to be doing when you’ve got them.
‘Projecting it into the future awakens the subconscious, as it responds well to different senses and evocations,’ says Ilona. ‘So if you want some perfume, and you’re going out one night, try saying something like, “I love this dress, just imagine when we go to [insert friend’s] party and we’re in the bar and you can smell [insert name of perfume] on me…”
‘The whole premise of hypnosis hinges on bypassing the critical factor, which is when your conscious mind engages rationally with what it wants to accept and what it doesn’t want to accept. If you get the senses and emotions involved, that just moves your state passed the critical factor and into the subconscious.’
Actually hypnotise them
Alternatively, you could get them to lie down in a room and genuinely hypnotise them into getting what you want. First, you start with visualisations that will help open the subconscious mind – there are loads of them, but Ilona has one she uses a lot that involves a candle.
‘The candle is flickering, and you allow people to project onto that candle the colours that make them feel more comfortable. The idea behind this is to get the mind to start engaging and playing with those visual ideas. If you can engage the conscious mind, that allows the subconscious mind to be accessed,’ she explains.
Speaking using hypnotic language (see above) is important, as the subconscious engages more readily with that than practical descriptions, and look out for physical signs that the person is fully relaxed into the first stage of hypnosis.
‘You can see the eyes start to move, like they’re trying to blink. They can also start swallowing more frequently, as when you relax your mouth feels like it’s getting drier,’ she adds. ‘If their fingers twitch, they’re definitely in the right state.’
Next, you can either take them deeper, by asking them to remember something from their past (a popular one Ilona uses is to get people thinking about the first time they learned to read) or begin making the suggestions.
‘There’s no exact science or theory behind this, but it’s widely accepted that dropping in slightly odd words works to keep the subconscious engaged when you’re making the suggestions,’ she says. ‘The subconscious likes playing with context – you can describe flowers that go beyond expected descriptions. They’re a sharp crackly orange, for example.’
Use the hypnotic triggers to make the suggestions, speaking in flowing prose while you tell them to buy you Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair. Difficult to make that alliterate, sure, but it’s worth a shot.
If you’ve tried all the above, and still you end up with a pen pot, then you know you’re either not cut out for hypnotherapy, or your family are doing this out of spite. In which case, suck it up and start buying them pen pots. See how they like it.
At work? With your gran?
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