Nested Loops

Influence and persuade others merely by telling them stories. This is one of the best, if not THE best, method of conversational hypnosis. It involves no induction’s, no snapping fingers, and no need to get an approval for a hypnotic session. It’s also very easy to learn and practice. It can be used for almost any situation where you would want to implant hypnotic suggestions without being obvious (which also means almost certain failure), and without the need to induce a person into hypnosis. You can use this method to talk with your kids before bedtime, and install some positive suggestions that will benefit them and the family.

  • You can use it to talk with your boss about a raise (or to be precise, tell your boss when he’ll give you a raise).
  • You can use it to talk with your employees to motivate them and to inspire creativity. 
  • You can use it in training (just like Bandler has been doing for years and years with his stories). 
  • You can use it in writing, like I do from time to time. 

There is no end to the ways you can use The Nested Loops method. 

The Nested Loops method is another classic method that Milton Erickson has created and used successfully for many years. By using this method, you’re building tension, just like they do in regular storytelling. You create five stories that are interesting to your audience (which you should know, of course). You open one story after the other, and on a cue point you switch to the next story (the graphic below demonstrates it). Once you open the fifth story, you include your hypnotic suggestions in it and then you close story number five, and continue to complete and close the stories in reverse order. That’s the classic application of this method, and it is thoroughly explained below. There are a number of reasons why this method works so well to influence people: 

1. Our mind doesn’t like loose ends, so your mind begins a TDS (Trance-Derivational Search) in order to close the open loop. Your mind looks for the completion of it, and while it waits for it, more stories are opened, overloading the mind’s attempts to keep track. It is all done subconsciously, of course. 

2. Concentrating on the content and entertaining details of the stories will confuse the listener, and will cause his mind to drift from the structure to the details; chunking down, in other words. By the time you get to the fifth story, your listener’s mind has less tendency to resist suggestions and these will most likely be accepted immediately. 

3. There is no “watch out” sign. When you induce hypnosis, some people will go into a defensive position, guarding their subconscious mind as though it were a precious fortress. Hypnotherapists work long and hard at bringing down these defenses, and it takes a lot of energy and time. By telling a story in a casual conversational style, without even mentioning the word “hypnosis” or snapping your fingers, the defenses are down (unless that person has a good reason not to trust you). 

4. The loop is habitual. Our mind picks up patterns quite fast. Once one loop has been closed (story number five), the listener’s mind expects that the rest will be closed too, and it is much more alerted to pick it up. When an additional one is closed (number four or five), it forgets all about the suggestions and lets them sink into the subconscious with the stories. It is much more important for the mind to close the loops than to deal with the suggestion that has been “slipped” in between them. 

Create a well-formed outcome.

You must firmly decide what you want to accomplish and with whom. You need to know your outcome as well as your audience’s needs, wants and desires. By knowing this information, it will be easier for you to construct your stories and suggestions in the most effective manner. 

Ask yourself questions such as:

Who do I want to influence?

What do I want to suggest to them? (Don’t write the suggestions yet, just your outcome.)

Who are they exactly? Is it better if I work with only one at a time?

What are their needs? What do I know about their needs, wants and desires? If I could sum it up in one word, how would I name what they want themselves? 

What type of stories would be most appealing to them? (You’ll know the answer once you answer the previous questions.)

When would be the best time to sit down and talk to them without interruption?

Have they already trusted me, or do I need to establish trust (and rapport, of course)?

Come up with an indirect suggestion.

Since we’re talking about a conversational hypnotic method, it would be much more effective to use indirect suggestions. Saying something like: “and you would find yourself passionate about cleaning your room,” is a very direct suggestion. Saying instead, “and you know, I felt great after cleaning my room, just like you do with yours…” provides an indirect suggestion. Since it takes time to master this method (as with every good thing), start with only one suggestion. Later on, once you learn to go through these steps without planning too much, you can use more suggestions. 

Build the five stories and cue points.

There are very few rules for these stories:

1. They must be entertaining, since we’re using five of them. If they are boring, you’ll have a sleeping audience. 

2. The method will work better if you use real-life stories from your own past. Do not use stories that involve the person you’re trying to persuade; they have their own version of this memory. Don’t even include their role, as that is too obvious. If you must, you can make up your story. 

3. Learn to tell those stories in an interesting way. 

Record yourself before you try it out on someone else. 

Fine tune your story telling until there is nothing in the content, or in the delivery, that is likely to annoy. 

Craft it into an engaging, thrilling tale. 

4. The length of your story shouldn’t be an issue, but don’t say 100 words where five would be enough. 

Say it in short but say it all, and in an interesting manner. You can repeat some key points if needed. 

Once you’ve chosen your five stories, break each into a Cue Point; a place where it would be appropriate to cut the story, but that does not give away the end of the story. 

Introduce the beginning of story #1.

Now comes the tricky part; how to get them to listen to you. It’s hard to advise you exactly what to do, since every situation is different. The easiest situation is when you have control over the environment as you do when you’re a presenter in a training or a father putting his kids to bed. In a business meeting, where there would be normally several interactions between you and the listener, you can still use this method, but keep in mind that you will have to let the other party speak from time to time. I always introduce the beginning of story number one by saying, “You know what, I must tell you something that just popped up in my mind and reflects almost exactly what you said…” Another option would be: “Let me tell you a story…” or even better: “Did I ever tell you about the time I jumped from a bridge…” The first sentence is crucial because it is used to initiate the momentum of listening to your story. The more completely you occupy their conscious mind with interesting stories, the better you will maintain the momentum. 

Tell the stories, open the loops.

 It’s a good idea to remember the order of the stories as you tell them. I do so by using my right hand fingers, and tie each story to a finger. I start with the thumb, and in my own imagination, I picture a keyword from the story tied into my thumb. For example, if story number one involves a monkey, I see that monkey biting my right thumb. If the second story involves a diaper, I can see my index finger covered with a diaper, hitting the monkey who’s biting my thumb. That ridiculous image will definitely remind me of the order of my stories. You tell story number one up to the cue point, and then you use some linking phrase to break it and go to the beginning of story number two. You can use almost anything here: 

“And the police man asked me about my uncle, who you know is a carpenter. By the way, I never told you, but I have worked for him for a couple of months when I was 17. In fact, in that summer, just after my birthday, he felt so sick that I had to do all of his work. In one client’s house…” and they have the policeman story unfinished while hearing about your sick carpenter uncle. When you get to story number five, that’s the time for the next step. 

Embed the suggestions within story #5.

That’s where the juice is. You tell story number five from beginning to end. While you’re in the middle of it, right after the Cue Point, you slip in a few suggestions. It is so easy you won’t believe me unless you try it. “And you see, at that exact moment, What would you have done? I bet you get a feeling, a good feeling about doing it, and just like you would do your homework as fast as possible to get it done the same day you get the assignment, just like when I went through that mission of…”  Your listeners won’t even realize what is going on. Your previous stories have already overloaded their minds; now they are not analyzing your suggestions. Now, complete story number five smoothly, as though you had never interrupted it. 

Close the rest of the loops.

Don’t leave their minds hanging there, searching for the end of the loops. Close each remaining loop in reverse order. After closing story number five, you have a way to go back to close story number four, because the Cue Point of story number four is what initiated story number five. Continue closing these loops until you reach the end of story number one. You may want to add a couple of questions to encourage time distortion. After finishing story number one, ask questions like: “By the way, you told me before that you’re interested in XYZ, tell me about it.” Of course, XYZ has to be something that the person told you before you initiated the Nested Loops method.