This section is from the book "Handbook Of Suggestive Therapeutics, Applied Hypnotism, Psychic Science", by Henry S. Munro. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of Suggestive Therapeutics, Applied Hypnotism, Psychic Science.
"Man exists . . . not for what he can accomplish, but for what can be accomplished of him." - Gothe.
By suggestion we can add a dynamic quality to the mental equipment of an individual who is receptive. A new element is given to his personality by the impression made upon his brain plasm, which better equips him to meet the exigencies of life, and whereby he can be educated into the art of self-mastery.
A little child, seven years old, was beginning her first day in school, and appeared bewildered and confused as she anticipated the new experiences that the day had in store for her. As she started out of the home her father, who was awaiting the arrival of the right psychological moment, called her to him.
"Papa, mamma says I must hurry, or I shall be late," responded the child as she came up closer to find out what her father wanted.
"You have plenty of time, my daughter," said he. "I have a secret to tell you if you will promise not to tell anybody. Do you know there is not a smarter child in this town than you are?"
"No, papa, I did not know that."
"Well, there is not, and I will show you. Who can run faster than you among your little friends?"
"None of them," was her answer.
" Who rides a wheel or plays dolls better than you ?"
"None," she answered.
"Well, here is our secret. They can not learn faster in school than you can. They are all smart, but they don't know it. The girl that does what her teacher tells her is the one that learns the fastest. Now, that is our secret. You go and find out what your lesson is, and come home and we will help you to study, and by the end of the term you will be at the head of your class."
The child's answer whs, "All right, papa; if you will help me, yes, I will."
"Go to school now, you have plenty of time, but don't tell anybody our secret."
The child walked away with a new element added to her consciousness, She went with head erect, and a smile on her face that indicated that she was going out to conquer. Of course, this was followed by other similar suggestions, and during the eight years since that time that little girl has stood at the head of her classes and found in her school work a genuine pleasure.
In another instance a child, thirteen years of age, was competing for a prize given in elocution. Her father had also offered her a reward, and expressed a wish that she win that medal. She had worked hard to succeed, and on the morning of the contest the father called her into his den and handed her the promised reward for winning the contest.
"But," said she, "I haven't won it yet."
"See here, daughter," was his response, "I know, and your teacher knows, that you render that selection aright. Now, it matters not one bit what the judges or the audience think of it. Go, render your selection to suit yourself and to do credit to your teacher, but forget all about the prize or the opinion of the judges."
She went away relieved of all apparent anxiety, and shared the prize with an older contestant.
The question of self-mastery is one of education and self-development. By suggestion we can plant ideas that give rise to impulses or incentives within the individual to make effort at self-development, self-education, and self-control.
Every one should be made to feel that he is born to be of use in the world and should be taught how to exercise his capacity, for it is only through the self-reliance gained by our own activities that we can make a success in any vocation in life. The individual who can be of most help to others is the one who sees the greatest possibilities within them.
The problem of life for every individual is the one of self-mastery - how best to conserve and direct our energies into useful, wholesome lines of thought and action. To be of help to others, one must at least in some degree have become master of one's self.
It has been a matter of observation to see a physician so utterly lacking in self-control that he was incapacitated to use efficacious suggestion upon an individual, even after the latter had assumed an attitude of voluntary receptivity. In him the self-conscious ego had not been evolved sufficiently to give him force of character to be of influence.
It is for each one of us to decide whether we shall control and govern ourselves in the light of reason, education, and experience, or be held by the opinions of others. To do our best in life, we must be independent, strong, capable, and free.
The leaders of all professions in all ages have been men who have overleaped the limitations of environment, of ignorance and superstition, and have dared to stand up for what they believed to be right.
To have achieved self-mastery is to be guided by reason, impelled by truth, and freed from the tyranny of fear, selfishness, and ignorance. It denotes courage, humble service, magnanimity, . sympathy, friendliness, and a tenacious stand for the right. To reach this high ideal of moral attainment, human evolution must go on forever. We are as yet in the ameba and moneron stage of our appreciation of this higher conception of ourselves and our relation to others.
"With this poor life, with this mean world I'd fain complete what in me lies; I strive to perfect this - my me; My sole ambition's to be wise."
Fear is the natural consequence of weakness and ignorance. To be masters of our bodies does not mean that the physical basis of existence is to be ignored. Far from it. On the other hand, to maintain a strong, healthy body is the first essential to development. Will power and determination are natural accompaniments of a healthy organism.
There is a peculiar psychic quality that is the heritage of some individuals. They are content to drift with the crowd, and have not the courage to dare to use their own reasoning faculties. The problem of education is to deliver these individuals from such tendencies and thus to prevent them from lapsing into physical weaklings, mental nonentities, or moral cowards.
It is the inalienable birthright of every human being to manifest the highest expression of individuality and selfhood - to give the world the very best that he can make of himself according to the limitations of heredity, environment, and education. Fear and selfishness are the greatest barriers to the progress of aspiring humanity.
The "thou shalt" and "thou shalt not" of an irresponsible hierarchy no longer fetters the spirit of the man who has obtained sufficient self-mastery to live up to the light and knowledge of the present age.
But not for ourselves alone must we live. We gain in strength by helping others, by assuming responsibility, by work and useful achievement.
A great deal of the hysteria and neurasthenia, and despondency and weakness, of men and women is due to their failure to exercise sufficient self-mastery - to use the powers and capabilities inherent within the cells of their organism. Such people we can wonderfully benefit by suggestion.
Medicine will ever have a place in our therapeutic armamentarium, but it is a crime to use it to relieve nervousness and psychoneurotic and functional disturbances, by lulling and inhibiting the normal physiological processes, where the individual should be taught the art of self-mastery, self-control, self-activity, and conformity to such physiological methods of development as breathing, relaxation, dietetics, water drinking, exercise, and work, with sunshine, fresh air, and cheerfulness.
The use of suggestion in therapeutics is nothing more or less than getting an individual to exercise self-mastery and self-control.
Here I am reminded of a stalwart man, six feet two inches high, weighing one hundred and ninety-eight pounds, who had a wife and two children in another portion of his state, while he was being supported by his brother, and all the while nursing and encouraging a psychoneurotic condition. His physician informed me of this element of sloth and laziness that was a great factor in his case, besides his morbid self-conseiousness, and sought my aid to arouse him from such psychic incumbrances and put him in possession of himself.
He came into the office walking with a cane, and, besides his symptoms of indigestion and insomnia, he complained of a constantly painful and weak back.
My treatment was to give such suggestions as to drive back his morbid existing sense impressions. To substitute a new consciousness, he was placed with head on one chair and heels on another, and made to sustain my weight of two hundred pounds upon his body. Then, looking him in the face after he was awakened, I informed him frankly and honestly of the test we had made and assured him that a stronger man did not exist in his state, that all he needed was exercise, and that the right thing for him to do was to go to work. I met him upon his own plane - that of a physical laborer - and used such methods as would most convince him that he was a man, and he appreciated it. He did go to work and had no further trouble.
Such harsh treatment is not applicable in private practice, but, when I see people whining and complaining, and morbidly self-conscious of their own life's battles, I can only wish that they could be aroused in some way and be made to see the pleasure, and beauty, and glory of work.
Upon the exercise of our own self-activity does the welfare of the future race depend. The intellectual world brings life's greatest pleasures, but, as we now understand it, the head and hands must be educated together. Mental and physical development must go hand in hand.
When wealth causes the individual to depend upon the physical and mental efforts of others to do for him what he should do for himself, it is a means of degeneration and weakness.
It is all a question of mental attitude. We must ever press onward for the acquirement of more knowledge, the discovery of new truths, and for facts revealed by new experiences. We must never be willing to accept as a finality the imperfection of present attainments.
To be glad to live for life's own sake, to love and to help others for the pleasure it gives us, and in our own humble way to crown our lives with useful endeavor and achievement, leaves no excuse for the question, Is life worth while?
It never becomes stale, flat, and unprofitable, save as it reflects our own stupidity.