Neurolinguistics and Suggestibility in Affirmations

By Andrew Wilding

Diagram showing the different suggestibilities of right and left brain hemisphere dominance

Your suggestibility is a set of neurolinguistic patterns to which your subconscious mind responds, and is effected by the dominant brain hemisphere in your thinking.


Affirmations are like any effective method that becomes commercialised – like Yoga, Feng Shui, and many meditation techniques – they often lose the essential attention to detail that is required for the method to be successful. It may seem intuitive that the exact wording or neurolinguistics of your affirmation determines the depth to which you are suggestible to the content, which is exactly the case.

Neurolinguistics is the science of subconscious language.
If the science is properly understood, affirmations can actually be
as life-changing as many people claim them to be.

But most people would agree that we do not all share the same subconscious language, and we do not all respond to language patterns in the same way. This does not rule out Jungian archetypes, or his concept of the “collective unconscious”. These are the primal elements of the subconscious mind, concerned with survival, and exist on a much deeper level than linguistic structures. Each person responds to language according to very individual beliefs, opinions, values, and memories – which means that generic affirmations can only work on a limited number of people, who find the particular language of the affirmation agreeable. If you were to compose a neurolinguistic program, using only words that have a positive symbolic meaning for you, the effect of repeating that neurolinguistic program would be life-changing because you would be learning a positive belief about yourself. For this reason, NLP enthusiasts claim that you can literally accomplish anything you set your mind to – provided you know what neurolinguistic programming (NLP) to use.

Now for the life-changing question:
Who knows the words to your personal affirmation?

If you knew the right words to say to yourself, you would be teaching yourself to manifest a fortune, or stop smoking, or lose weight, or overcome anxiety, or depression, or heal yourself from a terminal disease, and there are hundreds of best selling books written by ordinary people who have changed their lives in exactly this way. A good qualification in NLP or hypnotherapy will teach you how to read your own neurolinguistics, and determine the specific language patterns to which you are suggestible. It may take some time to get to the point where you know yourself and the material well enough to script your own effective neurolinguistic program. An easy entry is to explore your suggestibility, but if you would like to get started right away you can contact me for a session.


What is Suggestibility?

Your suggestibility is the set of neurolinguistic patterns
to which your subconscious mind responds.

Dr. John Kappas [HMI California, where I qualified] conclusively found that we favour the use of one brain hemisphere more than the other, and the result is predictable suggestibility to certain language patterns (The Model of Physical and Emotional Suggestibility and Sexuality, 1975). He found that roughly 50% of any population favours the use of their left brain hemisphere, resulting in a heightened suggestibility to intellectual or “Emotional” language patters, while the other 50% is right brain dominant, resulting in a heightened suggestibility to “Physical” language patters.

Kappas’ research was quite revolutionary, at a time when psychology was still very dominated by gender-based differences, and in the field of couples therapy this new model gave therapists a far more accurate understanding of relationship dynamics, compared to earlier chauvinistic forms of relationship analysis. According to Dr. Kappas, suggestibility occurs by percentage, for example 67% left, 33% right, and is learned during childhood, up to that age of early puberty. Here are some examples to differentiate between the left and right hemisphere ways of thinking:


Right Brain Hemisphere = “Physical” Suggestibility

  • Take things very literally
  • Prefer physical or tactile description – “Turn into Annandale Road at the robots, it’s opposite the church”
  • Respond positively to direct or literal suggestions and compliments – “You look nice today”
  • Feel uncomfortable talking about their emotions

Example affirmations:

  • I am successful
  • The more I focus on being successful, the more confident I am
  • The more confident I am, the more successful I am


Left Brain Hemisphere = “Intellectual” Suggestibility

  • Tendency to read between the lines
  • Prefer linear or intellectual descriptions – “6 Annandale Road, GPS -34.030001, 18.466404”
  • Respond positively to intellectual or inferred suggestions and compliments – “Those are amazing shoes”
  • Tend to feel uncomfortable with direct requests or commands

Example affirmations:

  • I remember that feeling of accomplishment in my past successes
  • As I think about the feeling of success, I feel more confident in my ability
  • The more I imagine my own success, the more I tend to accomplish what needs to be done


The full HMI Suggestibility Test is part of my hypnotherapy treatment. You can do this on-line via Skype or Google Chat, or book your walk-in session in Cape Town.

Check your availability here.

Science Pg 2. Neuroplasticity – The Science of Hypnotherapy