Notes on The Teaching Tales of Milton Erickson

my voice on Make A Gif

What I’m talking about today is not the kind of material which falls in my daily occupation, at least in the sense that it’s not related to politics, environment, poverty reduction etc.

It’s part of my studies on personal growth, about how to extend our limits and broaden our mindsets. I firmly believe, since a lifetime, that the average person can do a lot by working “from the neck up”, knowing more and exercising to achieve mental fitness – which is the only way to go if we want to live happily and be satisfied at doing what we do every day (I’m not one of those who say dumbness and ignorance are keys to happiness).

As I said, I’m not into psychology (my brother is) but I’m sure this book could prove interesting to other “laymen” like me. I first heard about Milton Erickson while reading Jerry Richardson‘s Introduction to NLP and I decided to take a glance to see what hypnotherapy is about.

This collection, enriched by Sidney Rosen’s comments, is a great introduction to Erickson’s world, the best hypnotherapist ever known.

One of his important principles was that people have, in their own natural history, the resources to overcome the problem for which they are seeking help. In some of this stories he reminds people that they have resources of which they are not yet aware.

In “This boy will be dead by morning” he conveys one of his favorite prescriptions about enjoying life and even prolonging it: <<Always look to a real goal, in the near future.>> It’s not always necessary for us to give reasons for our actions, but it is necessary that we have goals – immediate and achievable.

The unconscious is always protagonist, and it is a pillar of the learning process. Unconscious learnings do not remain fixed, but are added to with new learning. <<All your lives you have been learning things, transferring them to your unconscious, and using, automatically, the end results of the learning.>> And so it goes for the importance of trance in therapy: <<A trance only allows you to handle all the learning you have already acquired. And we often disregard the learnings that we have acquired>>. Erickson frequently shows also how learning by experience is much more educational than learning consciously.

The chapter about overcoming habitual limitations explains two important elements: the first is establishing a mental set that is broader or less limited than the preceding one. The second is to approach the task without focusing on the limits, but focusing on the task itself. Another tip is about creativity: if you want to become creative or to think creatively, you must practice what has been called “divergent thinking“, in contrast to “convergent thinking”, which adults tend to adopt as they become more and more restrictive in their behavior

Probably, the best theme in these tales is that “tomorrow is another day, that the sun will rise again tomorrow, that no matter what happens it is not the end of the world, that no matter how flattened you feel there’s always the basis for some new growth and fresh beginnings”. You got to have an antidote to self-pity.

Other sparse advices are “never take an insult” and “in every negative, you can find a positive”…

As his father said <<Enjoy life, and enjoy it thoroughly>>.

He added <<And the more humor you can put into life, the better off you are>>.


*as said in the book’s preface by Lynn Hoffman of the Ackerman Institute of Family Therapy


Grab the cheap kindle version of the book HERE


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