How emphasis can Change your meaning

“His enemy was dust”

As I read this on the train from Gravesend to Durham the other day, I had to   re-read this sentence several times. Was it saying that the character was beset by dust and as a result considered it his enemy or was it that his enemy had been destroyed and was now dust and that he didn’t need to worry about them any more?

Putting aside the fact that there could well be some poor punctuation in the sentence, much like the classic description of a Panda “Panda: Eats, shoots and leaves”, it got me thinking about the importance of emphasis on our words and how that emphasis can   completely change the meaning of what we’re communicating.

In hypnosis and NLP, this is called “marking” where we deliberately embed suggestions in what we say and write by using things like pauses, punctuation and putting emphasis on specific words of phrases within an otherwise normal piece of speach or text.

In IEMT (see the glossary), one of the sentences I use regularly to help a client elicit a certain feeling is “When is the first time you can remember that feeling?” What I do is “mark” some of the words with emphasis in order to embed a command and what I actually end up saying looks more like “When is the first time you can remember that feeling?”.

Can you   see the difference? In asking a question, I am actually delivering a suggestion or embedded command that the client’s unconscious mind will pick up and act on (in order to make it truly effective I combine this with other subtle communications but that’s the art and science of psychology and one of the reasons I love it).

Returning to my example at the start of the post: “his enemy was dust.”

Now say the sentence out loud with the emphasis on each word in turn:
– HIS enemy was dust
– His ENEMY was dust
– His enemy WAS dust
– His enemy was DUST

Doesn’t the emphasis on the different words completely change the meaning of the sentence!

How much does the emphasis, be it pronunciation, punctuation, tempo, pitch, spelling, font etc. make on the interpretation of YOUR communication? Next time you’re in a public place and you can overhear people talking, why not listen out for those markers and see how you could have changed the meaning of the communication simply by stressing the same words in a different way or in a different place.


Ben White: Change Artist

Hypnotist Ben White demonstrating the power of imagination
Hypnotist Ben White demonstrating the power of imagination

With a background in business analysis and customer relationship management, one could say I’ve been helping businesses get to grips and install better ways of thinking for a long time. Throw into the mix hypnosis, NLP, IEMT and Provocative Change Works and you find yourself reading about someone who achieves change with people individually and as an organisation. On this site, you’ll discover the personal side of Ben and if you continue reading, you see he’s pretty dedicated to finding the best way to enable you to tap into the inherent ability to change within all of us.

After my first hypnosis course I headed straight for my local post office and posted a note in the window: “Trainee hypnotist requires volunteers...” Needless to say I was literally inundated with three requests to help all of whom I worked with successfully. What a great start!

Hypnotically, I have trained with Freddy and Anthony Jacquin of the UK Hypnotherapy Training Collage on rapid hypnosis techniques as well as using hypnotic and NLP techniques with your children. This excellent series of techniques that will work with any aged child (really! I’ve used this stuff on my daughter since she was 1) to gently help in many areas from Attention Deficit Disorder to exam nerves and even simply family relations (Freddy’s branded the techniques: Potensharu).

I have studied body language and the now extremely popular Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and in 2009, I certified as a practitioner for an amazing technique called Integral Eye Movement Therapy created by Andrew T Austin. IEMT combines various NLP techniques with a structured interview approach to achieve some of the most incredible change work that simple counselling would take many many sessions to achieve.

Certified and insured as an IEMT practitioner

Associate Member of the Association for Provocative Therapy

I have trained with Norman D Vaughton (who studied with Ernest Rossi for many years) in Ideodynamic hypnosis. Norman’s approach also utilises one of my favourite techniques: Clean Language and is used to avoid polluting or influencing your processes with the my own expectations or presuppositions. The technique is therefore extremely respectful and gentle and yet very powerful in gaining you both conscious and unconscious insight and in generating lasting and sometimes dramatic change!

As you can see I’ve done quite a lot of learning!

What I am passionate about is that the power to change is within all of us and if you want to change: you can




Look me up using the Find Me Online section on the right, or simply drop me an email direct.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Positioning your memories

This is part 2 and while it does kind of stand on its own, it is born from my previous post on memories and mirroring, so I don’t know whether you’ll want to read that first or perhaps decide to read it after a few more words here.

So I was thinking about how mirrors and photos may perhaps impact how we feel and it occurred to me that where they are positioned may also influence our feelings as well.

Continue reading “Positioning your memories”

Abreactions in therapy and play

Hypnotists and hypnotherapists talk a lot about abreactions and what, when and how to deal with them. I recently experienced one first hand, so thought I’d write something about it as I do not believe that the traditional definition of an abreaction is strictly correct.


Continue reading “Abreactions in therapy and play”