Dr. Steve Taubman’s early years were plagued by crippling anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Despite graduating as valedictorian from one of the nation’s top chiropractic colleges and running a thriving practice, Dr. Steve found that his outer success did little to calm his inner turmoil.
Thus began a thirty-year journey to understand the root of his suffering. His exploration of Western psychotherapy, Eastern teachings of mindfulness, hypnosis, and the science of neurology provided profound insight into the universal nature and cause of suffering: the subconscious mind… which ultimately led to the creation of his successful UnHypnosis system and best-selling book.
Blending his teachings with a longtime passion for comedy and magic, Dr. Steve developed a series of insightful, fun presentations about mastering the subconscious mind. These were quickly embraced by organizations for their ability to get people into action.
Since then, Dr. Steve’s excitement, motivation and enthusiasm have earned him fans from every profession as he continues to enthrall audiences worldwide, helping them remove mental barriers to achieving their dreams. Dr. Steve’s presentations are world-class entertainment and world-class education. His ability to blend entertainment and education is what separates him from anyone else in the field.
You can connect with Dr. Steve at www.stevetaubman.com.
Cain: Hey how are you doing? This is Brian Cain with the Peak Performance Podcast. Today our guest is Dr. Steve Taubman. I was first introduced to Steve when I was working as a high school athletic director in Vermont where he came into our school and did a hypnotist show. I’ve got to say I was absolutely mesmerized and blown away. It was one of the more entertaining but also educational events that I had attended. Steve did the show, it was unbelievable to see what happened on stage, but then he also explained the psychology and the mindset behind what was happening. I picked up a copy of his book, read it, loved it. Steve, thanks for joining us. I’m looking forward to having you talk with us here on the podcast.
Taubman: Hey Brian. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks.
Cain: Steve, if you would, could you give our listeners your background and story as to how you got to where you are today as one of the most sought after hypnotists in the country.
Taubman: Sure. It’s been kind of a strange and unusual path. I was a chiropractor for many years as you know in the Burlington, Vermont area. I was the President of the Vermont Chiropractic Association. I was one of the folks who helped to bring about parity between the chiropractic and the medical profession and get chiropractors into the hospitals and get us insurance parity. So talk about trying to push through a brick wall that was a lot of what I was doing for the time being back in the day when chiropractic wasn’t as well received. But I had a big sports medicine component in my practice and that involved a little bit of hypnosis for peak performance, for focus, for motivation, for quicker wound healing and all sorts of things like that.
It came to a point about now almost 20 years ago when I decided it was time to move on. I sold my chiropractic practice, took a year off, traveled the country, traveled the world. I came back and studied stage hypnosis, became a stage hypnotist, took that and became certified by the American Board of Hypnotherapy. I started studying the different elements of how hypnosis and mindfulness play into performance – what happens when our minds are clear and quiet versus when our minds are noisy, what happens when our minds are filled with negative versus positive images, and how do we change it, how do we transform it.
Out of that I ended up writing the book that you alluded to. The book is called UnHypnosis and it’s about removing the subconscious mental barriers to success, about waking up from the programming that we’ve been given as children; and taking charge of our own lives, taking charge of our own beliefs and our emotions, and as a result producing results.
Cain: Steve, talk a little bit if you would about some of the strategies that you share in your book UnHypnosis. The predominant audience of people that listen to this podcast are going to be coaches (high school and college), athletes, the elite sales warriors that are always looking for that sports motivation and mindset that they can take and use in their career; what are some of the strategies that you offer through the book UnHypnosis that they might be able to take and use immediately?
Taubman: The first thing I tell anybody who is in a performance based field whether it’s sales or athletics or anything else along those lines is that you have to start by doubting the voices in your head. You say “don’t believe everything you think.” If you’re a coach and you’re working with some kids and you get that sense of “I can’t do this” and other “can’ts” and all that kind of negativity, the first and foremost thing is to not say “yes you can” but to challenge the very notion that the voice that tells you you can’t is a real voice. It’s a matter of changing the relationship with that entire mental structure that most of us are walking around with.
We take that from the perspective of a three step process. We say that anybody who is successful, anybody who is able to overcome their old programming and get successful, does the same three things. We could call those things self hypnosis. In fact that is really what it is. The three things that you are doing (whether you are calling it hypnosis or you’re calling it mindfulness or you’re calling it your quiet time) are:
#1 You’re getting quiet. You are finding a place where your mind isn’t worrying. It might be a walk for you or it might be doing some intense athletic activity or it might be meditation but there has got to be some point at which you shut your mind off, where you are focused sufficiently on something other than your thoughts. If you are not doing it you are becoming a victim of your own thinking. Step #1 is quieting your mind, relaxing, getting in that altered state.
#2 Being able to (from that state) detach yourself from the beliefs, from the thoughts that are holding you back. You’ve heard of NLP (neuro linguistic programming), Brian, of course?
Cain: For sure. Anthony Robbins, that is a big part.
Taubman: Yeah. And a lot of times what we’ll do is – and we’ll do this on stage because it’s such a dramatic demonstration – we’ll take somebody who is (let’s say) afraid of spiders or snakes and we’ll do a process with them where we put them in a very quiet place (that is Step #1 that I just described). Then Step #2, we’ll have them envision the thing that they are afraid of in order to trigger the feeling. Then we’ll turn their attention away from the thing that triggered the feeling and we’ll turn their attention toward the feeling itself. So we’ll say “all of a sudden you saw a snake and now you feel fear, stop thinking about the snake, just start noticing what fear feels like inside of your body.”
Now all the attention goes inward. They then observe the feeling and have some kind of process by which they then let it go, detach from it, release it. It could be done just like that in a very symbolic way. Your subconscious mind picks up on that and makes changes. You let stuff go. So that is the Step #2 is that letting go process.
#3 is the imagination, the re-visioning of what is possible. That is where you do the mental rehearsals of how the game is going to play or how your sales meeting is going to go. It differs from the way most people do it because most people are doing it in their conscious mind with all those negative voices playing out.
Cain: Talk if you would, Steve, for our listeners, what is the difference between the conscious and unconscious mind?
Taubman: Well quite simply our unconscious or subconscious mind is the part that we’re not conscious of. It’s the area of our consciousness, the area of our being that kind of operates in the background. I’ll give you an example of that.
I noticed recently that sometimes a song gets stuck in my head or a tune will get stuck in my head. I’ll be walking my dog for an hour and then at some point during the hour I’ll notice that for the last 15-20 minutes I’ve been whistling this same stupid tune. I didn’t even notice when I was doing it. When I finally notice it I realize it’s really irritating. It’s not a great tune and it’s a very repetitive tune but it’s in there and it keeps on playing over and over again in my head.
In the same way we’ve got thoughts or beliefs that are playing over and over again in our heads. “I’m not good enough, I can’t do this, this is too hard, my coach is an idiot, my boss is a pain in the ass.” Whatever it is we have got these things that are playing the way that that whistling tune is playing in my head and we are not conscious of them. The moment you become conscious of it it’s no longer in your subconscious. It’s now in your conscious mind and you have a choice. The more you practice taking the subconscious (the unconscious) and making it conscious, the more aware you are of all your options, the more resourceful you are, and the more powerful you are.
Cain: Love it. Go back and talk a little bit (if you would, Steve) about don’t believe everything you think and challenging the relationship with your thought process.
Taubman: 90% of the things that we are thinking are habitual. Most of our thoughts are unquestioned, repetitive, and were generated by a 4 or 5 year old. Sometime in your early childhood you developed certain patterns of thinking. You might have developed the idea that you can’t do it. Or if you’re lucky you developed the idea that you can do it. That is a good one to keep. Regardless, those are the thoughts that are playing in the background and that are influencing the decisions you are making.
Because those thoughts are so unquestioned we just go along with them. We believe them to be true because we start accumulating evidence. We as human beings are pattern making animals. We like to look for patterns and things. It’s our way of making sense of the world. So if we have developed the belief that we are second class, that we are not winners, then what is going to happen is that everything we do is going to influence or reinforce that belief.
If (let’s say) you see yourself as being socially awkward or inept and you walk into social situations you can be feeling socially awkward or inept and therefore you can act that way. You won’t know what you are doing but somehow people are going to reject you or kind of shy away from you and you’ll say “you see I knew that I was socially inept.” So it’s that self fulfilling prophecy that comes because we haven’t yet recognized that it all started with a decision we made when we were 4 or 5 years old when maybe somebody pushed us off the swings and now everything we do reinforces this belief that we gained way before we had the wisdom to know what is worth keeping and what is worth throwing away.
Cain: And you basically help go back in and go through the process of helping them get quiet, detaching themselves from the feeling or thoughts that they would have, and then imagining and moving forward with a better thought process and pattern.
Taubman: Exactly. So there are the three steps right there. What is rather remarkable is we can see substantial improvements in performance almost instantaneously. I’ll take the same concept and I build it into a program for (let’s say) a group of network marketers and we put them into a challenge where they listen to an audio every night for 21 nights that does all those three steps and at the end of 21 nights we are seeing between a 28%-48% increase in performance. If you think about it every one of us is kind of like a racehorse in the gate. We are ready to go. We’ve just got to get that gate up.
Cain: So would it be possible for you to talk through a general three step process that coaches might be able, through this podcast, to share with their athletes to help them have more confidence?
Taubman: First and foremost I think that as a coach you have to realize that just pumping people up is temporary. If you’re in the locker room and it’s like “you go, you can do it,” that is nice but it has got short term value. Some people will keep that and run with it. Other people, if their beliefs are contra to that, you have to deal with that stuff.
Want I would do as a starting point is I would have a quiet time. I would say “before we even get into the motivation let’s just all get quiet and learn a very basic, simple meditation practice.” Something that you can do in five minutes. Something that just quiets your mind. I’m not talking about religion. We’re not talking about some New Age mumbo jumbo. We are talking about a mental exercise to focus. Maybe you get everybody sitting and focusing on their breath or focusing on the feeling of their butt in the seat. Just put it out that way so that any time a thought arises you bring it back to that point of focus. You get out of your head and into your body. That would be the first step.
Then you might say “okay let’s acknowledge the fact that most of us might have something that is in our way. Maybe we are afraid. Maybe we don’t think we can do it. Let’s take just a moment right now while we are in this quiet state to really notice that we have those limitations, we have those feelings. Let’s just embrace them not as if they are real but as if they are just something inside of us that is in need of attention. Let’s everybody just notice anything that is inside of yourself that feels like a limitation. Just shine a little light on it and let it go.”
“Once I’ve done that now let’s start envisioning success.” That is when I would do all the typical motivational stuff that often gets done but doesn’t work as well when you haven’t first quieted the mind and released the negative.
Cain: Excellent. Steve, what is one misconception that a lot of people have about hypnosis and some of that work that you often find in your work that you have to try to educate them on that misconception so that they have the right understanding?
Taubman: The biggest thing is that people think that it’s mind control, that I am in control of your mind if I am hypnotizing you. Nothing could be further from the truth. Another is that you are asleep. If you look at it when you are in a state of hypnosis you are actually not only not asleep, in many ways you are more awake than you are in your day to day life in the sense that you are deeply focused and you are able to receive information. It’s a powerful state to be in. When I have people on stage in a hypnosis show and they’ve got their eyes closed and they are leaning all over each other it looks like they are asleep but they are hearing every word I say. It’s not sleep.
Now the second thing, the idea of mind control. People will never do anything in a state of hypnosis that is against their own moral or ethical beliefs. The only way that could be possible is if there is still within them the ability to control themselves to decide for themselves what is worth accepting and what is worth rejecting.
When you teach people hypnosis your ultimate goal is to teach them self-hypnosis. You need to be able to hypnotize yourself. You need to be able to get out of your habitual thinking, quiet your mind, and reprogram yourself for success. None of those things are weird, none of them are New-Age-y, none of them are a state of lost control; they are all toward the end of making you more in control of what is possible for you.
Cain: That is amazing. I remember one show that I was at – the high school that I was working at and saw you speak the first time. You had a gal on stage and said “when I say the color blue you look in the back and see this guy in a purple shirt with a tie” – which was me sitting in the back row – “and you see it and it’s Justin Timberlake and you can’t control yourself, you get excited and you run up and you’re sitting on his lap and giving him a big hug.”
A minute later you said the word “blue” and this girl pops ups from sitting down and sprints over to where I am sitting next to my girlfriend at the time. She sits down on my lap and is convinced that I am Justin Timberlake. It was one of the most awkward but also unbelievable things that I had ever seen at one time.
Then you said a word to get her out of that state and she was like “oh my god it’s Mr. Cain, what is going on here, this is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in my life, why am I sitting on your lap.” It was hilarious. At that moment when you snapped your fingers or whatever it was you said to take her out of that place or that state you could almost see her face change. It was one of the craziest things I had ever seen.
Taubman: When you are the guy that is being targeted you really see it. You could see it on her face how real it was to her. It’s absolutely mind boggling. That is a perfect example of what I was talking about. I do that same routine pretty much every show. Granted not every guy I target looks as much like Justin Timberlake as you do.
Cain: I love it. Thank you.
Taubman: But there is a variety of responses. The variety of responses that girls have to that little routine are directly related to their personalities and what is reasonable for them to do. With that girl [if] she was the kind of girl who if she saw Justin Timberlake she probably would run up to him and jump on his lap.
Taubman: But then I’ve got other girls who will go up and they’ll just sort of stand in front of him and act really shy. I’ve had girls faint in front of their Justin Timberlake (or whatever it was) and it’s amazing that what we believe creates our entire reality. What we believe.
If you could take one of your students (one of your athletes) and have them believe that they are unstoppable, well they’re going to be unstoppable because 99% of the time the only thing that is making them stoppable is what’s going on between their ears.
Cain: There is a UFC fighter right now who just won the 145 lb title. His name is Conor McGregor. One of the things that Conor talks about is the law of attraction and that if you can believe it in your mind and you can feel it in your heart and you have the courage to speak it out loud then it will become true. The law of attraction was made famous years ago by Rhonda Byrne in her book and documentary The Secret. What is your take on the law of attraction and that thoughts become things and what you put out there you attract to yourself?
Taubman: I think it’s a useful model of – in many cases and in some cases it’s not useful because there is a piece missing. First of all it gets kind of wrapped up in a very magical veneer that somehow the universe comes together and cooperates and makes things happen for you. I’m not going to say that that’s true or not true but it’s not the point. The point is that you are going to operate based on your foundational beliefs.
Let’s say you’re a salesperson and you have an inner conception that you are a $35,000 a year salesperson. That is your belief and you are living that belief. What is going to happen if you have a really incredible first quarter? You are probably going to pull back the second quarter. There is going to be some kind of subconscious way in which you bring yourself back to your own self image. It’s very hard to outgrow your own self image. That doesn’t mean it’s magic the way a lot of people look at the law of attraction but it does definitely indicate that your thoughts do affect your outcomes.
The reason that the law of attraction sometimes fails people is that they haven’t yet really discovered what they are thinking. I say “well I’m going to get up every morning and I’m going to say I’m a winner and somehow I’m going to make a million dollars this year, the universe is going to reward me with a million dollars.” A lot of the law of attraction teachers almost make it sound like that’s how it works. That is not how it works.
What happens is if you wake up in the morning and say “I’m a millionaire, I am going to be a millionaire,” if in fact you believe that in the deepest recesses of your being you are probably going to operate like a millionaire. You are probably going to do the things billionaires do and you very likely will succeed. If on the other hand you are just reciting it like a mantra while inside you don’t believe it all the words in the world and all the “thoughts” in the world are not going to get you there.
This is where all that subconscious stuff becomes very important. That is where if the law of attraction isn’t working for you it’s probably because you are mentally blocked and you are continuing to believe something in contrast to what you are putting out there.
Cain: Fascinating stuff Dr. Steve. For the listeners that want to get more the book is UnHypnosis by Dr. Steve Taubman. Is it available on Amazon?
Taubman: It is. The best way to get it though is if you go to my website which is SteveTaubman.com. If you head over to my website on the bottom of the homepage is a form that will take you over to what I call the “mindfulness assessment.” We like to assess people’s level of mindfulness because it is their level of self awareness and acceptance and it has a lot to do with your success level. So it’s a little quiz you can take. It’s free and you’ll learn a little bit about yourself. When you do that it actually sends you a discounted coupon for the book as well. So that is probably the best place to start. All of my resources, my books and whatnot, are there in the store on my website and you can get more information there as well.
Cain: And if people want to follow you on social media do you have a Twitter or a Facebook page?
Taubman: I do have a Facebook page. I’ve got a couple of them it’s facebook.com/Steve.Taubman and there is also facebook.com/DrSteveTaubman which I should be putting more effort into but I haven’t been. The best thing to do is if you sign up on the website you’ll then be on my mailing list and there is also a blog page and you can read my periodic blogs.
Cain: Fantastic. Dr. Steve, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate you joining us here on the podcast.
Taubman: Great being with you.