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¿Embeded Commands

Principles of Embedded commands

Embedded commands are messages hidden inside a sentence. These phrases are designed to slip past the conscious mind, but register with the subconscious. We do these all the time in normal conversation. When they are used strategically, this is called embedded commands.

A statement such as: "You will feel good as you start to exercise." contains the command "Feel Good". On its own, it's not much, but if phrases with this same basic meaning are repeated maybe a dozen times in normal conversation in a short period of time, the subconscious begins to act on it and the listener gets the urge to act on the suggestion.

  • Advertisements are laced with this type of language to spur the listener into action.
  • When you talk to a friend who is really happy, or really sad, it is easy to fall into the same mood after talking with them, often because you have heard a litany of embedded statements mirroring the mental state you adopt after the conversation.


  • "My mother used to tell me that the best way to get over a cold is stay in bed and get plenty of rest."
  • "You can take me out for a coffee and I'll tell you about what's happening.

The effect of the embedded commands is strengthened if you can use a specific tone to emphasize the phrase. In the English language, commands end with a down turn in tonality. Embedded commands mandate the use of a commanding tonality to be effective. Make the full sentence a question, but say the command part as a statement.

  • "You could take me out for a coffee and I'll tell you about what's happening?
  • "What's it like when you become incredibly loving!"

The purpose of using embedded commands is to move your target’s mind in the direction you want it to go without seeming to be intruding or ordering in any way.

To design the most effective script - you need to determine what are the commands you want your listener to receive. Find a variety of ways to say the same message, then create a story or paragraph that makes sense either on this topic or another topic that makes sense.

Erickson used this technique to help someone in terrible pain who hated the idea of hypnotism. At the family's request, Erickson told the man a story of how he used to grow tomatoes from seeds into healthy plants. The story was laced with phrases about good health, relaxation, feeling good etc.

The effectiveness depends on the skill of the speaker. When you are trying to help someone, it is easiest to have the conversation you would normally have to cheer them up, but remember to say things in a way that will naturally produce sentences with embedded commands.


A presupposition can easily contain an embedded command, due to the structure of the sentence needed to create it.

Example" You don't want this product yet.

Derived Meanings

When each of us uses natural language systems to communicate, we assume the listener's ability to hear our words decode them from sound sequences into meaning.

When we talk, we need to have a context to the conversation. If you enter a conversation late, after people have been talking a while, it takes a while to get sufficient context to understand what everyone means.

Certain sentences when used imply that certain other sentences must be true in order for them to make sense.

For example the sentence: There is a cat on the table.

This is a simple true or false statement, easy to parse.

The statement "Sam realized that there is a cat on the table" requires the listener to assume that there is, in fact, a cat on the table in order to make any sense of the statement.

This difference shows up clearly in the negative form of the statement: " Sam does not realize that there is a cat on the table"

It is clear that one half of the sentence (There is a cat on the table) must be true for the other part (what Sam realizes) to make sense.

A phrase which must be true in order for another phrase or sentence to make sense is called the presupposition of the second sentence.

The presuppositions are difficult to challenge, so in most cases they are accepted at face value.

For example, Erickson says: ""I don't yet know whether it will be your right hand or your left hand or both of your hands which your unconscious mind will a11ow to rise to your face . . . .

The client is caught up in observing which hand will rise up, and forgets the question of whether his subconscious mind is controlling the movement of hands.

Or, again, Erickson says: ""When I wake you from the trance, you will fully recognize your fine ability to learn quickly from your unconscious mind.

For this sentence to make sense, you must accept that you were in a trance and what you have the ability to recognize, and that your unconscious can teach you things.

The way in which Erickson consistently uses presuppositions to assist the client in entering deep trance and learning deep trance phenomena demonstrates the power of this technique.

"When you get up and move your chair to the other side of that table your unconscious mind will then release a lot of important information. Perhaps it will take your unconscious even longer than five or ten minutes to do it, or perhaps it will not be until the next session. . . ."


The unconscious mind has difficulty understanding negatives. When someone tells you not to think about a purple dragon, the only way to understand that statement is to think of a purple dragon, then stopping doing it.

Embedded commands stated in the negative form have the same effect on the subconscious as a positive statement. "Have a chocolate" or "Don't have a chocolate" both make the listener think of having a chocolate. Once the idea is there, the listener has to make a conscious decision to act on the suggestion or not. If the person is in a hypnotic state, the conscious mind does not participate.


Ambiguity is a very important aspect of persuasion. These are sentences that can be read or heard in two different ways. Some work best in audio format only (Use of homophones).

"This gives you the tools you need to manifest love, money and happiness in your life so order now!"

This sentences uses all sorts of vague terms that each person can bring their own definitions of love, money, happiness and even tools, the sentence also implies that I need these tools, which is a presupposition. Politicians use these tactics constantly - a phrase like "I promise Hope and Change" is hard to argue with.


Another way to deliver embedded commands in a story. People who get defensive if told something directly will often listen patiently to a story about another person or situation. While telling the story about another person in a similar situation (or if you are very good, a dissimilar situation), you can embed the commands the listener needs to hear, the subconscious is listening. The effect of these commands is not always immediate, but the person will "think it up on their own" later on.

  • Erickson often told stories about "My friend John", that use embedded commands for the listener.

Using of Embedded Commands

were discovered in the medical therapy practice of Milton Erickson.

Inserting The listener's name

Erickson had another technique, where he repeated the patient's name often when he talked, inserting it carefully - splitting infinitives or injected between the helper verb and the main verb in a sentence.

For example:

  • Children are able to, Fred, sit down and relax.
  • I may, Fred, breathe deeply while I speak, but you don't mind, do you?
  • People must, Fred, sit all the way down in the chair and relax.
  • Plants can, Fred, feel comfortable and relaxed,

The Name Technique

Start a sentence then place the client's name after a word such as: can, may, might, must. This splits the verb, since the verb is made of two words. Then finish the sentence. The brain cannot parse between the two subjects. The logical brain hears the original sentence: "I may breathe deeply."

While the other part of the brain, responds more to your own name, so it hears "Fred breathe deeply...."

Embedding either questions or commands in the middle of another sentence has the effect as well.

Embedding non-grammatically

Embedding phrases in ways that are not quite grammatically correct can be more effective than a well constructed, grammatical sentence. The ambiguity further distract the logical left brain, overloading it, making it easier to reach the subconscious, right brain.

Here is some same text from Erickson - he plays with the grammar in a way that it is hard to understand and parse easily. It is difficult to read it without "spacing out", since it seems like it should make sense.

"I wonder whether or not you understand that you can feel comfortable and relaxed, now, I had a friend who used to say, You can learn anything if only you give yourself a chance to relax, and I wonder if you know whether or not you can Fred feel relaxed, and I'm very curious to know if you fully realize that you can Fred know you can and will learn now. I also wish, though I don't know whether or not you wish to know, if you can Fred have closing eyes and restful feelings now."

Media Examples

Last edited March 5, 2009 (history)

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