At first Coué used suggestion in a very specific way: he would suggest that such and such a symptom would disappear. Later he realized that making more general suggestions was just as effective - it was as if the subconscious took over the job of targeting specific problems. He finally came up with the formulation that made him famous:

"Day by day, in every way, I am feeling / getting better and better."

He told patients to repeat the formulation every day, during autosuggestion sessions, claiming its effects would prove to be both preventive and curative.

What is autosuggestion? As far as Coué was concerned, all exterior suggestions are transformed into autosuggestions before being acted on, because only then are they accepted by the subconscious.

"We can define suggestion as 'the action of grafting or imposing an idea onto the brain of another person.' But can we really do that? Strictly speaking, no. Exterior suggestions are useless in and of themselves: they will have absolutely no effect until the subject transforms them into autosuggestions. As for autosuggestion itself, we could define it as. "the implantation of an idea in one's mind, by oneself." You can suggest anything to another person: if that person's subconscious does not accept it, if it is not digested and assimilated, so to speak, and transformed into an autosuggestion, no action or change in behavior will be forthcoming."

This means that we can formulate and implant suggestions in our own mind.

In fact, that is exactly what we are doing all day long!

We are all conditioned by the way we think. Buddha put it another way: "Everything we are is the result of thought: our present condition is based on thought, it is made of thought. If a person speaks or acts while under the influence of negative or harmful thoughts, pain and suffering will follow, as surely as a cartwheel follows the hooves of an ox."

To compensate for the many negative autosuggestions we make each day, Coue advised his patients to embark on a program of positive programming. Although he refused to use hypnosis per se, he did recommend that patients repeat their formulations under specific conditions:

• just before falling asleep;

• while listening to the ticking of a clock or metronome.

As you can see, these conditions, which were designed to help patients become particularly receptive, resemble the relaxation techniques used in sophrology.

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