Joe’s energy was charged with tension in our first session. He was anxious about his job performance — afraid of getting demoted for missing deadlines. He avoided his boss for fear she would fire him. She was a no-nonsense, hard-driving woman who didn’t praise very often but was generous with criticism.
Jane was an energetic entrepreneur who had set high standards for herself: she wanted to take her sales company from $500,000 a year to $1,000,000 in 9 months.
Both were candidates for high blood pressure and ulcers. Both were out of touch with their own bodies, even though they worked out and were in “great shape.”
A good number of my clients come to me in order to overcome anxiety. Today’s culture of immediate turnarounds and internet relationships often causes tension, alienation and unhappiness.
When clients come to me they usually have heard about NLP and have expectations of immediate relief. Quite a bit of difference from the old “psychoanalysis twice a week for years on end” program, so I try to give them a few tools in the first several sessions that at least give them a bit of control over their situation.
First I examine with them their external circumstances — is there indeed a cause for the concern? In Joe’s case, he had not checked with his boss to see if he was really in trouble so we strategized the best ways he could approach her and find out how she evaluated his work. With Jane, we analyzed whether or not the big jump in income was realistic (it was), and what would happen if she didn’t reach her target (not much). In both cases the external stressors were not life and death — very manageable.
The next step is to help them identify what we in NLP define as submodalities — the physical location of where the sensation of anxiety manifests itself (usually in the stomach, chest and throat), what size, color, sensation, movement, sound, temperature, and shape it has.
For Joe it was between his gut and his chest; was dark, almost black; was tight and shaky; about the shape and size of a dumbbell, and equally heavy. No sound was associated with it. The level of anxiety on a scale of 1-10 was a 9. We tried several NLP and EFT processes to lower the level but got little movement. So I decided to try something new.
“Put your one hand on your gut and one on your chest. Feel your body there and hold it with compassion.”
Joe’s face relaxed a bit.
“Now say aloud: This is anxiety.”
This helps a person own the state but defines it as part of themselves, not their whole being.
Then I asked him to say, “That is anxiety,” aloud several times, pausing between statements to notice the effect. After three or four rounds he looked surprised. “It’s gone!”
With Jane, her anxiety manifested as an agitation in her mid and upper chest and a tightness in her jaw. I had her hold her chest and go through the same steps as Joe. Within moments we had the same results: the anxiety was gone.
I wrote down the simple process for both of them so they could do this on their own. Weeks later each is much calmer and able to analyze and take action to address their problems.
Try it yourself — and notice that the word “this” brings a feeling close, the word “that” moves it away. Simple and powerful!
We will be experimenting with the power of words in even more ways in the NLP Master Practitioner Training. If you’ve completed your Practitioner training and want to increase your effectiveness in with world, join us this spring!