NLP tools can get you unstuck quickly and effectively. Specifically, use NLP tools to change your state when you need to.
In NLP, “state” refers to a person’s subjective experience of self and the world at any point in time.
Typical states include happiness, frustration, and relaxation – each elicits different behaviors or reactions to similar situations and they change constantly. Factors like food, oxygen, and internal or external stimuli play a role.
A state can be associated or dissociated.
In an associated state, you experience yourself and the world from inside your feelings. When you remember a happy memory, you recapture the feeling of happiness, for example.
In a disassociated state, the person watches him or herself being happy. As an observer, you get the big picture, but don’t typically relive the feelings.
There are times when each – associated and dissociated states – is appropriate . . . the challenge is to choose wisely.
To experience positive feelings, a person can associate by answering questions like
• How do I feel in this situation?
• How does this move me?
• What is my passion?
To gain distance, and see the bigger picture, a person can dissociate by answering questions like
• What is the relationship between me and x?
• What is this really about?
• What is the big picture here?
• How would this appear from an objective point of view?
Andrea seeks counseling because of constant worrying. She looks at what can go wrong, associates with negative events, and expects to lose. Her perspective is a plus if it is used as a catalyst for taking precautions and making wise decisions; but such is not the case; she is stuck in negativity and doubts.
As an NLP practitioner, there are many strategies for working with Andrea. We will focus on three: dissociating, creating an empowering anchor, and generating a new behavior
NLP Tool #1: Dissociating – have Andrea:
1. Imagine herself as standing on the other side of the room, observing herself worrying about certain situations.
2. Watch herself worrying as if she were on a movie screen.
3. Refer to herself in the third person while describing her worries.
4. Listen to her voice discuss the worries as if it were coming from the other side of the room.
5. Consider the following questions:
a. What is this really about?
b. What is the big picture here?
c. How would this appear from an objective point of view?
NLP Tool #2: Creating an Empowering Anchor – have Andrea:
1. Choose a resource or feeling she wants to have more available like peacefulness.
2. Think of a time when she felt peaceful and anchor the feeling by connecting it to a specific physical action like rubbing her nose.
3. Focus on her breathing as a way of going to a neutral place.
4. Test the connection by instructing her to touch her ear and observe whether or not the desired feeling appears.
5. If it doesn’t, either repeat the process until it does or try a different physical action.
NLP Tool #3: Generating a New Behavior – have Andrea:
1. Identify a stuck state – the worrying- in which she has limited choices.
2. Consider the state from a disassociated viewpoint – as if she were a natural observer watching herself – the worrier.
3. Identify several behaviors that would be more beneficial than worrying such as breathing deeply, repeating positive affirmations, or taking a walk.
4. While in the disassociated state, watch what happens as the worrier tries on each of those new behaviors.
5. Associate the most promising behavior by stepping into the image of the worrier and see if she is able to manage the worry more effectively.
Each of these can be effective interventions. However, you might want to work with Andrea at a deeper level. A place to begin would be to examine her attachments – those long held needs to be controlled, deprived, or rejected.
After talking with Andrea, and based on her admission that she sets unrealistic goals, expects to be disappointed, and chronically worries; you determine she is attached to deprivation.
In that case, the AHA Solution might be appropriate. Andrea would
• Identify a situation she worries about.
• Explore her negative thoughts and feelings about the situation.
• Look at the situation as an outside observer.
• List possible responses to the situation
• Determine which one fits best and act upon it.
• Evaluate the results.
Each of these interventions will help Andrea move from pessimism to optimism.
Hope Bundrant is the director and co-founder of the iNLP Center. She has a BFA from the California State University of Fullerton and has completed postgraduate education at Harvard Business School. Hope is happily married to Mike Bundrant and manages their circus of teenage monkeys. If you have questions, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.