How to “Change” Your Mind
A full NLP session is a rich, engaging and often powerful experience. It isn’t easy to explain in a series of articles. But I can give you a taste of the underlying techniques with a simple exercise, adapted from an exercise used in NLP Marin’s Introductory Worskshop. This is basic NLP “submodality change” work. Give yourself at least ten minutes to try it.
First, think of someone who you like. Anyone will do. Whether your eyes are open or closed, if you pay attention, you will notice that, in some way, you are making a picture—a real picture. This is how human brains work. We think of something and we make a picture somewhere. Notice this. And as you notice, ask yourself a series of questions, making note of the answers each time. You might even write them down.
- Where is the picture in your field of vision? Straight ahead? Off to the left or to the right? At the horizon, or above or below it?
- What size is the picture? Your whole field of vision? Or just a few inches high?
- Is the picture color or black and white?
- Is the picture of the person human-sized, or shrunk or expanded?
- Is it the whole person, or just a head shot or some other smaller version?
- Is the picture sharp and clear, or fuzzy?
- How far away is the picture? Right in front of your nose, ten feet away, half a block away?
- What is the profile of the person you are thinking of? Straight on, in profile, looking away, etc?
Make note of all the answers, and for a moment more, enjoy thinking of this person that you like. Then put that thought and picture aside, perhaps with a bit of gratitude and the promise to return to thinking of the person sometime in the future (since you like him or her so much!).
Now, I ask you to do something different. Please think of someone whom you have some negative feelings about, but with this very important caveat: you might not mind having less negative feelings about this person. Please do not choose someone who, right now, it is important to have the negative feelings for him or her that you have. One example might be a co-worker who annoys you, but you genuinely wish you weren’t so annoyed by. That kind of person. Take a moment to think of such a person.
Okay. Now, please go through the exact same exercise that you enacted for the person you did like. Note in the same way where you see the picture, whether it is in color, how sharp it is, how big it is, etc. Take your time with each step like you did the first time. When you are all done, note one more time the negative feelings and thoughts you have about this person. Then, put your picture of this person aside, too.
Now take a moment to note the specific ways in which the picture of the person you liked, and the picture of the person you did not like, were represented differently. Was one in color and the other in black and white? Was one seen straight on and the other to one side? Was one really big and the other quite small? Please note the representational categories that were different. Don’t focus on the content (the fact that one picture was of one specific person, and one was of a different specific person); rather, focus on the way they were represented.
One of the great insights of NLP is that how we represent things in our brain produces all of the meaning we have about those things. For instance, for me, people who have great importance in my life are represented in my brain as very close by. People who are less significant are placed further away. If I want to consider someone as more important, all I have to do is change the representation of that person, and bring my picture of him or her closer. If someone is feeling too important in my life, I can make him or her less important by intentionally representing that picture further away. These small “submodality” changes, as they are called, can be very powerful.
To experience this dynamic, return to your thoughts of the person you have negative feelings about. Bring back the picture. Then, slowly and with respect, ask your brain to represent this picture in a new way; your brain is fully able to do this with ease. If, for instance, the picture of the person you like was in color, and the one of the person you do not like was in black and white, ask your brain to change your picture of this person to color. If the picture of the person you liked was life-sized, and that of the other person was tiny, ask your brain to grow that picture to life-sized. And on and on, until all of the representations are changed to be like the person you admire.
Please note that you have not changed any content at all. This is very important. You are still looking at the formerly-disliked person. But now, having changed all of the representations, take a turn inside and ask yourself: What do I feel about this person now? What meaning is my brain making of this person, compared to before? Is it the same, a little different, a lot different, or maybe very much like the feelings you have for the person you like? Any answer is fine; simply note how things have changed, if anything.
In short, this is how NLP works. With respect, we ask your brain to experience its experience differently, which means that you experience your experience differently. The content of your past life doesn’t change; the meaning of that past life changes tremendously, making a new present and future life available. And it is change that, unlike the advice in most self-help books, you don’t need to remember to sustain. It takes place deeply in the brain, and done properly, works and stays.
I invite you to begin the adventure of self-discovery and change that NLP offers. Contact me for a thirty minute consultation.
Leslie Nipps, NLP & Change Work Practitioner
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