Quantum Health Media
A Taste of NLP for Lunch
Trina told me that she had panic attacks when driving, and that this had really affected her life.
The great thing about NLP is that once you’ve got the techniques and the attitude under your belt, you can pretty much do it anywhere. It’s one of those skills that you carry around with you, waiting to unpack when the moment calls for it.
Take the day that I met QH’s editor, Trina Hart and assistant editor Donna Kenny for lunch. We were meeting in Graze, a smart little restaurant in Lymington, so that I could interview her for the NLP LIFE Newsletter. I was fascinated by QH and wanted to know more about her, more about the magazine, and more about what the future held in store. It was clear to me that it’s an exciting project, and I wanted to know more.
Trina is a lively and bubbly individual, with a naturally inquisitive mind, and I soon found that our conversation was ranging all sorts of topics. It was then that she asked me what else I do for work. And so it came out that among many things that I do, I am a licensed Master Practitioner of NLP and hypnotherapist.
Trina’s eyes lit up immediately, and it didn’t take an NLPer’s training in sensory acuity to notice that she was really extremely interested. Probably also the fact that she asked me twice after this: “A hypnotherapist?” with a sound of excitement in her voice might have given the game away!
I looked at her for a moment and got a sense from her whole body language that she was someone who genuinely wanted some help. So I asked her what was on her mind. Trina told me that she had panic attacks when driving, and that this had really affected her life. She was clearly a pretty determined woman, but this had most definitely got the better of her.
She told me a little more: she had been doing CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) for many weeks, but that nothing was coming of it. She was still very afraid, and she “just panicked” when she started driving. She also explained that the reason she was so interested in my job was that she had been advised to seek hypnotherapy by a friend.
She clearly wanted help, so I made a decision there and then that if I could help her straight away, I would do so. But I wanted to get the measure of her first, and the measure of the restaurant. After all, working in a restaurant that’s playing soft rock and funky muzak can get in the way of the highly relaxed inwardly-directed state that is so useful for a client to make changes. What’s more I wanted to know how Trina did her phobia.
To those who aren’t NLPers, this might seem like a funny way of putting it. “Surely, a phobia just happens to someone, doesn’t it?” But no, as I explained to Trina, people “do” phobias. They weren’t born scared of driving, or scared of spiders, or caterpillars, or birds or cheese - or whatever it is that they’re afraid of. They learn it. Or more accurately, their unconscious learns to do it while they are probably thinking about something else. They hypnotised themselves into it. Which means they can learn how to do something far better instead.
Lunch with Trina was interesting not only because she is a pretty interesting person, but also because I had set myself the task of watching and listening very closely to find out more about her. Over lunch we chatted about many different things, including her phobia. She told me that it first manifested about five years before when she was at a particularly stressed time of her life. She had been driving along down a hill, and then, suddenly, all the stress and fear that she had been feeling in the rest of her life had suddenly overwhelmed her. And there she was, terrified of driving. It was like a switch that had suddenly gone on.
Well, the truth is, that’s pretty much exactly what it was. Her brain had built in an extra loop of behaviour that it didn’t need to have, and just like a switch, now the behaviour was switched to “on” she did it every time she found herself in a position similar to the first time she experienced the panic. If anything, it had worsened in the intervening years. I told her that her story was far from unique, and that I have people come to me from all over with exactly this sort of story. I also explained to her that just as she had learned to do her phobia quickly, she could also unlearn it quickly.
I told her a few stories about previous clients to help her get a sense of the changes that can be made, and also to start to prime her unconscious to accept change.
Then we did our interview. It was really interesting, and I was delighted to find out about QH and how it’s going to grow into the future. But that’s one for me to write up for another time and another place!
At the end of the interview I made some noises about getting an appointment set up for Trina to come and see me. I had noticed that Trina has a very active mind, and I wanted her to be as relaxed as we could manage in the little restaurant, so I started asking her some very simple questions about how she does the phobia. How does she imagine it? I knew already from observation that in her mind she made a huge life-sized picture of exactly what it was like to be in the car, driving along. As we spoke, she became more relaxed, which is a natural thing that happens when you are starting to focus on the things that go on in your mind in a more detached way. And then I started to interrupt the pattern of behaviour that she was doing in her mind, so that her brain began to “recode” it. I did all of this as if I was just asking her questions, and in this way we slipped gently into an NLP session.
The fun part of the session came from tapping into Trina’s sense of humour as we worked, and working on her very strong visual capabilities. I had laid down a series of suggestions during our previous conversation to build her unconscious expectation of what was going to happen. Now we were at the delivery point.
After about fifteen minutes of work with her, we were done. To be frank, I felt that in this less-than-ideal environment it was possible that we might need to do a little more work, but that overall, we had cracked the back of her fear.
“So,” I said, “Shall we test this work?”
Trina opened her eyes and blinked at me. “What, go and drive?”
And so it was that we got in the car and took it out for a drive, in busy traffic in the rain. In the past, she told me, she would have been deeply afraid of doing this. And yet, here she was, with only a shadow of her previous fear left behind. From her description of what was going on internally, I concluded that I was right to assess that the majority of the work was done. I advised her strongly to drive every day as much as possible, and left her with the clear suggestion that the more she drives, the more comfortable her brain and body will get with her new response to driving.
We were both pressed for time, and so we agreed to follow up and nail any other minor anxieties that might be left. I was very pleased with the session as I headed home. It is such a joy to do something useful for someone, and to make changes that can have a positive effect on the rest of a person’s life.
So, that is how Trina Hart and I ended up having a bit of NLP for lunch!
What is NLP?
NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a tool for bringing about lasting powerful change in people in a short space of time. Devised by Dr Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970s and 1980s, its emphasis is not on finding out the causes of problems, but arriving at useful ways to overcome them. In order to do this it utilises the imagination, largely because the imagination is the place where people’s fears, stresses and limiting beliefs reside.
To help the unconscious mind make the necessary changes, an NLP Practitioner will utilise hypnosis, trance or meditative states to get the client’s mind relaxed enough to make the changes.
NLP is also used by life coaches and sports coaches to enhance performance, by politicians to improve communication and by business people to enhance effectiveness. It encourages and produces a frame of mind that enables individuals to deal with problems without wasting useless emotions, and to use the mental energy they were previously wasting to get more of what they want. Courses in NLP are available from its co-creator Dr Richard Bandler, through NLP LIFE TRAINING. Go to www.nlplifetraining.com for more information.
About Matthew Wingett
Matthew Wingett is an NLP Master Practitioner and writer. He writes advertising copy and website copy, as well as articles and stories. He also used to write episodes for ITV’s hit television series “The Bill”. His NLP clients have included people with phobias, severe anxiety, stress, personal relationship problems, as well as smokers, people with low self esteem and all manner of problems. Matthew was trained by Richard Bandler, by tv hypnotist Paul McKenna, by life coach Michael Neill and by the President of the Society of NLP John La Valle. He writes NLP LIFE, the newsletter for NLP LIFE TRAINING.
Matthew is based in Portsmouth, UK. You can contact Matthew at firstname.lastname@example.org to discover how he can help you.