Updated 14 August 2015, version 1.1
How a person represents “now” on their timeline or other time representation has a big effect on their quality of life.
- If they are in time, with their timeline running through their body (or they stand inside a “time tube”), they are probably good at being present in the moment. However, they may stay so in the moment that they have trouble keeping appointments or planning ahead.
- If they observe time, standing outside the “now” so they have perspective and can see the future from now, they can probably remember appointments and plan ahead. However, they might find it difficult to enjoy the moment because they always see, hear, and think about their future and/or past.
Each option has useful elements, and it would be nice to have them all, rather than having to pick one or the other. That’s why I developed the following technique.
Creating a both/and “now”
My frame for doing timeline tune-ups is that the client and I are going to provide their brain with a bunch of options for how to work their timeline. Their brain will then automatically choose those options that work best for them.
After eliciting their timeline and determining whether they are in time or observe time, I have them try the other version.
I then have them compare the two, pointing out the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Next I suggest that it would be useful to have both options. I have them double their timeline at “now.” The “in time” section goes through their body; the “observe time” section goes in front of them where they can see it. Visually, it’s rather like a river splitting to go around an island.
Once they have both options, I instruct them to vary how much of the timeline goes through each pathway:
- If they want to be present in the moment, they can have most of their timeline “in time” going through their body. I suggest they keep only enough “observe time” outside their body to remind them of upcoming events, and to make sure their current behavior supports their future plans and goals.
- If they want to plan ahead, they can keep most of their timeline “observe time” outside their body, with just enough “in time” that they become present to now and sensory experience when that’s appropriate.
Next, I talk them through practicing and future-pacing various examples.
- If they are relaxing on the beach or hanging out with their children, they might want 99% of their timeline to be in time. They can retain just enough observe time to remind them of an appointment later.
- If they need to do planning at work, they might want 95% of their timeline to be observe time. They can stay just enough in time to respond appropriately when a colleague or customer needs to connect with them.
- At a business dinner they might want to be 50% observe time, so they can plan ahead and notice the future implications of their current actions and decisions, and 50% in time so they can enjoy the food and conversation, and bond with their colleagues.
I have them pick several examples in the near future where each option might be useful. In each, I have them practice adjusting how much of their timeline is in time and observe time. Finally I suggest that from now on, their mind will automatically adjust their timeline to make it appropriate to what they’re doing.
So far, every person I have done this with chose to keep their adjustable in time/observe time “now.” Including me! It is delightful to be able to be thoroughly in the moment, knowing that at the appropriate time, I’ll remember other tasks and appointments. It’s also nice to go deep into abstract thinking mode, and still notice and appreciate delicious food, beautiful sunsets, and great people.
So much of NLP is about adding choices. Adding both/and options to what many people assume are digital either/or choices can do a lot to improve quality of life — for both you and your clients.
Want to experiment?
This is an NLP development blog, and you can participate by testing NLP patterns and suggestion improvements. Try today’s intervention on yourself or a client, and report the results in the Comments section below. Thanks for participating!