Eliciting fast sequences: time distortion and alternatives

by Steve Andreas, Joy Livingwell, and Jan Saeger

In working with clients and developing NLP interventions, we frequently find it useful to elicit the sequences and submodalities of how people do things.

Even “instant” state shifts get triggered somehow. Time distortion comes in handy because a very complex sequence may run in under a second, making it difficult for the person to consciously understand it. “It just happens!”

Once you understand the structure and sequence someone uses, you can intervene to change it. Depending on what you find, you can deactivate the trigger of high-speed, automatic sequences using a Swish, the Trauma Process, a doyletic Speed Trace, the Compulsion Blowout, or a variety of other techniques.

Here are several methods that work to elicit fast sequences:

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Recode traumas and physical symptoms with the doyletic Speed Trace

The doyletic Speed Trace provides a fast and simple way to recode problematic emotional states such as traumas and compulsions so that they don’t recur. It works especially well with people who tend to be less aware of their internal auditory sensory modality (such as self-talk).

Although developed outside of NLP, the doyletic Speed Trace caught my attention because of its similarities to the NLP Trauma Process and NLP Fast Phobia Cure (also called the Rewind Technique and NLP Movie Theater Process):

  1. Both are fast and effective phobia and trauma treatments, typically only taking a few minutes to permanently resolve trauma.
  2. Both involve mentally traveling backward in time — implicitly reversing the sequence that formed the problem. However, the doyletic Speed Trace uses spoken auditory cues rather than a visual movie to do this.
  3. Both can be used to resolve problems other than traumas, such as compulsions.
  4. Both can be used as do-it-yourself self-help techniques.

After some testing, I added the doyletic Speed Trace to my NLP toolkit, as did a number of my colleagues. We have all found it to be powerful, fast, and useful, especially with clients who have trouble with the Rewind Technique.

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Try some basic NLP

by Joy Livingwell

Neuro-Linguistic Programming utilizes the way your brain naturally works to improve your results — and your life. Want to try it? Here are some exercises that use very basic NLP.

The power of pictures

  1. Think of a picture of a memory, that when you see it, makes you feel good. Notice how the picture looks… and just how good it makes you feel.
  2. Now notice your picture’s details: Is it color, or black and white? Is it still, or moving?
  3. Now take your picture and make it small, dim, and distant. Turn it from color to black and white, and if it’s a movie, make it into a still picture. Notice how you feel when you look at it now. Are your feelings stronger, or weaker? More or less positive?
  4. Now put the picture back the way you had it to begin with.
  5. Now make the picture bigger, brighter, and closer. Turn up the color. If it was a still picture, make it into a movie. Add some music. Step into the scene. Add sparkles. Notice how you feel as you see it now. How intense are your feelings?
  6. Now put the picture back the way you had it to begin with.

For most people, making a picture small, dim, black and white, and far away makes their feelings weaker and less positive. Making a picture big, bright, intense, and close makes their feelings stronger and more positive.

Some people who feel chronically depressed have a pattern of making their pleasant experiences into small, dim, gray, far-away pictures. When they look at their memories, nothing makes them feel good, and life seems joyless. Such a simple thing can make a profound difference…. Since most of us look at internal pictures hundreds or thousands of times a day, this gives you thousands of opportunities to feel good, every day.

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Redefining mental illness

Psychological researchers are finally making some major and much-needed changes in how they look at and classify anxiety, psychosis, and other problems:

Two months ago, the British Psychological Society released a remarkable document entitled “Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia.” Its authors say that hearing voices and feeling paranoid are common experiences, and are often a reaction to trauma, abuse or deprivation: “Calling them symptoms of mental illness, psychosis or schizophrenia is only one way of thinking about them, with advantages and disadvantages.”

The report says that there is no strict dividing line between psychosis and normal experience: “Some people find it useful to think of themselves as having an illness. Others prefer to think of their problems as, for example, an aspect of their personality which sometimes gets them into trouble but which they would not want to be without.”

In the US, decades of research failed to find unique biological underpinnings to diagnostic categories such as depression, schizophrenia, and PTSD. Now brain researchers are abandoning that approach. Instead of studying anxiety, they will look at the neurological basis of fear.

These new developments are long overdue, in my opinion. I’m delighted the mainstream psychology establishment is finally starting to catch on to what a lot of us in the trenches have known or suspected for a long, long time.

Read the entire New York Times article

Does new blink science explain eye-closure fractionation?

You blink far more often than necessary to keep your eyes clean and moist. Scientists have discovered that the timing of your blinks relates to what you’re doing and experiencing.

Now new research suggests that each blink allows your brain to rest momentarily. Continue reading

Study: Empathy represses analytic thought, & vice versa

Research in neuropsychology continues to shed more light on how and why NLP processes work:

Empathy Represses Analytic Thought, and Vice Versa: Brain Physiology Limits Simultaneous Use of Both Networks

ScienceDaily (Oct. 30, 2012) — New research shows a simple reason why even the most intelligent, complex brains can be taken by a swindler’s story — one that upon a second look offers clues it was false.

When the brain fires up the network of neurons that allows us to empathize, it suppresses the network used for analysis, a pivotal study led by a Case Western Reserve University researcher shows.

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New free font helps people with dyslexia

Since dyslexia is typically labeled a learning disability, I find it fascinating that fonts with heavier strokes on the bottom of the letters help many dyslexic people read more easily, with less page-flipping. Below is a recent example: the free OpenDyslexic font developed by mobile app designer Abelardo Gonzalez.

Sample of font for dyslexics

Bottom-heavy fonts such as OpenDyslexia (above) help some dyslexic people read more easily.

My research so far NLP modeling skilled readers indicates that bottom-heavy fonts help people by applying a variant of strategies good readers use to keep their eyes on the line they are reading. (My study is aimed at helping people with dyslexia. Learn more here.)

Original article: medicalxpress.com/news/2012-10-free-font-dyslexia.html

Why inner game ISN’T everything

Thanks to Paul C. Hoffman, who inspired me with this excellent Facebook post.

As a NLPer I see and hear a lot of “do your inner work and the outer will take care of itself” type of advice.

I think it’s crap.

While inner game alone can dramatically change how you feel, it’s only when you change what you do that you start affecting other people and the world, and generating better real-world results. Inner game can help you act more easily and more effectively. But that only matters when you actually get off your butt and take action.

I know a bunch of people who have accomplished complex or challenging things. I’ve accomplished a few myself. In every single case, success took plenty of work and persistence… though often we found ways to make that “work” into fun. Nevertheless, success took time, effort, patience.

Thinking about success, hoping and wishing and dreaming and feeling, isn’t enough. Neither is luck. You have to do.

Fortunately, doing the work to achieve your dreams is one of the best ways to find blocks to progress so you can resolve them! If you just think about doing, you don’t get that real-world feedback that allows for effective course correction. It’s easy to pretend that everything will be all right (even if it won’t)… or build minor obstacles into show-stopping monsters.

To find blocks to progress, it’s often particularly useful to notice:

  1. Discrepancies between what you know needs to be done and what you actually do. These may indicate ineffective strategies, mental blocks, or internal conflict over achieving the goal.
  2. Discrepancies between what you want to produce or get, and what you actually produce or get. A lot of times better strategies, including better time management, will solve this kind of issue. You may need to acquire success skills in order to reach your goal or get there more easily. If you find you have one mental foot on the gas and the other on the brakes, NLP can usually help if it’s a simple issue. If the inner conflict is systemic, the technique in the book Immunity to Change may work better. (NLPers, if you don’t have this technique in your NLP toolkit, get the book and add it!)
  3. Internal resistance, loss of motivation. If it’s hard to get yourself to do something… do you have good strategies that make doing it easy, or is it currently set up to be a big hassle? Is it rewarding, or an opportunity for failure or frustration? Do you feel internally conflicted about going forward? Why?

Entrepreneurs know that having the best ideas on the planet gets you nothing. Zip. Nada. It’s doing the work to turn your dreams into reality that makes your dreams real.

Do your outer work, and you can build the life you want.

How even one smart driver can unjam traffic jams

Stuck on long commutes, engineer William Beaty did some elegant analysis of driver behavior and its consequences. He figured out how even one driver can sometimes unjam traffic jams.

I have tried Beaty’s methods myself on a few stretches of San Francisco Bay Area freeway where traffic tends to jam up. And while I can’t unjam a big jam, there have been times when I’ve been able to unjam small jams, or at least make a jam smaller or get it to move faster.

A lot of NLP is about changing your own behavior in order to change other people’s behavior and help them get better outcomes. So I like to think of Beaty’s driving technique as NLP for traffic.

To understand more about how you can unjam traffic, and see diagrams, visit Beaty’s website TrafficWaves.org

What are better ways to talk to yourself?

I’m always on the lookout for ways to build people up and encourage them, rather than shutting them down. That’s why Peter Bregman’s post The Right Way to Speak to Yourself delighted me. Excerpt:

It felt so good to be in that classroom, I didn’t want to leave. Eventually though, when it was clearly time to go, I left with a smile on my face that remained long after I had gone.

Sitting in that classroom was a lesson in people management; the positive way Dorit interacted with the children is a great model for how managers should interact with employees.

But, for me, the morning was more profound than a lesson in managing other people. It was a lesson in managing myself.

As I left the classroom I found myself thinking about whether I treat myself the way Dorit treated her students. Am I encouraging? Do I catch myself doing things right as often as doing things wrong? And when I do something wrong, do I simply move on or do I dwell on it, haranguing myself?

In other words, what kind of classroom is going on in your head?

We’ve all heard the notion that we’re our own harshest critic. But shouldn’t we treat ourselves with at least the same respect shown by a first grade teacher toward her students? Why don’t we?

Possibly it’s because we grow up in an academic setting that emphasizes critique over admiration. Perhaps it feels arrogant — unseemly even — to speak to ourselves with the effusive praise and positivity that Dorit spoke to her class. It might even feel dangerous to go easy on ourselves. If we did, maybe we wouldn’t accomplish anything at all. Maybe we’d devolve into laziness.

But laziness is not what I saw in that classroom. Those children couldn’t have been more motivated to get the right answer. They tried hard. When they got the right answer, they felt good about themselves. When they got a wrong answer, they didn’t linger in shame, they simply moved on to the next question (which, as it happens, is probably the number one behavior that leads to success over time). And they were happy.

In other words, it’s not simply nice to treat ourselves nicely, it’s strategic.

Read the rest of Peter’s article