History repeats itself. Or does it? Our brains like history. Our brains like generalizing information to match things that have already happened. We form habits this way. We also form bad habits this way.
My husband used to love pointing out when I did something wrong. He told me I wasn’t stirring the risotto correctly or opening the bottle of wine correctly. He wasn’t really trying to be mean, he was trying to help me improve my technique (or so he say). It drove me nuts! Over years and years of him correcting little things I did in the kitchen or when I drove or when I cleaned the house, I started reacting long before he actually opened his mouth. He would just look at me with that one look (you know the one) and I would start defending myself and my behavior and telling him to leave me alone.
You see, over the years of him making those small suggestions, my brain generalized his facial expressions and body language and created a trigger. Like a trigger on a gun, it is the catalyst for the coming explosion. All I needed to see was that look on his face and it would trigger me to have a set response. It is like a recording. Once you record your voice, all you have to do is push play to hear it back. My husband had inadvertently created an “anger” recording in me and all he had to do was have that one look that pressed my “play” button.
After I took my NLP Practitioner Certification and through my coaching work with clients for the years after, I started using a 4-step process for myself as well as to help my clients break free from these horrible mind programs. The four steps I developed are:
When you notice – you eliminate the judgment and bring curiosity to the event or situation. If I notice my husband has a familiar look, I can also notice what emotion it triggers – without reacting to it.
That’s when the second part comes in. Instead of reacting, like my old programming wants me to, I relax instead. I take a few deep breaths (helps to calm the mind and body and break free from the unconscious reaction) and continue being curious about my own stuff.
Asking questions really helps at this stage. Asking questions allows me to continue to be curious rather than sticking to my old pattern. My favorite question is “What else is possible?” or “What else could this mean?” Both questions allow me to explore rather than react.
And lastly, I reframe the situation. I decide on a different way of looking at the situation and apply a new meaning thereby messing up the old program that existed.
For example, if my husband was correcting the way I stirred risotto, I might ask, “What else could this mean?” and respond, “Would you like to help me more with preparing our meals in the evening?” That’s a question I can ask without sarcasm, without a negative tone and from a place of curiosity instead of from a place of anger or frustration.
In the next NLP tip, I want to share with you how I overcame my claustrophobia when going through an MRI.
Here are some other posts in the same series: Tip #1 Chunk Size, Tip #2 Submodalities , Tip #3 Metamodel, Tip #4 Presuppositions, Tip #5 Frame of Reference, Tip #6 Complex Equivalents, Tip #7 Outcomes