The versatility of the techniques used in NLP mean that anywhere there's a human being, then there's an application for NLP. If there's a chance to get a person to improve, to try do something that they've always wanted to do with a sense of excitement or confidence, or just to help them to increase the effectiveness or what they were already doing, then NLP holds a key to unstick them.
My experience with clients is that it is not the individual NLP techniques which are so hugely effective on their own (although they can be highly effective applied singly), rather, it is the interplay of techniques, suggestions and hypnotic trancework in elegant combination which makes the work most effective. By stacking technique on technique, the client is unconsciously redirected from unhelpful patterns of behaviour without fully realising how effective the change is.
A client recently came to me with his creativity blocked. He had been a writer who had written stories, novels and articles up to ten years before, but after a row with his partner, in which many very unpleasant things were said about his capabilities as a writer, his creativity started to dry up. The fact that she had then walked out on him seemed to add greater weight to the words she had thrown at him, so that, by the year 2000, he had so completely lost his confidence in his writing that he had started a new business in the antiques world, as a means to just bring in an income in a sphere which had nothing to do with writing. To me, his story was an interesting example of the way in which a bad suggestion given at a time of stress can completely undermine self confidence. At first, it had been only in this one area that his self confidence had started to go, but after a while, he described his confidence going in other areas, too. He did cope with this problem in a way. Eventually, by completely reshaping his life to exclude writing from it he recovered his confidence in the rest of his life - but he was desperate to start writing again. However, every time he talked about writing, then his fear of failure and all the associated pain that he had undergone since all started up.
He described the fear he felt as being like a wave of uncertainty that just washed over him. When he decided to write, he seemed incapable of choosing which word to start with - as if somehow the words were jumping around on the page. Meanwhile, his internal dialogue was going crazy: "Why choose this word instead of that word?" and so on.
I talked with him for a while, finding out about his preferences as a writer. He was quite literary, and I took some time building rapport with him about whom he thought was a great writer. He talked clearly about what he admired in a writer, and so I paced him, finding out what he valued and mirroring this back to him.
After this, I spent some time dropping in the useful suggestions about getting him to "right (write) himself", getting him "on the right track" and trying to find out clearly so that I had "good inkling" about where he was stuck. Then, I asked him directly about the problem he faced. Was there a specific moment that he recalled where things had started to affect him?
He was clear about this. It was the argument with his partner that had really been eating away at him for years. Immediately, he created an image of an argument scene, very close up to him, gesturing its whereabouts with his hand. I quickly pulled the image away, seeing his disorientation build as I did. I asked, what she had said to him. His reply was that she had told him his work was "useless" and "a pile of crap". I used the famous "Stupid Voice" that Paul McKenna uses so effectively to talk the words back to him, so that he was soon laughing at the preposterousness of the judgments. Then I sat with him and reframed what she had told him, freeing him up to laugh more at these harmful words. The effect was amazingly powerful as I could see from the bright expression on his face.
I then swish patterned the client's idea of himself as a writer, putting it into a place about which he felt solid and confident about himself. I built up a good useful resource of positive emotions, and associated them with his feelings about himself as a writer.
The next step was to get him to think about his creativity, and install a sense of clarity between his critical and creative minds. In these circumstances, there is a very common and very useful strategy that can be used - it is the Walt Disney Creativity Strategy. I explained to him that when Walt Disney was creating, he had three distinct parts to the creative process. The first is the Dreamer, who is a person for whom all things are possible. The Dreamer is allowed to think up anything. He can generate the most extreme flights of fancy and really go for it. He doesn't need to be tied down to realistic expectations, but can allow himself to range freely. Later in the creative process is the Realist. The Realist is the person who sorts things out, who takes the information and the ideas thrown out by the Dreamer, and who starts to give the story shape. Finally, there is the Critic. The Critic is the person who finds the things that don't fit together in the story, and who makes the whole project sit together.
I explained that it was important for Disney to make sure that each did not interfere with the other. It seemed to me that my client had been asking the Critic to do the job of the other two, the Dreamer and the Realist. It was time to ask the Critic to stop interfering and allow the two creative parts of the client to get on with what they did best, not being hampered by the Critic.
I also spoke about someone I had read of who, when it came to writing a story, imagined he had three editors of books that he really admired. In his case, they were whoever edited the works of Leonard Wolff, D H Lawrence and George Orwell. He imagined these editors looking at what he was writing. In a friendly tone, he would ask each of them what they thought of the story he was writing it, so that he was aware of what qualities they were looking for in quality writing.
The client was by now ready to go into trance, so I performed a formal trance induction. Once he was in a place of useful trance, I asked him to pick three writers he really admired. Then I asked him to visualise them, then step into each of their bodies one at a time, so that he could experience what it felt like to be those writers. In each case, I asked him to bring those feelings and learnings back with him as he returned to himself.
The next part of the trance was to ask him to remember a time when he was really writing well. I asked him to build up the visualisation really clearly so that it stood out in his mind. I asked him to make it as real as possible, in the Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic realms. I asked him to do this with two further times that he was writing really well, and to make those feelings of success as real as possible.
We then moved on to address his creativity directly. On a scale of one to 100 how creative did he feel? He told me he was at 15. I asked him to imagine walking in to the control room in his head and to find the switch marked "creativity" and turn it up. I asked him to imagine lights coming on, dials going up, things really starting to move. I asked him to increase the imagery further. I asked him to imagine the machinery of creativity powering up, to turn that feeling up and turn it up again, make it really powerful. Where was his creativity now? It was at 30. "Okay, now double it... Now turn it up even further. Take it further. Now make yourself four times as creative as you have ever been. Now ten times as creative."
With a series of further visualisations I got him to imagine seeing himself writing, or typing happily and with full concentration into a computer. There was also a series of further visualisations aimed at getting him to take on board the whole idea that he would one day soon be a hugely successful writer, and that he would write with a sense of joy and happiness, with a sense of expectation and excitement.
After these exercises in which we trained his unconscious to expect to succeed in writing, to be able to turn on the writing whenever he needed to, I brought him back to the room.
It had clearly been a strong experience for him.
That was several months ago. The client now reports that he has been writing steadily ever since. For those practitioners looking for an effective creativity booster, this may be of real use to you. Obviously, you will need to adapt it to make it work, so that it applies in context to the person you are working with. What I will say is that it is highly effective.
Best of luck with using it!
Copyright Matthew Wingett, 2009