How does NLP work in practice? Sarah Johnson describes how one of the core techniques helped more than she thought possible.
In mid-September, I was fortunate enough to attend Bob Bodenhamer's 'Mastering Blocking and Stuttering' workshop. Bodenhamer's pioneering work using NLP and Neuro-Semantics has helped to uncover consistent thought patterns that are used when we block. Bodenhamer believes that as most people who stammer experience fluency in some situations, it is possible to harness that capability at all times, by discovering and maintaining positive mental resources.
The workshop concentrated on how to access these mental resources by using a variety of Neuro-Semantic techniques, such as the Swish Pattern, Meta-Yes Meta-No and the Drop Down Through.
The Drop Down Through is a well-established NS pattern that's used to literally 'drop down through' the layers of emotion that maintain a negative state of being, such as a block. The pattern starts by having the person fully feel the fear, the tension and the anxiety of a block. From there, it is a mental journey to uncover the frames that have built up around blocking, keeping the behaviour locked in. In doing this, the person moves fully from the initial negative state, right into the heart of the behaviour and out the other side to discover a positive resource state that when applied to the negative emotions, acts as a panacea, transforming and healing them.
I've learnt that there is a far more positive and powerful part of me than I ever thought possible.
Bob asked me to fully 'associate' into a block, to imagine myself in a block, and as the subconscious cannot differentiate between the real and the imagined, I immediately got that familiar old feeling of panic. Bob then talked me through the pattern, asking me what feeling lay underneath the previous one.
To get myself deeper down into each layer, I closed my eyes and imagined myself in a lift travelling down. Each time the lift door opened, I was met by another feeling. After panic, I met anger, regret, and fear before hitting loneliness. With this, came a huge rush of sadness and I burst into tears.
I then hit the point of nothing. This is key to the pattern as it's where the negative emotion finishes, where I could no longer find any further negative feeling. At this point, Bob took me through the point of nothing to begin to find positive emotion. Like an egg timer, the point of nothing lies in the middle between the negative and the positive although it's not always consciously reached - you may, for example go straight from negative to positive emotion with nothing in between.
After the point of 'nothing', lay my 'highest resource', the good, strong part of my mind. This is a crucial discovery for all people who stammer, as it introduces you to a state of being that lies within you that's the exact opposite of the fear, the anxiety and the sadness. In these patterns, you may express what you discover as a feeling, such as 'hope', or 'strength', or see it as an image. For me, it was the latter, an image of a huge endless field mirrored by a huge, endless sky that brought to mind empty Mid Western prairies. There were high grasses and a strong wind and I was walking through it, my face turned to the sky. It spoke to me of endless opportunity, wisdom, and the knowledge that I was more, far more than a person who stammers.
Bob then got me to apply this state to anger, regret, fear and loneliness and in each instance, the emotions were either neutralised or eradicated completely. And finally when I spoke from my highest resource, I was speaking freely with no blocking or hesitation at all.
For me, the pattern was very transformative as it was the first time that I'd ever met my 'highest resource'. In doing so, I've been able to access it during times of stress and blocking and each time I do, the block is released. There are benefits far beyond stammering. By becoming acquainted with the good, strong part of my mind, I've learnt that there is a far more positive and powerful part of me than I ever thought possible.
From the Winter 2005 edition of Speaking Out
Bob Bodenhamer's website: www.masteringstuttering.com