by Carl Buchheit
Most of us have had the experience of going on a treasure hunt—if not personally, then at least through the reality TV shows that have people racing around the world following clues to get to some exotic final destination. The basic theme is that you get a clue, follow it to another clue, and eventually you find the treasure.
Personal change, growth, and development can be a bit like a treasure hunt. The perspective of Neuro-Linguistic Programming is that the treasure you are seeking is there, inside, waiting to be discovered. Discovering it takes going beyond the obvious clues. Most of the time we only pay attention to the big clues. The little ones go unnoticed, and the treasure remains hidden. In fact, the really obvious "clues" often aren't clues at all but symptoms of something more hidden. They are, however, a place to start.
Discovering the little clues can be difficult to do on your own because they are most often so hidden. But you can begin with the following exercises. Training in Neuro-Linguistic Programming or working with an NLP Practitioner are both very effective ways to continue.
To start, acknowledge to yourself something that is present in your life that you don't want or something that you have been wanting to be present for a long time but that has been elusive. Acknowledging something like this doesn't mean you are broken, bad, or wrong in any way. It just means that there is something in your life experience that is pointing to something more fundamental, more basic, and more hidden. Something that, for one reason or another, you put there and that served you very well at the time. Something that is badly outdated and that you can change.
To begin, bring to mind the life issue you want to explore. Take a moment to write it down. Work with just one thing at a time. If you have more than one thing you would like to work with, repeat the exercises taking each issue one at a time.
In these exercises, we are inviting you to a deeper exploration of what you have just written down—that something that you don't want but that hangs around, or that something you do want that seems not possible. To do these exercises you will need to allow yourself to experience whatever issue you are working with. The more fully you allow yourself to be aware of it and feel what it feels like, the more effective the exercises will be. Acknowledging and allowing yourself to experience, without judgment, that issue is a huge step toward resolving it.
The objective in these exercises is to discover some of the little clues. The little clues are often the things in our lives that we hold as so true, so real that we don't even consider them as having any possibility of change. The little clues, the ones that really pay off, are wrapped in our concept of what is. These are the things that we believe are as unchangeable as gravity.
Exercise #1 ... Personal Statements
- Make a list of statements about yourself regarding the issue you are working with, and about the issue itself, that you believe are totally true. Start with the really obvious stuff "I am female (male)" and work your way to some of the more subtle ones "It's not OK for me to ... ." Sit quietly, pen in hand, and just write down what comes.
- Look at the list and ask yourself if everyone else believes these things about themselvesor about that kind of issue. The ones to which you say, "No, not everyone believes this," are all clues to how you might, through your beliefs, be keeping what you don't want present in your life or preventing what you do want from being there.
Exercise #2 ... What do you avoid?
- Continue to acknowledge and allow yourself to experience the issue you are working with. Again, sit quietly with pen in hand and allow yourself to become aware of the things that you avoid regarding this issue. Write them down. What do you avoid doing? What do you avoid saying? What do you avoid acknowledging?
The things we avoid are also little clues. We must respond to what we are avoiding in order to avoid it, and this limits our flexibility. How might things change if you stopped avoiding those things you just discovered? What if you found a way to allow yourself to deal directly with them?
Exercise #3 ... What emotions do you avoid?
- Again, stay as fully present to the experience of your issue as you can. This time, notice the feelings and emotions that are connected with it. Sit quietly, pen in hand, and notice what is there. Write it down. Some of these feelings you may have been aware of for a long time. They are right there, connected to the issue every time you think about it. Allow yourself to go beyond these. What other feelings and emotions do you become aware of?
The feelings and emotions we avoid are also little clues. What would happen if you found a way for it to be okay for you to experience them? What new actions might you then be able to take?
Neuro-Linguistic Programming can be described many ways. One simple description is, "NLP is about changing your mind regarding what is or isn't possible for you." When we change our mind, new connections are made possible in our mind and new possibility appears. At NLP Marin, Neuro-Linguistic Programming has become famous for asking and then guiding you to effectively answer two important questions: “What would you like?” and “What stops you?” Using our Holographic NLP model, the clarifying work that is done between and around these two questions gets at an inner truth, unique to each person, which then allows lives and relationships and careers to transform.
We hope these simple exercises have assisted you to change your mind in some significant way(s).