Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a powerful approach to self improvement and habit change that has been gaining momentum in recent years. While still not on equal footing with traditional psychotherapy, many people have reported significant gains from NLP techniques and therapy. NLP is a very broad and systematic approach to change. Because it addresses very basic components of human thought, motivation, and beliefs it can be used to alter an incredibly wide array of behaviors. People have sought out NLP therapy for help with quitting smoking, breaking other bad habits, reducing stress, and thinking more positively. One of the biggest uses of NLP therapy has been with defeating phobias.
A phobia is an extreme or irrational fear of something or some event. Some of the most common phobias include, enclosed spaces, spiders, and heights. Some phobias are incredibly debilitating for the person who suffers from it. Phobias exist entirely in the mind and since NLP involves mastering the mind, it is the perfect candidate for conquering phobias. The first thing to understand is that every phobia is a learned belief at some level. If it were automatic, then everybody would have that fear as well. Isolating the event that created the phobia is an important first step.
Using the idea of submodalities, or assigning physical states with your senses to visual images of memories, is a key NLP technique. Imagine that you are sitting in a movie theatre getting ready to watch the “scary” film that sparked your phobia years ago. Maybe as a child you saw a scary movie about a huge spider and that is what sparked your arachnophobia. Whatever it is, pretend the first frame is on the screen in front of you, but not playing yet. Before the movie starts, you make the picture black and white. Next, make it a little bit blurry. The mind is a powerful tool and it shouldn’t be too hard to picture this frame in black and white and blurry. Next, make the frame a little bit smaller so that it takes up less of the screen. Lastly, the film will be silent except for a goofy soundtrack. Think of a funny, cartoony song that will be playing in the background.
Next, get yourself feeling super confident. Think about how you feel when you are doing something you know you’re very good at and/or you thoroughly enjoy doing. Isolate that feeling and amplify it as much as possible. Now, go ahead and watch your “scary,” blurry, black and white, and goofy sound tracked video. Feel free to laugh. After you finish it, visualize the movie playing backwards at full speed. Go congratulate your movie watching self for making it through the movie. Let the good feelings wash over you.
This may seem like a simplistic technique for overcoming a potentially serious fear, but the power of the human mind can be very surprising. If you do this technique over and over and amplify the feelings as much as possible every time, you will begin to see your phobia weakened. Most phobias are not rooted in a concrete and harmful event. They are mental constructs that can be equally conquered with mental constructs.
There are many other techniques that NLP practitioners will use to help you conquer your phobia. By focusing on the underlying mental processes that generate the phobia you can learn to change your mind. Learning to anchor a positive mental state to an external stimulus, such as snapping a rubber band or pushing your fingers together is another example of a seemingly innocuous technique that has a very high success rate among NLP practitioners.
Investigate an well regarded NLP practitioner in your area if you are experiencing a phobia that is impacting your life.