Have you ever had a successful experience completing a certain task at work or at school? When you are confronted with another task that worries you, either because it is too difficult or unfamiliar, don’t you just wish that you could emulate the successful experience of the completed task?
Well, the good news is that you can do it with a little help from a neurolinguistic programming technique that I have taught and used on many people. It is simple, effective and powerful.
Here are some important points before you progress further:
- Every experience we have ever had is stored in our mind, regardless of whether they are accessible or not.
- Internal sensations and images, as well as external stimuli act as cues that can automatically put our bodies into a certain physiological and psychological states. As an example, a person can develop a phobia of public speaking after experiencing an anxiety attack at a board meeting, or a tennis player continues to play well on clay courts after scoring several aces on the same type of court.
- When faced with a challenging task, you can cue your body and mind to react in a masterful way if you can replicate a sensation or image from a past successful experience. This is similar to programming your unconscious mind so that it will reproduce the process for successful completion of a new project, when the internal imagery or sensation of the old is evoked. This process is called anchoring.
- You can increase the power of this process by pairing the internal imagery or feeling of success with an external physical action, such as gently tapping on your thigh, crossing your fingers or touching a specific part of your body. Then, by using the physical action, you do not need to evoke the internal sensation or imagery to replicate your feeling of success. Once you are efficient in this process, you will find it faster than mentally conjuring up the success image or feeling. You will learn how to do this in the following paragraphs.
Here is your neurolinguistic exercise:
- Reflect on some positive moments and highlights in your life, starting from early childhood and working forward in time.
- These positive moments and highlights must be associated with a subjective sense of well being and achievement. However, they do not need to be particularly overwhelming or difficult. For example, you may have felt really good in second grade when you got full marks in your spelling test; or your parent or favourite teacher paid you a compliment when you managed to finish a simple task, or you felt really good about yourself when you persevered with a task beyond your expectations.
- From these positive moments and highlights, select one that you liked most and the most vivid in your mind.
- Write it down on a piece of paper as accurately and completely as you can, paying particular attention to the following aspects:
- Visual. The colours, brightness, sharpness and contrast of the surroundings, objects and people, whether moving or still; whether still-framed or a motion picture.
- Auditory. The noises and the voices, the sounds and words, the loudness and the pitch of the noises, whether they are clear or faint, near or distant, pleasant or unpleasant.
- Feeling. The sensations of your five senses, the mood of other people, your feelings of elation, satisfaction and achievement.
- Now close your eyes and capture that moment or event in your mind.
- Decide which of the three aspects – visual, auditory or feeling – is the strongest sensation and evokes the strongest positive emotion.
- Use this aspect as an internal cue for mastery whenever you are confronted with a challenging task or situation (just experience the positive feelings).
- Pair this internal cue with an external simple action such as touching specific parts of your body or crossing your fingers as mentioned above.
The next time you need to access a feeling of mastery, just close your eyes, transition into a relaxed state and create that specific memory of visual, auditory or feeling memory of the successful experience that you have selected. Perform this whilst using your selected physical cue, such as crossing your fingers. After some practice, you may be able to access that sense of mastery using only the physical cue.
If you want to embed that experience of mastery more firmly into your subconscious or unconscious mind, practise relaxation or guided imagery exercise. Just before you finish the relaxation or guided imagery exercise, perform the anchoring exercise.
The more you practise the anchoring exercise, the more you will be able to elicit the feeling of mastery on demand.