Mind over matter. Get out of your head. You’re overthinking it.
Any of these phrases sound familiar?
When working with clients – how can we help them overcome these plaguing situations in which they are, literally, being bullied by themselves? How do we help our clients not only change their debilitating thought processes, but also overcome their compulsions in efforts to work towards effective habit control?
Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) is a potential answer.
Here are a few of the most effective NLP strategies to use with clients dealing with various compulsions:
Best Ways To Break Habits With NLP Strategies
What Is NLP?
Broken down to its fundamental core, NLP is the mixture of your thinking process, your words, emotions, and your behavior. It’s a way to reprogram the mind to work at its full potential and is quickly becoming one of the most effective ways to help people conquer their inner dialogue and break habits that were once problematic.
There’s a wide range of clients that NLP strategies can accommodate. From those dealing with medical type fears and phobias to those struggling with addiction and habit controlling issues – NLP has the power to calm the mind and transform the reaction.
The Smartphone Comparison
Let’s use a smartphone for an analogy to your brain. Hear us out 🙂
When we begin to look for a certain topic on our smartphones, it retains our search histories. The internet browser, the maps app, and even Siri or Google assistant begin to assume they know exactly what we are looking for and what we need as they auto-fill our information before we even finish asking for what we want. In short, he phone has been programmed.
To break these autofill completions by all of our apps, our web browsers, and our gal, Siri – we have to shut down the phone, update, clear history, and maybe reboot in order to start fresh.
Similar things happen within the brain. Thoughts become programmed; habits become installed in our lives, and without a reintepretation, it runs automatically.
This is where NLP strategies can help facilitate change with our clients.
1. Uninstalling: The Swish Technique
An effective strategy is the swish technique. It’s kind of like when you read a funny meme, and it comes to mind every time the subject comes up.
The same type of ideology applies – we add new types of thoughts into the brain, our clients bring up the new references, and then their minds can spit out the old thoughts and replace them with the new. But it requires a very specific process.
Client Example #1
You have a client who picks up a six-pack of beer every day after work from the same store. He’s trying to break this habit, but cannot find success.
You learn that he listens to the same radio talk show while driving the exact same route home each and every day. He’s developed a daily pattern that associates the excitement and impending relaxation of being at home with picking up a six-pack.
He could use a good swish.
By simply switching one of these elements out of his developed routine, you can help him break the process that has formed the habit. When he has different thoughts, he has different feelings, and takes different actions.
Steps To Swish
This is a broad description of a swish pattern. It’s meant to give you a general idea of how it works.
First, figure out the trigger. Is it the talk show, the drive route, or the thought of beer that relaxes him on the way home from work? Then you distract the client, in order to get to a neutral state. Then, ask him to picture something else that makes him feel relaxed other than drinking beer (this is the resource image).
Let’s suppose the client pictures a big, cold glass of beer, and it makes his feel relaxed. Have your client make that picture just like he usually does, and his resource image small.
Have him start with the beer image, and the resource image as a little dot, or pixel, inside the beer image. Have the client expand the resource image as the beer image shrinks, until the resource image replaces it.
Then, have him clear his mind.
Have him picture the beer image again, and have the smaller resource replace it more quickly. Repeat, going faster each time, until when he starts making the beer image, the resource image automatically appears.
He has been swished. Test it out, by having him imagine driving home from work.
A swish can be a very fast, effective way for taking care of simple behavioral problems. If the person has an identity issue around beer, you may need different techniques :-).
2. Updating: Anchoring & Break States
Anchoring a boat involves throwing an anchor into the water and allowing it to secure itself to the sea floor. The same concept applies when anchoring the mind.
By pairing an internal response to an external trigger, we can achieve this NLP powerhouse method with great success.
Client Example #2
Let’s say you have another client that gets angry every time her husband begins playing on his phone while they are talking. She quickly loses her temper and they end up in an argument.
Seeing her husband grab the phone, her rage immediately begins. This is her ‘pure state’ that is anchored with anger. We need to swap that ‘pure state’ out with a different emotion such as peaceful indifference.
By asking her an unrelated question (i.e. How did you learn to ride a bike?), this creates a break state that pulls the mind immediately from the emotion of anger. As she answers, she has been pulled from her anchor state of anger and she can now be introduced to the new anchor state of peaceful indifference.
We might take a few moments to get her to feel a better state, and link that to her husband looking at his phone. We can do that through anchoring.
3. Rebooting and Reprogramming: Re-Framing
Re-framing is exactly what its name implies. Take away old thoughts about a habit or a compulsion, and reframe them with a new set of ideas.
Client Example #3
You have a client that wants to quit smoking. She reveals that she’s not proud of herself and disappointed with her lack of accomplishments. When she begins to expand on this thought, she begins to get the overwhelming desire to smoke.
You realize that her negative thoughts about herself are becoming triggers that have framed one of her reasons for smoking. The more she talks about why she isn’t proud of herself, the more she noticeably is needing to take a smoke break.
So, you ask her about a time when she was proud of herself.
She recalls a time when she was younger and she taught herself how to play the piano. Using this positive moment of pride, you can begin to work through the reframing process with her. When she begins to feel disappointed or not proud of herself, you simply ask – ‘When is that not true?’.
Now, her thoughts will be directed to coming up with a time when she was actually proud of herself. Simply reframing these thoughts can take away her negative outlook, and potentially, her desire to smoke.
Any session with a client may take several of these techniques in conjunction, and/or others.
Mind Over Matter
Sure, this phrase is so much easier to say and write, than it is to truly embrace. However, with the use of a few NLP strategies, we can help our clients embrace all of their mind’s potential to help make quality, sound decisions.
Trying to overcome compulsions and break habits are some of the largest reasons that clients seek our services. They come to us to break through mental barriers and try to find successful tools and resources to overcome their personal obstacles.
Using NLP strategies can offer effective results and therapeutic interventions that can help our clients become the person they imagine themselves being.
What NLP methods are your favorites, or are you curious about? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.