Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a branch of applied psychology that was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970s. It has gained a reputation for being extremely effective for helping people deal with issues of an emotional and psychological nature using quick and seemingly simple techniques. For this reason, it has also gained a reputation for being pseudoscientific and controversial.
Nevertheless, it is a fascinating approach to personal development and people continue to choose it over traditional psychoanalysis to reap the benefits of its unconventional methods. In this article, I’ll be sharing one of these methods.
The fast phobia cure
This is a quick but powerful technique to help you deal with and overcome any phobias or strong fears you have in your life.
Phobias are a very common experience among people and they come in varied shapes and forms. Here is a list of common phobias:
- Aerophobia, fear of flying.
- Glossophobia, fear of public speaking
- Arachnophobia, fear of spiders.
- Claustrophobia, fear of confined or crowded spaces.
- Hemophobia, fear of blood.
- Hydrophobia, fear of water
- Acrophobia, fear of heights.
- Autophobia, fear of being alone.
The great thing about this technique is that it doesn’t matter how unique or specific your fear or phobia is. If you have any fear that you can trace back to a specific event, this technique may be able to help you.
Using this technique, you will be guided through the experience of a traumatic situation in your memory in a way that objectifies the experience and creates distance between yourself and the actual event. This will allow you to view the specific situation that causes you emotional distress without stimulating a phobic response.
You can use this technique on yourself or with anyone that you feel could use help in overcoming a difficult situation involving fear.
Make sure you are in a safe and quiet environment where you won’t be disturbed for the duration of the exercise. It’s always best to take a few minutes beforehand to relax and quiet your mind before beginning.
The nine-step process
The first step is to identify and locate a memory of the original event which has caused the subsequent behavior you want to overcome. If you can’t locate such a memory right away, try thinking of a current fear or behavior that is holding you back in life.
Remind yourself that you were safe both before and after this experience occurred. Remind yourself that you are safe here in the present moment and that you are only reenacting this in your mind.
Imagine you are in a cinema. It might help to think of a cinema that you have visited in the past. Imagine you are watching your memory on a small black and white screen. Imagine that you are sitting on a stool at the front of the cinema, watching the images on a tiny screen in front of you. The screen has become so small that you have to squint just in order to see it.
Now see yourself floating out of your own body that’s sat on the stool, and float into the projection booth at the back of the room. This can happen slowly, instantaneously, or however feels right for you. Make the projection booth as real as possible. Maybe include details like dust and the sound of film reels turning.
Now picture yourself in the projection booth, watching yourself on the stool, watching the film of yourself on the tiny screen at the front of the theatre. Stay here until it is very clear.
Now play the black and white film on the tiny screen, starting from the very beginning of the experience you want to overcome and let it play out until it is finished and to a time when you were safe. Do this a few times until your comfortable with the process and reliving this experience. It should become easier the more you do this.
Now, watch as the film freezes and the screen gradually fades completely white. It can become hazy, clouded, pixelated, or fuzzy. Whatever works best for you.
Now float yourself out of the projection booth and into the end of the film. See yourself, as clearly as you can, floating out of the booth and directly into the end scene on the tiny screen.
Now play the entire film backward as quickly as you can — in one or two seconds — in full color as if you are experiencing the film, right back to the beginning when you were totally safe. Repeat this step until you become comfortable with the process. See the film start off as dark, dull, and grey and watch as it becomes vivid and colorful.
Repeat steps eight and nine until you are comfortable with the entire experience. Now test the effect on yourself by using your imagination: Project into the future to an imaginary situation that would typically elicit the phobic response from you. Notice how you react. You can rate your response on a scale of 1–10 (1 being completely free of fear). Continue to use this technique and see how your fear response continues to improve.
A final word
Hopefully, you will find this technique useful and will be able to derive some benefit for yourself or for someone you know. But it is important to realize that is technique is not a cure-all and that it may not work for everyone. It is simply another tool to add to your workshop of self-care and healing. As the saying goes, if your only tool is a hammer then every problem will look like a nail.
With that in mind, remember to have fun with this technique. Make it your own and play with it until becomes a comfortable and natural process that you can access any time you need to.
“Since most problems are created by our imagination and are thus imaginary, all we need are imaginary solutions.” — Richard Bandler
Thanks for reading.
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