The term “state” refers to a person’s subjective experience of oneself and the world at a given point in time.
Typical positive states include happiness, frustration, and relaxation. Typical negative stages include anger, sadness, and guilt. Each state elicits different behaviors or reactions to similar situations. In other words, if a person is in a happy state a missed appointment would be a nuisance, but if the person were in an angry state the same missed appointment would be infuriating.
A state can be either associated or dissociated. In an associated state, a person experiences self and the world from a feeling of happiness. In a disassociated state, the person watches him or herself being happy.
There are times when each is appropriate. The challenge is to choose wisely.
As an NLP Practitioner, there are many possible strategies to use when working with a person experiencing a negative state such as worry. Let’s focus on three strategies: dissociation, creating an empowering anchor, and the new behavior generator.
Ways to Dissociate
-Imagine seeing the self standing on the other side of the room and observe the self.
-Watch the self as if watching a movie.
– Refer to the self in the third person while describing the state.
– Listen to the self discussing the state as if the self were across the room.
– Consider the following questions
– What is this really about?
– What is the big picture here?
– How would this appear from an objective point of view?
Steps to Create an Empowering Anchor
– Choose a feeling or state.
– Think of a time when a preferred state occurred and anchor the feeling by connecting it to a specific physical action.
– Go to a neutral place.
– Test the connection to determine whether or not the preferred feeling occurs.
If the new feeling is not strong enough, repeat the process until it elicits the feeling or try a different physical or visual anchor.
New Behavior Generator
– Identify a stuck state in which a person has limited choices.
– Consider the state from a disassociated viewpoint – as if a natural observer watching from afar.
– Identify several behaviors which would be more beneficial.
– While in the disassociated state, watch what happens as new behaviors are tried.
– Associate the most promising behavior by stepping into the image to see if the behavior is managed more effectively.
– Future pace by practicing the new behavior in situations which may occur.
Hypothetical Case Regarding Excessive Worry
Andrea seeks counseling because she worries excessively. She looks at what might go wrong and expects to lose. She is stuck in negativity and doubts, which she alleviates by using marijuana. Smoking weed works to a degree; however, Andrea wants to learn strategies for managing the worry which do not include using drugs.
Because Andrea’s smoking appears to be triggered by excessive worrying, I decide to focus on her worry in an initial attempt to resolve the problem.
After I built rapport, assessed the situation using the Outcome Specification and Logical Levels exercises, identified the positive intent of the behavior, and asked Meta Model questions, it is time to get started.
Initially, I taught Andrea ways to dissociate. She decided upon the following:
She watched herself reaching for a joint as if she were watching a movie.
She decided to refer to herself in the third person while describing the problem.
The question which really stuck with her was “What is this really about? Andrea realized that she had little self-confidence.
I then taught Andrea to create an empowering anchor.
The feeling/state Andrea chose to work on was worrying.
She recalled how confident she felt the day she graduated from college.
I guided her to physically anchor the feeling of confidence by rubbing her hands together as she thought of the graduation.
I then instructed her to focus on her breathing to break the state.
We tested the connection to determine whether or not the preferred feeling occurred.
The feeling of confidence was there but weak. Andrea repeated the process several times until she felt strong confidence.
Finally, I led Andrea through the steps of the New Behavior Generator
Andrea’s stuck state was worrying, which she relieved by smoking weed.
She saw herself worrying and smoking as if she were watching a movie.
She identified several behaviors more beneficial than smoking weed to resolve the worrying. She identified the following:
– Talk to someone.
– Go for a walk or participate in some form of exercise.
– Write down her worries.
– Dissociate from worries by seeing them in the distance or changing their submodalities.
– Do something else such as read a book.
She tried each new behavior and determined that baking cookies and walking wouldn’t work. However, she felt that talking to someone, writing down the worries, and dissociating from the worries could be helpful.
She stepped into the image of herself worrying and smoking. She pictured herself as she talked with someone, wrote down the worries, and dissociated. Each strategy seemed to lessen the worry and the need to smoke.
The final step was to test the new behavior by having her picture times in the future when she might be worried, such as when a class assignment was due or when she was overwhelmed with work and had her picture one of the new strategies. She seemed to feel calmer and she had not smoked weed.
There was more to do but this was a start.