Many therapeutic approaches are less than effective because they don’t access the root of the problem. If you think of a presenting problem as a weed, your limiting beliefs, behaviors and emotions can be thought of as the stem and leaves. If the root is not pulled out, the weed returns. NLP practitioners address the root of the problem, which they refer to as a psychological attachment. Like strong habits psychological attachments are:
– related to childhood
– safe and satisfying
The three primary attachments are to control, deprivation, and rejection. However, there can be others.
With an attachment to control – Individuals have a tendency to feel controlled even though they resent being controlled and unwittingly behave in ways that encourage others to correct and monitor their behavior. Subcategories include The Rebel, The Helpless Child, The Obesessor, and The Go-Along
With an attachment to deprivation – Individuals have a tendency to feel unfulfilled in life. They fill the void with unfulfilling behaviors such as an addiction. Subcategories include The Martyr, The Craver, The Worrier and The Numb
With an attachment to rejection – Individuals have a tendency to feel hurt, rejected or criticized while unconsciously or unwittingly doing things that invite rejection or criticism.
Subcategories include the Perfectionist, The Joker, The People Pleaser, and The Self-Defeater
Attachments can be interactive. A People Pleaser may give others control and deprive the self as a means of seeking approval.
Hypothetical Case Working with Psychological Attachments
Will is a 43 year-old male who makes an appointment with me, an NLP Coach, to discuss his obsessive worrying: worrying that has become much worse over the years. HIs specific reason for making the appointment now is that he doesn’t want to ruin his new relationship. He has been divorced twice and is currently dating Teresa, a widow he met on line. They are discussing the possibility of living together and getting married. However, Will is worried Teresa will become disenchanted with him and leave as his wives did.
The First Session
During the first session, my goals were to:
Build Rapport – I observed Will’s eye accessing cues and listened to his predicate phrases. His primary representational system was auditory. So, I asked auditory questions such as “What do you tell yourself about this relationship?” and “What does she tell you?” We both play golf, so, we share a common interest, which makes building rapport fairly easy.
Identify the positive intent of the behavior. Will: “The positive intent of my worry is to protect myself from being hurt again.
Complete the Logical Levels and Outcome Specification exercises – Information gained from the exercises provided a clear understanding of what Will wanted to achieve and helped me develop a purpose-driven course of action.
Ask Meta Model questions – These questions helped me transform his problematic vagueness.
I guided Will through several NLP strategies such as the As-If-Frame, Anchors, and the Formula for Manifesting. While the strategies were somewhat successful, I decided to dig deeper, because his worries were deeply held.
Based on information learned from the Outcome Specification and Logical Levels, I determined that Will was attached to deprivation and more specifically he would be categorized as a worrier. He feels undeserving, trusts his happiness will not last, expects disappointment, has an inability to enjoy the moment, and sets unrealistic goals.
One strategy for resolving Will’s worry regarding his relationship is to conduct the A-H-A solution worksheet.
Will worries that his relationship with Teresa, the woman he cares about deeply, will fall apart.
Will’s “Attachment” thoughts are:
She will dump me.
She will get tired of me just as my wives did
I don’t deserve such a good woman.
I have two failed marriages, why should this relationship work?
Will’s “Healthy” thoughts might include:
Maybe you learned something from the previous marriages.
She certainly seems to care for you.
Why not just enjoy the time you have together, for now?
Will’s possible ways he to respond were:
I could walk away from the relationship.
I could talk to her about my fears.
I could tell her I am not interested any longer.
I could just wait and see.
Will decided to talk to Theresa regarding his concerns.
He talked with Teresa, who admitted to experiencing concerns as well. They decided to move forward and continue to discuss their relationship and their doubts.
The worksheet provided a solution for the presenting worry problem and a tool for addressing other anxieties as they arose for him, too.