Have you ever wondered if there’s a way to turn off some of those critical voices inside your mind? Sometimes they just go on and on, don’t they? If you have some challenges with negative self-talk, or if you get stuck on remembering hurtful things people have said to you in the past, this quick and fun NLP technique just might work wonders for you.
The aim of this exercise is to help you rapidly achieve more peace of mind, and to gain more mastery over your emotional state, all of which will improve your overall level of happiness and sense of emotional well-being.
NLP is short for Neuro-Linguistic Programming. It was developed over the past few decades by Richard Bandler, John Grinder, and then others. It’s used in a variety of professional fields such as sports coaching, education, and trauma recovery. Ideally, NLP works like a skeleton key for reprogramming your brain and nervous system.
The programming part of NLP works very much like programming computer software. Though not a perfect metaphor, by thinking of your brain as a computer, you can install a new program, uninstall an obsolete program, or modify an existing program.
Programs are designed to help us do specific things like be a thrifty shopper. Another example could be a gaming program that helps kids wind down after school. The goal of working with programs in an NLP context is to find the ones that aren’t getting us what we want, and then modify those programs in some way. If a program is causing more grief than it’s worth, it can sometimes be uninstalled. If the program seems to be hard-wired in and resistant to being altogether removed, another option is to try and overwrite the disc with a new and improved program. But that can involve some more complex processes than we are delving into today so we’ll save them for another time.
Today we’ll play with modifying an existing program. One that’s causing us some discomfort. One that starts up at the worst times and replays over and over. We might even scramble it and throw it in the recycling bin. Here are the steps. It only takes five minutes and a playful imagination.
NLP Technique for Scrambling Negative Self-Talk
- If you were to imagine your favorite actor or actress speaking to you in a really seductive “bedroom voice,” what would that be like?
- As you enjoy this experience, allow yourself to become aware of where the voice is located. Notice all the qualities of the voice including: volume, tone, pitch, and pacing.
- Put that aside for a moment.
- Now consider how it feels and sounds when you are thinking negatively about yourself and saying critical things to yourself. Listen to your self-criticism…
- As you replay those harsh critical comments, what happens if you now change the tonality into the “sexy bedroom voice?”
- As you replay those harsh critical comments, what happens if you now change the tonality into a silly cartoon character like Donald Duck or Scooby Doo?
- Replay some of your typical negative self-talk with this new cartoon tonality and see how your feelings lighten up!
- To get even better results, keep playing with the volume tone, pitch, and pacing. Try speeding it up and raising the pitch really high like Alvin the Chipmunk. After playing with that, try slowing it down to the point that it is deep and warbly, like its battery is dying. If you have a sense of space, try imagining the voice moving far, far away into the distance and maybe even drifting out of the atmosphere into space…
Keep playing with the sound quality until you feel a positive shift inside. Take a listen inside and see if that negative commentary has now been scrambled and neutralized. If a lot of emotional energy is released, you might perspire or feel the need to sit down for a moment. If so, that’s perfectly natural and happens to many people. Pause for just a moment now and see how you feel.
To find out if this worked well for you, try to recall the upsetting sound as you used to hear it. Do you still hear it in the same old way? More importantly, check to find out whether or not you still feel upset when you replay it. The negative emotional charge should be gone.
If you find that this technique does in fact work wonders for you, keep it in your tool box for future use. For example, suppose your boss or family member says something critical to you. If you have any difficulty letting it go, you can use this technique to scramble the audio, turn down the volume, and get back to enjoying some peace of mind.
Featured photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/klearchos/ via flic.kr