Making Choice Just A Little Easier
In NLP we are real big on increasing choice. One of the basic presuppositions is “Choice is better than no choice” another is “The element in a system with the most flexibility (choice) has the most control.”
I was talking with an old friend the other day who was facing another of those transitions we all experience in life’s passages. She was living alone in the large home where she had raised her children (and a very nice job she had done, too). The house had become increasingly empty as her kids moved out on their own.
She half jokingly mentioned that she might want to move to a smaller place just to be sure one of them didn’t move back – seriously, though, she said, she’d like to have more freedom, less maintenance and house cleaning.
“Well, that might be a really good idea. You’d have more time, more freedom – things I know you care about. And you might have a better financial situation, too. So what stops you?”
“I’d lose all the good memories of raising the kids here. And a smaller place wouldn’t have enough room for holiday celebrations. And I don’t know what I’d do with all the kids stuff and art – putting it in a storage locker would seem cold – I wouldn’t see it again unless I unpacked it. The location is great for me, too, close to my job and my church. The thing is that stuff keeps getting in my way before I really have time to consider the good things about it (moving).”
More choices in life are nice to have, and it was really nice for her that she had the option to stay where she was or move.
Yet having choices is different from making a choice. The minute we choose, we are abandoning all the other possibilities.
Perhaps it’s clearest in the context of choosing a mate. Once you choose, you leave the others behind. Yet until you choose, you’re just dating. And you may choose to have dating as your relationship form – that’s fine, and notice what you give up with that choice.
This is what makes choosing so challenging sometimes. We are giving up the other options, and there can be a sense of loss as a result. Yet until we choose, there is no progress. Until we choose, we’re stuck with the choices we have. It’s only by choosing, stepping on to a new path, that new possibilities emerge.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll likely get what you’ve always gotten.”
So what did I suggest to my friend?
I knew that she had lived in several other homes that she had really enjoyed. So I simply asked if it would be ok to put the fear of loss aside while she really considered her options. Oh, yes, she said; that would really help her to consider all the possibilities.
So I simply suggested she move her images of the losses involved with leaving her current house (holiday celebrations, places for the kids’ mementos, etc.) into the same location in her mind’s eye where she finds the memories of those other homes she’d enjoyed and still has fond memories of.
There are several other things I could have done as well or instead. Decision Strategy, Hierarchy of Criteria, just doing a well formed outcome can be quite a powerful intervention.
I happened to know, though, that she tended to make very good decisions in most areas of her life. In fact her current dilemma shows she was good at choosing a good place to live. Further, her first mention had been of a fear of loss. That was what was interrupting her otherwise effective decision process.
So by simply shifting the location of the thought in her mind’s eye from a place where it was in her way to a place that held it aside. She literally moved the images of loss out of her way, and in the process realized and remembered that she had successfully and happily negotiated this kind of transition before. Respectfully, and sincerely, she could move the trigger for feelings of loss out of the way so that she could make a decision without a sense of loss interfering with her ability to choose.
These forms of submodality processes are a cornerstone of both our Immersion NLP trainings and our Classic Home Study Practitioner Program, the “NLP Portable Practitioner Training.”