Excepted from the forthcoming book,
“NLP: The Essential Guide” by Tom Hoobyar, Tom Dotz, and Susan Sanders
2013 Harper Collins, © NLP Comprehensive Reprinted with permission.
1,255 words, 5 minutes average reading time
Think of the clothes you wore yesterday. When you think of them, how are you seeing the clothes? Are they hanging in the closet or do you see them on your body as though you’re looking in a mirror? Perhaps they’re laid out on the bed before you put them on-or lying on the bathroom floor after you took them off? There are lots of ways you might see yesterday’s clothes.
Here’s what I’d like you to do next. As you see them, notice how you are really seeing them. After all, it’s not like yesterday’s clothes magically appeared in front of you.
In your mind’s eye, can you actually see the clothes you remember wearing yesterday? Take a good look at the image itself, how you see them. Notice that you actually made a mental picture. This is your brain’s way of saying, “Oh yeah. He said yesterday’s clothes; here they are.”
You automatically went in and retrieved the data. Your brain constructed this image for you. This particular picture probably wasn’t filled in the way you’re seeing it now. After all, as you went through your day yesterday, you filed countless images of the day’s experiences. But you may have been unaware of this particular image until you called it up in response to my question, so notice that.
Here’s another example. No matter where you live, there’s probably a front door to your home, right? Whether it’s a house, an apartment, a room, a tent, or a cave, there’s some sort of a way to close the entrance. I invite you to notice something.
When I mentioned the entrance to your home, you thought about it, didn’t you? And you can think of it now, and when you do you’ll notice that you know exactly what it looks like. You can see the color and the form of the door or tent flap, and you know what side has the handle, and exactly how to open it.
How do you know that? You may be thinking, “I just know it, that’s all, I live there!” Here’s the deal: being able to imagine your front door requires a new awareness on your part. You just have to look inside your mind, and slow your thinking process w-a-y down so you can see your thoughts in slow motion, like watching a movie frame by frame.
Think of your front door again. You see a picture of it in your mind, don’t you? Check it out and you’ll see I’m right. When you think of your front door, you can see it. You’d have to see it to be able to know what it’s like from memory.
So now you see your front door. Let’s open it and step inside.
Is there any sound as you open the door? Listen for a moment and notice the sound of the door opening. Perhaps you hear the latch as it releases, a squeaky hinge, the door scraping along the floor, or some other sound as the door opens. Maybe you also noticed how heavy the door was or how cool the knob was when you touched it. What physical sensations did you notice?
Again, it’s just your front door. But you have lots information about it that’s stored and automated. You only notice these pictures, sounds, and feelings when you slow down and try to remember them.
Let’s explore a very different example that will show you more about how your mind works. I’m going to ask you to think about something that I bet you’ve never thought about before. Think of being at the beach, and think of using your elbow to scratch something in the sand. If you’re right-handed, think of using your left elbow. If you’re left-handed, think of using your right elbow. In other words, this is an elbow with no special skills. Now, think of scratching the letter A in the sand. Can you imagine doing that? I bet you’ve never done it before, certainly not with your off-elbow.
Here’s an interesting thing. To imagine doing that, you have to see the letter A. Maybe you saw it in the sand, but you began with the shape of the letter A in your mind. You’re doing this and you’re sitting someplace reading this book. My question to you is, what does that letter A look like in your mind?
We’ve all seen the letter A printed in lots of different styles and sizes. We’ve seen it as big as a billboard and as small as directions on a jar. We’ve seen it in an array of colors, bold script, lit-up letters on neon signs. But when you think of the letter A, what comes to your mind? After all, your mind has a way of producing the letter A for you.
Writing the A in the sand required you to do more than remember something you’d experienced. You had to remember the letter A and how to write it, as well as what sand at the beach is like. And you had to construct an imaginary experience where you combined all these remembered elements-including how to write with your opposite elbow! Your mind can do amazing things.
Okay, let’s leave the beach and go back to your door; remember how it sounds and feels when you open it.
Think about other doors in your life, and think about how they sound.
Notice other differences when you enter other places.
Notice not only the sounds associated with the door, but perhaps the smell. When you think of the door to a coffee shop or a bakery, a friend’s house when dinner is grilling on the barbecue, the door to the gym, the door to the hospital. Or maybe you might remember a different smell.
Think of other places you might visit in your mind. Let your mind wander to your old school or workplace, or other homes and businesses. Think of parks and outdoor spaces.
As you think of the different places you might visit, you may notice other feelings attached to these memories.
Perhaps you need to walk up steps to a certain place, or pull extra hard on a door. Or maybe your memory took you to a camping spot . . . somewhere wet . . . or somewhere cold.
You might notice that your emotional feelings are different depending on the place you think about visiting. They might range from unpleasant . . . to neutral . . . to excited . . . to happy, depending on the experiences you connect to the place you’re thinking about.
Here’s the reason. We live inside our bodies and the only way we can know what’s outside our bodies is with our senses. We see, hear, feel, taste, and smell the world, and that information has been flowing into our brains since a little while before we were born.
When information first began to enter our awareness, there was no way to make sense of anything, so it must have been pretty confusing for a while. Then our brains began to put the sensations together.
As we learned earlier, our brains figured out how to sort and file this information. It decided what went with what. It stored everything you have ever thought, felt, seen, heard, dreamed, or imagined. Even now, as you read this and check the memories and ideas that I’ve suggested, you are pulling up old pictures, sounds, feelings, tastes, and smells from your personal storage.