One of our coaches told me the following story, and I thought it was such a great fit with Labor Day I asked her to write it up for you. Those of you familiar with NLP will appreciate the elegant use of this familiar model in a specific context.
Some years ago, a good friend of mine and I were discussing change. The really big kind.
He had just lost his job and he wanted to achieve the independence of owning his own business.
Clearly, the universe conspires at times to wake us up . “It feels scary and exhilarating and perfect. I’m facing change AND I need to change” he told me. As “crossroads” moments tend to do, he found himself thinking a lot about both his past and his future. He really wanted to make the right choices moving forward, not based on the limitations of his past. The implications were tremendous. It was obvious to both me and him, that the road he had taken here was not the right road to take forward.
He asked me “Do you know someone who can help me?”
I knew many people who had done therapy or hired a life coach to navigate through big changes in their lives, and I had talked to many of them during my own life transitions. I heard lots of stories about how the work was interesting and useful, and helped for awhile. Often, it created some better habits in some areas.
But there was one common theme to all of these stories. Each person reported that old patterns of behavior eventually returned – stuff that got in the way of them realizing their goals. It was like the “default program” of limiting thoughts and behaviors could be overridden short-term, but in the end it always prevailed.
So, I told him about NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). One of these friends was describing how her coach, Lisa, helped her navigate changes in her own life. The time they spent together was not typical. Rather than “talk-focused,” the coach asked unusual questions and guided her through a series of “mental” exercises. After meeting with her coach, she found herself implementing changes easily that had been met with lots of “internal resistance” in the past.
Here’s a simple process Lisa used with my friend:
Think of a specific goal you want to achieve. Maybe it’s to lose weight, get a raise, win a big contract, or buy a bigger home. Just make it something specific and something you really care about.
Write it down.
Now, READ the below instructions. Then, DO the instructions (in that order):
1. Close your eyes, and name the goal. “I want a raise.”
2. Notice the feelings associated with the goal. If you picked a real goal, there will probably be more than one (kind of like there is a family of “opinions” inside your mind about it).
3. Write down the words that describe all of the “family of opinions” – the actual words that come to your mind.
4. Now, draw a line to start a new section on your paper.
5. Next, think of a goal you achieved in the past, that you are proud about.
6. Write it down, along with how you felt about it. “I got a raise, and it felt great. My boss felt I deserved it, and we had to bend some rules to make it happen … and in the end, it felt great to have someone believe in me that much.”
7. Now, read the two descriptions out loud. What do you notice about the difference?
Most of us have not recognized how much subtle “inside talk” goes on in our mind that is unsupportive, harsh or defeating. It’s like an all-day, uninterrupted soundtrack of characters who narrate and comment on our life (usually without being asked), without us even realizing it.
The important question is this: Who is your Inside Family? Are they a group of cheerleaders, mentors, co-creators (maybe an eccentric aunt in the mix), or do the nay-sayers, ne’er do-wells, and critical parents drowned out the positive messages?
When we meet and start to get to know our Inside Family more closely, we often wonder how we got anything done.