Written by Pamela Carvell, May 2018.
One of the simplest NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) techniques for a practitioner to use and teach, to make someone feel happy, is to get them to think of a time when they felt happy, and then bring those feelings into the present. This technique is easiest if the past situation and feelings are deeply anchored (just as traumatic events become deeply anchored), so that the neural pathways in the brain are deep, and if there is a trigger to bring these feelings to the front of the mind. Deep anchoring can be achieved through the intensity of the experience or feelings, the length of the feelings, the repetition of the experience and a collective experience. All of these have the potential to deepen the neural pathways. Similarly an intense trigger has the potential to produce these feelings more rapidly and more intensely.
OK, NLP jargon over. What does this really mean?
The Power of a Football Chant
I spent last Monday with 40,000 other Coventry City football fans at Wembley, watching the team win promotion to the First Division. Like most football clubs we have a variety of songs, some going back decades, but every season there are new chants and songs regarding new players, especially those who play a key role in the team. And it helps if they have a catchy name! Right now if you simply typed, whispered or shouted ‘1 2 3 4’ to any Coventry fan, they won’t be able to help themselves: it will trigger several responses, over which they have no control. The music, from an Earth Wind & Fire 1980’s classic, and the words ‘Woooooooah we’ve got Michale Doyle….’ will fill their mind, or even be sung out loud, and they will start to feel the sense of happiness and euphoria that they felt on Monday at Wembley. Those words will go over and over again in their minds, and they will actually struggle to ‘switch them off’ such was the intensity of the occasion on Monday. That song is now indelibly etched on the minds of all who were there and inextricably associated with dedication, commitment, success, victory and a truly amazing day out with friends, family and fellow fans.
Those feelings are well and truly anchored in the mid of every Coventry fan and ‘1 2 3 4’ is the trigger to recreate them.
Many people aren’t football fans, so how can we apply these principles in every day life?
The next time you are feeling happy about something try and really immerse yourself in those feelings, and take in the sounds and sights around you, so that everything becomes very deeply etched on your mind. Music is very powerful in such situations and if you can associate a tune or song to the happiness that music can itself become a powerful trigger. Tastes and smells can also be powerful anchors / triggers. Speaking personally, I only have to hear the first few notes of Marvin Gaye’s ‘I heard it through the grapevine’ and I am transported to very happy places!
You can create an anchor for yourself, such as squeezing your thumb and index finger together and intensifying the feelings as you tell yourself that squeezing your thumb and finger together are associated with the feeling. Again, not necessarily as simple as it sounds, but very powerful if you can master it. In the future, that action will automatically trigger feel-good chemicals in your brain and the associated feelings of happiness. Like so many things, the more you repeat this, the more deeply engrained it becomes and the more powerful it is. BEING HAPPY IS A HABIT!
Being angry is also a habit that can easily be triggered. In some people it is so well anchored, that it is their default behaviour. But it can be unlearned if the desire is there. Being Mr Angry doesn’t have to be a permanent state!
Children respond very well to triggers, and it is the responsibility of parents and family to make these positive ones. There are very good reasons why children love to hear the same nursery rhyme or story again and again and again. They have mastered the art of feeling happy and the power of repetition.
Music can be a very powerful trigger in older people, and brings back memories of happier times. It also makes them feel young again, when nothing else seems to be able to get through to them.
Attending a sporting fixture is a means of escape and a way of de-stressing for many people. It also fosters a sense of belonging and of shared emotions and experiences. But, most importantly it accentuates feelings of euphoria and through the repetitive chanting of the crowd enables those feelings to become deeply anchored in the human brain, so that with the appropriate trigger they can be brought into the present.
So, altogether now…….1 2 3 4………
Written by Pamela Carvell, NLP and Hypnotherapy Practitioner, May 2018.
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