Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a type of applied psychology that is concerned with human thought, behavior, and communication. It sounds very esoteric, but there are many proven NLP techniques that have helped people in very concrete ways: using NLP techniques, people have eliminated phobias, changed bad habits, relieved stress, dealt with trauma, and built confidence.
I’ve been using NLP techniques on myself and with clients for years, and I recently read a couple of new books on the topic to get ready for a talk I’m giving this week. I started thinking about how I could apply NLP techniques to my writing life. One technique turned out to be extremely helpful.
Would you like to try it?
This exercise is taken from the book, The Essential Guide to Neuro-linguistic Programming, by Tom Hoobyar, and Tom Dotz, with Susan Sanders, but is a technique that Dr. Richard Bandler, one of the founders of NLP, used and taught frequently. You don’t need any special training to do this exercise, just take a few minutes and follow the directions as closely as you can and have fun with it!
Reducing Resistance and Procrastination
I want you to imagine two images. First, think of an image of your favorite thing to do. Remember what it was like to do that favorite thing and what it will be like to do that again. Actually be in that image so you have a vivid feeling of the experience.
Once you’ve got it, put that image (let’s call it Favorite Image) out in front of you a little way off. Then, between that image and you, put the image of a task you’ve been putting off (blog post, anyone?), only see the task as a picture in a magazine—either a photo of yourself doing the task or a drawing of the task. We’ll call that Task Image.
Now, right in the center of the Task Image, make a little pinhole so you can see your Favorite Image that’s behind the task. Notice how the picture is brighter. You can see through it. Open the pinhole a little so you can see that really great thing you want to do. Open it until you get the feeling of the favorite activity. As soon as you get that feeling, hold on to it and start closing the pinhole. If the feeling starts to go away, open it up again until the good feeling gets strong.
Return to these images and practice seeing your Favorite Image through the Task Image as often as you can.
The strategy behind this technique is based on the picture (Favorite Image) that’s behind the task. The task is between you and the thing you want to do. You just open up a little window in the task so you can see through it to the thing you want to do. The window becomes your iris that opens until you begin to get the emotional connection to the thing you love to do, then you very slowly close it down. Your relationship to your task will change. Guaranteed.
I’ve only been using this technique for a week but I definitely feel more peaceful about sitting down to write and I definitely procrastinated less than usual. I’m going to continue to use this technique for a while and see how much more writing I can get done!
Try it and let me know what you think.
Diane MacKinnon, MD: is a writer, blogger, life coach, family physician, and mother. I’m using any tool that works to help me become a better writer!