Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Some Followup to Easiest Embedded Commands

I've been getting some great followup to my article on easy embedded commands with a pattern interrupt. Here are a few points that came up that are worth clarifying:

--You won't have much of an effectusing it on a person if they're in a strong emotional state. Most of the time, office workers are in a kind of a neutral haze. It's a mild state, and most of the time, the little conversational pattern interrupt offered in my article is suitable to break that. However, if the person you're interrupting is, say, in a hurry, or strongly preoccupied or focused on something else, even though they may still say "how are you," they're most likely too preoccupied to notice. A stronger emotional state usually calls for a stronger or more personalized break-state. It's all about putting the right shoe on the right foot.

--It's been pointed out that "feeling fantastic" isn't technically a command, rather, the command form is: "feel fantastic." I'm not sure I agree. Grammatically, "feel" is a command while "feeling" may not be, but in practice, "feeling" functions quite well as a command, especially when delivered with proper emphasis and tonality. As a covert technique, "doing" words like feeling, listening, going, etc., are much easier to employ as embedded commands than the grammatical command form of the word. For example, I might want to make someone hungry by saying "talking about ice cream leaves me feeling really hungry now." To get someone to listen to me I might say " ...then the girls started listening to every word I say." and so forth.

--Some non-NLPers have suggested that my explanations of the techniques are not correct or even necessary. I say: fair enough. The definitions aren't important, except to break then down into pieces that are accessible and repeatable by myself and the others who use them. See, it's not just about this particular technique, which is fun, but about using the technique as practice for other applications that might arise. Defining the elements allows one to access and apply them in other areas and achieving repeatable results. The terminology I use comes from NLP, but there may be other ways to do the same thing. What's important is reliable & reproducible results.

That's all for now!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Metaphors as Pattern Interrupts

I'll probably be writing more about this later, but I wanted to get my thoughts down now. In my last post I talked about an easy embedded command practice, and touched on a pattern interrupt that was inherent in the technique.

It got me to thinking about pattern interrupts in general. While I was mentating on just that, I also had a long discussion about metaphors.

Metaphors, as you may know are sort of story-fied version of making a point. A kind of "as if." For example, describing your in laws like "a pack of hungry dogs," is a metaphoric way of getting across some information about the impact they make on you.

The most famous of hypnotic metaphors is probably Erickson's "Tomato Plant." (You can probably find the transcript on the web). Erickson had been faced with a client who was depressed and wasting away due to cancer, but was resistant to direct hypnosis and direct suggestion, so instead, he just told a long story about the way tomato plants grow and thrive. The man's subconscious made the connection between the plant and himself and the suggestions were delivered without any kind of overt commands or hypnosis.

Fables are metaphors: stories that deliver a moral by way of story.

I've been a story teller long before I was a hypnotist, so I like metaphors.

How are metaphors employed? They work when there's some sort of conscious resistance, or when there's lack of focus. Because they're stories, they (should) have vivid sensory descriptors to really capture the audiences attention. They're a natural choice to use on oppositional children, and great in a business context where raw, dry information can leave your audience unmoved. and, yeah, they're kind of covert.

Anyway, here's my point: When you use a good creative metaphor ("steaming piles of paperwork," or "happy tourists popping up like mushrooms"), you engage people's senses and imagination, and when you engage their imagination you're tapping into their subconscious. That necessitates withdrawing from the moment, and that, my friends, is a pattern interrupt.

Go out and play with these things and imagine yourself not like a hypnotist, but like a hawk, soaring effortlessly and freely through the labyrinthine corridors of your audience's mind. ;^)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Easiest Embedded Commands

They say, "before you begin to learn Zen, the trees are trees and the flowers are flowers. Then you begin to learn Zen and the trees are no longer trees and the flowers no longer flowers. But when you've learned it all, once again, the trees are trees and the flowers, flowers.

I don't know much about Zen, but I do know a little NLP, and I know that saying is very true for NLP. For example, once upon a time, a greeting was a greeting, and I never thought twice about it. Then I began to learn NLP, and everything became an opportunity to practice a skill, greetings included. The only difference is that with NLP, even after greetings become greetings again, they're still opportunities to practice.

Here are two that I had fun with, and I think you will too.

For decades, I'd pass coworkers in the halls at the places I worked and they'd absently say "How are you," to acknowledge my presence. If I was busy, or unmotivated, or in that office fugue-state that many of us spend our lives in, I'd absently respond "fine, thanks."

That's how it goes in most places, and no one thinks twice about it, but it's a great opportunity that folks like us shouldn't let pass! Here are some ways you can use it to improve your skills, learn about consciousness, and brighten the day for the people around you.

First one: I didn't like the numbness that infects offices and so, just as often, I'd respond with something like "too early to tell!" or "just terrible!" You can imagine that it stopped 'em cold. Invariably, they'd stop, and look up with a confused, blank stare. Of course I delivered the line with a big smile, and when they saw the smile, they got the joke, and it made them smile, too.

What was going on? In NLP lingo this is a break state, a technique that breaks, momentarily, whatever mental state the other person happens to be in. See, no one ever asks "how are you" because they really want to know. It's just an automatic ritualized way to acknowledge another's presence. Since it is a ritual, there's also a ritualized response, "fine, thanks," and as long as the the expected response is given, the pattern is completed with very little conscious awareness.

When you give an unexpected, non-ritualized response, it disrupts the expected pattern, and the person who initiated the sequence is suddenly brought totally into the moment. That's why they stop and look up at you: they need more data so they can adapt their pattern and complete it. This process is instantaneous, and mostly unconscious (instantaneous responses are usually mostly unconscious responses). As soon as they look at you they get the data they need: your radiant smile! It's not the expected response, but still gives them input they need to complete the pattern and get on with their day. The difference is that you've brought their awareness fully into the present, if only for a moment, and in that moment, your smile has also embedded a suggestion for happiness into their psyche.

Cool, huh?

Here's another: When they say/ask "how are you" look 'em in the eye and respond "Feeling fantastic!" Have a warm smile and exaggerated tonality, so you're really projecting "feeling fantastic" with your voice, too.

What's happening: Again, they initiate the ritual pattern with their greeting. You respond using direct but natural eye contact as you say "feeling fantastic!" Notice you DON'T say "I'm feeling fantastic." Rather you want to issue the command to feel fantastic, in a way that should elicit (bring up) feeling really good. It's almost a direct command, but it's embedded in the ritual context of the greeting. It's also issued at the same time as you make eye contact, so that their attention is split between two sensory inputs, and they're less conscious of either. Finally, as they're bringing up the feeling of fantastic-ness, they're looking right at you so the good feeling is anchored to you! It doesn't obviously have much impact at first, but will condition them to feel good when they see you!

If the explanations make this all seem complicated, just ignore them, but please do the techniques and see what thay can do for you! Feel free to post your responses and questions!

You can download this article here:
Easy Embedded Command

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

OH NO! Stuck in trance for five hours!

This story is hilarious! From the UK Telegraph:

Trainee hypnotist puts himself in trance using mirror
A newly trained hypnotist accidentally put himself into a trance for five hours after practising in front of a mirror.

Helmut Kichmeier was ''just starring at himself in the mirror, his pupils were tiny'' Helmut Kichmeier, 27, was found by his wife, Joanna, staring into thin air after the bungle in their north London home as they prepared for a tour.

Read it, and check out the picture, here:

As much as I'm entertained by the story, I don't think it's true. The idea that an ordinary person can be "trapped in trance" is largely an old wives tale. All hypnosis boils down into self-hypnosis, so it's not likely that a person couldn't get himself out, whether he got into it himself or not. Also the mirror is kind of a giveaway. It may scream self-hypnosis ti the uninitiated, but using a mirror's pretty rare.

Now it could be that mentally, he was a little bit different and able to get stuck in such a state, or that he was hyper-suggestible. Or he might have been on a drug (I knew a guy who took acid and stared at a clock for seven hours, waiting for the hands to move. He never saw them move, but he still had a great time). It's also possible that, due to his line of work, he was already able to go into a much deeper state of alternate consciousness than most people, but if that were the case, he'd also probably have a greater control to get back out.

True or not, it's a great story and great publicity!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Your age is in your mind!

Heres' a fascinating article that describes a study in which elderly men were asked to act as if they were 20 years younger, in an environment that was decorated to match. In only a week they had greater dexterity, less arthritis and improved posture and even mental acuity!

I've observed how attitude affects people I know. I've known athletes in their 80s who move like they're in their 30s, and guys in their 20s who look like they're 60.

What do you think? Check out this great Newsweek article by Wray Herbert: