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NLP Technique: Play a new movie

By on August 19, 2014

In this post we will be talking about your ability to visualize, and your hypnosis client’s ability to visualize. We will be talking about it in a very specific way based upon the latest research in neuroscience, and what we now know about the ‘movie screen’ inside your mind, and inside your client’s mind, and how to use  these movie screens effectively.

Client Situation:

Your hypnosis client comes to see you with a problem, let say they are afraid of flying. they don’t know why they are afraid, they just are. As they tell you about their fear, they look up. at my look up to the left, or up to the right. They might look for a number of seconds, or it might be a quick glance before they look back towards you.

You break state and then ask them again about their fear.  Again they look up as they begin to tell you.

How to respond:

Whether they know it or not, they are making pictures or movies inside their mind which are causing the fear. In the case of fear of flying is pretty easy to guess this sort of movies they might be making, plane crashes and the like. Some people are well aware of these movies, and they’ll say, “I’m terrified of flying, I keep imagining the plane crash!” What they actually mean is, “ I’m terrified of flying because I keep imagining the plane crash!” If you continuously imagine that you are about to die, is likely to generate good deal of fear!

Other clients may not even be aware that they’re making these movies in my mind, but they are. By bringing their attention to the movies they are making, we can begin to help change content of these movies. We can change the content  in a number of different ways, either directly or changing the sub modalities of the movie as in the NLP ‘fast phobia cure’ or V-K  Dissociation pattern. But first they need to be aware that they are actually making these movies inside their mind.

So, as you see their eyes move up, move your open palm to where they looked, as if your palm is a movie screen, and ask, “What do you see their?” For many clients this simple move will be enough to draw their conscious attention to the movies they are making in their mind.

Once the client is aware that they are making  movies, they can begin to change the content. For example your clients might then say, “I see a plane crashing”.  You can then respond with something like, “So you see a plane crashing, and then you feel afraid? …I can see how making pictures of plane crashes inside your mind would cause you to feel afraid. What pictures would you rather make? Perhaps you can see yourself now, arriving at your destination for a wonderful vacation. How does that make you feel?”

NLP theory and neuroscience:

Your visual cortex lies at the back of your brain. It has two functions, first and foremost it processes visual information coming in from the eyes, to make sense of the world around you. However, it also generates internal images. We see these images every night in dreams. When you dream your visual cortex is actively generating those dream movies. This internal visualization takes place constantly in a thousand different ways to make your life easier.  This is true for everyone (unless they are physically blind), even those people who say they can’t visualize.

Most of the time you are not aware that these images are being made. Let’s take a couple of examples. Have you ever been walking downstairs and misjudged where the bottom of the stairs were, resulting in a physical jarring? This is because your eyes took a picture of what they thought the stairs looked like, and your brain created a movie of you reaching the bottom. When the movie failed to match reality felt a physical jarring and your brain has reassess to create a new movie. Lets take another example, what color is the sofa in your house? Now ask yourself how you know what the color of your sofa is? You would simply not be able to keep track of what you know about world unless you did it visually. You find your way around your world using visual maps, even though you don’t necessarily know that you are referring to these maps.

This internal movie screen in your mind is part of what neuroscience refers to as ‘working memory’. We will discuss working memory in a later blog. The point that is really important to understand is that this movie screen has two projectors. Each projector can show a movie on one side of the movie screen, but only one projector can work at any one time. One of these projectors is controlled by your conscious mind, and one is controlled by your unconscious mind.

When your client is unconsciously making movies of a plane crash, or even if they were aware of these movies but did not know why they were making them, than the unconscious mind’s projector is in use. By asking them to consciously make a  movie of themselves arriving safely at their destination for a wonderful vacation, we override the old movie, at least for as long as the new movie is playing.

Putting the technique it into practice:

It can be amazingly powerful for a hypnotist or coach to realize that every negative experience that your client brings to you, includes an internal movie of some type. And that for the most part most of these movies will have negative content. Simply changing the content of the movies, so they become more positive and more inspiring, begins the process of change. And the first step to doing this is to lead your client to begin to pay attention to these internal movies.

So once again the steps are:

  • Draw your client’s attention to the movies they are making;
  • Ask about the content of these movies. Are they positive?
  • Change the contents of the movies into something more empowering!

Of course, simply changing the content of movies may not be sufficient to change everything for your client. For example they may also have a negative soundtrack that goes along with the movie. And may have a negative title for the movie. Or they may have a feedback loop that generates negative movies based upon their negative feelings, and more negative feelings based on the  negative movies.  With changing the contents of this is a good start! We will deal with the other issues in other blog posts.

Other applications:

You can use this simple technique of changing the content of the internal movies, once the existence of the internal movies is accepted, in many different situations. Here are just a few:

Fears of specific events that may or may not take place. Phobias are a little different because they can be triggered before the visual cortex even has the opportunity to make any movies! We will talk about phobias in another blog post.

Anger. Anger is often generated either by remembering a past wrong, or by imagining a future wrong. These rememberings take the form of internal movies that can be changed.

Similarly, guilt is typically generated by remembering a past event, and often linking this to imagined consequences of that event. Once again the memory is a movie and the movie can be changed.

Negative memories. Remembering a memory is an active and synthetic process which generally involves the visual cortex. The visual cortex can be trained to remember the memory in a new way in a process called reconsolidation, which we will discuss in another blog post.

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