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NLP Technique: Interrupt the story

By on August 26, 2014

In a previous blog post we talked about your brain’s internal movie screen. In this blog post we will be talking about  the soundtrack that goes along with the movie, how this soundtrack is made, and how we can begin to help our hypnosis clients by changing the soundtrack.

The soundtrack itself typically has two parts,  of the contents of the soundtrack, and the tonal elements of the soundtrack. By ‘tonal’ we mean anything other than words, so total could include the tone of somebody’s voice, the speed and energy of the sound, and so on. We will talk more about the tonal elements in another blog post.

Situation:

Because there are two parts to the soundtrack, the words and the total elements, there are two types of situation that we’re going to talk about. In practice these may overlap.

In the first case, your client comes to see you with their story. The story goes on and on and is clearly well rehearsed, meaning that they have told it to many other people, and they probably continually tell it to themselves. Because they are ‘driving’ the story with words, these words are probably also creating the movie which is playing on their internal movie screen.

We will deal with the tonal part in another blog post.

How to respond:

When your client comes in with their ’story’, and they like to repeat it, and it’s well rehearsed, and the simplest approach to begin the process of change is simply to stop them from telling it anymore! In NLP this is called a pattern interrupt. You can do this simply by saying, “Stop!”,  or by holding the palm of your hand in a classic stop signal, or in any other way that surprises them, and begins to break the client’s pattern.

In order to maintain rapport with the hypnosis client, you must do this in such a way that is respectful of the client’s situation. The simplest and most direct way of doing this is to be honest with the client. Tell of the one of the reasons they have this problem is because they are continually telling themselves the same old story,  and to get the changes they want they have to find a new story. Therefore it is one of your jobs to interrupt them when they tell the old story. You will not have to interrupt very often before they begin to interrupt themselves, and their pattern will be broken.

NLP theory and neuroscience:

The latest and arguably the greatest addition to the brain is the neocortex. This is the folded surface of the brain that gives the brain it’s unique ‘furrowed’ appearance. The reason the neocortex is folded is because its processing power is based on its surface area. More folds means more surface area meaning more processing power. The functions of the neocortex include a kind of ‘association’ that links one thing with another. So for example a rabbit may associate ‘field’ with ‘carrots’ with pleasure, or your overweight client may associate ‘fridge’ with ‘ice cream’ with ‘pleasure’.

One of the reasons human beings are so successful is that we have a wonderful tool for making these associations. This tool is called ‘language’ where a singe word can conjure up a multitude of associations through the visual cortex.

So when a client repeats a bad story of their life, they are strengthening the neural pathways associated with this story, and linking together the ideas and concepts in the story more strongly. And the more times they tell the story the stronger the links become.

Interrupting this pattern, this story, and leading them in a new direction immediately begins to rewire their brain. And to create  new neural pathways.

Putting it into practice:

In order to effectively use pattern interrupts to begin to break a client’s pattern, you have to recognize when they re ‘doing’ their problem. What words do they repeatedly use when in their problem state? When you hear them begin to use those words, interrupt them.

This simple pattern simply demands that you listen for their story, and watch for their change in physiology, then respectfully but forcefully interrupt them.

So once again the steps are:

  • Listen for and identify their story. What words that they use that let you know they are running the same loop over and over again?
  •  When you hear these words, interrupt them.
  • The first time you do so, explain why you are doing it. Explain that you and they need to begin to interrupt this patent in order to change it.
  • Once you have interrupted them the first time and explained why, feel free to interrupt them again whenever they begin to run that old pattern.
  •  When they begin to interrupt themselves, “Oh,  I’m running that all pattern again!”, allow then to continue interrupting the pattern themselves, only doing so if they fall back into the old pattern.

Other applications:

Any problem that a client comes to see you to help them with, will be repetitive in nature. if it wasn’t, they wouldn’t need to come and see you because it would only have happened once.  This technique works best, however, when the client is clearly running the same story over and over again.

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