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NLP 101 Language Patterns: “Try”

By on September 11, 2014

In this series of blog posts we will be explaining a language pattern of trance. We’ll be explaining how your hypnosis clients use the pattern to put themselves into trance, and how you can use the pattern to dehypnotize them, or at least give them a better trance.

The hypnotic pattern

In today’s Will be discussing the word ‘try’. ‘Try’ is a wonderful linguistic pattern if for no other reason than we have a quote about it from master Yoda of Star Wars. Instructing Luke Skywalker to raise a spaceship out of the swamp using the power of his mind,  Skywalker responds, “I’ll try”, to which master Yoda delivers this wonderful line, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Try’ is an interesting word because it has a slightly different meaning depending upon which tense we are using,  that is whether we are looking backwards in time, or forwards in time. If we are looking forward in time, I might say, “I will try”,  meaning I will attempt to do it but the outcome is outside my control. The best I can do is to test whether or not it is possible. This idea of testing is the reason we try lawsuits illegal trials, because we are testing the truth of some matter.

However, when we going to the past tense the meaning of the word ‘try’ is very different. if I say, “I tried”, the implication is that I tried and failed.

But your brain doesn’t work this way. Your brain considers a word, such as ‘try’,  to have a meeting and meeting is defined by the neural connections which link the circuit representing the word ‘try’ to other parts of your brain. And because ‘try’ is connected to ‘failure’ in the past tense, as far as your brain is concerned ‘try’ means ‘try and fail’.  That’s why when your neighbor says, “I’ll try to come to your barbecue” you can safely only ‘try’ to buy his favorite beer.

To test this for yourself say, “I stand up”.  Now say, “I try to stand up”, and notice the difference in how you feel.

How your client hypnotizes themselves with ‘try

Your hypnosis client is in your office and you are ‘tasking’ them to do something when they have left your office, “I want you to speak to one stranger today using the techniques we have discussed, to prove to yourself that you can.” They respond, “I’ll try”.

By saying, “I’ll try”, your client is programming themselves for failure.  As master Yoda says, “ Do or do not. There is no try.”

How to respond

In general, we try and inoculate our clients are against the word ‘try’ (I hope you liked that little joke!).  You can respond with the line, “As master Yoda said, there is no try, there is do or don’t do.  So are you going to do it?”

The client will normally say something like, “Well I don’t know if I can”,  to which you can respond, “Of course the future is uncertain. But as you sit here now, are you going to do it, can you not?” ( We couldn’t resist throwing in a quick ‘but’ and a tag question –  see the separate posts on these language patterns).

Meaning and Root of ‘Try

It’s good to understand both the meaning of the word and its etymology (where it came from, its root). The root word can often gives us insight into how the brain interprets the word.

Try’ means to attempt or to test, as in a legal trial to try on clothes. ‘Attempt’ means to attack something using force. The root or source of ‘try’ is a little uncertain,  but the implication is that I’m going to have to use force against something which is going to resist me.  So for example if I try to stand up, my expectation is that gravity  or some other force is going to try to keep me in my chair.

So at best ‘try’ is full of effort and struggle, while ‘do’ it is easy and effortless.

Putting the word ‘try‘ to use

You should always be on the listen-out for the word ‘try’ whether from your clients or in general conversation, because it means the person speaking doesn’t expect to be able to succeed and therefore probably won’t. So don’t get your hopes up on them doing what ever they are going to ‘try’ to do.

You can use the word ‘try’ yourself in a strategic way. For example if you put your client into trance and wish to show them that they are indeed hypnotized using a convincer such as an eye-lock you might say, “And when the muscles around your eyes are totally relaxed, I would like you to try and open them…”  In this situation their ‘failure’ to open their eyes means they have succeeded in going into trance.

The bigger picture

‘Try’  is one of a large class of hypnotic language patterns which include presuppositions. Presuppositions all things which are assumed but not explicitly stated. Here, the word ‘trypresupposes failure.

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