Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Practical NLP... or... The Right Trousers 

I can't believe I'm posting this…

This is going to sound bizarre, silly, laughable… but… I bought The Right Trousers.

OK, the story first, then the lesson.

I went shopping yesterday lunchtime and bought some new trousers and a shirt to wear to work. I was getting bored with the semi-formal – not to say stuffy - conventional office attire so I thought I’d go more casual. More in keeping with the persona who appeared from somewhere and started writing this blog, than with the Dilbert-like person who goes to meetings and writes technical reports. It know this sounds silly and I shouldn't allow myself to be so influenced by external factors, but there's no doubt I felt a lot better for it. More whole, more free, more able to be me.

It wasn't until I was cycling home that the penny dropped - I often find that when I'm cycling home my brain must be going through a sifting and filing of the day's events similar to that which occurs when we sleep and dream. I think this whole trouser thing was an example of NLP anchoring.

About 7 years ago I discovered for myself the truth of the idea that instantaneous personal change is possible, just by exercising choice. I was working for a very charismatic boss at the time, and she was leaving at the end of the week. I'd already learned a huge amount from her, and knowing she was leaving, the relationship was going through some subtle changes. We talked a lot more openly about many things – her philosophy, ideas about personal limitations and personal power. Anyway, her leaving somehow allowed something to be released, to come to fruition, that had been growing steadily over the previous few months.

I remember quite clearly the moment of realisation that change was possible. Later in the evening after farewell drinks I was standing in a muddy field on a Scout campsite at 11.30 at night waiting to pick up some Scouts after an event. I remember it so clearly because in that moment, coincident with the realisation, came the reality of change. All I had to do was swap one set of beliefs about self for another set. It really is that simple.

And I was wearing a pair of trousers almost identical to those that I bought yesterday, and doing so for almost identical reasons.

So I think an association was created in my mind. I'm not going to try and explain NLP anchoring here (I couldn't anyway because I only know what I’ve read in one book), but in essence it's a way of creating a physical trigger that can allow the power of previous positive experiences to be recaptured and translated into the present. So something as sublime as personal transformation can be anchored to something as ridiculous as a pair of trousers.

The change doesn't necessarily stick, but that doesn't make it any less real. Over time, some of those self-limiting beliefs have crept back in. Making the choice a second time though is scary. Freedom isn't comfortable. Once bitten, twice shy.

Silly? Fanciful? Maybe. Whatever, the conveyor belt just stepped up a gear.

Oh, and in the stunningly unlikely event that you read this, thanks Sue, I haven't forgotten.

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