(All the names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals)
Example 1: John is a Senior Sales Manager in a Telecommunications company. He manages a high-profile team with demanding targets. He came to me because he suffered from frequent migraine headaches and had done since his teenage years. On average he would have 2-3 attacks per month and miss at least one day of work with each attack. He had investigated the condition thoroughly and experimented with cutting various foods out of his diet but never managed to stop the attacks completely.
There is a presupposition of NLP that says ‘Every behaviour has a positive intention’. When working with physical issues I regard the symptoms as the ‘behaviour’ and look for positive intention associated with them. In this case I might have predicted that since John has an introverted personality type he might have a higher than average need for ‘down-time’ and that the migraine headaches created an opportunity for him to withdraw from the world for a while, rest and organise his thoughts before tackling his demanding job again.
I was wrong!
When we discussed the idea of positive intention behind the symptoms he told me he had considered this before but hadn’t identified anything. His comment was ‘it’s so painful I can’t think’.
This proved to be the key to the symptoms. We eventually realised that not being able to think was actually a benefit to him since his habit was to spend a lot of time every day worrying. He said he worried about his job, his children, his wife, their marriage, his pension and the possibility of being made redundant… In fact, he was a world-class worrier!
To test the idea that the purpose of the migraines was to stop him from worrying I asked him if he could give himself a ‘day off ‘ from worry once a week. He agreed to do this. (I have no idea how he did it, but he did!)
He came back a month later to report that he had not had a migraine in the month and that he had stopped worrying for one day a week. He further reported that since he’d noticed that he was more productive on his ‘day off’ he’d actually stopped worrying so much on the other days as well.
Peter was involved in a road accident that left his hip shattered. He was put on traction and told that his bones needed to rebuild and that this would take some time. The joint might grow back smoothly or it might have some irregularities when the healing was complete.
He was advised by an NLP Practitioner to visualise his hip healing perfectly and to do this several times everyday. He was rather sceptical about the value of this but since he was lying on his back with not much to do he decided to have a go.
He says it’s debatable whether he or the surgeon was most astonished when X-rays showed that the joint had healed perfectly!
Linda had trouble sleeping at night. She often stayed up well past midnight and would still have difficulty falling asleep. She slept lightly and would wake easily at the slightest disturbance. This was fine when she was in her twenties but as she approached her mid-forties she had a demanding, stressful job with a lot of responsibility and decided that she needed more sleep.
There were two interventions that made the difference. First we used a NLP technique to install a new habit relating to Linda’s bedtime routine. Instead of looking anxiously at the clock and berating herself for not being sleepy, she began to find relaxing things to do and allow herself to ‘wind down’ naturally.
This certainly helped, but the real breakthrough came when she identified that her habit of staying awake was linked to a distressing childhood experience of the family home being burgled during the night. She realised that since then she had been ‘on watch’ every night to make sure that the same thing didn’t happen again.
By addressing this emotional history, Linda was able to let go of the need to stay awake and began to sleep long and deeply every night.
These are just a few examples of how NLP can be used to support healing, break the habits associated with psychosomatic symptoms and address the underlying causes of health concerns. If you would like to discuss how NLP could be used to help you improve your own health please call me. There is no charge for an initial discussion and you will be given a full estimate of the required investment of time and money before proceeding with any coaching.