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That you can learn to reproduce in your own behavior the technology of Dr. Erickson’s work is not to say that you will become Milton Erickson by virtue of that technology.
The choices that you make when selecting the content to be employed by that technology will be your own, characteristic of you and your personal history, just as Erickson’s choice of content is the unique result of his personal history.
The anology is one of learning carpentry—a master cabinet maker can teach you to use woodworking tools and techniques as skillfuly as he does, but the pieces of furniture that you go on to make with those skills will be a function of your own aesthetics.

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Chocolate and Auditory Folk (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this article, I discussed how many NLP processes seem to be designed primarily for people who have a strong bias for representing their maps of the world in the visual and kinesthetic modalities. Of course, there are processes which include auditory representations and submodalities, for example the deliberate adding of music or other sound effects to the phobia relief process. However, the more carefully we listen to NLP discussions and trainings, the more we fail to hear the beautiful sounds of processes that would reach the ears of those with a strong auditory PRS and help them to change in harmonious ways 🙂
In Part 1, I discussed the visual focus of the Godiva Chocolate Pattern and Yukari Horiguchi’s question: how can we use it to help auditory folk? Being a musician myself, I like to think of myself as having an auditory PRS (although the more I use NLP the easier I find it to move smoothly between all rep systems), so I decided to try out a few things myself.
The Godiva Chocolate Pattern is often used to help people to overcome procrastination and to help them enjoy doing something that they would have to do anyway. For me, I thought about how I procrastinate about chunking down to the smaller details when I’m getting ready for a presentation. I love to ad-lib and to respond to what happens in a training, so while I have the large details and exercises all in place, I often put off the smaller details for as long as possible, and this procrastination can result in some stress – often a few days before the deadline when I rush to get more details into place! I know that I am good at responding to circumstances, and can always produce good results on the spot as long as the big chunks are in place, but I also know that thinking about the smaller details in advance can be very helpful (even if the smaller details don’t actually work out that way in the actual event).
So how do I run the strategy of procrastination in this case? First, there is a trigger in the form of seeing a date on a calendar or a manual or an email (all V triggers). Then I think about creating the details of the training saying to myself things like “I’ve got to fix the translation for this section” or “I have to decide the time limits for each activity on Day 3.” These modal operators of necessity are expressed as words (Ad), and they result in tightening in my chest, shallower breathing, and constricted shoulders. All of these are a Kinesthetic (K) response. When I notice more carefully, I also perceive a strong sigh (exhale of breath) and a slight grinding of my teeth. While both of these have an Auditory (A) element, they can still be considered as primarily K.
I associated into the state even stronger and began to notice that there was a strong A element that seemed to go along with the grinding of teeth. In my mind, I heard the slamming of a prison door shut – a sound of metal slamming against a wall. It would be nice if this auditory element could take me to a successful completion of the strategy but instead it seems to loop back to the Ad/K synesthesia.
So perhaps my strategy that I was running could be written as something like:

… which hopefully shows that there is no nice exit from the strategy but rather a returning to the unpleasant Ad/K synesthesia with occasional reinforcements when I get the visual external stimulus from a calendar or elsewhere – and of course these stimuli get more frequent as the deadline approaches with the result that the Ad/K gets more and more unpleasant before I actually am forced to exit by either giving up the procrastination or hitting the deadline!
In a rather roundabout way, I have finally come back to the focus of this article, making NLP processes more useful for auditory folk. When I started listening to that prison door slamming shut, I realized that the sound itself wasn’t so unpleasant. In fact, it could be the first note of a tune. Years ago, I remember hearing a hammered dulcimer for the first time and thinking that it was one of the most beautiful instruments that I had ever heard (yes, go ahead and check it out on Google, but do come back to finish this article!). And the hammered dulcimer makes these beautiful sounds by striking metal with a metal or wooden hammer. The first tune that I heard played on a hammered dulcimer was an Irish tune called The Kesh Jig, and I realized that the sound that I used to perceive as a prison door could be more usefully perceived as the first note of the Kesh Jig, which of course, naturally led to the second note and to the rest of the tune, resulting in a very good feeling. This new strategy can perhaps be written as follows.

This is certainly a better place to be because I now feel good about what was previously making me feel bad. It has not however really solved the procrastination problem! I would like that nice tune to lead me directly into action and I haven’t quite figured out that chain yet. I hope to get there in Part 3 of this article. In the meantime. all comments and ideas are welcome in helping me to streamline this strategy, and more generally to utilize the auditory representational system more effectively.

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Chocolate and Auditory Folk (Part 1)

Recently, I saw a lovely demo of an NLP process by Yukari Horiguchi at the NLP Connections Japan meeting in Tokyo. Yukari used to work at Godiva Chocolate and it reminded me of an NLP Process that I occasionally use with clients called The Godiva Chocolate Process. I have found it very useful in helping clients to overcome procrastination. You can find one version of it here.
Like many NLP processes, the Godiva Chocolate process has the client associate into a problem situation, then find a resource in a dissociated situation, and apply the resource to the situation/trigger that used to be a problem until now.
In the process, the client thinks of a task or job that has to be done, but which he or she is procrastinating about, or isn’t really enjoying very much. And if the client has to the job, wouldn’t it be better to enjoy it, to have the same kind of compulsion and enjoyment towards the job as they might have towards something really nice like Godiva Chocolate.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be Godiva (any great chocolate will do, although I recommend European!) or indeed anything else that the client feels compelled towards.
The process is quite similar to the better-known Swish pattern. The client first associates into the problem situation and then opens up a hole in the picture to reveal themselves eating the Godiva chocolate behind. This is carried out enough times that it becomes an automatic response and the good feelings/compulsion attached to the chocolate become attached to the previously unenjoyed task.
Yukari raised a good question. This process is clearly aimed at visual people, but what about people with a strong auditory primary representational system? And indeed, it is not just this process, but many processes in NLP that address the primarily visual person.
In the recent book, Provocative Hypnosis (see review), the author points out that most NLP processes work best with people who have strong V-K synysthesia, and that these type of people are generally spotted by the trainers in workshops and used as workshop demo subjects.
In Part 2 of this article, I will take a look (or listen for!) some ways that we can adapt the Godiva Chocolate process for an auditory PRS and in more general terms, consider how we can make things ‘sound right’ or ‘resonate’ with these people in a way that they can ‘tune into’ the process and really use it to create ‘harmony’.

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Erickson was returning from school one day and a runaway horse with a bridle on sped past him into a farmer’s yard looking for a drink of water. The horse was perspiring heavily. And the farmer didn’t recognize it so we cornered it.
Erickson hopped on the horse’s back. Since it had a bridle on, Erickson took hold of the tick rein and said, “Giddy-up.”
Headed for the road, Erickson knew the horse would turn in the right direction. He didn’t know what the right direction was.
And the horse trotted and galloped along.
Now and then the horse would forget he was on the highway and start into a field.
So Erickson would pull on him a bit and call his attention to the fact the highway was where he was supposed to be.
And finally, about four miles from where Erickson had boarded him, the horse turned into a farm yard and the farmer said, “So the runaway has come back. Where did you find him?”
Erickson said, “About four miles from here.”
“How did you know you should come here?”
Erickson said, “I didn’t know. The horse knew. All I did was keep his attention on the road.”

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The Crow

A Crow, half-dead with thirst, came upon a Pitcher which had once been full of water; but when the Crow put its beak into the mouth of the Pitcher he found that only very little water was left in it, and that he could not reach far enough down to get at it.
He tried, and he tried, but at last had to give up in despair. Then a thought came to him, and he took a pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher.
Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher.
At last, at last, he saw the water mount up near him, and after casting in a few more pebbles he was able to quench his thirst and save his life.

Blog Reviews

Review: Innovations in NLP for Challenging Times

Review: Innovations in NLP for Challenging Times
by L.Michael Hall & Shelle Rose Charvet

The field of NLP has been split pretty badly since Richard Bandler and John Grinder went their separate ways. Bandler and Grinder hold completely different standards for NLP Practitioner Certification and other qualifications, so the field naturally shows the same discrepancy in standards and abilities of practitioners.
Simultaneously, there have been numerous new developments in NLP over the last 20-30 years and sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether they are to be considered new areas of study/business or whether they are an extension of the basic concepts of NLP. To some degree, NLP is always going to suffer from this distinction because there is no clear distinction between the modelling that constitutes NLP and the techniques that it models and then later can incorporate into the NLP model itself. For example, many of the techniques modelled from Virginia Satir and Milton Erickson have become basic NLP techniques and concepts, although some NLP people might argue that what was important was the modelling process itself, and not the results.
A book like this, Innovations in NLP for Challenging Times, goes some way towards resolving both of these issues, and Michael Hall and Shelle Rose Charvet are to be greatly commended on the scope of their vision and the clean execution of a book that draws together ideas and concepts from a large number of very diverse thinkers in the field of NLP
Over the last 10 years, I have tried to keep abreast of what is happening in the field of NLP, and I wish that this book had been available for me. Rather than burrowing around on multiple websites and other books to find out about Metastates, provocative therapy, symbolic modelling and much much more, this book offers a large number of these ideas in a well-presented and highly readable style.
I recommend this book to anyone who has a good grounding of the traditional ideas of NLP and wants to see how the field has moved forward. The presentation of the ideas in this book is more coherent than the complex and rich real world of NLP, but a book like this offers a map, which is not the territory, but sure is useful in showing how the true potential of NLP could be realized.

Other Stories

Sucking Your Thumb

A doctor told me that six year old Billy sucked his thumb and would I come out to the house and put Billy in a trance and make him stop sucking his thumb? So I made a house call. Billy had been told that Dr. Ericsson was going to come and he was going “to STOP you from sucking your thumb”. And Billy was very antagonistic towards me. I turned to the doctor’s wife and said
“Now, Billy is MY patient, and Mother you are a nurse and you know a nurse should not interfere with a doctor’s orders. And Doctor, you’re a physician and you know you don’t interfere with another doctor’s patient.” They were sitting there rather startled and I said, “Billy, I have something to say to you. Your father and mother wanted me to come out here and put you in trance and make you stop sucking your thumb. But Billy, EVERY six year old boy, EVERY six year old girl is entitled to suck their thumbs as much as they want to. Of course, the day is£OMING when you’ll be a big seven year old and you won’t want to suck your thumb when you’re a big kid, seven years old. As long as you’re a little kid and want to suck yourself I want you to keep sucking your thumb.” Billy looked very happy—his parents rather bewildered. Billy’s birthday was coming up in less than two months and two months is a long, long time for a six year old kid. And Billy stopped sucking his thumb BEFORE he got to be a big seven year old. Why shouldn’t he

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I told a lawyer that I wanted him to climb Squaw Peak and take his four year old son along with him. He said, “You want me to carry four year old David up the mountain?” I said, “No … I want you and David to climb Squaw Peak, and what YOU’RE climbing for is to get an education . . . and come in tomorrow and tell me about your education.” He came in the next day feeling very sheepish. He said, “I got my education. I was pooped before I was halfway up, and David was making side trips here and side trips there and kept yelling at me ‘Hurry up, Daddy, hurry up!’ ” I said, “In other words, haven’t you been a little bit overprotective of that child?” He said, “I sure have. He can handle himself better than I can handle MYSELF.

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Thomas Edison

It is said that Thomas Edison tried three thousand different materials in search of the perfect material for the filament of his light bulb. When none worked satisfactorily, his assistant complained, “All our work is in vain. We have learned nothing.”
Edison replied very confidently, “Oh, we have come a long way and we have learned a lot. We know that there are two thousand elements which we cannot use to make a good light bulb.”

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The T-Shirt Boy

Many years ago, I visited Thailand – a wonderful country. The people are so friendly, the prices are reasonable, and the weather is great.
One evening I went to a little outdoor market where a small boy was selling t-shirts. He couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7 years old, but he was a fine little salesman. He was jabbering away in Thai to a couple of folks when I arrived and they both bought a t-shirt. Then there was a Japanese guy in front of me, and the little boy switched to Japanese – not good Japanese by any means, but he was able to say a few words – enough to get another sale.
When I came up, he saw my white face and he immediately switched into English.
“Hello Sir, how are you Sir. You like t-shirts, Sir?”
And within just a couple more minutes, he had sold me five t-shirts and given me this story and lesson free.
He was flexible – he could jump from one language to another to match the customer, and even if he only knew a few words, he was flexible enough to use his gestures to get the rest of the meaning across. That little kid could change his behavior to be flexible to sell just about anyone!
You could see that this little guy was thinking about how his current goal fit into the rest of his life. Selling a t-shirt meant getting money and that was a very good thing. Sure, he made mistakes in his communication, but he didn’t lose anything by making mistakes. In fact, it was an opportunity to improve his language skills, too!
He was in a good state. He clearly enjoyed selling those t-shirts and his face was wearing a beautiful smile throughout. Sure it was work – but he enjoyed it – he was relaxed and focused and in a good state.
And he had a very clear outcome had a clear goal of what he wanted – he wanted to sell t-shirts, as many t-shirts as possible and that outcome was in the front of his mind at all times.
The little kid was also paying very close attention to the reactions of his customers and potential customers. When the Japanese man looked away for a moment, that kid noticed and made sure that he changed his behavior to get his attention back again. And he seemed able to look in all directions for potential customers and somehow draw them in to his stand.
Finally, that kid was a do-er. He had decided that he wanted to sell t-shirts, and that is exactly what he was going to do, so he took the appropriate actions to sell those t-shirts.
©Copyright 2012 by Brian Cullen