Change can be hard; change can be overwhelming; change can be exciting. Or it can be a combination. It depends on our outlook.
The one thing we do know, however, is that change happens.
I’d never been good with change…until I learned about NLP.
I remember waking up one day when I was 15 years old and feeling the strangest sensation in the pit of my stomach. It was so uncomfortable and it kept rising up through my chest and to my throat, then would rush back down and start again.
It felt like a snake was wriggling inside me.
I thought I was a freak.
Despite trying to ignore the feelings and dive back under my duvet, I couldn’t stay in the tormented state any longer so I ended up jumping out of bed and racing to get myself ready for the day ahead.
What I didn’t realise at the time was that metaphorical snake had been my anxiety coming back with a vengeance: that morning was the start of 2 weeks of work experience in a new environment, with new people, away from the routine of school. And it was a change from my ‘normal’.
Later that day I’d tried to gauge whether my close friend who was going to be at the same work placement had felt the same way that morning. But after 30 seconds, and judging by the blank expression on her face, I realised that she couldn’t relate to my feelings at all.
So I spoke no more about it and suffered in silence for the next 2 weeks, even though the people at my work experience placement were very kind and welcoming.
I was reminded of this series of events when I worked with a lovely student last week who’ll be starting university in September. When she came to see me, she was nervous about studying in a bigger place, making new friends and being in a new environment. And her worries and concerns also reminded me of when I was about to start university in London I won’t-tell-you-how-many-years-ago-now.
One of the NLP processes this student (who I’ll call Zara for confidentiality’s sake) and I worked through is Perceptual Positions. It’s one of my favourite NLP techniques because when I personally experienced it for the first time, I learned so much about how I was presenting myself to others, that a situation I’d been grappling with at work seemed to resolve itself very quickly.
Of course, it didn’t resolve by itself.
As the saying goes, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” (Henry Ford). What had actually happened was that I had been able to take the valuable learnings from the exercise and used them to modify some of my actions and behaviours slightly in my everyday life. In turn, this led to a different, and more positive, outcome at work.
The Perceptual Positions process can be used in both personal and professional situations. It’s based on putting yourself in others’ shoes – from 4 or 5 different perspectives on a situation – and view things from others’ internal map of the world.
This NLP exercise helps you explore solutions you may not have thought of before. It can help with conflict resolution, transformational resolution, planning future success, understanding others, managing challenging situations amongst other things. It allows you to step out of a problem and find solutions from detached points of view.
Now back to Zara: As she got into a relaxed state and began the exercise, moving around different parts of the room, almost literally putting herself into the position of her peers and looking at the situation through the eyes of a fly on the wall (yes – NLP is a superpower!) she began learning so much about herself and others. She described the process to be “an eye-opener” and “almost magical.”
(NLP does feel like magic sometimes. Of course, it’s not, but it’s something that can open your mind to new and exciting things. It certainly has for me and many others).
So after our time together, Zara left the session:
• a LOT calmer
• with new insights about herself and other students who would be starting the university course alongside her
• empowered to have been able to devise a PLAN of action to help her navigate her first few days at university.
It feels so good to be able to help people who are struggling in the way I did for many years!
There are so many things that can be done to help us when we’re stressed and anxious. Sometimes we just need a helping hand and someone to show us the way.
If you or someone you know is experiencing anxiety about going/returning to school, college or university, contact me via my this website or text me and we can discuss, in confidence, how I can coach you to beat anxiety and embrace success in any area of your life.