Jan 152012

Trujillo, Peru

A week ago I posted an update on my new years resolutions. Some things had been going well, others definitely needed more work.

After posting that I got a very sweet reply from my friend Annejet, on how I was being too harsh on myself and that I couldn’t expect improvement in so many different areas after only a single week.

That did get me thinking though (it’s not that difficult to get me thinking. Getting me to stop again, there’s the challenge!).

Should change be difficult? Should it be hard to adjust? Everybody always seems to think it should be and there are many examples of it being very difficult (I know people who tried again and again to stop smoking).

A prime example of what I am afraid of.

Because of my resolution to face my fears I have been reading up on fear quite a bit. One very interesting thing I found was on phobias. A phobia is a disproportional fear reaction which in general is formed from a single occurrence. A single barking dog can create a life-long phobia of dogs. Thus, it is possible to learn something (a fear) “perfectly” in a single go.

I also remember studying on a piece of music for a long time and being unable to play the piece properly. Then suddenly, without any warning, I would suddenly “get it”. Perhaps the studying is required, but the “change” of being able to do it was very sudden.

So there are instances where change can be very quick. I prefer to think that it is in fact always possible to change quickly. The question then becomes one of “how do I learn (teach myself) to change quickly?”

For anybody interested in NLP I would recommend the books by the founders of NLP, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, with such interesting titles as “Using your brain for a change” and “Frogs into princes”.
I’ve been trying some of the techniques suggested in the book on fear, which are derived from NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming. It’s about as weird as it sounds, but slightly less scary. It sort-of involves brain-washing, but I’m doing it myself, so that’s OK. And everybody who knows me to any degree knows what a dirty mind I’ve got and that it could use a good washing!). They involve dissociating from fearful events (if you form a picture in your head you can choose to look through your own eyes (associated) or to see yourself in the picture (dissociated). Dissociation creates far more distance than association) and “running a scary movie backwards” (I’m afraid of heights, more specifically falling off of them. This manifests itself in my head as a movie of me standing on a cliff and falling down. Running that movie backwards (flying up from the ground and ending up standing on a cliff wall) actually makes it fun! How can something that is fun be scary?).

Results so far have been positive! In Huaraz I had the chance to look down some reasonably high cliffs. I’m still careful, but the gut-wrenching, cold-sweat-inducing, looking-death-in-the-face feelings are (almost) gone!

I’ll keep you updated if this works equally well for other instances where I would like to change as well.