Once there was a wise old man
He was so wise he could answer any question anyone ever asked him, no matter how difficult.
One day, two young people were talking and they said, “We’re going to fool that old man. We’ll catch a bird, and go to the old man, and say, ‘This that we hold in our hands today, is it alive or is it dead?’ If he says ‘Dead,’ we’ll turn it loose and let it fly, and if he says ‘Alive,’ we’ll crush it.”
Your Life in Your hands?
Sometimes it can feel as if your own life is not in your hands. If you’ve ever set a goal and then not achieved it you’ll know exactly what I mean. It can seem as if someone else is controlling your life, when in actuality you’re just sabotaging yourself! Welcome to what it is to be human! If you’d like to know how to avoid that sabotage, prevent procrastination and achieve your dreams… then read on…
A Systems Approach
As a human being, you are part of many systems;
A system is a set of connected things or parts forming a complex whole; a family, a team, a workforce, a committee, a road or rail network, the weather, a forest etc.
Even your body is a complex system.
When you change something within a system it affects other parts of the system
Even small changes or the introduction of something new can have a major impact. The birth of a new baby changes the dynamics of a family. Eating certain foods can cause indigestion, stomach ache, headache and skin problems for some.
And for a more wide reaching impact, notice how the introduction of the internet has disrupted the postal service, the film and music industries, how we communicate and how we purchase goods and services.
If you try to make a change that is at odds (or not compatible) with other parts of a system it is less likely to ‘hold’. And if you are successful in making the change or achieving a goal that conflicts with the rest of the system, you risk creating problems in other areas of that system.
An example of an unfortunate, non-compatible change was the introduction of stoats and ferrets to control rats New Zealand. The devastation that this initiative has had on New Zealand’s native bird population is horrifying.
So, if you want your goal to have some legs, you’ll want to make sure it’s compatible; that it’s going to fit with all the diverse systems that make up your life. If it’s not a good fit, you’ll sabotage yourself – or create problems down the track. Sabotaging the goal is a way of maintaining your current compatibility.
So how do you avoid self-sabotage and make sure any change will be ecological for you and those systems of which you’re a part?
I’m so glad you asked!
What follows are some ways practical ways of testing compatibility using NLP. Before reading on, it would be useful if you had some goal in mind or change that you’d like to make. That way, what follows will be more meaningful. However, I have used an example to make it clear how this works.
Think of the goal or the change you’re trying to make.
My example goal/change is: “I want to feel confident and state my point of view in meetings.”
Now ask yourself these questions:
- I’ll feel better about myself.
- I’ll be glad I was able to speak up instead of feeling resentful afterwards.
- Others will gain a different opinion of me.
- I’ll feel like I’m contributing.
- I’m getting out of my comfort zone.
“What will you lose when you … (insert your goal or change)?
(You will always lose something, so please consider this question fully) Using the example again,
“What will you lose when you feel confident and state your point of view in meetings?” Answers might include:
- My feeling of being on the outer circle.
- My feeling of insecurity.
- My nervousness about wanting to speak, but not being able to.
- I might lose some friends because I’m behaving differently.
(Optional – depending on the answer to 2.)
“How can you overcome what you’ll lose and still achieve (insert your goal or change)?”
In my example, most of what I’ll lose I’m going to be happy about. But losing friends because I’m behaving differently doesn’t seem particularly positive. So when I consider this question in relation to my answer, I come up with; “If my current friends can cope with me standing up for myself, well maybe it’s time to get new friends.”
“What are you gaining now by not having (insert your goal or change) that will change when you have (insert your goal or change)?
I know – this messes with your head! It’s still important to fully consider it.
E.g. “What are you losing now by not feeling confident and stating your point of view in meetings that will change when you do feel confident and state you point of view in meetings?”
- It’s easy for me to say nothing – I don’t have to participate.
- People don’t expect anything from me – they leave me alone.
- I don’t get jobs to do after the meeting.
“What are you losing now by not having (insert your goal or change) that will change when you do have (insert your goal or change)?”
Yes – messes with your head even more!
E.g. “What are you losing now by not feeling confident and stating your point of view in meetings that will change when you do feel confident and state your point of view in meetings?”
- I’m not being considered for a promotion.
- The opportunity to share my unique points of view.
- The respect of my colleagues.
“What are the consequences of not achieving (insert your goal or change)?”
- I won’t be promoted.
- My colleagues won’t know what I think
- I’ll feel like a loser.
“How does having (insert your goal or change) fit with other goals or outcomes you may have?”
E.g. “How does feeling confident and stating your point of view in meetings affect any other goals or outcomes you may have?”
- It fits in well, I’d like to be promoted, so I need to be able to say what I think in these situations.
- It’s a good skill to have in any environment really.
- I think it’ll help me feel confident when I’m singing as well!
“Does (insert your goal or change) fit with your values in this area?
E.g. “Does feeling confident and stating your point of view in meetings fit with your values in this area?”
- Yes because I think openness and honesty are important. But I’m not being open or honest at present because I don’t say anything.
“Does (insert your goal or change) give you more choices and enhance your life?”
E.g. “Does feeling confident and stating your point of view in meetings give you more choices and enhance your life?”
- Yes, because I think it will give me the confidence to speak up in other areas as well, and having confidence is always useful!
“Do you believe (insert your goal or change) is possible and achievable?”
If any of the above questions result in an answer that indicates a possible road block, explore the goal a little more, perhaps change it slightly or try to find ways around it to avoid self-sabotage.
- Do you need to persuade others to help you? If so, how will you do this?
- What do you personally need to do?
- What first steps will you take to achieve (insert your goal or change)?
- What resources (things such as equipment, money, time etc) have you got and what other resources do you need to help you achieve (insert your goal or change)?
- When will you start? (the sooner the better)
Sensualising is like visualising but, as the name implies, it uses all your senses. Sensualising can be extremely useful to ‘experience’ what the goal or change would feel like. Your mind can’t tell the difference between something you imagine and something that’s real. So experiencing your goal in this way can alert you to potential problems.
“Imagine you have (insert your goal or change) now. Step into your body and experience it fully. What do you see, hear and feel?
Using my previous example, “It feels really good, I feel taller. The other members of my team are looking at me differently, they seem to be appreciating what I’m saying, and I can hear positive comments – and some disagreements – but that’s what discussions are for.”
“Does any part of you have any objections to you becoming this person?”
“How does (insert your goal or change) affect your relationships with others; at work, socially, in your family, team etc?”
Reducing the risk
As you can see, it’s a pretty comprehensive process! It’s often easier and more fun to have someone else ask you the questions and write down your answers. Having answered all the questions thoughtfully and honestly, you can rest assured that your goal will be pretty watertight. You can start moving toward it knowing that’s it’s compatible and that you’ve reduced the risk of self-sabotage and procrastination. You will have taken life back into your own hands.
So the young people caught a bird, and they carried it to the old man, and they said, “This that we hold in our hands today, is it alive or is it dead?” And the wise old man looked at the young people and he smiled. And he said, “It’s in your hands.”