The title does suggest that much is being crammed in to this blog entry, it certainly does not fail to deliver on that suggestion in my wholly biased opinion… And I am hoping to do the same all week long as we step into Christmas, as Elton John would say…
I think most therapists have a good awareness of a set of four basic questions designed to examine all facets of a presenting goal or desired outcome. They were first highlighted by Descartes and are referred to as Cartesian logic questions. They go something like this:
1. What would happen if you did?
2. What would happen if you didn’t?
3. What wouldn’t happen if you did?
4. What wouldn’t happen if you didn’t?
Of course, they are made relevant to the subject matter you are examining.
Really the question we are looking at today is the second one – what would happen if you didn’t?
So when thinking about desired outcomes for yourself, what cost comes with not achieving it? It really does tend to have the respondent looking at the pain rather than the gain, or the pleasure. Sadly, people do get greatly motivated by fear and moving away from things they fear or want to avoid, so the question can get people driven and taking action.
However, there are other ways of having that depth of realisation. Rather than just asking the question, how about actually taking a person to experience, fully, what will happen if they don’t achieve that thing (goal, desired outcome etc).
In NLP circles, this process today is often referred to as the Dickens Pattern, which is what makes it topical the week before Christmas.
You will begin to realise why this exercise is called the Dickens Pattern (with reference to the ghost showing Scrooge some different futures) as you notice that the idea of this exercise is to show you two very real possibilities for your future. Two distinct pathways that you could take for your life this very day.
Have a think about something that you do that you are maybe not motivated to change about yourself. Prior to running through this technique, just have a think about something that you know you need to be doing, but are not. Then with that thing in mind, follow these simple steps.
Step One: Get yourself nice and relaxed and settled. Concentrate on your breathing, engage in the moment and spend some time being still, quiet and drift inside of your own mind.
As I seem to say a lot, if you want to learn how to do this really well, have a look at my self-hypnosis masterclass or book to help you do this. Or follow one of the many processes offered up on this website for learning how to induce hypnosis in yourself.
Step Two: Use your imagination to imagine walking down the path of your life.
Ok, I know that some of you just cried out “but I can’t visualise!” First up, if you believe you can’t then of course you can’t. Second up, as I have said in many previous entries in this blog, just imagine these things. They do not have to be in cinema screen perfect detail. You can remember what colour what your front door is, right? You can remember what your childhood bedroom is like, right? That is your imagination doing that. You know the sound that your feet make when you walk across gravel don’t you? You can imagine it, but you are not hearing it in your ears are you? Just imagine these things as best as you can. Failing that, pretend that you are imagining them and that will do the trick.
So, as you imagine walking along the path of your life, notice that every step forwards is a minute, an hour or a day into your future. If you look back, you will notice that your past is there; everything you have ever done or experienced is behind you.
Become aware of the temperature, the sights, the sounds and enjoy walking along the path of your life. Make it sensory rich and get comfortable with the idea. Imagine the feeling of your feet walking along the path and the sound they make. Engage with the idea of really being there.
Step Three: Imagine that a few more steps ahead there is a place where the path splits, where is goes off to the left and off to the right. Pause here for a few moments and have a think. Here, there are two different pathways, two possibilities, two ways that you could choose to go.
If you were to choose the path to the left, life is pretty much the same as it is. You carry doing the same things, living the same way and dealing with this thing in the same way as you have been doing.
If you were choose the path to the right, the right path, there are new possibilities, achievement, freedom of mind, positive and progressive implications. Think about that as you stand at this place where the path splits. You want to make a decision and commit to one of these paths. Before you make that decision, we are going to see what each path holds for your future.
Step Four: Step out on to the path to your left. Where there is no change.
Briefly imagine that you are not going to live and discover your unfulfilled dreams. Instead, you continue doing what you have in the past. What will life be like in 10 years time?
Step out, every step you take you get older, days pass, weeks pass. Notice how your body is, how your mind is, how you feel about staying on this path. Walk out into your future to the 10 year point. Walk out 10 years into your future and feel how it feels to carry on doing the same thing.
This path is just like today, with one difference: you have 10 fewer years remaining in your life. Think about how you will feel in 10 years if you continue doing the exact same things you have done to date. What will your daily life be like? Really experience that. See what you see, hear what you hear, feel the feelings. Disappointment? Anger? Frustration? Failure? How does that feel? How do you affect those around you? How do they feel?
What is it like if you don’t do that thing? (thing = goal, desired outcome etc)
Absorb every aspect of this path that you can take today if you so choose. Notice everything that you need to know about what it will be like if you carry on with the same behaviour, putting off change.
Drift back to where the path splits.
Step Five: Now take a step out on to the path to the right. This is where you create powerful, progressive change. Notice the sense of freedom in your thoughts, the sense of accomplishment and walk out 10 years into your future.
Imagine you are 10 years into the future but this time it’s different. Why? Because starting today you actually begin making changes in your life. Specific intentional changes are not easy. They are intentional because these changes are changes that you are choosing and they are the changes that will cause you to live the life you want to live and dream. They often mean leaving the perception of security in order to discover your personal freedom. These are the changes that will bring happiness and satisfaction into your life.
Just go there now. 10 years out… having made a decade of changes. Imagine living the life you want to live.
How does that feel inside? Do you feel that you have lived life? See the people of your life and how they feel about you and how they react to you. This is the path of a different choice, a different decision. You have the freedom to be how you want to be.
Absorb all you need from this moment in your future and the positive things that you can learn consciously and unconsciously and then drift and float back to the place where the path splits.
Step Six: Now that you know and have experienced the two contrasting futures. Now that you know what your future holds as a result of what you do this very day, you can make a decision. You can compare and contrast those two futures that can be yours based on a decision that you make about how you are going to live your life.
Imagine reaching deep inside you for all the strength and wisdom that you need to make this decision today. As you do so, imagine that when you choose to make that decision that deep inside your mind you are switching off the alternative path, you are switching off the opportunity to drift back to that place.
Then step out and take your future path.
Absorb yourself in the sensations, the feelings, the sights, the sounds and of course continue to engage in your future the way I have discussed in previous editions of Adam Up.
Step Seven: Open your eyes and begin to plan your future and take action to achieve that outcome. Your unconscious mind now knows what it is working towards.
What is the exact sequence of events that will take you to where you want to be? Have a think consciously of what you need to do. Every outcome begins with the first step.
Then start taking the actions required to achieve that and work towards that.
Use the slightly fear-inducing, motivating, ghostly notion used to change Scrooge from his miserly ways and get yourself driven and inspired into action ready for the New Year ahead.
More tomorrow… And I’ll leave you with a Dickens style festive image:
I’ve seen and used similar before .but this time really like this context and the analogy with Dickens and a Christmas Carol….also the timing with New Year and new opportunity..Thanks
Good to hear from you Geoff, delighted you enjoyed this.
Have a fabulous festive season. Best wishes, A.
Sweet technique and indeed very powerful.
Last week I had my birthday and I spent time doing this, visualizing the steps needed to get the following year the way I wanted it. Then I spent some time seeing what would happen if I didn’t do all these steps and how life would not be as magnificent if I did them.
Thanks Adam for more details on this technique.
Nicely said Roy.
Always a pleasure to hear from you, A.
Hmmm…. but Dickens is giving us a powerful piece of not only social commentary but spiritual transformation. Scrooge is transformed because he fears the chains that Jacob Marley wears, because he experiences his own loneliness and loss of love – but it is only the moment where he becomes aware of his own mortality, where he sees his gravestone, where he is transformed – as he becomes aware that he will have to reap all that he has sown, that his time is up and his chances are gone – that all his wealth and possessions mean nothing in the face of death.
So to model Dickens in self-hypnosis…. go further than 10 years… go to the end of the path – imagine your own funeral. Was it life well lived? From beyond the veil of life stare back at the path of your life and see which path you want.
Done this way (in true Dickens fashion) the commitment to change, the clarification of what is relevant, what is important, what do we really value takes on a greater contrast and momentum.
So a self-hypnosis routine on “Remember your mortality, today you could die” – would perhaps be more on the mark? 🙂
Funnily enough… About 10 years ago, I watched Tony Robbins on stage using this technique to help someone stop smoking, and he came over all fire and brimstone, being very dramatic indeed:
“Now imagine yourself in ten years time, if you carry on smoking… That is, if there is a 10 years time for you…”
It was quite full on and seemed to induce much fear.
I have spoken to other therapists that also took the individual to the end of their days using this, and meeting themselves at that stage…
Must say though, the true Dickens fashion you depict in your comment is as effective as setting the scene as any postcard picture, I like the notion of examining our very mortality with this kind of process.
Thanks for that Mark, very valued contributon indeed!