What kind of a blog title is that today? I’ll do my best to explain in simple terms today… it is ironic that subjects such as NLP aim to show how anyone can communicate elegantly with ease, yet they have subject names like ‘conversational postulates’ or ‘selectional restriction violations’ or talk about people going inside themselves and doing a ‘trans-derivational search’ – which can offer up some quizzical looks and furrowed brows when used in every day conversations…

I watched Richard Bandler talk to someone in a truly remarkable and mind-boggling way at a training of his that I attended when I was much younger… He was using double negatives and I initially found it to be incredibly confusing and also very hypnotic. Straight after I had watched this, I went and bought a recording of his called the Art of Amnesia and memorised every word of him talking in this way…

I found it so exciting and I love using it in therapy and in other areas of my life… He is entirely responsible for me learning it and as I have used it more and as I have read around the subject, when I use it, I have many people get as excited as I was. So I thought I’d share it with you today.

If you can forget, and you can cause other people to forget, you are in a very influential position. It is that seemingly simple skill that is the centre of this way of communicating: the skill of forgetting.

We usually associate forgetting with negativity and treat it as a problem. When we forget, we are often conditioned to believe that it means you didn’t care enough, didn’t pay enough attention in the first place, or that your brain is not functioning properly.

Many people that I encounter believe that for­getting something is beyond their control, or that they simply lack the brain power to have a really effective memory. While that can be true at times, it is not usually the real cause.

People can forget on cue.

What’s more, you can remember anything you want to remember, for how long you want to remember it and then forget it again when you choose to. This sounds like a big, bold set of statements which I hope today’s blog is going to support!

Forgetting is something that very few people do on purpose or have a good conscious control of and so can seem like an alien concept.

Ok, so how many times have you heard someone say, “oh, forget it…”? People have instructed you to forget something you were planning to remember. On occasions, you’d do so and move your attention elsewhere. Other times, it’d make you want to think about it and remember it even more!

In fact, you can come to a rather clever conclusion by yourself. You can remember about forgetting. That is, in order to forget anything, you have to remember the process of forgetting, don’t you?

If you can forget little things during your day-to-day existence, like when you meet someone and you forget their name, or you go into a room in your house and forgot what you went there to do, or went to dial a telephone number you use all the time and for some reason on this occasion you forgot, then one more little thing should not be too difficult to forget either, should it?

How about if you could forget the negative feelings that argument left you with yesterday evening? Would it be useful with that relationship? Would it help you focus on something more productive in your life?

What if you could forget you had a headache?

I am certain you can recall a time when you had a headache and then sud­denly you focused on something else or occupied your mind on something important and you simply forgot your headache?

What about if you forgot you smoked? I encounter loads of smokers who say they can go for an entire week while they are with certain family members and not even think about cigarettes, yet they remember their habit when they return home and have some stimulus for their memory of that habit.

Here is a key thing that Richard Bandler said that day on stage that rang in my ears for days after. There is no pain if you don’t remember to have it. I love that.

Pain happens because something is not right. The pain is the re­sponse to make sure that you are aware that something is not right with your body and you’re going to need to find some kind of remedy for it.

Once you have done all the actions needed to help your body get on the road to healing, you can plan to forget the pain. And when you do, if you can’t remember it, it is not a problem anymore, is it?

I can remember damaging my leg in a football match and it was not until the game was over that my leg hurt. There are many documented experiences of soldiers that lose a limb or are hurt by flying bullets or shrapnel and they do not feel the pain until hours lat­er, until the battle is over. That is being able to forget, whether for a few moments or longer periods of time, it is useful when used safely and appropriately.

Now you are sure to have noticed something happen before. That sometimes, when you are really trying very hard to forget something, you end up remember it even better and it gets in the forefront of your mind even more. Forget the name “Adam Eason.” Go on, forget it now.

It is incredibly difficult for people to forget consciously. If you live here in the UK for example, try to forget the telephone number 999. It is virtually impossible to forget it. it is the number we use to dial emergency services.

If you are a citizen of the UK, would it ever be useful to forget that number? No. It is not useful, and that is why people do not forget it.

If it is important enough it will stay, usually on its own. If it doesn’t stay on its own (like massive hypnotherapy text books with small print you need to read to complete your training homework on my diploma course!), you should make a point to remember it.

You can plan to forget.

You can make a point to yourself that you want to forget something. It is much easier than you may have thought.

Before we move on to the process and technique of todays blog, I wanted to mention something about all this. Any of you budding hypno­tists now thinking about doing Derren Brown-like demonstrations at parties making people forget stuff need to bear in mind that, unless the individual approves of what you are doing, you are not going to meet with a great deal of success.

By “approved” of it, I mean that they have approved the communication between the two of you. That means that you have taken on a trusted role within the communication and prepared them accordingly. Which is a lot easier to do if you are a trainer or a hypnotherapist who already holds the trust of those being worked with. So it is a lot easier for me to demonstrate this at trainings than use it in real-life…

In my hypnotherapy practice, my clients and I have sometimes felt it to be in the client’s best interest to forget the content of some of the work we have done, so that they will not sabotage it further down the line, or if it has been upsetting.

As I wrote in my hypnotic salesman book; you may want the client to ignore your competitors.

If you are a parent, you may want your child to forget a traumatic episode for a while.

There are many more useful examples, I am sure you can think of many.

So how do we do this? Let me explain.

Before I offer up a step-by-step process, I am going to repeat here in writing, what I actually often say in training or in therapy to help you understand the context of how this is used.

It works like the digital, binary code of computers with everything being reduced to 1 or 0. The only difference here being that when a 0 is used, it represents minus 1.  It is absolutely influenced by Bandler because I learned this from him and his recordings. This is typical of something I’d say when discussing an unwanted bad feeling that someone keeps having in relation to a particular circumstance. It is a Richard Bandler styled as I got all the patterns I use from his transcripts:

Think for a moment of a situ­ation in your past that would be useful for you to forget, maybe an event that left you with uncomfortable feelings or unwanted thoughts.

There’s a neurological process that holds the key. You can use this key whenever you choose because, if you’re trying to remember something right now, or even better, if you just stop and you start to think about that specific situation (whichever that is) in which you had that feeling, then, you must know, just before that specific situations started, you didn’t even have that feeling, yet!

So how come you could re­member to remember that feeling long after the event has dissolved into the past, into that place in your personal history that is almost always hidden?

Up until now, this way I am talking might initially seem very confusing. It is a lot less confusing when you consider all these terms. Forgetting, remembering and things that are not yet what you need them to be in order to remember them… Confusion, however, and this con­fusion is included obviously, is the golden root to a more deeper and long lasting understanding of how we can remember and forget.

Now, I don’t know if you are al­ready aware of it or just about to be aware of it, but if you think of where you were in that situation, and instead, if you were to forget to remember what it actually was and instead of that think, how would you do like to feel in that situation?

Maybe all of a sudden, you can now remember what is that you wanted to remember instead of what it was that you couldn’t forget! In fact, I believe it is the other way not-around.

If you want to get more con­fused and blame me for that confusion, go ahead, because we’re going to clear it all up for you. Very clean, even cleaner than what it wasn’t just before.

Think! If you do not remember what it is that you don’t want to remember, then isn’t it clear that you’re remembering to forget what it is that you shouldn’t, or on the other hand, it is very clear, that, what was left is for you to re­member what it is that you want to feel exactly when you want to feel it. Isn’t that not what I’m not saying?

Because now, with that terrible feeling that you didn’t have, well, you know, that you won’t have, but you didn’t want to have, that you used to have until you simply couldn’t remember  what it was. Because if you did remember, it wouldn’t be logical. Because if you remember what it is that you want to feel, then you will!

Now, before we move on, what would you rather feel in that situa­tion?

Because if you think about it, can you remember what it is you feel about any thing, any time or any way? If you know you’d rather feel good or better, because you see, there are times when you re­member to feel bad, then you could forget to remember not to forget to remember any more about this idea. And you do need to do just that, because you have already remembered far too much, so just forget about it!

Listen, if instead of doing what it is that you weren’t doing any­more because you remembered to forget about it, you now choose to do something else, right?

And instead of what it is not, if you for example looked right at what is left, then it would not mat­ter to you, because what is right (point to his right arm) and that is my right (point towards your right arm) but my right is on your left.

You see, it means that you would have to take this entire thing and turn it upside down and inside out and you choose to do something new, so that it grows into a new pattern.

And it can sound confusing, can’t it? What’s left is for you to be able to take the right thing and put it in the right perspective, because if you already have an idea that you don’t want, then there’s no reason to not remem­ber to forget it! And in the future, when it is time to remember, then just remember to feel good!

How easier could we even make it?

This one will be hard to test, because we’d have to remind you of what you forgot. But you could put the memory in an envelope and mail it to yourself if you really want to test this! Just don’t try to bring up the memory right after the session.

I know, it all looks confusing and nonsensical at first. It is so exciting to hear it spoken though. So let me give you a step by step guide to speak this way yourself:
First up, here is the key to the digital bits and pieces:

Plus 1 – to remember

Minus 1 – to forget

Plus 1 – not to forget (= remember)

Minus 1 – not to remember (= forget)

Plus 1 – remember to remem­ber (= remember)

Minus 1 – remember to forget (= forget)

Plus 1 – forget to forget (=remember)

Minus 1 – forget not to forget (= forget)

Plus 1 – you know (= remember or the following is true)

Minus 1 – But instead (= forget or cancel the previous)

And so on.. It’s actually very easy to understand once you have run it through your mind a couple of times… If you want them to keep in mind the piece of information you’ve said or if you want them to accept the suggestion you’re giving them, you end your code with a sum of Plus 1.

If you’d like their minds to forget a behaviour, an unwanted thought or other things, you conclude your talk at Minus 1 (or more). Let me explain in more detail:

Step One: Observe how we do the maths here. First I’ll give you the text, then I’ll break it down for ease of understading.

You see, because it does make all the difference in the world when you discover, that even when sud­denly all kind of things that you simply could remember to remember instead of forget to remember when you wanted to remember to forget what those things were not! It’s easy to under­stand when you learn this digital code of forgetfulness.”
You simply could remember Plus 1
Simply to remember Plus 1
Forget to remember  Minus 1
Remember to forget Minus 1
What those things were not! Minus 1

Sum total = Minus 1

It’s very easy after you practice for a while. I sometimes keep a count of each paragraph with my fingers or thumbs, one digit up for a Plus 1 and another up thumb for the Minus 1. When one of them is up I would know that the equation is not balanced and towards which end it influences the listener.

If you just keep the sum total balanced, it is very hypnotic for anyone to listen to and attempt to keep up with consciously. It sends them off!

Step Two: Now, have a go yourself. Pick a paragraph or a passage from the example I have given earlier here in todays blog and do the plus and minus one process on it, audit it and see where it ends up.

Keep in mind this simple notion:
Plus 1, Minus 1 = 0 (balance)
Plus 1, Minus 1, Plus 1 = Plus 1 (= remember)

Minus 1, Minus 1, Minus 1 = nonsense, unless you want them to remember that you are irritating!

The main thing to keep in mind when you communicate in this fashion, is that you should have a bal­anced set of Plus 1 and Minus 1 statements, and eventually be either Plus 1 or Minus 1 in the end of it, or at least balanced.

So what I’m saying is, going for 10 consecutive Minus 1 statements will not create the effect you would like. You have to create the illusion of balance so their minds won’t be over protective and cancel everything you said. Just as I got excited, a little confused, when I first saw Richard Bandler do this, I also attempted to make sense of what was being said, I did not just switch off.

Once there are almost the same number of Plus 1 statements and Minus 1 state­ments, it would be extremely hard and complex for anyone to keep track of it. If you said ten Minus 1 statements and a single Plus 1 statement, it gets obvious what you’re trying to do and won’t seem at all conversational.

Step Three: Practice, practice, practice.

Use this with clients, colleagues and friends, and get good at keeping score. It does not need to be really complex to be effective.

Step Four: Get feedback.

When practicing, ask afterwards how much they recall and remember and check that is was all coherent. See how well it all works when people are responding to your communication.

Have some fun with this, be ethical and aim to make sense with it and do good with it. I love it and although it may seem complex, can become incredibly simple.