As a hypnotherapist, I hear my fair share of sweeping pessimistic declarations made by clients about their own lives. My daughter never listens to me. I’m completely unable to relax at work. My boyfriend totally ignores me. I’ve been depressed for 15 years. And so on.
It’s understandable: When we’re struggling emotionally in some way, we tend toward hyperbolic generalization. But we also need to question our own perceptions. When I ask the client who claims never to relax at work to pinpoint a time of day at work when he does feel relaxed, he talks about lunch, about break room conversations, and about a period in the late afternoon when things are slowing down. When I ask the client with the reportedly inattentive boyfriend when he does pay attention to her, she talks about Friday night hangouts, a recent weekend in San Diego, and about the massages he gives her after a tense day at work. You get the idea: Things are not always/never/totally/constantly any one way.
The NLP Meta Model of therapy, created by NLP practitioner Richard Bandler (who studied the work of famous hypnotherapist Milton H. Erickson, among others), provides a set of questions that can help you recognize that your thinking is faulty and causing you grief (for instance, You always feel anxious? Really, always?). The Meta Model indicates that conditions such as depression and anxiety are often thinking problems. In the same way that the Meta Model provides a set of questions that can help you identify the errors in your thinking, David Burns’ work on cognitive errors in Feeling Good allows you to question the thoughts that may be making you unhappy.
Take the thought, People always see me as a failure. You can deconstruct this belief by using the following Meta Model questions:
How do you know?
What do you mean by failure?
Answering these questions will cause you to qualify, and modify, your own thinking. You can then replace the old thought with better ones:
It’s actually only a few people that I believe see me this way.
This belief on my part is questionable.
I can’t presume to read other people’s minds.
I have succeeded a number of times in my life.
A perceived failure on my part is really only feedback. I can learn from this feedback to be better next time.
You're reading the Bad Thoughts Blog, which maintains that feeling good is as simple as thinking a better thought. I'm Debbie Covino, hypnotherapist, coach, speaker, author, and creator of the All Day Hypnosis© series, available at www.hypnotic-wellbeing.com
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