Let’s call him Fred. Fred even got nervous when he just talked about his fear of public speaking. As Fred was describing his efforts to overcome his frustrations and fear, he mentioned that he felt like he was banging his head against a wall when it came to resolving his problem. That caught my attention. It seemed to me that Fred was regularly going into some not so resourceful hypnotic states, and that he needed to be hypnotized into a better reality.
Hypnotherapists have long known that the unconscious mind thinks in metaphors, images, dreams and associations. The unconscious mind is also very literal in its understanding of language. It will appreciate every possible literal and metaphorical meaning from a sentence. For example, “He kicked the bucket” will be understood both as, “The person died” and “The person kicked a bucket.”
I asked Fred about his wall. How high was it? What was it made of? How far did it go? Could he walk around it? Climb over it with a ladder? When I asked how high the wall was, and about the possibility of climbing over it, the wall got taller. That wall was going to be stubborn!
The wall was about a foot in front of Fred. It had to be close, of course, because he was “banging his head against it”. Fred was sitting in the recliner in my office, which happens to swivel. So, I told him to leave the wall where it was (I made a hand gesture “holding” the wall in place) as he turned to his right about 90 degrees.
When he turned, I asked Fred, “How is it now that the wall is on your side”?
“It opens up an unlimited vista!” Said Fred. And, from there, it was easy for Fred to imagine speaking well in public, and enjoying it. Once he did that, Fred was able to respond to some simple NLP techniques that helped build a new set of feelings and beliefs that have caused him to speak comfortably in public since. I know, because I heard him speak in public a few weeks later, and he did a fine job. After he spoke, Fred looked over at me grinned, and gave me a thumbs up!