“Sophie” was in her late teens when she first came to see me for a hypnosis session. When she complained in passing that she was getting criticized a lot, I knew just what to do.
In The Heart of the Mind by Connierae and Steve Andreas there is a simple NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) process for turning criticism into emotionally neutral, useful information. It was perfect for Sophie.
The first step was to have Sophie imagine seeing herself sitting in a chair in front of herself. (We’ll call the imagined Sophie “Sophie 2” to make this easier to understand) Sophie 2 was the one who was going to learn how to deal with criticism. Then Sophie imagined a clear bulletproof glass barrier between herself and Sophie 2, because Sophie was going to be completely safe from any harm while Sophie 2 learned.
Sophie 2’s first job was to imagine two TV screens popping up every time she was criticized. Then she learned to automatically put any feedback or criticism on the left hand screen. Sophie 2 then compared the information on the left hand screen to her “understandings” screen on the right. The “understandings”screen showed her current beliefs and understandings about the situation.
The next step for Sophie was to take any valid new information from the criticism screen and add it to her understandings screen. Any untrue information was left on the criticism screen. For example, if someone said, “You bitch! You stepped on my toe!” Sophie would put the information that she had stepped on the person’s toe on her understandings screen. She would notice that she was human, and not a female dog, and leave the “bitch” part off of her understandings screen. The fact that the other person was upset was valid information, so, of course, it was added to Sophie’s understandings screen.
The next steps were for Sophie 2 to respond to the other person appropriately. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to step on you.” And, then she imagined practicing new responses or behaviors based on the new information similar situations in the future. In this case Sophie 2 would imagine being more aware of people around her in a crowded place. After four or five mental rehearsals, the new behaviors became automatic both in her imagination and in the real world.
Well, Sophie 2 has learned a great way to deal with criticism, but what about Sophie?
So, I then Sophie to imagine Sophie 2 melting back into herself so she could have Sophie 2’s learnings. After all, Sophie 2 was an aspect of Sophie all along. It’s only fair that Sophie should benefit from all of Sophie 2’s good work.
I tested Sophie’s new responses to criticism by having her imagine being criticized in a variety of ways, by a variety of people, including the ones who were the most difficult to take, like her parents. Sophie did fine.
The next week when I asked how she had done with criticism since her last visit, Sophie replied that she couldn’t tell, because no one had criticized her!
Sophie had completely transformed criticism into information in just a few minutes by learning the NLP criticism strategy.