Henrietta is a project manager and mother of three. As you can well imagine, she has a lot of items on her to do list every day. She came for hypnosis stress management because she was overwhelmed. She knows people with busy schedules who get a lot done yet who are more relaxed than she is. The difference between Henrietta and her more relaxed and efficient friends is how they anticipate their future.
Neurolinguistic programming is the study of subjective experience. It offers some simple ways to determine the difference between how feelings of overwhelm are created, and the structure of “calm yet busy”.
Usually someone who feels overwhelmed will be imagining all the tasks they need to get done simultaneously. It’s like seeing a collage with 37 items on it. To make it worse, all of them seem urgent! For some saying all of these agenda items can be paralyzing. They may never get started on any of their tasks. They procrastinate because they feel overwhelmed.
For Henrietta, even while she was taking items offer to do list, she was always feeling rushed, as if there wasn’t enough time to get everything done. There is the deadline at work, she has to pick up the kids after soccer practice, and in her “spare time” she has to plan a family vacation with the spouse. Maybe she can get to that after dinner. Keeping that all in mind made her feel rushed and overwhelmed.
I told Henrietta of the story of one of my clients. Anna is a middle manager who always felt rushed at the end of her workday. She consistently felt overwhelmed between 6 and 8 PM. There were things to finish up at work. Then she had to be home to prepare dinner. After dinner she had to shoehorn in some time with her two children. When her little ones went to bed at, 8 PM she was able to relax with her husband until lights out.
I taught Anna how to structure her time in the same way that busy people who move through their days in a relaxed way use. I had Anna imagine all of her upcoming tasks like cascading windows on a computer. The most urgent task for the present is located center front. Upcoming tasks are stacked one on top of the other behind it. Each had a visible tab. That way Anna could see what’s coming up, and in what order. But she didn’t have to be considering the need to get all of the tasks done at the same time.
As I guided Anna to the process, informal hypnosis came into play. I guided her through the process of changing the structure of her future from overwhelm to efficient. The first step, was to determine the structure of Anna’s anticipation of the future. (It was quite similar to Henrietta’s structure) The second step, was to help Anna realize that we can deliberately change the structure of her thinking in ways that made her future planning more pleasant and efficient. The third step was to engage Anna’s imagination to change the structure of her thinking into an efficient model. The final step was to have her to live a day in her imagination as if she had the new structure. This allows us to determine if her new time structure needed to be adjusted. Once once Anna was sure that her new structure was satisfactory, she simply imagined living through several days with the new structure which created her new mental habit.
When I told Henrietta Anna’s story, she went into a shallow hypnotic state, which prepared her to go through the same hypnosis stress reduction process that Anna had.
Going through the process of creating the new time structure and then imagining that living with that new structure operating to order our experience of time creates a mild hypnotic state. That hypnotic state is “informal” because no official technique was used to bring us into hypnosis before going through the procedure.
When I use this approach, I set up the informal hypnosis stress reduction process with stories, hypnotic language, and explanations. Those stories created familiarity with the process that allows clients to follow the step-by-step procedures easily. This kind of informal conversational happens in a hash comfortable, conversational way.
After our session, Henrietta reported that she was a noticeably more relaxed at home and at work. Her office manager even commented on how much more relaxed Henrietta was at the office.
This is only one hypnosis stress reduction technique out of many. Scientific research hypnosis stress reduction has shown the value of various other hypnosis stress reduction techniques.