It all happened some twenty odd years ago, before I ever learned anything about NLP, (NeuroLinguistic Programming), or hypnosis. I was visiting some relatives, one of whom was Granny, a “sweet little old lady” in her upper eighties. One day she walked in and, uncharacteristically, started to tell me what she thought of me and my shortcomings in no uncertain blunt, rude, and unpleasant terms.
Apparently Granny had started hanging out with the wrong crowd at Sunday school, and had picked up some undesirable attitudes and behaviors. Perhaps you have met a few of those elder “bad crowd” types. They are the ones who think that they can say whatever they darn well please, because they are so old that no one would dare challenge them.
I recognized the blunt beyond rudeness oldster routine immediately. And, I thought to myself, “OK, I’ll play too.” So, I replied in kind to Granny. I looked her straight in the eye just the way she had done with me. I spoke to her in no uncertain terms in a tone of voice similar to hers.
Granny’s response took me completely by surprise.
She sniffed. Her whole body stiffened, and she stalked out of the room without a word, and she never acted in that offensive way again. Granny went back to being a “sweet little old lady” for the last decade of her life. I had no intention of affecting the old lady that way, I was really surprised by Granny’s response.
As I reflect back on that incident now, after years of practicing NLP and hypnosis, I realize what must have happened.
By mirroring her rudeness back to her the way that I did, I interrupted her new habit while it was in progress in a way that shocked and startled her. My experience with Granny illustrates one of the principles of NLP and Ericksonian hypnosis. If a habit is interrupted enough times, or if it is interrupted suddenly and dramatically enough, the habit will disappear.