How many of you are as certain about being right as you were before trying this different point of view? . . . About three out of 60. So much for your chances of being right when you're certain you are—about 5%.

People have been talking about "points of view" for centuries. However, they've always thought of it as being metaphorical, rather than literal. They didn't know how to give someone specific instructions to change his point of view. What you just did is only one possibility out of thousands. You can literally view something from any point in space. You can view that same argument from the side as a neutral observer, so that you can see yourself and that other person equally well. You can view it from somewhere on the ceiling to get "above it all," or from a point on the floor for a "worm's eye" view. You can even take the point of view of a very small child, or of a very old person. That's getting a little more metaphorical, and less specific, but if it changes your experience in a useful way, you can't argue with it.

When something bad happens, some people say, "Well, in a hundred years, who'll know the difference?" For some of you, hearing this doesn't have an impact. You may just think, "He doesn't understand." But when some people say it or hear it, it actually changes their experience and helps them cope with problems. So of course I asked some of them what they did inside their minds as they said that sentence. One guy looked down at the solar system from a point out in space, watching the planets spin around in their orbits. From that point of view, he could barely see himself and his problems as a tiny speck on the surface of the earth. Other people's pictures are often somewhat different, but they are similar in that they see their problems as a very small part of the picture, and at a great distance, and time is speeded up—a hundred years compressed into a brief movie.

All around the world people are doing these great things inside their brains, and they really work. Not only that; they're even announcing what they're doing. If you take the time to ask them a few questions, you can discover all sorts of things you can do with your brain.

There is another fascinating phrase that has always stuck in my mind. When you're going through something unpleasant, peo-

pie will often say, "Later, when you look back at this, you'll be able to laugh." There must be something that you do in your head in the meantime that makes an unpleasant experience funny later. How many people in here have something you can look back on and laugh at? ... And do you all have a memory that you can't laugh at yet? ... I want you to compare those two memories to find out how they're different. Do you see yourself in one, and not in the other? Is one a slide and one a movie? Is there a difference in color, size, brightness, or location? Find out what's different, and then try changing that unpleasant picture to make it like the one that you can already laugh at. If the one that you can laugh at is far away, make the other one far away too. If you see yourself in the one you laugh at, see yourself in the experience that is still unpleasant. My philosophy is: Why wait to feel better? Why not "look back and laugh" while you're going through it in the first place? If you go through something unpleasant, you would think that once is more than enough. But oh no, your brain doesn't think that. It says "Oh, you fouled up. I'll torture you for three or four years. Then maybe I'll let you laugh."

Man: I see myself in the memory I can laugh about; I'm an observer. But I feel stuck in the memory I still feel bad about, just like it's happening again.

That's a common response. Is that true for many of the rest of you? Being able to observe yourself gives you a chance to "review" an event "from a different perspective" and see it in a new way, as if it's happening to someone else. The best kind of humor involves looking at yourself in a new way. The only thing that prevents you from doing that with an event right away is not realizing that you can do it. When you get good at it, you can even do it while the event is actually happening.

Woman: What I do is different, but it works really well. I focus in like a microscope until all I can see is a small part of the event magnified, filling the whole screen. In this case all I could see was these enormous lips pulsating and jiggling and flopping as he talked. It was so grotesque I cracked up.

That's certainly a different point of view. And it's also something that you could easily try out when that bad experience is actually happening the first time.

Woman: I've done that, I'll be all stuck in some horrible situation and then I'll focus in on something and then laugh at how weird it is.

Now I want you all to think of two memories from your past: one pleasant and one unpleasant. Take a moment or two to re-experience those two memories in whatever way you naturally do. ...

Next, I want you to notice whether you were associated or dissociated in each of those memories.

Associated means going back and reliving the experience, seeing it from your own eyes. You see exactly what you saw when you were actually there. You may see your hands in front of you, but you can't see your face unless you're looking in a mirror.

Dissociated means looking at the memory image from any point of view other than from your own eyes. You might see it as if you were looking down from an airplane, or you might see it as if you were someone else watching a movie of yourself in that situation, etc.

Now go back to each of those two memories, in turn, and find out whether you are associated or dissociated in each one. . . .

Whichever way you recalled those two memories naturally, I want you to go back and try experiencing them the other way, in order to discover how this changes your experience. If you were associated in a memory, step back out of your body and see that event dissociated. If you were dissociated, step into the picture or pull it around you until you are associated. Notice how this change in visual perspective changes your feeling experience of those memories. . . .

Does that make a difference? You bet it does. Is there anyone here who didn't notice a difference?

Man: I don't notice much difference.

OK. Try the following. Feel yourself sitting on a park bench at a carnival and see yourself in the front seat of a roller coaster. See your hair blowing in the wind as the roller coaster starts down that first big slope. . . .

Now compare that with what you would experience if you were actually sitting in the front seat, holding onto the front of the roller coaster, high in the air, actually looking down that slope. . . .

Are those two different? Check your pulse if you don't get more of a zing out of being in the roller coaster looking down the tracks. It's cheaper than coffee, too, for becoming alert.

Woman: In one of my memories it seems like I'm both in it and out of it.

OK, There are two possibilities. One is that you are switching back and forth quickly. If that's the case, just notice how it's different as you switch. You might have to slow down the switching a little in order to do that well.

The other possibility is that you were dissociated in the original experience. For instance, being self-critical usually presupposes a point of view other than your own. It's as if you're outside of yourself, observing and being critical of yourself. If that's the case, when you recall the experience and "see what you saw at the time" you'll also be dissociated. Does either of those descriptions fit your experience?

Woman: They both do. At the time I was self-critical, and I think I was flipping back and forth between observing myself and feeling criticized.

There is even a third possibility, but it's pretty rare. Some people create a dissociated picture of themselves while they are associated in the original experience. One guy had a full-length mirror that he carried around with him all the time. So if he walked into a room, he could simultaneously see himself walking into the room in his mirror. Another guy had a little TV. monitor he'd put on a shelf or a wall nearby, so he could always see how he looked to other people.

When you recall a memory associated, you re-experience the original feeling response that you had at the time. When you recall a memory dissociated, you can see yourself having those original feelings in the picture, but without feeling them in your body.

You may, however, have a new feeling about the event as You watch yourself in it. This is what happens when Virginia Satir asks a question like, "How do you feel about feeling angry?" Try it. Recall a time when you were angry, and then ask that question,

"How do I feel about feeling angry?" In order to answer that question you have to pop out of the picture, and have a new feeling about the event as an observer rather than as a participant. It's a very effective way to change your response.

The ideal situation is to recall all your pleasant memories associated, so that you can easily enjoy all the positive feelings that go with them. When you are dissociated from your unpleasant memories, you still have all the visual information about what you may need to avoid or deal with in the future, but without the unpleasant feeling response. Why feel bad again? Wasn't it enough to feel bad once?

Many people do the reverse: they associate with, and immediately feel, all the unpleasantness that ever occurred to them, but their pleasant experiences are only dim, distant, dissociated images. And of course there are two other possibilities. Some people tend to always dissociate. These are the scientist/engineer types who are often described as "objective," "detached," or "distant." You can teach them how to associate when they want to, and regain some feeling connection with their experience. You can probably think of some times when this would be a real advantage for them. Making love is one of the things that's a lot more enjoyable if you're in your body feeling all those sensations, rather than watching yourself from the outside.

Others tend to always associate: they immediately have all the feelings of past experiences, good or bad. These are the people who are often described as "theatrical," "responsive," or "impulsive." Many of the problems they have can be cured by teaching them to dissociate at appropriate times. Dissociation can be used for pain control, for example. If you watch yourself have pain, you're not in your body to feel it.

You can do yourself a real favor by taking a little time to run through several of your unpleasant memories dissociated. Find out how far away you need to move the pictures so that you can still see them clearly enough to learn from them, while you watch comfortably. Then run through a series of pleasant experiences, taking time to associate with each one, and fully enjoy them. What you are teaching your brain to do is to associate with pleasant memories, and dissociate from unpleasant ones. Pretty soon your brain will get the idea, and do the same thing automatically with all your other memories.

Teaching someone how, and when, to associate or dissociate is one of the most profound and pervasive ways to change the quality of a person's experience, and the behavior that results from it. Dissociation is particularly useful for intensely unpleasant memories.

Does anybody in here have a phobia? I love phobias, but they're so easy to fix that we're running out of them. Look at that. The only people in here with phobias have phobias of raising their hands in an audience.

Joan: I have one.

Do you have a real, flaming phobia?

Joan: Well it's pretty bad. (She starts breathing rapidly and shaking.)

I can see that.

Joan: Do you want to know what it's about?

No, I don't. I'm a mathematician. I work purely with process. I can't know your inside experience anyway, so why talk about it? You don't have to talk about your inside experience to change it. In fact, if you talk about it, your therapist may end up being a professional companion. You know what you're phobic of. Is it something you see, or hear, or feel?

Joan: It's something I see.

OK. I'm going to ask you to do a few things that you can do in your mind really quickly, so that your phobia won't bother you at all, ever again. I'll give you the directions one part at a time, and then you go inside and do it. Nod when you're done.

First I want you to imagine that you're sitting in the middle of a movie theater, and up on the screen you can see a black-and-white snapshot in which you see yourself in a situation just before you had the phobic response. . . .

Then I want you to float out of your body up to the projection booth of the theater, where you can watch yourself watching yourself. From that position you'll be able to see yourself sitting In the middle of the theater, and also see yourself in the still Picture up on the screen. . . .

Now I want you to turn that snapshot up on the screen into a black-and-white movie, and watch it from the beginning to just beyond the end of that unpleasant experience. When you get to the end I want you to stop it as a slide, and then jump inside the picture and run the movie backwards. AH the people will walk backwards and everything else will happen in reverse, just like rewinding a movie, except you will be inside the movie. Run it backwards in color and take only about one or two seconds to do it. ...

Now think about what it is you were phobic of. See what you would see if you were actually there. . . .

Joan: It doesn't bother me now, ... but I'm afraid it may not work the next time I'm really there.

Can you find a real one around here so you could test it?

Joan: Yes, it's of elevators.

Great. Let's take a quick break. Go try it, and report back after the break. Those of you who are skeptical, go along and watch her, and ask her questions, if you want. . . . (For information about videotapes of the phobia cure, see Appendixes II, III, and IV.)

Joan: It's fine. You know, I'd never really seen the inside of an elevator before. This morning I couldn't even step into it, because I was too terrified, but just now I rode up and down several times.

That's a typical report. I almost got nervous one time, though. I was teaching in the Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta, which has a 70-story outdoor elevator. So I just had to find an elevator phobic. I cured this lady and sent her out of the seminar to test it. After about a half an hour I started thinking, "Oh oh, maybe she got up there and can't get down." When she came rolling in about fifteen minutes later, I asked her where she'd been. "Oh I was just riding up and down. It was really fun."

Once an accountant came to me with a phobia of public speaking that he'd been trying to get rid of for sixteen years. One of the first things he told me was that he had a total investment of over $70,000 in trying to cure his phobia. I asked him how he knew this, and he pulled out his therapy briefcase with all the cancelled checks in it. I said, "What about your time?" His eyes widened and he said, "I didn't figure that in!" He got paid about the same rate as a psychiatrist, so he had actually invested about $140,000 trying to change something that took me ten minutes to change.

If you can be terrified of an elevator, and then learn to respond differently, it seems like you should be able to change any pattern of behavior, because terror's a pretty strong behavior. Fear is an interesting thing. People move away from it. If you tell someone to look at something she's terrified of, she can't look at it. However, if you tell her to see herselflooking at it, she's still looking at it, but for some reason she can do it that way. It's the same as the difference between sitting in the front seat of a roller coaster and sitting on a bench seeing yourself in a roller coaster. That is enough for people to be able to change their responses. You can use the same procedure with victims of rape, child abuse, and war experiences: "post-traumatic stress syndrome."

Years ago it took me an hour to work with a phobia. Then when we learned more about how a phobia works, we announced the ten-minute phobia cure. Now I've got it down to a few minutes. Most people have a hard time believing that we can cure a phobia that fast. That's really funny, because I can't do it slowly. I can cure a phobia in two minutes, but I can't do it in a month, because the brain doesn't work that way. The brain learns by having patterns go by rapidly. Imagine if I gave you one frame of a movie every day for five years. Would you get the plot? Of course not. You only get the meaning of the movie if all those pictures go by really fast. Trying to change slowly is like having a conversation one word a day.

Man: How about practice, then? When you create a change once, like with Joan, does she have to practice?

No. She's already changed, and she won't have to practice, or think about it consciously. If change work is hard, or takes much practice, then you're going about it in the wrong way, and you need to change what you're doing. When you find a path without resistance, you're combining resources, and doing it once is plenty. When Joan went into the elevator during the break, she didn't have to try not to be terrified. She was already changed, and that new response will last as well as the original terror.

One of the nice things about someone with a phobia is that she's already proved that she's a rapid learner. Phobics are people who can learn something utterly ridiculous very quickly. Most people tend to look at a phobia as a problem, rather than as an achievement. They never stop to think, "If she can learn to do that, then she should be able to learn to do anything."

It always amazed me that someone could learn to be terrified so consistently and dependably. Years ago I thought, "That's the kind of change I want to be able to make," That led me to wonder, "How could I give someone a phobia?" I figured that if I couldn't give someone a phobia, I couldn't be really methodical about taking it away.

If you accept the idea that phobias can only be bad, that possibility would never occur to you. You can make pleasant responses just as strong and dependable as phobias. There are things that people see and light up with happiness every single time—newborns, or very small children will do it for nearly every one. If you don't believe it, I have a challenge for you: find the toughest, meanest-looking dude you can find, put a small baby in his arms and have him walk around inside a supermarket. You follow a couple of steps behind and watch how people respond.

I want to warn you about something, however: the phobia cure takes away feelings, and it will work for pleasant memories, too. If you use the same procedure on all your loving memories of being with someone, you can make that person into just as neutral an experience as an elevator! Couples often do this naturally when they get divorced. You can look at that person you once loved passionately, and have no feelings about her whatsoever. When you recall all the nice things that happened, you'll be watching yourself have fun, but all your nice feelings will be gone. If you do this when you're still married, you're really in trouble.

It's one thing to review all the experiences you have had with someone—pleasant and unpleasant—and decide that you want to end the relationship and move on. But if you dissociate from all the good times you had with that person, you'll be throwing away a very nourishing set of experiences. Even if you can't stand to be with her now, because you've changed or she's changed, you may as well enjoy your pleasant memories.

Some people go on to dissociate from all the pleasant experiences they're having now, "so they won't be hurt again later." If you do that, you won't be able to enjoy your own life even when it's nice. It will always be like watching someone else having fun, but you never get to play. If you do that with all your experiences, you'll become an existentialist—the ultimate totally un-involved observer.

Some people see a technique work and decide to try it with everything. Just because a hammer works for nails doesn't mean everything needs to be pounded. The phobia procedure is effective in neutralizing strong feeling responses—positive or negative—so be careful what you use it for.

Do you want to know a good way to fall in love? Just associate with all your pleasant experiences with someone, and dissociate from all the unpleasant ones. It works really well. If you don't think about the unpleasant experiences at all, you can even use this method to fall in love with someone who does lots of things you don't like. The usual method is to fall in love this way and then get married. Once you're married, you can turn this process around so that you associate with the unpleasant experiences and dissociate from the pleasant ones. Now you respond only to the unpleasant things, and you wonder why "they've changed!" They didn't change, your thinking did.

Woman: Are there any other ways to do phobias? I'm scared silly of dogs.

There are always other ways to do things; it's a matter of "Do we know about them yet?" "Are they as dependable?" "How long do they take?" "What else will they affect?" and so on.

Try this: go back and recall a memory of something exquisitely pleasurable, exciting, and humorous from your past, and see what you saw at the time that it occurred. Can you find a memory like that? . . . (She starts to smile.) That's good. Turn the brightness up a little bit, . . . (She smiles more.) That's fine. Now keep that picture and have a dog come right through the middle of that picture and then become a part of that picture. As it does that, I want you to make the picture a little bit brighter. . . .

Now imagine being in the same room with a dog, to see if you're still phobic. . . .

Woman: I feel fine when I think of it now.

That procedure is a variation of another method I'll teach you later. It's not quite as dependable as dissociation for very strong phobias, but it will usually work. I've done a lot of phobias, so I'm bored with them, and I usually just do the fastest and most dependable thing I know. Now that you know it, you can do it, too. But if you really want to understand how brains work, the next time you have a phobic client, take a little longer. Ask a lot of questions to find out how this particular phobia works. For instance, sometimes a phobic person will make the picture of the dog, or whatever it is, very large, or bright, or colorful, or run a movie very slowly, or over and over again. Then you can try changing different things to find out how you can change this particular person's experience. When you get tired of that, you can always pull the quick cure out of your hip pocket and get rid of her in five minutes. If you do that kind of experimenting, you'll start learning how to generate NLP, and you won't have to pay to come to seminars any more.

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