Manage how you feel – Freedom of Thought

Back in the early 90s I was working as an assistant on NLP Practitioner and Master Practitioner Courses. This was an unpaid role and was a way of getting experience working as a coach with the participants on the courses. I did this for about 15 years and worked with many NLP luminaries such as Robert Dilts, Judith Delozier, Charles Faulkner, Joseph O’Connor, Christina Hall, Stephen Gilligan and Lara Ewing. I had good mentors.

Over the years I reconnected with many of those participants at further trainings and events. One of the things I heard a lot from some of those people was the question:

“How do I use NLP in my life at work, home and leisure time?”

In other words, despite their substantial investment in training fees and time, they were unable to implement the skills they had learnt from their training on these courses. Their thinking was that it was OK to do it in that training environment but not in a business or social setting where people might find it a bit strange.

Unless it was an organised situation like training in a business or one to one coaching with an individual where there is an implicit agreement in place to address, often personal issues, then some of these newly trained people found it difficult to engage with people and use NLP as a way of delivering Corporate Training or personal coaching.

 “Confidence Comes from Competence”

So, as in my case, one way to get experience and build your own confidence is to do what I did and that was to practice, practice, practice by assisting on courses and/or offer initial free sessions to people.

You will learn, as I did,  from the situations that are not working successfully how to maintain rapport, be able to ask more relevant questions and stay flexible in your work. Remember the NLP Presupposition that states:

There is no such thing as Failure, only Feedback and Renewed Opportunities.”

A lot of NLP Change Work or Coaching is done conversationally and this takes a bit of practice.

Know what your outcome is and keep heading that way.

Bearing all of the above in mind I thought I would present some ways you might find useful in using the ideas from my book  Mutual Mindfulness   for those of you who have read it or are about to  get the book,  so you can really get the maximum from the material I have presented.

So here goes. I will discuss one idea in each Blog Page.

There  is ample evidence that a person’s state of mind will determine how well they perform. What do I mean by state of mind I hear you cry? It simply means how you are feeling at that time and the mindfulness bit is: “are you aware of how you are feeling?”

Change how you think and you will change how you feel

If you were about to give a presentation, do a Best Man speech at a wedding or about to step onto a sports arena, how good would your performance be if you were anxious about something? Your focus or emphasis would be on what was causing you to feel anxious rather than what you were about to do.

Anxiety has a Structure

It works something like this: You are either thinking about something negative that has already happened and then connect to that bad feeling or you are running scenarios in you mind of something that will go wrong and then you feel bad. People call this worrying.  You may also be doing both.

You do this by seeing your own internal pictures of these negative memories and unless you are practised at this then those picture will be almost unconscious to you. However as soon as you begin to think about what is causing your bad feeling those internal pictures will begin to be more conscious.

The same goes for those negative movies you build in your head of you standing frozen in front of a group or performing badly and losing your tennis match or football game.

People have histories and they can always find a reason to doubt themselves and see those memories in their internal world and then feel bad. Perhaps they also say something to themselves after seeing the picture. Something like:

  • Oh no not this again!
  • This is going to be terrible
  • No-one will like or understand this
  • I’m really useless at this

So before you actually do any thing you are able to get and run an internal strategy that makes you feel bad, happens very fast and it goes something like this:

Think about what you have to do, say something negative in a tone of voice guaranteed to scare the pants off you and feel bad. In order to build this feeling, this state. you just need to keep repeating it in your mind, building a stronger and stronger “oh shit feeling’

So what you call Anxiety is actually a process culminating in a negative feeling. A lot of people will never step up to do those things like presentations, speeches, interviews etc because their internal strategy will run as soon as they think about it and therefore they do nothing. They may then live with disappointment or try to explain it to themselves by living in limiting beliefs such as:

  • People like us don’t or can’t do that
  • I can’t do that
  • I’m not good enough

On the other side where they are also running internal movies of how terrible it will all be they might have beliefs like:

  • I can’t see me doing that
  • I can see myself failing at that
  • It will be so embarrassing when I screw up
  • That looks scary

There are many ways to  get into positive and resourceful states,  ways that can be done easily and fast and my first choice is usually:


The structure of this simple process is stimulus response. People often talk about being “triggered” and this causes them to feel the way they are feeling and therefore they are not in control, consciously at least, of how they feel. So the bad memory is the stimulus and the bad feeling is the response.

We can use this same process of stimulus response in a positive way. Here’s the set up.

  • First choose how you want to feel. Depending on the context it might be confident, relaxed, humorous, calm and with a certain sort of energy.
  • Remember a time when you experienced the feeling you want in the present. It can be any example no matter how brief as long as its a clean example and not contaminated by a negative feeling.
  • Take yourself back in time to when you had this positive feeling as if you are there now, take a look around and see where you are, hear any sounds and are there any smells and tastes. Stay in that moment and let that feeling be there and allow it to grow.
  • While you are experiencing this feeling hold your finger and thumb together for as long as the feeling is there and release your finger and thumb before the feeling begins to fade,
  • Holding your finger and thumb together is now the stimulus and the good feeling is the response.
  • Wait for 10 seconds or more and then test your anchor by holding your finger and thumb together and you should begin to get the good feeling. If you want to increase the strength of the feeling think of another example and add it to your first anchor and test again. It should be stronger now.
  • It is important to use or lose your anchors so keep renewing them and any time you have a good feeling in your life anchor it and build yourself a library of positive feelings by using different fingers and you can also use your knuckles.

You now have the ability to manage how you feel. Imagine going into a meeting or interview and firing your anchor as you enter and eliminate any nervousness or anxiety that you used to have.

If you have any questions, comments or feedback about this blog please let me know at: and I will respond.