The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Clasped Fingers Trick

I was coaching cricket in a Year 4 class the other day and encountered a lad who was unable to hold the bat correctly.
Well I say 'correctly' - in actual fact he'd got his hands 'crossed'! His dominant (writing) hand was at the top of the handle and 'weaker' hand was below, forming an 'X' as they crossed just above the wrist. When I asked him to change his hands over, he did so - and at the same time he moved his body and changed his feet around so he was now shaping to bat left handed - plus his hands had now reverted to being 'incorrect' in terms of being crossed.

The thing is, batting is a two-handed function, and there are very few shots he could play with his hands configured the way he was using them. However, after I ascertained he wrote right handed I got him to stand the 'right handed' way and also configure his hands the 'correct' right handed way. So far so good - until he said "I can't do it this way - it feels all wrong." He was, it seemed, quite stubborn and adamant about how wrong it felt!

Whilst I knew he would eventually (with persuasion) get it to feel more comfortable and 'right', the thing is this would need time as there was resistance to him trying to get it through experience - and I had around 29 other children to coach and limited class time in which to do it. I had to use some kind of persuasive trickery to break down his kinaesthetic feedback when he was using his hands my 'correct' way.

Hypnotic artifice

I asked him to put the bat down and clasp his hands with each finger alternately intertwined and with one thumb over the other. I showed him how I did it and asked him to copy me. He did it quite conventionally for a right handed person (right thumb over left). I then asked him to do it "the other way" - ie finger by finger and left thumb over right.
"How does that feel?" I asked him
"Different," he replied.
"Is it uncomfortable?"
"No - just different."
"Now I want you to tell me when your hands start to feel uncomfortable again. Any time you feel like you did before just tell me. OK?
Now just keep those hands clasped like that (left thumb over right). Now turn those clasped hands so the back of that left hand is on top. Now just pull those hands apart sideways and hold them apart by about one hand's width."
He did just as I said - and then I handed him the bat handle to hold without changing how his hands were configured. I continued to talk to him while doing this - checking whether he was feeling any of that 'uncomfortable' feedback he was getting before, which he wasn't.
"Now you're ready to bat - OK? All you need to remember is that clasping your hands is really easy to do - and holding the bat is just as easy to do. And the more you clasp and the more you hold, the more comfortable it all becomes."
Within a few minutes and in the midst of a high-activity game situation, he hit the ball very hard and sweetly past me, with total ease and perfectly correct hands on the bat handle. I was very enthused!


There are a lots of tricks with the hands that can be really useful when confronted with seemingly "no-go" situations like this, and I've used a number of these from time to time. I would describe these as hypnotic artifices, because a) the subjects are watching what they're doing, often quite intently and certainly with a level of engaged conscious absorption or focus in what they are doing; b) there's kinaesthetic feedback which is telling them to also keep checking for another feeling that they, until recently, felt quite strongly. In my experience, this is the part of the action that releases them from the internal dialogue of "can't do it" - because they are comparing and judging against their own calibrated level of previous discomfort and awkwardness, by waiting for a feeling to come that never does!

Transformative - definitely! Cunning? - not really. (Well maybe just a little!)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Psychic Screwdriver

In the famous BBC Science fiction TV series Doctor Who, in 1968 there appeared the first scripted reference to “The Sonic Screwdriver”. This is a fascinating multi-functional tool and, along with the TARDIS, has become one of the icons of this long lasting series. In terms of SF writing, conceptually the Sonic Screwdriver was ahead of its time, and became one of the artefacts of the series that could show us that nothing is what it seems, and that with it pretty much anything is possible.

The Psychic Screwdriver

There are times within the varied client-related activities that I’m involved in, where I get the distinct impression that the multi-faceted nature of the various methodologies that I use, lend themselves to be viewed as something similar to the Sonic Screwdriver. I see my mental tool-kit for change more and more as being like the Sonic Screwdriver – with an almost infinite number of settings, capable of revealing what doesn’t seem to be there, unlocking doors to new perceptions and actions, and helping people in freeing themselves up to be able to move their lives forward by broadening their perceptions. You might say this bit of kit could be better summed up as a “Psychic Screwdriver”.
The thing is – although the Screwdriver incorporates a whole variety of processes or methodologies, some hypnotic, some linguistic, some metaphoric, some spatial and physiological, some distractive. – any new ideas and techniques can just be added on to the Screwdriver rather like acquiring Apps for mobiles or tablets.

Another thing is that, with all these methodologies and techniques incorporated into one “device”, it is quite common for me to use a process of mix-and-match and use parts of one with another producing an infinite variety of different little hybrids. For me this is fascinating, and particularly because I never actually set out to do it! The opportunities are presented to me by the client and if the idea pops up then I just go with it and see what happens.

A few weeks back I was working with two clients who I would probably best describe as poles apart – however, the common thread with both of them is the way I can really illustrate the use of the Psychic Screwdriver and its various Apps.

The young cricketer

A lad has struggled since I’ve seen him with his ability to bowl. The problem centres around the accuracy of his resulting outcomes rather than basic technique. However the extra challenge is that he wants to bowl leg spin, which is a difficult action and discipline to master in technical terms. His outcome success rate has been about 1 decent/accurate ball in 15, with problems concerning across the entire spectrum of control. We'd covered most of the physiological issues so we kicked off into areas hitherto not investigated. Almost jokingly I told him he was SO good at bowling into the side netting, or the roof that I wanted him to try to do it on purpose. He couldn’t – which was interesting! When eventually he managed to deliberately bowl badly I congratulated him – “Good! So you can do it when trying! Keep trying just so we all know if it was a fluke or not.” It was a fluke as he returned to trying and failing straight away.

At this stage I demonstrated James Tripp’s “Card Stick” routine, which is part of his Hypnosis Without Trance. Again I showed the young player proof that when he’s trying his hardest to do something, then he actually cannot do it. This did amuse him, but the point was well made in that for him, every ball he would bowl (as with the Card Stick) was driven by intense “trying” and subsequently judged against a level of perfection that was impossible for him to reach.

I asked him whether these circumstances arose with any of his other sports. They did not, and I then looked to make comparisons with his other sporting actions and his bowling in terms of how he experiences them and the various related submodalities. As an outcome I invited him, through visualization, to get in touch with the VAK of how he is in the other sports, and to use this as an anchor before every time he bowls.

We ran a test of 10 balls bowled at a target area and he had a 60% success overall, and with 1 ball in the dead centre of the target area. He now has a positive resource to help him with his practice, and a real handle on how to raise his level of confidence in this area, and to ‘spike’ his negative self talk after judging the outcomes.

I must have used quite a range of ‘Apps’ here – and the particularly effective one was the demo of the Card Stick. In terms of changing aspects of his conscious experience this had the most impact! Plus for me it showed how such a technique can be really useful in a sports coaching context as well.

The Professional Lady

This lady was unhappy about her relationship with food, and especially her habits in the areas of “the rubbish stuff”. As is usually the case, this was spilling over into the rest of her life in terms of frustration, confidence and self esteem.

She described a fairly regular scenario where she would pick and nibble at crisps, biscuits, bread and whatever etc while preparing the family main evening meal; then have no appetite and eat very little of the meal itself; then a couple of hours after the meal would be back into the ‘picking’ routine. She said that she felt that there was part of her that was extremely childish in attitude, and would dominate by not making the best and most appropriate choices – in spite of knowing that the ‘picking’ was bad for her. She couldn’t really resolve this ‘child within’.

We talked around various areas and I explained to her about pronounscapes, and how we often describe our persona from several perspectives. This is manifest through regular conversational use of the “I – Me – Self – You” of our personas – and so I invited her to ‘come with me on a journey of discovery’ about more aspects of her persona through questions around these areas.

It turned out that the “child” was manifest in 2 of her 4 pronouns, and that there were quite different feelings and perceptions held by these 2 in particular. At this point I decided to switch to a Parts Integration – using her present state and the wealth of information gained from the answers to the pronounscapes investigation.

I could have conventionally continued down the first road and, conceivably, guided her to something that might have been useful for her. However her relaxed and calm (Alpha) state just cried out to be maintained and utilised in a different way. It seemed a shame, I thought, to bring her back to a full consciousness especially as she was able to shift into and amongst these 4 persona aspects very easily. The Psychic Screwdriver had been deployed intuitively – however, I had little idea of what was about to transpire!

Within a short space of time I was witness to, what was for her, a huge reward. Parts Integration can bring about profound shifts for people anyway, and given this lady’s very strong intra-personal dialogue, she was able to resolve the conflicting misunderstanding between each of her 2 ‘inner children’ and the other 2 adult persona aspects as well. It was a wonderful golden moment both for her, and for me as witness.


In my book “Don’t Think of a Black Cat” I make an analogy akin to “NLP and the Art of Plumbing.” Here the methodology is a tool-kit where the Practitioner (plumber) uses various techniques to fix clients’ metaphorical appliances, dripping taps, leaky drains etc. As time goes on, however, I’m more convinced that there is such a crossover between all the artifices in the domain of the Mind that when we obtain a Psychic Screwdriver, then all we need is to (a) keep it charged, (b) always lookout for new Apps and most of all (c) – Use It!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Are we what we think?

"Broken stones from a rich seam of ore - we can use them to throw at people or render and refine them to extract the precious metal. Precious metal from a rich seam of ore - we can use it to make weapons or bridges or spacecraft. From the broken stones of our thoughts we can do so many things...OR we can also choose to leave them untouched."

A thought is the seed of an idea - ideas are seeds of beliefs - beliefs are the filters by which we shape our reality - reality is what shapes our lives - and the lives we lead reveal our identity.

Now we could therefore say that our identity begins when we start to notice and harness our thinking - or we could say that our identity regulates our thoughts. However, is either of these conclusions true?

At what point on this 'Circle of Consciousness' is it best to intervene to make changes, enhancements, corrections?

There is this generally held view that the older we get the harder it is to learn something new. There is scientific (or is it statistical) backing for this view and, as with all things in our current age, anything with scientific backing has got to be right, right? I increasingly find that the power of learning is couched within an open mind, and that the older we get the more we allow our minds to become closed. And yet through history the people who have cornered the market for wisdom have been those who have lived all their lives with open minds - minds that have never accepted that (a) there is nothing left to learn because they know all there is to know, (b) their perception of reality is made up by their thinking and that if they change their thinking and their perception, that their world will be seen anew. Nothing rests or stands still - everything develops, evolves or dies out.

And so it is with thought - which either develops, evolves, grows or dies out.

The choice of how we develop, evolve and grow our thoughts is ours - how we filter them and refine them is our choice - how we nurture them and let them become ideas and then eventually beliefs is all our choice - based upon our bank of references. This bank of references (our personal reference library if you like) is based upon opinion, experience, knowledge and wisdom.

There's a curious linguistic colloquialism centred about the words "think" and "thing". This is shown in sentences such as
"If he thinks that then he's got another thing (think)coming" or
"It looked X but then it could have been something (somethink) else".

And within this usage there's revelations in there for us - that what we see is only what we think we see - and that whatever we may think, that there's another "think" coming along very soon, provided we give ourselves the chance to notice it. The thing is, once we have latched onto a "think" that is already in our Reference Library, then there's a very good chance we won't notice the new "think" because our references prohibit us from doing so.

So, the conclusion to be drawn is this:-
"The Path to our own Wisdom comes from our understanding of how our Reference Library works, and how we need to learn to best become our own Librarian."

The truth is that we are far far more than we think, and once we acknowledge this then we start to become a very good Librarian. And the good Librarians, as history has shown, are those who are never too old to learn new things, to see things from many perspectives, to direct and refine their thinking.

Friday, June 10, 2011

"You've got to get yourself together...."

I work with many clients on issues involving their getting to grips with their relationships with food and exercise. In the course of our conversations, many similar instances of self judgement and self dialogue come up and, for me, how to best help them is rather like panning for gold; sifting through the sands of what is happening for them and how its happening; seeking the nuggets and gold dust to take to their personal "assay office".


Occasionally I'll encounter someone who talks along these lines: "I want to lose weight, but something always stops ME. YOU know, that can be just so frustrating - that all I want to do is give MYSELF a slap in the face." This lady had also said she hadn't been able to fully commit to dealing with weight loss, even though she had a clear sense of what committing to such a journey would bring for her.
So I played back for her what she'd said - the particular sentence involving I - ME - SELF - YOU. She did find it amusing, and the more I showed her that she'd actually referred to her persona in four different identities, the more came the realisation that here was a large part of her barrier to commitment.
So much so that she actually said, "Seems to ME that I actually need to get MYSELF together," and then realised (again) how the story was being played out through her pronouns.

We investigated a number of patterns surrounding her pronouns, paying particular attention to whereabouts in her body they were located or represented. Interestingly it came up, in the course of these enquiries, that it was her "ME" that held the misgivings, the stumbling block, the barrier to her progress. Consequently she was then able to explore for ME, ways towards clearer inner understandings, ways for her I and SELF (in particular) to acknowledge her ME.

Stuck in a Moment

I reminded her at this point about the U2 song "Stuck in a Moment" and invited you to listen to it and perhaps print out the lyrics and study them closely - for there is a message in there for us all.
Its full of pronouns, perceptual positioning, hypnotic language, metaphor - and is very, very anchorable. (Is that a word? - It is now!)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Underestimating the Power of Obvious

Many years ago I worked in the tourism industry, in a holiday cottage letting agency. One of the add-ons to the price the customers were asked to pay was cancellation insurance. Now, our CEO had worked in advertising and was very knowledgeable about the power of words – and so when it came to conveying to potential customers that the insurance was compulsory, (which was a very harsh word), he couched it in softer and more obscure terms – obligatory. And he insisted that none of us would ever use ‘compulsory’ or indeed any other word.

It was amusing to listen to new sales office staff endeavouring to explain to punters what obligatory meant, because this is not a word in out-there everyday parlance. However, for our business it was everyday parlance – and everyone of us would habitually use it without thinking. It’s the same with all professional and industry specific words and phrases.
These fall into the category of the obvious – and just as it is with language it’s the same with various practices and methodologies. And the fact is - once something is committed to the obvious, then we say and do these things verbatim, parrot-fashion, to the script. Rather like the way I learnt multiplication – the ‘times tables’. Of course, all subsequent usage takes place without us really considering the impact or power that these things have on the uninitiated.

The Visualization Routine

I have a little routine which demonstrates the power of visualization, which is particularly useful for groups since the effect works almost 100%. It’s a great one for setting out the scene for “what I do” – and essentially it shows people the power of their own mind to change something in their physiology. The thing is. this routine has become SO familiar and routine for me, that now I totally underestimate the effect it can have on people.

One of the players I coach, who is now a university student, was talking to me at a function recently. “I always remember that first session you did with us,” he said. (Nearly 3 years ago). “That visualization thing you did just blew me away and started me thinking about so many other things to do with how I play, the body and the mind.” For him this was clearly a ground-breaking series of ‘light bulb moments’ – whereas for me it was just a routine demonstration of visualization and the mind-body link. For me it was a gloss-over and I totally missed the power of the obvious.

I have a couple of other ‘routines’ I use in group situations, and here too I’ve made them so familiar to me that I again underestimate the power that lies in the message.

‘The Mayonnaise Jar’

This routine is all about recognising what is REALLY important in our lives, and ordering what we do into a hierarchy of relevance. For many it’s their first practical encounter with the logical levels of NLP – without NLP ever being mentioned. By way of props there’s a big empty jar, some golf balls, some stones or pebbles that are slightly smaller, some gravel and some sand. The jar represents Life and the balls etc represent things we do and spend our time and energies on. Depending on how the jar is filled up, it is possible to get very much more (and conversely very much less) into Life. The key is recognising the really important things (the golf balls), and to put them in first. The day to day trivial stuff (sand) can go in last.

There are many young players (and fellow coaches too) who have spoken to me about how relevant this has been for them – but for me it is just a little ‘piece of theatre’ designed to engage them on an unconscious level.

‘The Folded T-Shirt’.

I saw a YouTube video once entitled ‘Learn a new skill in 15 seconds’. I watched intrigued as a Japanese man was filmed in the street showing passers-by how to fold a T-Shirt so that it looked like a new product in wrappings on a shelf in a shop. As all his instructions were in Japanese, I had to pay close attention to how he did it visibly. And, amazingly for me – I got it very quickly, almost in 15 seconds as it happened!
Now here was the key, as far as I was concerned – visible modelling. If I could do it then I could use it as a demonstration of how new physical skills can be best acquired. I first used the routine on a group of 11 year old young sportspersons, first demonstrating and then asking for volunteers to have a go themselves.

It’s very engaging and shows us how to (a) notice certain beliefs that may be detrimental to our progress, (b) notice that too much thinking can get in the way of our learning and executing certain physical tasks and activities.

Here again we witness the power of the obvious – and because of familiarity with the routine I often devalue its usefulness.


So it’s important to remember that something simple and obvious to you may well be novel and meaningfully relevant to someone else. And in that novelty and newness there will be power, perhaps power for change; a change for good; a change of mind; and all because we’ve broadened their perspective.

Once you acknowledge the power of the obvious, using it becomes obligatory – because we are all instruments of change, of evolution.