There are many ways to manage anxiety, from deep breathing to meditation to NLP. NLP, otherwise known as neuro-linguistic programming is a term that brings together three influential components:
Neuro-linguistic programming’s basic premise is that the words we use reflect our subconscious perceptions of our problems.
Another way to describe it would be to say that we all perceive things a little differently depending on the experiences we have had in our lives. It is based on the premise that each of us creates our own reality through our previous and current programming and perceptions.
Neuro-linguistic programming or NLP was actually developed in the early 1970s by a linguist and a scientist named John Grinder and Richard Bandler.
They observed that even though people had similar backgrounds, years of experience and education and training that they were each achieving very different results ranging from mediocre to wonderful. They were curious as to why some people were achieving fabulous results while others were only getting mediocre results. The two began studying how successful people worked by studying their behavior looking at things like eye movement, verbal communication and body language.
John Grinder and Richard Bandler then theorized that the brain could actually learn healthier patterns and ways of thinking that could bring about positive effects. The result of all of this work became known as neuro-linguistic programming.
NLP is actually a collection of techniques that can be used in many things from managing anxiety to self-development.
NLP is based on the practice of understanding how people organize their thoughts. We all have unique filters through which we see the world depending on the experiences we have had in our lives.
Most of us tend to think in one particular mode over another: visual, auditory or kinesthetic. There are actually two additional modes, olfactory and gustatory. Someone who processes information visually will see images in their mind when asked a question. If you process information in the auditory mode, you may hear certain sounds as opposed to seeing pictures. A kinesthetic processor is more likely to feel emotions rather than hearing or seeing something.
These three modalities could also be described as site, sound and touch. Olfactory senses have to do with the sense of smell, and this could also be utilized to influence someone. Gustatory receptors have to do with the sense of taste.
In terms of managing anxiety, there are many tools that can help reduce the symptoms. NLP is not a cure or a magic bullet, but it can help you with managing anxiety so that you can live your life in a more productive manner.
There are some great NLP tools you can use to better manage your anxiety such as:
- Altering the Submodalities
- Using Trance or Relaxation Anchors
Reframing how you view stress and anxiety can help you with managing anxiety much more effectively. The truth is that stress and anxiety don’t always have to be negative occurrences. Believe it or not, stress can be your friend if you learn to view it as a motivating factor in your life.
Without stress or anxiety, there would be no challenges in life, so sometimes stress or anxiety can be looked at as something that motivates you to achieve new goals or rise to new heights.
If you can learn to reframe or harness the power of stress and anxiety, you can use it to as a stepping-stone in your life.
Thanks to your reptilian brain, your body is basically hardwired for survival. You are in essence a lot like the caveman – always on the lookout for the next predator or the next stressful situation or problem to come along. The oldest part of your brain is always working to protect you, but this natural tendency to be on the lookout for fear, may just be holding you back in the long run.
As humans, we are hard-wired for “fear”. It keeps us safe. As a result, our adrenaline kicks in so that we can either fight or take flight just like our ancestors did. Animals in the lower animal kingdom like reptiles and fish probably don’t do much critical thinking because they are more concerned with survival and everyday things like eating, drinking, sleeping and defending themselves.
So how can you reframe anxiety you might ask or look at it a little differently? You can start by looking at stress and anxiety as a sign that something needs to be addressed or changed in your life. Reframing is a potent technique for helping you change your behavior. When you reframe, you must respect that there is a positive outcome or a secondary gain that can be accomplished by all of your behaviors.
When you do a reframe, you are negotiating with that unconscious part of yourself and determining what that secondary gain is. In reality, your anxiety might really be trying to tell you something, the key is figuring out just what that is. If you try and look at that positive intent, it can change how you view it.
A secondary gain is the benefit you derive from NOT overcoming a problem.
In other words, there is some kind of payoff you are getting for every behavior. The concept of a secondary gain is usually not a conscious choice. You might be putting off getting a better job for example because you like the sympathy you get when people feel sorry for you because you have a stressful job. If you got a new job, you wouldn’t have as much to complain about and you wouldn’t be getting that sympathy.
If you can reframe or view your anxiety from a different perspective, you can change how you react to it.
ALTERING THE SUBMODALITIES
NLP Submodalities allow you to change the impact of specific memories. This works in two ways:
- You can learn to make good memories better, stronger and clearer.
- You can learn to make bad memories weaker.
This is a fantastic tool to possess, especially for those with anxiety. Despite the complex name, it’s a relatively simple concept. NLP Submodalities simply refer to the individual components of a specific memory or things like how big it is, how bright the colors are, how loud the sounds are or even how far away the image is from you.
Using submodalities, you can make good memories better, bigger, brighter and more powerful so that every time you think of them you feel better. Conversely, you can shrink down bad memories and push them away, instantly making them weaker, making yourself feel better in the process.
NLP Submodalities are one of the easiest and most powerful NLP techniques you can play with.
USING TRANCE OR RELAXATION ANCHORS
Using relaxation anchors is another great NLP technique for managing anxiety. Anchors are simple to use and all that is required is that you close your eyes and think back to something in your life that is calm and relaxing. You can do this by taking a few deep and cleansing breaths, and focusing on a positive memory like a day at the beach.
Take yourself there in your mind and see yourself literally walking along the beach enjoying the feel of the sand between your toes and the sun on your back. Try and see if you can sense the feel of the waves or the smell of the sea air as well. Stay in that relaxed state as long as you desire, and when you feel like you have reached a state of relaxation and peace, create an anchor by touching your thumb and index finger together for example.
You can also create a fist and think about the positive memory as you squeeze. The next time you get anxious or stressed, you can then use your anchor and bring back those positive happy feelings.
If you can learn to view stress and anxiety as a positive, motivating factor in your life, you change the way you react to it.
Stress and anxiety can have some positive benefits including:
- Helping to propel you forward in life.
- Acting as a motivating factor.
- Helping you set and achieve goals.
- Helping you finish important projects.
- Helping you move through change in a positive manner.
When you can learn to harness stress, managing anxiety becomes much simpler. Using stress and anxiety as something that serves to motivate you instead of something that holds you back is the key to this process. Try practice some NLP for anxiety the next time, and you might be surprised at how well they work.