Anxiety is a common problem, and in an NLP Training it often comes up on the first day. Why? Because public speaking is the number 1 fear in the world, and people want to make a good impression.
NLP doesn’t teach what kind of different types of anxiety are out there. I, for a long time, thought about why that could be. First of all, NLP is the study of the successful. So, you want to study people who successfully don’t have anxiety, or even better people who can get rid of their anxiety once they have it. And that’s where the co-creators of NLP tend to turn a blind eye. That’s a shame.
There is the type of anxiety that comes up because we worry something will go wrong in the future. NLP is perfect to use in the moment for this problem.
There is generalized anxiety that comes up with biological or medical reasons like shortness of breath, medication, sleep apnea. NLP cannot stop the anxiety, but can help to deal with it.
And there is the type of anxiety that pops up out of nowhere. There is no thought, no trigger. This is often typical for people who have experienced trauma, especially in their youth. It is something different from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as no memory is accessed. This type of anxiety is often caused by an overactive fight/flight/freeze part of the brain, and a faulty interaction with the part of the brain responsible for regulating it, with accurate reality testing.
Technique 1: Reduce All Types of Anxiety using NLP: Meditation
Meditation changes the chemistry of the brain, causing a reduction in the ability to have anxiety. But also, for the emotion of anxiety to process faster. For some people, doing breathe-based meditation gives them anxiety. That’s why they give up on a regular meditation practice. But here is a simple other technique with a little bit of NLP infused and visualization:
- Close your eyes.
- Scan your body on the inside from the top of your head down to the tips of your toes. notice all kinesthetic submodalities inside your body (for those of you that are not NLP trained, notice all sensations inside your body).
- Imagine a bright ping-pong ball sized light that metaphorically represents calm, and shift your awareness with the ball to your ankles.
- Then the belly button.
- Then solar plexus.
- Then the chest.
- Behind the eyebrows.
- About a hand’s length above the head.
- Make the ball slightly larger, like a tennis ball. It is now even calmer.
- Hit the same points on the way down.
- Make the ball larger, and go up again.
Technique 2: Reduce All Types of Anxiety using NLP: Grounding
Grounding exercises also change the chemistry of the brain. Here is one combined with NLP.
- In your mind’s eye, create the most calming environment you have ever been in, or you could imagine. You are looking through your own eyes. So, you can see, hear, and feel the experience of calmness.
- Experiment with the visual submodalities (qualities for those of you who have never taken NLP training) to see if you can make it calmer: dim it slightly, making smaller or larger, moving, still, large small, left, right, wide-angle, narrow, etc.
- Experiment with the auditory qualities: volume, direction, adding a rhythm, music, surround sound, one ear, or perhaps even the sound off.
- Experiment with kinesthetic submodalities: breathing deeper, slower, from somewhere else, releasing any tension inside the body, relax your muscles starting with your forehead all the way down to the tips of your toes.
Technique 3: Reduce Future Based Anxiety using NLP: Pretend As-If
Scientific research has shown:
- People often confuse excitement (something important is about to happen) and anxiety.
- Seeing stress as a bad thing, causes more stress. Stress prompts us to take action.
- When subjects were instructed to pretend that they were excited about public speaking, no – or significantly less – anxiety was experienced during public speaking.
NLP Pattern: Pretend as if you are feeling excitement. The brain cannot tell the difference anyway.
Technique 4: Reduce Future Based Anxiety using NLP:
The timeline therapy-based anxiety pattern, which in essence tricks the brain to code like a person who cannot experience anxiety or drops their own anxiety.
- Imagine a line, and you are standing in the present, facing the future.
- Anxiety only exists in the future. The reason why you feel anxiety is because you are worried about something going wrong in the future.
- Step-off the line, and dissociate from all feelings. Walk to a place next to the timeline when the event you had anxiety over is in the past. You are now dissociated, and the event is over. Anxiety can only live in the future.
- Look from this place at the event, then before, and notice that the anxiety is now gone.
Technique 5: Reduce All Types of Anxiety using NLP: Circle of Excellence
Stepping into a more powerful emotion than the anxiety. Below is a demonstration and an instructional video as to how to do that.
During our NLP Master Practitioner and life coach training, we teach how to design. This allows for the creation of more custom-made techniques specific to any coaching client or person for their anxiety.