Memories are literally the stuff of life and dreams. They can help you move forward in your life or they can act as obstacles to your biggest dreams in life. Memories have the capacity to help a person achieve success in a very short period of time.
Inversely, memories can also block a person from having a normal life for many, many years. Memories are such an integral part of human nature that writers and artists have long discovered just how central memories are to the dynamic nature of life itself.
Without memories, mankind would not know where to go nor will it have any sense of identity. Neuro-linguistic programming acknowledges the fact that in order to move forward in one’s life, one must have full control of memories.
Memories should help people accomplish their goals. If a person feels that he has been held back because of negative thoughts and traumatic memories, then there is only one logical route – he has to take control of these traumatic memories so that he would be able to move on with his life. In this part of the book I am going to share with you some simple exercises that will enable you to manipulate both positive and negative memories.
Memory manipulation helps people cope with traumatic events in their past. The main goal of memory manipulation is to increase the impact of positive memories and drastically reduce the impact of negative memories. I am going to show you how to do both.
Some of you might be asking – why would anyone want to manipulate positive memories?
Well, positive memories can easily bring about a stream of wonderful emotions and thoughts. Positivity in one’s life attracts more positivity. Here is a step-by-step process that will allow you to heighten the impact of positive memories:
1. Think of a time that you felt really complete, happy and satisfied. It doesn’t matter if this memory belongs to the distant past and things have changed so much that the memory is now dissonant from reality. Focus on that great memory alone and nothing else. Do not compare the memory with associated memories and do not compare the memory with what is presently happening at the present time.
2. Become aware of the various sensory impulses associated with that memory. Most people would be immediately aware of the visual modality of their memory.
I want you to focus on other modalities like smell, feel, sound or even taste. Recall as much detail as you can from the memory and don’t stop recalling until you feel that you have exhausted your memory bank.
3. If you are a visual thinker, try to increase the detail of the image that you have in your head. If the memory looks like a snapshot, try to animate it like a movie. Step into the picture and interact with individuals in the memory.
Animate yourself and let the imaginary you talk to people in the memory. Adjust the brightness of the image and make the colors more vivid than before. Heighten these details of the visual memory until you feel that the experience has just taken place right now.
4. Now focus on the sounds and other sensory impulses you are getting from the memory. Heighten these sounds and make your brain ‘hear’ all of the sounds and sensory experiences it has recorded during that time. Examine your thoughts and emotions as you do this. Do you feel happier and lighter now that the memory has been modified this way?
5. How do you feel after recalling the details of the memory? If you feel happy, where do you feel the happiness emanating? Is the sensation coming from your hands, face or perhaps your belly? Visualize the sensation; does it have color or perhaps even a shape? What does the positive sensation look like?
6. Once you are able to visualize the manifestations of happiness, heighten these manifestations in your mind. Increase the brightness and make the colors look more vivid as well. Do this until more positive emotions are triggered and you feel as if the positive memory itself has already been changed.
This simple NLP exercise shows how easy it can be to directly modify existing thoughts so that the brain would recall a completely modified version of the memory. This exercise also shows that we always have full control of how memories look and feel and how memories can actually impact us.
More than anything, neuro-linguistic programming helps people unlock their own minds so that they could get the most out of their lives. Many people feel trapped because they are prisoners of their own bad memories. Well, now you know that no matter how bad it gets, there are always ways to change how our past life experiences affect us now.
Neuro linguistic programming teaches us that the human mind has vast potential and there always ways to change it for the better. NLP also teaches people that through very simple mental adjustments, a lot of progress can be made in a person’s life.
Now, if positive memories can be modified so that they can have an even bigger impact in our lives, can we use the same modification principles on negative emotions?
Negative memories and positive memories essentially have the same structure and therefore, both can be dealt with fairly easily. In the second exercise below, you will learn how to deal with negative memories so that these memories would have less impact on you:
1. First, think of one bad day that you’ve had where everything seems to be going wrong. Unless you are a very experienced NLP practitioner already, I do not recommend using memories that represent major traumatic events. Leave those memories for now. Use memories that are manageable in size and scope so that you would have a desirable outcome after the exercise.
2. Become aware of the various details associated with the negative memory. Gather enough detail so that the memory becomes fresh in your mind once again.
3. If the memory brings you within the mental image immediately, I want you to step out of the picture so that you would be detached from what is happening in the memory.
4. With the various details of the memory clearly fixed in your mind, begin modifying the submodalities. If someone is talking harshly to you or someone else, change the quality of the sound. Make the character speak in a funny voice. Soften the sound of the voice or just lower its tone so that the words do not sound as painful or hurtful.
If you have any other sensory impulses associated with the memory, change these impulses so that the impulses become completely different. The goal is to change the memory so that when you recall it, it won’t have the same impact as before.
5. Focus once again on the visual aspect of the memory. Change the submodalities of the visual aspect. Make the image darker and duller than it really is.
You can even make the picture smaller if you want to. Remove parts of the picture if you want, to make the memory look foreign and unintelligible.
When a person uses neurolinguistic programming to modify a negative or traumatic memory, he is not telling himself that the event did not happen. That is not the point of the whole exercise.
What we do want to happen is loosen the painful grip of these negative memories so that you will no longer feel hurt or trapped when these memories suddenly resurface from your subconscious.
This technique is especially helpful in cases where the subject in question is unable to provide a satisfactory resolution to his own negative memories. If the negative memory cannot be resolved, then it would be best to modify it so that it won’t harm the person as much when it resurfaces from the subconscious.