Milton Erickson used to use behavioral metaphors as a means of priming clients for change.  One example that I can think of is in a book by Jeffrey Zeig during a teaching seminar Erickson pulled out a pencil with a little head on it with long purple hair and he held it between his hands.  He said to the group people come to me looking like this and then they leave looking like this (as he began to rub his hands together and the head began spinning in circles).

Robert Dilts or John Grinder I can’t remember which one of the two said it but one of them said that when they went to visit Erickson that he had a topsy tervy book.  It was a book that you could look at holding it one way and it looked one way and then when you flipped it upside down the image would shift and he would have people look at this book as he talk of how things sometimes look one way and other times shift in perspective.

One time when priming someone to do go into a trance as part of an induction Erickson asked a client to take a paper and a pen and to write their name.  So they did it.  He then asked them to write their name backwards.  So they after some effort did that too.  He then asked them to write it upside down. They did that.  He then had them do the all the same tasks with their opposite hand.  All those tasks were about preparing the client to do something different.

This is a common pattern throughout Erickson’s work.  To use behavioral actions as behavioral metaphors for what he is priming his clients to do.  Danie Beaulieu is an interesting woman that I had the opportunity to meet at Steve Andreas’ AMT 2010.  She does impact therapy so she is not really a NLP’er however she is one of the most elegant people that I have ever come across at creating these types of behavioral metaphors when working with clients.  I would recommend everyone look closely at her work and the work of Erickson further to see what gems they can gleam.



 
 
Bill O'Hanlon is an interesting gentleman that studied with Milton Erickson directly after having trained with Richard Bandler and John Grinder.  If you've read any of his books you'll be able to get a pretty good of his contribution to the field of therapy and personal development.  I personally really enjoy reading his work.  He also has put out an audio in which he shares some of his favorite teaching tales which I have also found extremely worthwhile.

The clip that I'm including with this post is of O'Hanlon speaking of how he met Dr. Erickson.

 


 
 
I once listened to a story told by Bill O’Hanlon about the ceremony of the room of 1,000 demons.  He spoke how there is this room where the Dali Lama and all the various Lama’s would gather for this ceremony.  And that in Buddhism there is this idea of reincarnation and that people would continue to live and die and that this cycle would repeat and repeat and you would have to pray and study and live a good life before they cycle would stop and you would reach nirvana.

The Dali Lama announced on this particular day to all the Lama’s present that, “today you have the possibility to get off the karmatic wheel and not have to worried about being enlightened anymore more.  Today you have that possibility.  All you have to do is walk through the room of a thousand demons and come out the other side.” 

He went on to explain, “what happens is that a door will be opened and those who so choose will be able to walk inside but once you do you cannot leave from the door that you entered from.  You must make it across the room to the other side to which there will be a door to exit.”

Now the reason this room is called the room of a thousand demons is because the demons that reside there have the ability to peer into you in such a way that enables them to take on your own worst fears and to seemingly make them real.

If you have a fear of people ridiculing you as soon as you walk into you will have people ridiculing you.

If you have a deep dark secret about yourself that you don’t want to the world it will seem to be revealed for all to see and it will feel very real.

If you have a fear of pain then pain will show up.

If you have a fear of being abandoned then you being abandoned will show up.

And so on and so forth…

These demons will make these fears feel real… they feel so real… as real as the reality that we are inhabiting now… so much so that most people begin to believe them.

The Dali Lama said, “Once you’re inside the room you are on your own.  We can’t come in and get you.  For those of you who want to leave now can go and those of you who want to stay please do.”

All but a few leave.

To those who stayed he said, “Through the centuries there have been two secrets passed down from those who have made it through the room of a 1,000 demons and have been enlightened.  The first is that these fears aren’t real.  The second is to keep your feet moving.”

And I think that’s good advice for any situation in life.



 
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