Case Study


Letting Go of Hate: How to help clients change unconscious responses

July/August 2014


Most people come to therapy for help with emotional or behavioral responses that aren’t under their conscious control: destructive habits, troublesome emotional moods, outbursts, addictions, and so forth. These responses are generated by processes that clients are mostly unaware of—which is clear when they say things like “I don’t know what makes me do (or feel) that.” Although effective approaches to such responses usually involve a change in the unconscious process that generates them, most therapy focuses on the client’s conscious mind by developing insight, expressing feelings, discussing the past, talking about neurological explanations, and other attempts at cognitive understanding. Many a well-intentioned therapist has suggested to a client to “just let go” of hate, as if it were a heavy load that he or she could simply drop to the ground and walk away from. But as we all know, hate isn’t a tangible object: it’s an internal feeling, which arises as a spontaneous response to internal images, thoughts, or other triggers.

Simply telling a client to let go of it—without showing them how to do it—is a conscious instruction that will only result in frustration, compounding the presenting problem. Now the client has the same troublesome feeling of hate, plus an added layer of self-criticism and blame for continuing to “hold onto it.” And since the client is failing to achieve the desired outcome, the therapist may also feel stuck and discouraged,…

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6 Comments

Sunday, August 3, 2014 6:14:34 PM | posted by Bob Gorman
I would question the logic here.
I do not believe our emotional response to a situation, or person, etc. is due to, or caused by, how we store it's image. A rather frequent NLP position.

I do believe the strength of our emotional response to a situation, or person, is dependent on our set of values. If that real reaction is strong then we store the image bright, close, etc. Later when re-triggered the original emotion is accurately evoked.

Thursday, August 14, 2014 11:35:28 PM | posted by Steve Andreas
Bob Gorman:
Yes, of course our emotional response is dependent on our values. The logic is that our values are also represented in the space around us. Let me be specific, and invite you to confirm this in your own experience.
Think of any two values that you have, for instance work and family. Notice what image comes to mind for each, and determine which is most important. "If I had to give up one of these, which one would I keep?"
Next, think of these two images simultaneously and you will find that they are in different locations in space. The value that is more important is usually higher (as in "higher value") or closer (or both), but some people have more unique ways of coding importance using other parameter. For instance the image of the more important value may be larger, or more brightly colored, moving, etc.
To summarize, we use space, and other internal perceptual parameters to "code" or categorize experiences (and groups of experiences) for easy reference. Since this is true, we can directly change the importance of an experience by changing the spatial coding.

Sunday, August 24, 2014 7:58:15 PM | posted by Perri
As a therapist, I was introduced to NLP in the 80's but didn't utilize it. Now, after 30 years of therapy, I realize that I need to reacquaint myself and use the techniques. Where would you recommend beginning (seminar, books, etc.)?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 7:18:27 AM | posted by Vikas
Steve, thanks for a really good article. I could easily imagine, I am sitting by your side and noticing the changes in Sally's face, and while doing this I learned a lot.Please keep posting such articles.
Vikas

Thursday, October 2, 2014 10:15:01 PM | posted by Jack Ramsey
Thanks for the article Steve. I finally got to read it. I have been following your writing since the 2 day workshop in Peoria. I can still hear your voice when I read your work.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 11:30:29 PM | posted by Adhya
Very much enjoyed this article and playing with submodalities myself. Very much appreciate the response to Bob's comment re values. Really like this explanation, find it very helpful. Thank you.

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