The day went a darn sight better after that encounter with Roy. But I still felt as if I wasn’t quite in my body. Later in the day, I was sitting in the audience when Paul was discussing a particular NLP technique, and he came over to me and asked how I felt.
“I feel like my head is fucked,” I commented in front of the 400 or so people on the course, into his microphone.
He looked at me with a steady gaze, and then instead of interviewing me began to basically future pace me: that is to set out how it was going to be for me over the next few days. How I was going to learn this and do this, how I was going to feel better. He only pointed the microphone in my direction in order for me to agree with him… which was a good idea because I didn’t have anything coherent to say.
We pushed on, through the day. I was in this little whirl, inside myself – doing the NLP exercises, calmer now than I was before, but still confused, and still with that strange sense of not really knowing where I was or who I was. It was extraordinary.
Then, later on in the day, something unusual happened.
Michael Neill was on stage in the morning, teaching us about a type of hypnotic metaphoric approach called “constellation hypnosis”.
Essentially, in constellation hypnosis, the hypnotist finds out what the client’s current situation is, and then what result the client wants. Then he asks what things are getting in the way of the client getting those things and are preventing them from achieving their wishes, and finally asks what resources the client might have to help them get to what they want. This is the constellation of the client’s life – the inter-relationship between the different elements of their personal story. It is the hypnotist’s job to take this information and distill these various elements down and convert them into a fairytale. The purpose of the fairytale is to help the client realise that by drawing the relationships between the different elements in the story in a different way to the one currently experienced, that the client will begin to see a different picture – one of overcoming and empowerment, rather than helplessness. Thus the power of the story.
It was the strangest thing. As we were told what we were to do, I began to feel a sudden sense of panic rising inside me. Here I was, on this course, on which I had hoped to rediscover my writing ability, my sense of play in creativity – and now my bluff was being called.
I interviewed the woman I was working with, and then completely lost my nerve. We were working in threes, and when we sent Hazel out of the room to discuss what we were going to do next, I said the guy that I was going to work the ideas of the story out with: “James, I’m sorry, you do it. I just don’t think I can do this.”
James looked at me in surprise, and then began to sketch out some ideas. But even as he did so, I began to feel a sort of spin of excitement in my body. A completely new feeling, as something light began to move in my head. Hazel walked back into the room, and sat down. And then James moved to do the hypnotic induction.
I couldn’t help myself.
“James,” I said. “Let me do this…”