Feeling grumpy/sad/worried/angry? Try “dissociation”

Feeling grumpy/sad/worried/angry? Try “dissociation”

I’ve been spending a lot of money lately, and it’s making me feel anxious. My husband and I are building our “forever” home and, as anyone who has ever done a house remodel of any kind will tell you, it’s twice as expensive as you ever thought it would be. “Change order” is the most anxiety-provoking phrase I’ve ever heard.

Fortunately, I’m not accustomed to feeling anxious, worried and generally a bit grumpy. So it prompted me to think about my training in neuro linguistic programming (NLP) and the tools it can provide to help shift my mood.

NLP was developed in the 1970s by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, two US psychologists who researched the effects our thoughts have on our language, mood and behavior. The NLP techniques they discovered are based on the premise that our thoughts and feeling shape our reality, and so we can transform our reality by shifting our thinking.

One of the NLP life-tools that sprang to mind to help shift my mood was “dissociation”. If we find ourselves feeling annoyed in a particular situation, or nervous before giving a presentation, or shy about approaching a person, or any kind of feeling we may be having that feels beyond our control, this NLP dissociation techniques can be hugely helpful:

  1. Identify the emotion you want to be free of. For me it was anxiety, but it could be any emotion  e.g. anger, rage, sadness, fear, dislike.
  2. Imagine that you’ve floated out of your body and are looking down upon yourself from an impartial observer’s perspective.
  3. Check in with your body to see how the “feeling” has changed. It usually shrinks noticeably.
  4. Dissociate further by imagining you’ve floated out of the “observer’s body” looking at yourself, so you’re looking at yourself, looking at yourself.

Double dissociation can quickly minimize the negative emotions we feel as a result of  life’s daily situations (irritations) at home and at work.

For me, the dissociation technique helped me see that my worries are finite, a moment in time that too shall pass. And although the change-orders keep coming, I have a longer term perspective on them that has reduced their power to rattle me.

For more NLP techniques for your toolkit, take a look at “reframing techniques” that can help us shift our beliefs from self-limiting to self-affirming. Who wouldn’t want that one in their life-tools?