How NLP helped me dissolve fear (before I even knew NLP)

I have not been an anxious child, rather brave and happy to take on a challenge.

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How NLP helped me dissolve fear (before I even knew NLP)

Posted by Mojca Henigman on

I have not been an anxious child, rather brave and happy to take on a challenge.

I’ve always loved animals and especially dogs. When I was 14 though, a large dog (a German shepherd kind of breed) didn't take kindly to my "hey doggy" attempt to pet it when we'd never met before…and bit me in my belly. Luckily, I wasn’t seriously hurt but I was shocked and scared!

In the years that followed, I noticed unease whenever a large dog was approaching me, to the point that I would cross the road or whatever I needed to avoid meeting it up close.

Then during my university years, I must have been about 19, I found myself one day walking down a quiet road and spotted a person with a huge dog on a lead at the far end of the road. They were on my side of the road and with every step they were getting closer.

I briefly contemplated crossing the road to evade them. But then I thought - listen, how long can this go on for? It can't be that every large dog is aggressive, so if it's not the dog, it must be me. And that opened up a possibility - if the source of fear is with 'me' not the dog itself, then I can do something about it!

That was the first powerful awareness I had.

Then I wondered - what is this fear about, what specifically am I afraid of? And at that moment, as an answer to my question, I noticed a mental movie in my mind that was showing the dog jumping at me aggressively, and it sent a shudder down my spine.

This was the second powerful awareness. It's the mental picture (in fact, a mental movie) that's causing me to feel afraid!

So what I did then, instinctively, was to freeze the image, like pressing pause on a video. Then as if it was a mirror, I made it shatter into thousand pieces. And as the pieces were falling onto the ground of my mental image…I felt the anxiety drain out and a sense of calm descend upon me. I then decided to put a different movie in its place, one that I wanted to happen…of me and the person with the dog meeting, calm and indifferent, walking by each other like strangers, and going our separate ways.

This mental process altogether took only seconds, and it calmed me in an instant. The funniest thing was, when the person with the dog did reach me, it went exactly like in my mental movie, and I was calm throughout.

I repeated this process a couple more times with other dogs and have never felt this fear since.

Only years later when I trained in NLP did I realise that this was my own version of a SWISH pattern. So simple yet so effective, and the base of it all was my awareness that what I feel is all happening within me, so I have the power to influence it.

Mojca Henigman
Mojca Henigman (Member post)

NLP Master Practitioner, mBIT Coach & certified Performance Coach - Empowering people to live more mindful, courageous, successful lives, aligned with their values.