Spinning Your Fears (#671)

(Today’s tip is reprinted in a slightly adapted format from my book Feel Happy Now!, a guide to controlling stress, overcoming anxiety and defeating depression…)

Our nervous systems are conditioned to create stability but to notice change. This is a part of our tremendous adaptability as human beings and frees up our conscious attention to be able to notice difference..

As a part of his ongoing innovation in the art and science of personal change, Dr. Richard Bandler has developed a simple technique called “spinning,” which makes use of this natural functioning of the nervous system to reduce bad feelings and amplify good ones.

Here’s an abbreviated transcript of how I used it with a caller on my radio show who wanted to feel less fear and more happiness in her life:

Me: Where do you feel anxiety in your body?

Caller: Everywhere I guess. I just feel scared and I don’t know what I’m scared of.

Me: I’m not so worried about what you’re scared of – do you feel any fear in your body right now.

C: No, not right now.

Me: Could you scare yourself just a little bit? Go on, think about the future… can you bring up just a little bit of fear right now?

C: Yes.

Me: Where in your body does it start – where are you first aware of it?

C: I think in my head.

Me: And where does it go?

C: Down my back.

Me: Great. Now in order for you to continue experiencing the feeling, it has to keep moving. So if it starts in your head and goes down your back, where does it go next? Back up to the top of your head?

C: It comes back to my chest.

Me: Okay, and does it spin towards you or away from you?

C: Toward me.

Me: Toward you – great. Now here’s what I’m going to ask you to do: I want you to imagine that you’re pulling the spinning fear out of your body so you can see it in front of you. You can see it spinning towards you but it’s all happening in front of your body right now.

C: Okay.

Me: Now, I want you to turn it upside down so now it’s spinning the other way – it’s spinning away from you.

C: Right.

Me: What’s your favorite color?

C: Um… pink.

Me: Okay, I want you to make it pink. So it’s pink and it’s spinning away from you and I want you to put it right back inside your body. Bring it back inside your body so you can feel it spinning down through your chest and up your back, up to the top of your head and back down your chest and it’s spinning away from you and it’s a lovely pink color. How does that feel?

C: (surprised and laughing a bit) It feels great!

Me: Okay, so now I want you to spin it faster and faster… how does it feel the faster you spin it?

C: (with great sincerity) It feels great…

Me: And I want you to take that great feeling and let it spread from the top of your head down to the tips of your toes, right out to the edges of your fingertips, and the more you spin the feeling, the easier it will be for you to have this feeling anytime you want just by taking control of it – because it’s not just a feeling, it’s your feeling…

There are so many theories about “why we feel this” or “why we feel that”, but sometimes if what we want to do is feel better, the simplest thing to do is just step right back into your body and take control.

Here’s how you can begin to play with this technique for yourself…

1. Think about something that makes you feel angry, sad or fearful.

2. Observe where in your body the feeling starts. Where’s the very first place that you’re aware of feeling that way?

3. Now, notice where the feeling moves to next. Does it go up, down, left, right or in some other direction? (In order for you to feel a feeling it must be moving;otherwise the nerves habituate and you won’t feel them any more!)

4. When you’ve identified where the feeling begins and where it moves to, notice which direction it’s spinning in. If it doesn’t feel as though it’s spinning, ask yourself which way it would be spinning if it were. This could be toward you or away from you on a vertical, horizontal or even diagonal plane.)

5. Next, imagine pulling the feeling out of your body so it continues to spin in front of you. Turn it upside down so that it’s now spinning in the opposite direction. If you like, imagine it being your favorite color.

6. Now, pull the ‘new and improved’ feeling back into your body, continuing to spin it in the new direction. The faster you spin it, the better it will feel.

7. Anytime you begin to feel the old feeling, you can simply reverse the direction of the spin and take control!

You can use this same technique to amplify a good feeling – simply notice the direction of the spin, add some color, make it bigger and spin it faster.

Have fun, learn heaps, and let the good times roll! (Or at the very least let the good feelings spin… 🙂

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