An article by Ian Berry
In January 2004 I attended a ‘Language in Action’ workshop put on by PPD as part of their NLP Master Practitioner Course. The workshop was delivered by one of the finest interpreters of the original linguistic spirit of NLP, in my opinion, Christina Hall.When I finished the course and set off home to Leeds, my heart and my mind were ‘shimmering’ with the excitement of putting into action what I had learned in those 4 days. Inspired by Christina’s playful, purposeful, use of simple everyday language, I arrived at the following example of one-to-one client work.
This process arose from an instinctive desire to play with some of the basic units of our natural speech. The ‘adverbs of location/place’: ‘Here’, ‘There’, ‘Anywhere’ and ‘Everywhere’ might seem, at first, to be simple, innocuous words which have very little important ‘content’ in our day to day language. They can be easily overlooked because they don’t seem to carry very much ‘meaning’ and/or impact in a sentence. It’s as though they are just inconsequential ‘fillers’ in our speech. My instincts give me a different message about them, and playing with them has given rise to this very revealing exercise.
So, what I’d like you to do first is to explore your notion/your experience of the word ’Here’.
One way of doing this is to repeat the word over and over to yourself, with or without sound, and just notice what your experience of ‘Here’ is for you. What pictures, and/or what sounds, and/or feelings make up your sense(s) of ‘Here’?
Where is ‘Here’ for you?
Is it inside your body, on your body, or outside of your body? (It might be partly in, partly out)
Is it behind or in front of you?
Is it to the left or to the right? (It may be to one side of you more than the other)
Is it up and/or is it down? (It could also be more one than the other)
How does ‘Here’ feel for you?
Is it warm or is it cold?
Is it rough or is it smooth?
Is it still or is it moving?
Where is ‘Here’ not for you?
Where does ‘Here’ stop and become ‘other than ‘Here’’?
Now I’d like you to do the same kind of exploration of your experience of ‘There’. So, again, perhaps, repeat the word ‘There’ over and over to yourself and just experience your sense(s) of ‘There’.
Where is ‘There’ for you?
Is it inside your body, on your body, or outside of your body? (Again, it might be part in, part out.)
Is it behind and/or in front of you?
Is it to one side of you more than the other?
Is it up and/or is it down?
How does ‘There’ feel for you?
Is it warm or is it cold?
Is it rough or smooth?
Is it still or moving?
Where is ‘There’ not for you?
Where does ‘There’ start?
Where does ‘There’ end?
How, for you, do ‘Here’ and ‘There’ relate to each other?
What do you notice is most valuable to you about why they relate to each other?
The above is simply an exercise in sensitising you to the treasures of experience that are available to you when you pay close attention to the effects of these sometimes seemingly meaningless ‘filler’ words (you may soon begin to realise that there are no such things as “meaningless ‘filler’ words”.
The ‘submodalities’ questions I’ve asked are not the only ones that you can ask; they are simply the ones that I’ve found most useful.
Now we move further, more deeply, more wholesomely into this exploration of ‘Here, There, Anywhere, and Everywhere…’
Applying ‘Here, There, Anywhere and Everywhere’ to Problem Solving
Think of a current ‘problem’, ‘issue’, or ‘challenge’ in your life.
[You will notice the use of the past forms (i.e. past ‘tense’) of the verbs in the following questions. The simple, careful use of this form in therapeutic work has been and continues to be the single most useful piece of languaging that I have ever used in all of my NLP work.]
- What is your experience of the situation when it is/has been ‘Here’, (whatever ‘Here’ means for you)?
- What do you see, hear and feel when the situation is/has been ‘Here’?
- What does/has the situation mean/meant for you when the situation is/has been ‘Here’?
- What causes/has caused, the situation that you experience/have experienced as ‘Here’?
- Is there anywhere where the situation is not/has not been ‘Here’? (Finding where a ‘problem’ is not often points to where a solution(s) might be found)
- What might be/could be/would/will be the solution to, or resolution of, the situation from ‘Here’? (More of this in Part Two)
Now, keeping that same ‘problem’, ‘issue’, or ‘situation’ (if you can!), notice what happens to your experience of it when you experience it not as ‘Here’ but, rather, as ‘There’. (You might want to place it in physical space) Somehow, place the ‘problem situation’, ‘There’ and then describe what you notice is different about your experience so far.
- What do you/have you see(n), hear(d) and feel/felt when the situation is/has been ‘There’?
- What does/has the situation mean/meant for you when the situation is/has been ‘There’?
- What causes/has caused, the situation that you experience/have experienced as ‘There’?
- Is there anywhere where the situation is not/has not been ‘There’?
- What might/could/would/will be the solution to, or resolution of, the situation from ‘There’?
Finding out about the relationship between at least two different points of view of the ’issue’ chunks up to a richer, more systemic, vantage point:
- What do you notice about the way that experiencing/having experienced an ‘issue’ ‘Here’ relates to experiencing it from ‘There’?
- When you compare your experience of the ‘issue’ ‘Here’ with your experience of it ‘There’, what do you notice about what it means/has meant, now?
- When you compare your experience of the ‘issue’ ‘Here’ with your experience of it ‘There’ what else do you know now about what causes/ has/had caused, it?
- Now that you can detect the larger pattern, is there anywhere where the ‘issue’ is not/has not been, (and might, therefore be a rich source of solutions for you)?
This is where we begin to move further away from ‘problem situation’ towards a solution, or solutions.
Now we employ the use of the third adverb, ‘Anywhere’ (particularly, ‘Anywhere other than Here’) and ask some or all of the questions used so far. If you haven’t already done so, this stage can give you a chance to put the ‘problem’ or ‘challenge’ at a ‘safe distance’ from you.
You can use the adverb ‘Somewhere’ in the questions if you want to lessen the impact of the ‘issue’ further.
I’d also recommend improvising with phrases like, ‘Over There’, or ‘Therabouts’ to create ‘distance’ or ‘dissociation’ from a possibly more irksome problem if it is useful/appropriate to do so.
A friend of mine with a wild and wonderful sense of humour (good on you Harry!) also suggested the use of the word ‘Tupperwhere’! The even wilder and more wonderful thing is that using it has worked on at least three occasions!
A sense of humour is sometimes a useful tool; look at the success of Provocative Therapy.
I would not, however, recommend the use of ‘Everywhere’ yet. Imagining your ‘problem’ being ‘Everywhere’ might not be the most ecological experience that you could have (This might also be true of the use of ‘Anywhere’- sensory acuity, checking your own, and, if you use this therapeutically, your client’s, response is strongly recommended).
Using ‘Everywhere’ belongs to the latter stages of the process.
Enough for now. I’ve got to be somewhere already.
Part Two comes later…
This is my first publication of any of the language stuff I work with; any useful feedback would be most welcome.
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