…Lessons from NLP and dog training
How do you deal with challenges? Do you face your problems head on or do you pull away from them?
Richard Bandler, the father of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), once said that everything he learned about human behavior he learned from his dog. I thought that was a very peculiar statement until I took a dog training course a few years back.
Do you know what to do when being attacked by a dog? Often, in a moment of fear, we react in a counterproductive way. This is also how we sometimes deal with challenges in life.
What would be your first reaction if you were outside, a barking dog was running toward you, and it looked like it was going to attack? The normal reaction would be to turn around and run. Many times in life, when confronted with our problems, we turn around and run. However, all that does is encourage the dog to attack, and in the end, your chances of being bitten just skyrocketed. A better strategy is to turn sideways to the dog, freeze in place, and slowly put out your hand for the sniff test. Why? Because this behavior tells the dog that you are not a threat. It is not an aggressive stance. By taking a quarter turn away from the dog you are still looking at it but not facing it in an adversarial position.
Many of life’s problems only require us to stay put for a second, take a deep breath, turn a little to one side or the other, adjust our perceptions, and then slowly extend ourselves to the problem in order to find resolution.
If the dog continues to charge toward you and bites down on your arm, what then? What would you do?
Panic and fear usually kick in and we try to pull away from the biting dog. Wrong idea! If you follow that instinct, instead of only getting a few puncture wounds from the teeth, you will end up ripping the flesh on your arm as you pull and jerk away.
The appropriate strategy is to “Make him eat it!”
If you move into the problem with aggressiveness and shove your arm deeper into the dog’s mouth, the dog will end up choking on your arm and will have to release its hold on you. The energy you spend by giving the dog what he wants will actually cause the problem to stop.
Many times, our problems are the same way. When we move into the problem, use its energy in an effective way to move through it, instead of pulling back, the problem loses its grip and you may find yourself free of the challenge.
As you think of the problems and challenges in your life, are you running away or pulling away from them?
Remember, the first step is to just stop! No emotional state lasts forever. Turn sideways a little bit to see it from a different perspective. If the problems and challenges already have an emotional hold on you, STOP pulling away from them, take a deep breath and push forward into it with all of your might. You may find that the problem will lose its grip on you. You can set yourself free.