WELCOME & INTRODUCTION – Can you really lose weight with Neuro Linguistic Programming?
This is a case study of a client wishing to lose weight.
I welcomed Mr X who was already a life coaching client and I had already gone through with him about the sessions format and we had a client contract set up. In a previous life coaching session I had mentioned that NLP looks at goals, beliefs, values and thinking patterns to change how a person thinks about an issue, to break patterns of unwanted behaviour and help develop new ways of being. I stated that it looks at the self talk/limiting beliefs and how this impacts how a person thinks about an issue and therefore affects a persons behaviour. From this he decided that he wanted a specific session using NLP. I shared that NLP is about going towards something you do want rather than going away from something you don’t want and from this, it set up a positive intent for the session. I used open ended questions to look at what he wants to achieve in order to set up a well formed outcome. He stated that he feels he is ready to look deeper at the issue of his weight. He wants to look at anything that is blocking him from losing weight and believes that now he is ready to uncover anything subconscious that may be preventing him from achieving the body that he wants. He is ready for change for himself but also knows this would help his relationship. He also knows that only he can do this and agreed that it is all in his jurisdiction to do it and doesn’t need anyone else to achieve his goal.
RAPPORT, VAK & CALIBRATING
From previous sessions I knew that he is mainly an auditory person but likes the uses of visualising and has a big component of feeling that he wants to tap into more. In this session I also calibrated the client by observing the client on all these levels that he taps into, visual, auditory and kinaesthetic, which helped to enhance my understanding of where he is at around this very emotional issue and so that I can go at his pace and have increased empathy for his situation. He felt really listened to, he said, and this was extremely important in building a strong rapport as he feels that rarely has he been listened to in his life by his family. I also mirrored his body posture and tone, pitch and pace as he likes pauses and again this helps him to feel listened to which he loves, giving him a sense of worthiness and trust which opens him up even more.
Calibrating also helped getting a sense of who he is, his needs and purpose. As a result, it became very clear as he opened up, that all of this weight issue is affecting his day to day relationship as well. He adores his girlfriend and wants to take it to the next level but this issue needs sorting first, he feels, so it is very important to him to sort it out. It also has a feeling it has to do with his controlling dominant mother and also that his father didn’t stick up for him or parent much due to the overbearingness of the mother.
LIMITING BELIEFS & FILTERS
I asked Mr X, ‘What is limiting you from getting results?’. He opened up about this subject, and he felt that his partner asking him to lose weight (and his partner before her), took away his freedom. He started to see that he was internally saying to himself, ‘if I don’t lose weight, you won’t love me and I won’t be rejected’. I used backtracking, using the exact same words back to him so that he felt really understood and then he really got what he was saying to himself which was really powerful for him. His own beliefs or filters needed to change and I said we would work on this to create new responses and new choices, as the ones he currently had were stopping him from getting what he wants.
Using active listening and open ended questions, he opened up about how the first overeating happened when he had his first taste of freedom at university and then realised the next time was when he was working away from his girlfriend in a hotel Monday-Thursday.
The client started to see what he was doing and how it was controlling him – he saw that it was a way of him getting freedom that he had never managed to have as a child. The self talk was ‘ I can do what I want, no one is controlling me’. But in fact he saw that eating the wrong things gives him the opposite – no freedom as he become overweight and unfit. He loves sport and cant then do sport.
By looking at this behaviour, he started to uncover the origins of his beliefs. He stated that he doesn’t blame the girlfriends, he doesn’t see it as their fault (his words and he talks a lot about blame and fault and this will be looked at in another session), but agreed it is a very emotive issue for him and gets defensive when a partner brings it up (which brings distance to the relationship he now sees). He also saw that he has been rebelling like a teenager and as long as he had control, at any cost, he would assert that control, even if it meant losing the one person he didn’t want to lose (his partner), thus proving his self talk and limiting belief that ‘if I don’t lose weight you won’t love me’ but also has the limiting belief ‘if I lose weight you won’t love me – so what’s the point?’. He sees that it costs him a lot, and that in fact, it does make a difference and it is possible and it is worth it.
Last time he lost weight, he didn’t feel any more loved by his girlfriend and this reinforced the limiting belief of being unlovable, so he put the weight back on and the issue seemed to get even bigger and he even put more weight on than he originally had.
Continuing to look at this behaviour within the NLP levels concept, the client now sees that the weight issue really means he is self protecting, and putting up a literal barrier to stop him being close, keeping him apart from his girlfriend, causing a lack of intimacy due to separate bedrooms, and preventing him from being deeply loved and accepted. He now sees that it is a barrier or wall, that keeps his girlfriend away not the weight itself, and now sees that by not loving himself and he is keeping her at arms length and now he sees now that the solution is not a bigger bed but to be able to become closer by him releasing these subconscious beliefs. He now realises that she wants him to be slim, because then he will be loving himself and be able to fully love in the relationship and he wants to find a way to do this. He stated that up until now, anytime she says he’s doing well, he sabotages and does a U turn, so even when his partner praised him, he’d go onto chocolate or cake to reinforce his unlovable-ness.
He now sees that the control is being taken not by him as an adult but by a rebellious teenager or even before that as a rejected child when he was even younger.
I explained that this behaviour will keep happening again and again if the error, like in a computer program or conflict is not found.
WELL FORMED OUTCOME
Therefore the aim/goal or well formed outcome is to have complete control over this behaviour and take responsibility for it and have self love. The client stated that it was very important to him that he take control of this change himself and that he wants this behaviour to be a new pattern in his life always. I used the meta model of not if but when and asked him ‘when you get this goal what will it mean for you?’and asked him ‘when will you know that you have the outcome?’ and I got him to see, feel and experience what that would look like in a mental image. Then I asked him to step into the future to see, feel and experience how it will be when he has achieved his outcome and asked him if he saw a smile on his face, being happy and he replied ‘yes’. I asked him if he wanted to keep any of his present behaviour and he said no absolutely not. I checked with him that the outcome was in line with the life he wants and his values and beliefs. When I asked him, ‘if you had your outcome now, would you take it?’ he smiled and said ‘yes’. I asked him what is the next step in your outcome?’ and he said to see all the areas now where this comes up / distinguish them and see the resulting behaviour and how it affects his relationship and life.
I talked with Mr X about resourceful emotional states and how by controlling his state of mind, he can achieve the outcomes he desires. This includes his thoughts, emotions, mood, physiology. He mentioned that he used to walk with his head down and so I suggested changing his physiology to change his state especially at the upcoming party for his parents anniversary. I also said at the party, to notice any external factors or triggers that change his state, ie. with his parents, particularly his mum for negative ones but also to see what positive triggers make him happy. I asked him to look at his habitual self – how he is naturally – energy low or high, way he holds his body, facial expressions, kind of language – foul or light and happy, stress levels etc and to once a day reconfigure himself and change these into positives settings. This especially when practised, I suggested, could help when with his family and how he interacts and feels when he is with them. I told him that as he changes his state, he can change his thoughts, behaviour and actions bringing new choices and possibilities for himself. I also said that his running could help him to change his state and using the positive trigger of a fist pump (which he uses in tennis) he could anchor in the good feelings he has after doing this and feeling good about himself and taking control of his health, weight, life.
MAPPING ACROSS STATE
We did an exercise to think of a time he was happy and map across that state to the present when it is needed eg at the party. He thought of a time when he is in his power, feel good about himself and free and brought this to his mind to a family party situation and saw how it changed his feelings.
We looked at what state he is in most habitually and it was stress, which leads to arguments rather than the peace which leads to joy and openness. He saw that a decision to bring more positive states into his life and more affirmations and better physiology would help him. Taking note of what a good positive state feels like – his breathing, brightness, what he hears, how it felt, what he experiences / sees, he agreed that this would help him to change his state when he wants to, especially with practice. He sees now that by becoming aware of these triggers they have less of a hold over him.
ASSOCIATION / DISASSOCIATION
We looked at how he can associate and disassociate more or less. At work disassociate and get less involved and less drained, leaving more energy for what is important to him and associate more with his girlfriend being more present, looking out of his own eyes and seeing whats happening at the moment. He has learnt to be disassociated with his mother but now he can see what being more associated feels like and choose where to be rather than letting him be controlled. It will give him choices and boundaries where he needs them. This will give him the protection he needs but without going to food. Because he can disassociate alot he said with his mum, I gave him an exercise to do at home of remembering a good time in his life eg, mallorca and see how bright and light it is and bring that to any situation where he is feeling disassociated with her too much.
I showed him how different perceptual positions could help him to see things from his mother or girlfriends point of view. He said he was very much position position 3 (detached) with his mum and so I asked him to practice looking at it from his mums point of view see what came up and practice in all situations with his girlfriend too to see what position he was coming from.
Another exercise we went through, is to be one of the VAK for a day eg, start by spend a day ‘feeling’ – and see how this occurs in his day. Especially for him this will exercise this way of being that he wants more of. We talked about Mallorca and what it means to him and bringing more of that light and happiness into his every day.
Mr X also would find it useful to see how perhaps his mother sees things – he has been scared to talk and ask her things as she tends to cry. But he could start to talk with her and share an experience and notice how this experience was different to hers. This would be a good way to get to know her, finding out what she noticed, didn’t notice? He said that interestingly, he never asks her questions, he is always the one answering and this feels like he is defending. It would be a new experience to get to know his mum in this way, finding out what her filters and at the same time getting to know his filters.
To summarize the session I talked about the NLP levels and in particular about how changing beliefs are fundamental for true transformation to occur. And how he had looked weight issues before but not through these concepts and shifts which may only be slight but he saw could bring him a major change in his life.
To conclude, I mentioned that NLP is about thinking about things differently and that if we always do what we have always done, we will always get the same outcome. With these tools, if practiced, just like practicing a sport you become proficient at them and they could change his life alot.
AFTER CARE ADVISE
By next NLP/Life coaching session –
MY ASSESSMENT OF THE SESSION
The session lasted 2 hours as he was enjoying getting how his behaviour and limiting beliefs were affecting him and I could literally see the light bulb moments going on as we went through the session. As a result of the session, Mr X now sees that by loving himself and shining, and living the life he wants without any control issues, he will lessen the attachment to the past and create the future he wants for him and his relationship. He is enthusiastic to put the aftercare advice into practice ready for our next session. A further session of NLP and life Coaching has been scheduled.
At the end of the session, Mr X said that it had given him real insight into patterns which he had had most of his life to do with control and freedom and self protection and now he wants to change them / stop them and through these insights believes he will be able to accomplish his weight loss and create the life he deeply wants.
He said that during the session, he felt really understood and that this helped him get the insights into his behaviour and that he has never opened up like that before.
Also, he said that looking at what he does want rather than what he doesn’t, is a subtle shift but powerful and he liked the idea of attracting more of what he does want into his life. Therefore, creating his life and taking control of this life instead of some sabotaging patterns taking control of him.
Mr X said that ‘I want you to know that this, out of everything I’ve ever done, was the most powerful and life changing’. He really was extremely happy with the way forward and feels he has cracked something that he was unable to get to before, and in fact didn’t even know was going on. He said he felt empowered now and full of optimism to reach his goal.
Source: Student Case study
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