Managing the Holidays with NLP
Relationship Strategies
By Cat Wilson

Melodies are playing, you catch a whiff of cinnamon in the air, and you feel at peace with images of laughing children, parties, and holiday decorations lighting the corners of your mind with red and green bows.
Then the wicked “Ex” show up! The one who belongs to your wife (or husband, or you… could be partner, spouse, friend, boss, stepmother, no matter). Your eyes meet; murderous rage boils up in you, and your hand squeezes into a fist, ready to defend family against foe!
Wait! What if you could have a more relaxed and peaceful exchange? Here’s where NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) strategies can come into use to make the experience more endurable. Or, even pleasant. Let’s take a situation where you see your wife’s ex-husband, and that person has tried to put you down In front of the kids when he came by to pick them up. Touchy past memories. What you are actually doing is playing an old scene of a past interaction. You realize, however, today is different. You can change it with a “Reframe.”
A Reframe is like a picture in your home or an art gallery. Frames can be simple metal frames, ornate with carvings with gold or polished wood. Did you ever find a picture you liked? Then you searched for just the right frame? In NLP, the frame is the context, where you are, with whom, what you are doing, and how you do it. You are the picture surrounded by the frame.
Reframe I: Shift the context frame by thinking of your behaviors in light of a different situation. Imagine that the “Ex” is a loving father. It’s appropriate to be fist-balled from the angry time. However, the context of that anger is actually based on a different time and experience. This is now. You are mature. You are wise and proud fathers of your own abilities to be loving with your children. Your anger is alleviated by thinking of the context surrounding the situation in a different way that is more useful, peaceful, and relates to who you are – not what someone else makes you. Think and imagine that you are both teachers or friends. Say, “Hey! How ya doing? Nice to see you.” Nod. Plan it in your mind that if he says something you don’t like, simply let it go by saying, “Hey, you could be right.” Feel the tension go away. Just because you said “could be” gives him release, and it doesn’t mean that you accepted it.
Reframe II: Focus on the fact that you are two people in the world who get to be a part of children in your lives and that you are both loving fathers. Each gives of his precious time to bring happiness and growth. In reality, the children deserve the best, and you wouldn’t want them to have less. You picture how he is a good father, and see him in your mind spending time watching movies with the kids (let go of the rest), see the kids smiling.
Visualizations and Next Actions List: To manage the nervousness and anxiety, empty your head of all your next previous actions, create images in your mind of friendship, and write your next actions on a card.
Next time I see him I will:
1) Smile, say, “How ya doing?” and nod.
2) Feel the tension go away.
3) If anything negative is said or he tries to put me down in front of the kids, I will say “Hey, you could be right.” or not acknowledge it. Divert the attention to the happiness of the kids, like “Gee, the kids are happy to see you.”
4) Breathe and relax.
5) Walk away.

Shifting Submodalities:
Create a visual trigger of a motivating, persuasive future vision of you together, and make it big, bright, movie-like, landscape-oriented and right in front of your eyes. This vision guides us and overrides the anger, creating a new movie to run.
Add Magic and Stack Anchors: Start to think about and visualize several of the happiest, most passionate, hilarious and joyous moments with other people. Then pretend you are including the “Ex” in the laughter and fun. During that time of fun, rub your thumb and forefinger (creating an anchor). Repeat this several times with other positive cartoons, until all you have to do is rub the fingers and it triggers the images and the fun with ease. Repetition on the same spot will stack the feeling anchor.
Reprogram internal language: When you think to yourself about punching the other guy and having a loud argument, you tear yourself down inside. Create the peace inside by creating a new conversation, one that you would share with a best buddy. Then play it over and over.
“Hey, how ya doing? Life is good. You look great! Sorry about blabla. Hey! What about those Blazers?! We’ve got a winning team this year! The kids are excited about the holidays! See ya later!”
Using the strategy can change the way you present yourself, because you have prepared with practice. Just like when professional sports players in football, basketball, or golf step into their play. You will be one with the ball and successfully use your skills to be who you want, instead of letting the situation control you.
Cat Wilson, BA, M.NLP, C.Ht., ACMC
Counseling, Coaching, Hypnotherapy, NLP, EFT, Workshops
037 SW Hamilton Street, Ste. 1
Portland, OR 97239
(503)525-0595 or (503)525-0594
Facebook: Apositiva Institute
Twitter: Apositiva Center

Note on adding Magic: Take it or leave it. It works. Transfer good feelings of love and joy with several events. I’ve done this with people who were angry or negative and seen amazing results among family and people I didn’t know. Remember, whatever is happening is inside of them, and not about you. Just let it go. Use your imagination and mix in what you see, hear, smell, feel, and even taste. Take the happy feelings from one person and share them with someone with whom you have difficulties. Imagine yourself with a loved one. See their smiling face and feel your heart beat happily. Now transfer the loving feeling to the other person by pretending that they are there, just like sharing a loaf of bread. Imagine having a great time with your friends at a football game, laughing, cheering, eating popcorn and ham sandwiches, and then imagine the “Ex” is next to you smiling and laughing with you as a friend. Pass the mustard. You can even imagine the person is surrounded with a bright light of gentleness. Whatever you create in your mind is what you send out. Do this many times before you see them again in person.
Remember that another person’s reality is about their own subjective experience of life. They own their own pain; this is so important to remember. Focusing your attention in a positive light by shifting it away from the enemy image that one can hold onto after a hurtful experience is very powerful, so a new image can replace that void.
Rev. Randall Ross read the above section on magic, and said, “surrounding someone in a pink light of gentleness really rings true for me. We are taught this in the seminary with our healing work. I believe this works on multiple planes of existence. You are offering the opportunity for us to experience one of the most precious gifts we can give to ourselves this holiday season, forgiveness. When we can experience, forgiveness, understanding, compassion, gratitude and patience, life becomes more wonderful everyday. This only brings to us more of what we put out, oh; life is so wonderful.”