Negative Thinking

Create resource states in people who tend to focus on the negative or disabling aspect of a situation. This technique utilizes the tendency of negative and resource experiences to have a great deal in common. They seem quite different because their differences are in the foreground of our awareness. This technique is a good example of creating resourceful states by linking to them from un-resourceful states. This technique is good for people who are too caught up in a negative reality because it works with sensory representations that are shared between the problem state and the ideal state. This technique is unique in that it does not focus on the foreground, or “driver” sub-modalities, as you would with the Swish pattern and others. It’s also for this reason that you should work slowly and methodically through the steps and note your client’s abreaction to the process. With the approach of the F/B pattern, you do not have a fight for dominance between the two foreground experiences. 

Many practitioners find this technique to be a gentle and almost magical experience. In my own private practice, the clients who have experienced this process reported it has been one of the most self-comforting experiences they’ve ever had. When their focus changes from a limiting or limited frame to a resourceful perception, you can tell it in their eyes and their posture. Relaxation is one of the immediate benefits of this pattern, but it is also just the beginning of the wonderful results it brings about. 

Chose a limiting response.

Choose a clearly definable situation in which you have an automatic limiting response. 

An example of this is flying in an aircraft when this causes panic attacks.

Notice your foreground and background awareness.

a. Notice your foreground awareness. 

As you imagine this experience, notice what is in the foreground of your awareness. What aspects are you most aware of at the time that you experience your limiting response? 

The panicking air passenger may be aware of the sound of the engines revving up in preparation for take off. 

Check all rep systems and sub-modalities for what is standing out.

b. Notice your background awareness. Notice what is in the background of your awareness. 

What are you not typically very aware of during your un-resourceful automatic response? 

These must be things that are not limited to the situation, or that you might experience in a situation in which you have a very resourceful response. 

Typically, you focus on the most pleasant body sensations that you can find, such as the aliveness of the soles of your feet, or the color of the walls.

Select a counterexample.

Find a good counterexample to your un-resourceful response. 

This will be a time when you could well have had the un-resourceful or limiting response, but you did not. 

For example, memories of flying without panicking would provide counterexamples. 

If there is no counterexample, you want to find the closest situation that you can. 

For example, if you have been in a bus or a train relaxed, not feeling anxious at all, then you have a good counterexample because of the similarities between the interior of a plane and that of a bus (seating, other people, length, engine sounds, jostling). 

Associate into the experience.

Explore the foreground and background of the counterexample.

a. Explore the foreground of the counterexample. 

Discover the aspects of this experience of which you are most aware, that is, that are in the foreground. 

Intensify the positive experience and anchor it. (We’ll call this anchor A1.) 

Foreground experiences may be things like a curious internal voice, or a dissociated image of the environment, or a sense of desire for the engine to wind up because it means that you are going to move forward.

b. Explore the background of the counterexample. 

Get in touch with the features that are in the background of both situations (this is the common ground experience). 

This may range from body sensations such as the soles of the feet to similarities between the external perceptions.

Associate the background and the foreground feature of the counterexample, and connect this state with the foreground of the original situation. 

Weld a strong association between the background and foreground feature in your counterexample situation. 

You can do this by focusing on the background feature and firing the A1 resource anchor. 

Now connect this with the foreground of the original situation. You can use suggestions to accomplish this.

For example: “The more you attend to the feeling of the soles of your feet, the more you can experience how your curious internal voice becomes louder and clearer. 

And as your awareness shifts to the environment of the bus and its engine, increasing speed, you more easily maintain an image of the inside of the airplane.”  

As you can see, we are linking the common background and the positive state with the foreground of the situation in which you had experienced a limiting response.

Focus on the common ground experience of the original experience.

Return to the original experience, and focus on the common ground experience that you found in (4b). 

For example, you could place yourself back into the airplane as the engines are beginning to rev, and focus your awareness on the soles of your feet and the color of the walls there. 

If this does not improve the limiting response, then try one of these strategies:

Option 1. Find a more powerful fitting counterexample, and repeat the pattern from step (2a). Or…

Option 2. Return to step (2b), and strengthen the association between the common ground elements and the background features of the counterexample.

Focus on the foreground features of the original situation from step (1a). You should experience the positive state from your counterexample experience. 

You can use instructions such as: 

“Now you can place yourself into the seat in the airline, actually focusing your full attention on the sound of the engine and the sense of acceleration of the plane.”