I’m amazed how much impact a single word can have.
Recently, a client explained how she had been feeling tired and overwhelmed. As I listened I heard, “I have to get all these things done”, “I’ve got to get it finished”, “I’m overwhelmed with everything”. Of course, she knew she can’t control the context – that’s like expecting the weather to conform to what we want. And, she was aware that she can only choose her response. Then came the, “but…”. “The truth is there are certain things I DO ‘have to’ get done, by a specific time”. She’s right! As a scientist, the experiments are timed and things ‘have to’ happen at the designated time.
However, noticing words like; ‘have to’, ‘got to’, ‘must’, ‘should’ and ‘need’, I know this reveals the internal mode that has to be operating. In NLP it is referred to as the ‘Mode of Operating’. In this case, her mode was, ‘Necessity’.
After conducting thousands of coaching and training sessions, with people all over the world, I have identified three main Modes humans function in: Necessity, Possibility and Desire/Determination. Each mode is like an automatic program that runs in our internal system and the words we use not only reveal the program, but can work as a trigger or button to switch them on. I liken this to the function keys in the Microsoft Word program. For example, you only need to press ‘F3’ and an entire program will run to connect your computer to the internet and open ‘help’ ready for you to ask for assistance.
In a similar way, the words of ‘Necessity’ (have to, got to, must etc.), switch on our ‘flight or flight’ response.
Don’t trust me. Try it for yourself. Pay close attention as you say, ‘I have to get everything done’, and notice how your muscles tighten and your chest closes – maybe only slightly, but there will be a changes (if you weren’t in that mode already). This happens so your muscles are ready to run, protect your vital organs or fight.
Though, the daily tasks we face don’t usually require this mode. This is an inefficient use of your resources and leads to fatigue. Is that helpful for the task you have at hand? Perhaps you need your brain more than your muscles.
What then is the best mode given the tasks you have? If you really, truly, do have an important task to do, you need to be in the best state possible to give you the best chance of success.
Here is one way you can allow your muscles to relax and be responsive, while allowing yourself to have the energy for those important tasks: when you catch yourself saying, “I have to … (task)”, do a ‘Real-time Edit’ (which I will blog about next week) and say, “I want to do this (the task) because … (and state the positive result you’ll get from completing that task)’.
It’s like changing gears in your brain.
When this client said, “I WANT to get the experiments done, BECAUSE I keep my commitment and show myself reliable”, she was blown away by how much more she accomplished and the energy she had.
Try it yourself and let me know how you go.