For some, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed in the hustle of keeping up with the everyday demands of work, education, family, friends, and other responsibilities. Others may feel that they have a good handle on things, but may still feel out of balance, as if something is missing or they aren’t moving forward in the way they’d like to.
To restore balance and simplicity, it can be very useful to change the way we look at things. Think of that old saying that you can’t see the forest for the trees, Let’s take that literally and think about the experience of standing in the woods. From that perspective, you can’t see the size of the forest or the path 20 yards away that takes you quickly and easily to your destination. Your vision is limited to what is closest to you.
And sometimes the opposite can be just as overwhelming. When you are looking at the bigness of what you are facing, it can feel like it is too much to take on, and that can cause you to freeze up and do nothing. In both of these cases, simplifying those ideas can bring a new perspective, improve clarity, and reduce or eliminate the stress and negative feelings.
When there is something that feels too big to tackle, start by breaking it down into smaller pieces. Chunking down our ideas turns them into bite-sized pieces and makes it easier to create a solution.
What I really like about this is that it lets us worry about issues when they happen, and it helps us work towards ensuring they won’t happen again. At the same time, it lets us not have to worry about issues that haven’t happened. Here are a couple of frameworks that you can use to simplify your thinking.
“How Do You Eat an Elephant?”
Chunking is a tool used in Neuro-Linguistic Programming for problem-solving, conflict resolution, and managing thoughts to reduce stress and anxiety. If you feel overwhelmed in your work, a task or project, or in a personal situation it can be incredibly helpful to chunk down. As you create smaller chunks you can work out what you need to do and what you can manage to do. Chunking down can help to reduce feelings of being overwhelmed by breaking the big problem into smaller, easier to manage parts. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
For example, you might call the mechanic and say “I have a problem with my car.” Since that isn’t very specific, without asking any more questions, they would have to take your entire car apart and check every component. That would be a huge waste of time and money. So the mechanic will probably ask you some questions, to try to “chunk down” the problem into something more specific and manageable.
You: “I have a problem with my car.”
Mechanic: “What kind of a problem?”
You: “It’s making a loud noise.”
Mechanic: “Where is the noise coming from?”
You: “The front end.”
Mechanic: “Which side?”
You: “The passenger side.”
Mechanic: “What does it sound like?”
You: “A clunk.”
Mechanic: “Does it happen all the time?”
You: “No, just when I use the brakes.”
With just these few questions the mechanic has enough information to narrow down the problem and provide a clear path to approach the problems without taking apart the entire car. The same technique can be applied to simplify problems and emotions.
Sometimes the opposite is true and we may be lost in the midst of all the little details and not going anywhere. This is when we need to use NLP to chunk up. What is it you are trying to achieve? What is your goal? What is your vision? Once you have those defined, then you can use your excellent skills in analytical thinking to chunk down, maybe update and refine the plan, and work out how to get there.
The 5 Why’s Tool is useful when you are faced with a recurring or unexpected problem. It will help you get to the root cause of the problem so that you have a greater understanding of what happened. With that understanding, you can prevent the problem from happening again and manage any issues that may have resulted from the original problem.
Start by stating your problem. Once you identify what the problem is, begin to ask why. With each why answer, you will get a more concise and specific answer. Keep asking Why until you run out of logical answers. That might happen after 3 Whys, or after 8. How many times you ask isn’t important, getting to the root cause is the goal. Let’s look at the process
“I was late to work again today.”
“Because I was late dropping off the kids at camp.”
“Because Joey couldn’t find his sneakers.”
“Because they weren’t by the door where they belong.”
Here we have reached the conclusion that we were late to work because Joey’s shoes weren’t where they belong. Now we can create a plan to be sure that the shoes always get put by the door before bed, and we won’t be late for work. We can also use this information to anticipate other problems, and create a routine of gathering all our stuff for tomorrow the night before.
“What’s That Like?”
When a client comes to me and says that they are anxious, or angry, or insecure, or in pain - or whatever they are experiencing - I start by asking them what makes them anxious. I want to start breaking that big uncomfortable emotion down into something we can work with.
I’ll ask them when they experience that emotional state, and I want them to be as specific as possible. Is it just when driving? Every time they drive, or just in certain conditions or places? Once we establish when they have that experience, we can chunk it down even further by asking where they experience the feeling in their body. Does it spread anywhere? What makes it feel worse, and what makes it feel better? The more specific we get, the more control we have over the experience. Just defining the feelings creates some separation and control over the experience by making them smaller and more manageable. Then we can employ other techniques and strategies to collapse the negative emotions.
The Role of Hypnosis
The methods we talked about this week are all used in hypnosis. A typical session will include work in and out of trance to define the issue and anchor the changes we are making in the subconscious.
This is just a brief overview of some of the methods used in simplifying thinking to produce results. You can put these methods to use right away to start changing the way you think, and the way you feel.
Hypnosis is an excellent tool for learning to use your skills, abilities, and resources effectively. When you discover that you have the ability to give yourself a suggestion and have your body believe you, you will have the ability to take back control over those parts of your life that you feel are out of control. You can learn more by visiting us at www.GreenMountainHypnosis.com ∎
Karen Gray is a Certified Professional Hypnotist, a Certified Hypnosis Instructor, a Registered Nurse, and the Director of Green Mountain Hypnosis. For more information on how you can use hypnosis to change your life, contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (802) 566-0464.