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associated and dissociated experiences
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Are you disconnected?

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Following on from my article on September 17th (here), I want to explore the challenge and value in understanding and developing the differences in experience between being associated with something and being dissociated.

I first became consciously aware of the difference between these two for myself whilst beginning my NLP training. One of the first exercises we did was to work through a “personality map” by talking about a couple of past experiences - one with positive feelings and one with negative feelings.

In a later blog entry, I’ll explore the powerful personality map in more detail, but one of the tangential things that came out of the exercise for me was that when I was recalling (mentally accessing) the good stuff, I had a bird’s eye view of the situation, whereas for the bad stuff, I was re-living and feeling it, as well as seeing and hearing what was going on.

Interpreting this in the three simplest NLP splits of experience, the most important aspect that (slowly!) jumped out for me was that I had much broader (richer) recalled understanding of the less pleasant things in my life, and much narrower (poorer) recalled understanding of the bests bits. In NLP terms:

As with many things, there is no right or wrong way to experience and recall things, but by gaining a greater understanding of your own internal processing, it enables you to have more choice about how you want to experience and recall things. There are a number of steps I’ve taken personally to broaden and enhance my experience of the positive aspects of my life - because why on earth wouldn’t I want to do that?!

A couple of personal and concrete examples:

1) A few months ago, my wife and I went to the first scan of our baby. I managed (just!) to hold back the tears whilst in the hospital itself, but, once I got out into the car park, they flooded down my face (happy tears, I’m glad to report!). I think that, prior to gaining the greater personal understanding that NLP has helped with, I would now recall that experience in my traditional, bird’s eye, visual way, and that would have been it. A couple of small actions have really helped to enrich that experience:

2) In our village recently, we had our annual fun run - a 10k and 5k charity affair. I went on the 5k one with my 9 year old daughter, and we had a great time! Again, historically, I think I’d have had an almost entirely visual recollection of this event, but by doing similar things as mentioned in points (a) and (b) above, the recollection is now much stronger:

I had always thought of myself as a “visual person”. By gaining a greater understanding, it has helped in the practical sense of not labelling myself (and therefore narrowing my experiences), but also in actively choosing to do something about it. I now make much more effort to listen when I want to, to raise my kinaesthetic awareness when I’m doing things I really enjoy; and alter my visual experience to add in pictures of what I see, as well as what the “third party” me would see from hovering above.

This is clearly not a “fix”, but a wonderful and exciting learning process, which enriches and contextualises great experiences so that they live and breathe, and helps me to slow down, enjoy, and soak them in.

This specific change worked really well for me - it will be slightly or significantly different for everyone else. The general principle is that by noticing how you experience and recall the world, you can become more aware of the opportunities to broaden those experiences and give them more life.


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