Would you like to travel through time? The NLP Timeline Technique can be a powerful approach to reach back and offer support to our younger selves and project forwards into our future. In this post I explore why this approach can be so helpful.
Why is the NLP Timeline Technique so Useful?
The NLP Timeline Technique can be used in a number of ways with the aim of helping us travel back into our past, forwards into our future and in so doing allow us to be fully in the present.
Therapists and practitioners can use it in a direct way via NLP, using a range of NLP Timeline Techniques to suit the person they are working with. It can also be used in hypnotherapy. Sometimes as a direct and representative way of travelling on a timeline, and in other more subtle or symbolic ways of reconnecting with your younger or future self.
Neurologically the brain does not differentiate between the past, present and future, and real or imaginary. If you have ever had anxiety about a future event or fears arising from a past occurrence then you have already proved to yourself that this is true. If the brain thinks about something with enough focus it becomes “real” for your whole system. Physically your system can respond with symptoms, such as raised blood pressure or a pounding heart for example. On the emotional level you may feel stressed or it may be the long slow burn of a life being lived within imagined constraints.
Our ability to create a reality can work for or against us. The NLP Timeline Technique, whether we use it within an NLP or hypnotherapy framework, allows us to use this skill to good effect.
All the Ages We Are
Consider that every age you have ever been in stored inside you. All the experiences, hopes and dreams of every year creating the you that you have become. And with each year, we develop and grow with what life brings.
The way that I often talk about this in practice is to imagine a bar chart of our personal growth and development for every year that we have lived, represented by a vertical bar. From one all the way up to whatever age we have reached. This chart will look different for everyone and some years will see us covering more ground, but overall the bars will become taller.
Now imagine that you can reach back to your five year old self and give them the gifts of the insights and perspective you have now as an adult. Supporting them, so that whilst that part of you will always be five, but now it has the benefit of that help. Bringing the bar up to the age you currently are. Ultimately aiming to allow each year’s vertical bar to be topped up where that would be helpful.
What Defines You?
Our past will be a significant part of what shapes and defines us as individuals. But sometimes we can find that past events or family dynamics that are no longer relevant or helpful are dictating how we feel and behave in the present. Unhelpful behaviours and choices repeating themselves. The past is important, and history needs to be valued and learned from. Whether it is our own or the world at large. But for most of us, our future does not have to be constrained or defined by past events if they do not serve us well. We can free ourselves from those limitations.
Resourcing Your Younger Self
As a young child we sometimes do not have the knowledge or emotional resources to cope with an imperfect world. And despite the best efforts of our parents, or challenging experiences, we develop ways of seeing ourselves and the world that limit us. For example, we may have come to believe that we are not good at or will not be able to do certain things. We are left in an unresourceful state and these beliefs can become limiting for us in the life we now live as adults.
Using the NLP Timeline Technique allows us to take the benefit of our wisdom and experience as adults back to our younger selves. We give them the gift of the strength or perspective we would have liked in that moment or over those years as a child. We are re-parenting ourselves – filing in the gaps. Bringing each bar on the chart up to the present day and integrating and bringing in from the cold the parts of us that are struggling.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
― C.G. Jung
Creating Your Future with the NLP Timeline Technique
Just as we can take positive resources back to support our younger selves, we can project forwards to pre-experience and help our future selves. We can identify what it is that we really want, how we want to live and resources we would like to have within ourselves and experience ourselves living life that way. The aim being to help to support and guide us in achieving that and more.
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”
― C.G. Jung
The NLP Timeline Technique – an Overview
This is such a lovely technique to work with as a practitioner, is offers the client so many gifts and can be a very powerful experience for them. I think that many of us will have our own approach to using this and will also adapt how we use it with each person we work with.
There are some guiding principles that are useful to help in gaining a feel for this NLP technique.
- The NLP Timeline Technique may be supportive where there are recurrent unhelpful behaviours or emotions. If there are strong fears or phobias we may consider other approaches such as the Rewind Technique and/or hypnotherapy.
- If we are using an NLP approach we will agree on how the timeline appears to someone – where the past, present and future are to them. For example, many people would experience the past as behind them if they were stood on a timeline.
- Having identified what that person would like to work with, we consider what inner resources they would find to be helpful. For example, they may wish for an increased sense of calm, confidence, self-belief, inner strength, focus, or creativity. Or perhaps a different understanding, one from an adult’s perspective to a situation they experienced in childhood. We anchor this so it is a resource they can access on the timeline and beyond.
- Then we take the individual through different stages on their timeline to enable them to re-visit their younger selves and gift them, via the anchor, this positive resource. We can then help them to take resourceful ways of thinking, feeling and behaving into the future.
You can read more background about NLP Timelines in Robert Dilts excellent NLP University Encyclopedia.
Be a Time Traveller with the NLP Timeline Technique
We are amazing and complex creatures. The same pathways that tie us up in knots can free us. The NLP Timeline Technique is simply using what you already do in a more helpful way. You can use your brain’s incredible capacity to create thought and emotional states, and the reality that springs from them, to break free from those limitations and to support you in living a happy and healthy life.
I hope you have found this blog on The NLP Timeline Technique and its resources to have been of interest. If you feel you would like to explore the potential benefits of this process I see patients at both clinics, and also work via Skype. You can book an initial free 15 minute mini-consultation to see if my approach might suit you, please do contact me.