Martin Messier

March 10, 2023

Secret Therapy Stories

You came looking for Secret Therapy stories. Here is one I will share with you.

After getting my NLP certification, I figured that more NLP certifications wouldn’t add one ounce of skill to my repertoire. What had to be learned was learned, and only practice would give me the level of skill I aspired to. So I asked myself: “What could you start doing that would give you massive practice and increase your skill level in very little time?”

Obviously, I couldn’t label myself a therapist. I didn’t have a degree in psychology, so it would be illegal to call myself as such.

After thinking about it for two seconds, I decided to structure a challenge for myself.

I set the following parameters for myself. I would:

  • Meet random people in public places like bus stops and park benches;
  • Establish rapport with them as quickly as possible;
  • Seek to elicit from them some problem they were trying to resolve in their life;
  • Help them take a step in solving the problem within a 15-minute conversation.

Oh, and I set one last parameter for myself:

  • I would rotate through different identities so as not to engage myself personally in the encounters.

This last parameter would lead to an ASTOUNDING discovery.

Armed with the conviction that this intensive practice program would help me master my skill, I set out to the park benches with my guitar and started playing Van Morrison.

Over the following weeks, I connected with a teenager who was bummed about his high school grades, a wife who was desperate about her marriage, an accountant bored with his job, two girls shy about getting boyfriends and another 493 people who, in some little way, wanted to make their lives better.

I leveraged all the patterns I learned from certification training and reading on the net.

Want to know what I discovered?

The patterns I used weren’t nearly as important as the identities I adopted.

In one case, I would be a traveling musician who passing through town. In another, I was a researcher from Argentina invited to participate in a local conference. Yet in another, I was a self-employed business person from California on vacation.

I discovered that the identities FASCINATED the people I was talking to and created a psychological setting in which they could help themselves.

In other words, since it wasn’t “me” talking to them, “I” didn’t matter one ounce. Of course, guiding them through specific patterns helped them get the change they wanted, but it counted only for 10% of the success of the intervention. 90% was the interest and belief they put into it.

Let me illustrate this a bit further with a story about Mahatma Gandhi:

A lady brought her son to Gandhi and told him the boy ate too much sugar. She wanted the Mahatma to tell him to stop. Gandhi requested that she return the following week. A week later, she brought back the child and Gandhi looked at him straight in the eye and said: “Stop eating sugar, child!”

A month later the lady came back to Gandhi and said: “My son has followed your order, but why could you not have told him so the first time we came to see you?”

“Madam”, replied Gandhi, “a week earlier I was still eating sugar”.

The story points to the power of congruency. But I didn’t tell it to you for that purpose. I told it for you to realize that the pattern used didn’t matter. What mattered was that Gandhi said it. And this opened some sort of secret key in the boy’s psyche so that he could effect the needed change.

How are YOU going to leverage the power of this distinction?

With that said, you can start asking yourself how your identity facilitates or complicates the results you try to accomplish by communicating with others.

Remember, the patterns matter only for 10% of the way…

  • Martin – can you share more details on which of your identities got what kind of response? That’s a fascinating experience.

    Your post reminds me of the story (if I have the details right) of the young man that wanted to start a business and went to Rockefeller to ask for a loan. He found him in a bank and went up and asked him. Rockefeller listened to the young man’s explanation. When the young man asked if he’d loan him the money, Rockefeller said no but he’d let him walk with him across the floor of the bank.

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