This is a personal story and one I haven’t shared very much. A lot of people who know me now certainly wouldn’t recognise the person I was when I was a lot younger.
In my late teenager years I used to be very angry; quite a lot of the time. I would flare-up at any situation that didn’t agree with me. That could be because someone said something wrong to me, or something didn’t go my way.
However, the result would be the same; I would feel my anger rise up through my body until it got to the point when I just shouted, or threw things around. My face would go very red, and my body would physically shake. Everyone would know how angry I was, and I expected them to do something about it. After all it was their fault; not mine!
Thankfully (for everyone), I’m not like that now. I am a lot calmer. My job as an NLP and NLP4Kids Practitioner means that I must relate and build rapport with young people. I certainly wouldn’t be able to this successfully if I still had that pent-up anger inside me.
So, what changed?
Initially, it was a decision; I didn’t want to be angry any more. Secondly, I discovered the self-help industry.
I loved books and there were lots of self-help books I could read! What I learned from those books, at the time, was that I needed to control my emotions and not get angry. I would never get anything I wanted until I was a lot calmer. Unfortunately, what I found was that I was just suppressing my anger; in effect, all I was doing was bottling it up. All it took was one good shake and that anger would explode out. It was not a pretty sight! But! It was way better than I used to behave.
So did those self-help books help me? Absolutely. It was the start of a journey, which lead me to NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), and now doing something I love, providing therapy and coaching for children with NLP4Kids (www.NLP4Kids.org) in Cambridgeshire.
In NLP there’s a ‘law’ called the law of Requisite Variety; which simply means the more choices you have, the better your options are.
So, when I was that angry teenager I really felt there was only one choice available to me and that was Go, Angry!! Now, after discovering and understanding the law of Requisite Variety, I know I could have made other choices, and found other options; and these would have given me different results, perhaps even better ones.
When I start to work with a child in my NLP4Kids sessions I may use a technique called the Path of Life. This is an elegant way that shows the child what would happen if they carried on doing that behaviour (for example being angry all the time). I pick certain times in their future life and ask: What would you be doing in your life at this point? Where will you be? What does your family think about you?
I even extend the questions out to when they have died: Who was with you to say goodbye? What would you say about your life looking back on it?
These are tough questions to ask, and the answers can sometimes be heartbreaking.
By the way, this is the easy route! Going back to the law of Requisite Variety; this Path of Life would mean you didn’t need to make any choices, just the one, ‘Be Angry’ and see what happens.
Fortunately, there is another path you can take, if you choose to.
It is harder, it requires change. But it all starts from a decision. Not to be angry all the time and then imagine all the possibilities that could happen in your future.
Each time I work through the exercise with the children I remember that angry teenager, and what might have been if I didn’t choose to go down the new path.
If you are interested in learning more about how NLP4Kids and I can help your angry child to find a new path do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07795 212537.