This NLP timeline “Drop Down” technique is a variation on the theme of using personal timelines to help people overcome repeated episodes of unwarranted negative emotions surfacing. Experiencing persistent negative emotion, apart from being uncomfortable for people as the emotion is occurring, can also cause lots of problems over the longer term including destroying relationships, health problems etc.
This NLP technique helps people get in touch with their deepest resources in order to learn about their past, learn about significant events in the past where they still experience negative emotions in visiting their memories of that event. The learnings that people take from this exercise and the way that the NLP Master Practitioner guides their client throughout the process lead to the negative emotion being released. It is an amazing process and one that you can learn to do for yourself and to help others by learning NLP.
Releasing the negative emotion of – hurt
I sometimes work with a friend’s daughter to practice some of what I learn in this course. In our initial conversation I told her about the 5 negative emotions we might tend to carry with us through our lives and how they influence our present and future. I gave her time to think about this and get back to me if she felt that any of these emotions are causing her difficulties in her life. Her first reaction was that she felt hurt and shame due to the deformity in her feet and ankles. She said she was born with a problem and as a little girl she had operations, with her little feet staying in casts after which could walk but her feet were still deformed and her ankles stayed extremely thin. I asked her to think whether these feelings are associated only with her physical issue or does she experience these feelings at other times and sometimes out of the blue.
She contacted me the next day and said she did want to have a session and we made an appointment. At the beginning of our session, I briefly explained to her what timeline is and that timeline therapy involves a mental process. Knowing that she is very inclined to intellectual, logical thinking, I said to her that she didn’t need to make sense of everything. Eliciting her timeline was very easy. With no hesitation she pointed to the left when I asked which direction the past is for her, and then she pointed to the right to indicate the future. Then I asked her what the negative emotion she wanted to work with was, and she said hurt. I started by asking if it was OK for her unconscious mind to release this negative emotion and for her to be aware of it consciously, and she said yes. I then asked her to let her unconscious reveal the root cause of the problem, the very first event which when disconnected would resolve the emotion. What was the very first time she experienced the feeling of hurt and if she were to know how old was she – was it before, during or after her birth? She immediately said “at the age of fourteen”, and I asked her if she was sure that was the first time she experienced the feeling of hurt or could it be earlier. She said she wasn’t sure and then said “it was when I was nine”. Again I asked if she was sure and she said she wasn’t. I said you might not be sure but your unconscious knows so let your unconscious guide you. She said even though she wasn’t sure all she could think of was the age of nine.
I asked her to close her eyes, visualize her timeline and put a white flag at now then float well above now looking down and when she was well above now turn to the left and float over her timeline to that very first event where she felt hurt. I could see from the movements of her head that she was following the instructions and doing this easily. When she was over the significant event I asked her to float down into it and tell me what she felt in that event. She said she felt confused and hurt. I asked her what lessons she could take from this event the learning of which would allow her to easily and effortlessly let go of the emotion. She said she was worried about letting go of the emotion because she felt the emotion was there to teach her those lessons, and that if she let go of the emotion the lessons would disappear too. I told her that she can be sure the lessons will be saved for her in a special place and she can always retrieve them whenever she needed them in the future. I told her that what mattered was to learn from the event and that the emotion was unnecessary. I asked her what lessons she got from the experience, and repeated the question until she talked about all her learnings. She said she learned that it is important to:
- manage to stay together
- accept things as they are
- be able to move on
- be understanding of the other
After she talked about all her learnings, I again assured her that these are important lessons which will be preserved for her for whenever she needs them in the future. Then I asked her to let herself take a free fall to go under the emotion of confusion and hurt and see what emotion she would find there. She said ‘being excluded’. We repeated this two more times and each time she found ‘love’ underneath.
Next I asked her to float up over this significant event with the event way below her and turn her head to the past and take another trip over her timeline to a time well before this significant event and any others which led to this and then turn and look towards now. Where’s the emotion of hurt? She said it was still there but didn’t feel very strong. So I asked her to float back into that event again and see what she felt. She said she could still feel it. I asked her if there were any other lessons to take, and she said no. Then I asked her to again drop fast underneath the emotion of hurt and see what other emotion is there. This time it was ‘joy’, next it was ‘feeling excluded’, next it was ‘love’, again ‘love’, and finally ‘joy and love’.
I asked her to float up and again travel over her timeline to a time well beyond this event, then turn towards now and see where the emotion was. She looked confused. She said she couldn’t see it, so I said to her that she could now start floating back towards now; that she would do it as fast as she could at the same time making sure she stops right before above each event where she had this emotion, take her lessons and let go of the emotion. It took much longer than I expected so I had to ask her twice if she was back at now and she said “not yet”. When she was back at now I asked her to float down, open her eyes, take a deep breath and look around. I asked her how she felt, she said she was relaxed. Then I asked her to go back to an event in her past where she had the emotion and see if she could find that emotion. She said it all looked dim but she wasn’t sure whether that was really the case or whether she was living up to my expectation. I didn’t make any comments on that. I said “now let’s look to the future, I want you to go to any time in the future which if it had happened in the past it would feel inappropriate or unwarranted to have the emotion of hurt, and see if you can find this old emotion, you might find that you can’t.” She said she can think of something in the future but she found that her reaction completely changed. She said she couldn’t find the emotion. I asked her what she could find and she said freedom and love. Then I asked her to come back to now.
Overall I think the exercise went well. However, I think my clients conscious mind sneaked into the process a lot. I believe I need to improve my skill of addressing the unconscious mind and also speak faster, so that I can bypass the conscious mind. With someone especially like this who has an analytical mind, I need to be fast and have better command of the script.
Next time, if the emotion does not clear, depending on the time the client has gone back to, I might ask their unconscious mind to travel further back in the past to find the root cause.
I talked to my client a week later and asked her how she was doing and whether she has had any instances of feeling hurt. She said that there have been instances when she would normally feel hurt but she realized that her emotional reactions have changed in a positive way.