Magic Bullets or Bottomless Pits

Article and Podcast

Three Approaches to Change

Did you ever experience something that felt as if it had transformed you to the core of your being?  Was there ever a time when you were certain that an old issue that had been nagging you for years was gone forever?

A powerful insight has shifted your understanding, and it’s as if you are stepping into a whole new way of being and living!

Then things gradually slip back to how they were before, as if nothing had really changed. Except that now you are even more frustrated, cynical, and disappointed than before.

Hypnotherapy and NLP Coaching

People often come to NLP or Hypnotherapy as a last resort. They have had no success in dealing with issues like chronic pain, or emotional addiction, or the self-destructive mindset that results in continual personal and professional disappointment. They may have visited numerous healers and professionals and it all helped to a certain degree, but nothing has addressed the root of the problem. They have learned to cope, but they haven’t t learned to change.

Often something entirely different happens through hypnosis to tip the balance; and a year, or ten years later, they are still enjoying the fruits of that shift.

How is it possible that hypnosis and NLP Coaching work when other modalities fail? I remember a client who was suffering from chronic back-pain. She had gone through multiple surgeries, and years of visiting pain-clinics and psychiatrists. The pain had worn her down, and she felt completely powerless to change it. It was affecting her work, her health, and even her ability to sustain a romantic relationship. She was about to break up with her boyfriend of several years.

The hypnotic state gave her the ability to reclaim the part of herself that she had only known as ‘pain’. Think of this as a metaphor, because it may be the best way to describe how hypnotherapy works. We disown our ‘problem’, and try to fix it by getting rid of it. But it’s like cutting off a limb because we sprained a joint. We separate ourselves from the very thing that can make us whole. You might think that this wouldn’t apply to a physical symptom, like pain. But after the organic cause of the pain has gone, there is nothing there to support it except the habit, and the unconscious need, to recreate it. This is even more true when it comes to issues like your mindset, negative emotions, self-limiting beliefs, or addictive behaviors.

There’s no blame in this. You do the best you can at any given time. Hypnosis is simply a way to give you more options and choices.

After her first session my client’s pain disappeared, never to return (the last time we spoke was ten years after our work together). People call such things miraculous! But how it works is very simple. Hypnosis has the marvelous ability to help us address unconscious dynamics while we remain conscious. Hypnosis is not like sleep. It is simply a way of bypassing the filters that our conscious mind uses to process experience. Hypnosis is a natural state of mind that you experience several times a day – every time you go into a daydream, for example.

The Hypnotherapy process allowed my client to address the reasons why she had unconsciously perpetuated the pain. Of course, had there been physical reasons for the pain to persist, I would have referred her to a physician or a chiropractor. The fact that the pain disappeared so rapidly, and that she remained pain-free, told me that it was no longer a physical issue.

We continued to work together so that I could teach her how to use the hypnotic state to empower herself, and to apply it to every area of her life. I taught her different ways of self-hypnosis and gave her the tools to cultivate her creative unconscious, set a vision and develop the strategies and skills for attaining it, and to learn how to master her own psychology. After all, if she could overcome chronic pain that she had been told was incurable, what else could she do?

Three Approaches to Healing and Transformation

Personal transformation and healing depend on your expectations. They also depend on the expectations of the person who is mentoring you.

George Estabrooks noticed  in the 1940’s that the client “tends to fulfill the expectations of their therapist.” In our Hypnosis and NLP Training we emphasis the importance of setting no limits on the results you can expect from a client, to expect miracles. When you do that you will constantly be astonished by the positive results you get with clients.

If a therapist sees you only through the filters of neurosis and pathology, they will be incapable of seeing anything beyond that. Teaching you to cope with your ‘pathology’ will be the best you can expect from them.

If you have a physical illness and your doctor sees your body as something separate from the rest of you, they may be able to treat your symptoms, but they never actually ‘heal’ you.The symptoms will probably return when the conditions for them occur again.

If a coach sees you through their own preconception of success or failure, they will be insensitive to your own unique gifts and the journey that you are on, and they will unconsciously set limits on what you can achieve, based on their own projections.

Three approaches to change

The Bottomless Pit Approach:
The old-school approach to transformation is that life is long and arduous and filled with difficulties. You must spend half a lifetime as an apprentice, years in therapy, decades of arduous spiritual practice. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with dedication and ongoing training. But the idea that deep change must take a long time is simply not true. Some of the unspoken assumptions that drive that idea are:

  • Life is always difficult and complex.
  • Learn to accept things as they are or you will be disappointed.
  • People don’t change, they just become more of who they are.
  • Your problem is so complex that no one can really fix it, but you can learn to manage it.

The Magic Bullet Approach:
Fueled by wishful thinking and a desire not to have to take full responsibility for the miracle of your life, the magic bullet approach is characterized by attitudes like:


  • If only I could find the right person, technique, mentor, place, etc.I know it will fix everything.
  • Here’s a new bright shiny object. It will will give absolutely, positively give you everything you need.
  • I had an amazing experience doing such-and-such, or with so-and-so, and I want to have that experience again (and again, and again).
  • If you do more of what you are doing things will eventually work out. (I will be healthy, have the relationship I desire, have all the money and success I want)

It’s not that magic doesn’t happen, nor is it true that some things aren’t hard. It’s that having a strategy is essential, for everything important that we do.

The Five Changes Approach: Integrated Praxis and NLP Coaching

Praxis simply means putting what you know into action consistently and strategically. It doesn’t mean preparing for something. It means that what you are doing right now is already having an impact on your life.

It means using the appropriate tools and skills and continuing to use and refine them on an ongoing basis. Unlike the ‘bottomless pit’ approach, you’re the one with the power. You’re the one taking responsibility for your actions and for the results of your actions. Unlike the ‘magic bullet’ approach you’re not just hoping for a miracle to suddenly change everything without your having to commit to making the change happen.

In the Third approach big changes can happen quickly, but you are developing the insights you get from them to adapt what you do, to course-correct, and go deeper on an ongoing basis. When you find the support and mentorship that works for you, you know that it works as a collaboration, because you know that no one else can ‘fix’ your problems for you. They simply give you the support, the skills, and the perspectives that you need.

Anyone with enough time and patience can learn to give their car a tune-up or rebuild the engine; but unless you are a car mechanic you’d be better off getting someone else to do it. This applies even more when it comes to getting the perspective for your life and business that you simply can’t get on your own, simply because you’re too close to them.

The Third approach is not a compromise between the other two approaches. Energy and consistency are required, but not in order for you to bury yourself in the process.

When change happens it’s not because you stumbled on the right magic formula. The obstructions we put in our own way are not be as insurmountable as they seem, but we can’t fix them by driving blindly into the dark and thinking that if only we could go faster we’ll get where we need to be.We won’t fix them by giving our power away, or by hoping for a miracle. There is an art to it, and it really is possible to master that art. You just have to start taking the steps to do so. Want to take the time to talk?