30 Apr Rewind Yourself
Tale of the Day:
Rewinding out of a bad experience
Did you ever wish you could press rewind and just reverse right out of a bad experience? Well it’s actually possible. I know because I do it about three times per year. And it works every time.
I used to get an intense asthma-like reaction about four times/year. It started when I was in my teens and I had no idea what caused it. It happened during the day, during the night, outdoors, indoors, in different locations, and even different countries. It began with a scratchy feeling in my left lung. Soon I’d be coughing, wheezing like I had bronchitis, and hacking up phlegm. I’d just wait it out, and in about two hours my system would calm down and get back to normal. But that two hours wasn’t something I looked forward to. At the hospital, a test for asthma came up negative; the doctor had no answers.
The problem persisted through my college years and into adulthood. During my NLP Practitioner Training I got curious. An element of the NLP phobia cure is to step into the end of the memory of trauma and feel yourself rewinding through it until you get to the beginning, where everything was fine. I thought about my asthma-like reaction and wondered, “What if I could rewind out of that too, but in real-time?” My physiology “knew” exactly how to get into the reaction, so why not rewind back out the same way?
The next time I felt that little bit of scratchy feeling in my left lung, I closed my eyes and pretended that someone pressed the rewind button on my life. In a second or two I felt myself rewinding (in that jerky motion we’ve all seen on TV) until ten minutes earlier when I was just fine. To be sure that the rewind had every chance to “set in” to my physiology, I repeated the process about 7 times, rewinding back to a different place each time: two hours earlier, a day earlier, a week earlier, a month earlier, etc. Each rewind took no more than a few seconds. Then I waited to see what would happen. The little scratchy feeling in my lung stayed for about ten minutes, without getting worse, and then faded away.
That was about 8 years ago. A few times each year I still get that scratchy feeling, but I just rewind out of it and I’m fine. Two times when I was deep asleep I didn’t wake up until the reaction had gotten into the beginning of the wheezing and coughing stage, but even then when I did the rewind, the reaction stopped progressing and went away. I’m curious what other unhelpful physiological responses this process might benefit. One I know it can work with is emotions. I teach this “real-time rewind” to my clients as a tool they can use to “back out” of over-reactive emotional responses (see below).
Tool of the Day:
Rewind in Real-time: Getting out the way you got in. (For use with over-reactive physiological or emotional responses).
1) If you are having a physiological or emotional response that is not helpful, first, if possible, find a private place to do the rewind. If you are in public this might mean going to sit in your car or a bathroom stall, etc.
2) Imagine someone presses the rewind button on your life. Rewind happens quickly, so in a second or two, you hear the sound of the rewinding and feel your body jerking backwards until you arrive in a moment when you were fine/normal/ordinary.
3) Open your eyes and feel your fine/normal/ordinary physiology fully present as a way of being now. (I get tingles through my spine and neck when I get a really embodied rewind experience).
4) Repeat the rewinding step as many times as feels useful, rewinding to different times in the past day, week, month, when you were just fine/normal/ordinary. Choose mundane experiences as opposed to peak experiences. We’re just getting back to a balanced, everyday state.
5) Recognize that physiological reactions and emotional feelings are both generated by chemical changes in your body. Even when the rewind is successful, any chemicals already released will take a certain amount of time to clear out of your system. This means that the earlier you can do the rewind, the better. For me, the scratchy feeling in my lung remained for about five or ten minutes before I couldn’t notice it any more.
6) Keep in mind that if the physical or emotional reaction is serving a useful function, the rewind may not work, and you wouldn’t want it to. For physical reactions, consult your doctor. For emotional reactions, make sure that eliminating the reaction is actually an improvement for you. You may need to preserve the useful intended outcomes of the emotional reaction (such as keeping you safe, standing up for yourself, etc.) by finding new behaviors that will work as well as or better than the old reaction.
Additional tips that help me get a good rewind:
The key is to be in your body when the rewind happens (not watching a picture of yourself rewinding; this won’t work). Some things that help me be in my body are to focus on feeling as things happen in reverse. You won’t be able to visualize it all because it happens fast, so just feel it. Another thing that helps me be in my body during the rewind is to literally jerk my arms, shoulders and head backwards as I do the rewind. If I’m sitting this may only be a few inches. If I’m standing I may even go backwards a step or two. Don’t let your focus on the feeling slow you down, it has to happen fast, in just a second or two. Sometimes I focus on my whole spine being pulled or sucked backwards by an invisible force as I rewind. This helps me stay oriented forward even though I’m moving backward, which is an important part of the successful rewind. I’ve found this process easiest to do while sitting up or standing.