The KEY Questions: Who should we trust?

It reads like a story from one of those books about angels, or a piece of testimony from the back of a religious pamphlet. I had been delivering a talk about the uses of NLP and explaining about the Three Principles that underlie them (along with everything else). During a coffee break I noticed that a member of the audience had great difficulty walking, even with the aid of crutches. I managed to grab a few minutes with him and he told me a little bit about his circumstances, so when the meeting reconvened I asked him up on stage and we talked.

Ashley is forty but looks younger. A very physical, very active guy in his youth, he still retains the athletic look of a sportsman. Judging from his height you might guess basketball or even rugby. You would never believe, looking at him, that he spent the best part of half his life – seventeen years to be exact – in excruciating pain, unable to walk, unable to work, unable to carry out the simplest tasks, and hooked on a daily cocktail of the kind of drugs that could stop a charging rhino in its tracks.

His sport had been Martial Arts, and in his early twenties he was obsessed, training hard three or four days a week, plus a couple of hours every evening for good measure. In between he worked as an electrician. He and his young wife had started a family, and things generally were going well, but he was putting his body under a lot of strain. One day he felt a twinge of pain in his back. Over the course of the next week it got progressively worse, and painkillers didn’t shift it. Ashley’s wife grew concerned. She urged him to take a break from the training, just a short one to allow his body to recuperate from the knocks it had been handed, and he eventually agreed. A few days later the two of them celebrated the start of what would be the first holiday they had allowed themselves in a good while. They drank a toast to the future. When Ashley woke up the next morning he was paralyzed. In desperation his wife stuck a pin in his legs to try to stimulate a response but he could barely feel anything. He managed to get to his feet but the pain in his back was agonizing. He was rushed to hospital where they carried out an MRI test. The diagnosis was that he had prolapsed discs on both sides of his spine. He underwent surgery but the operation proved unsuccessful. Then came the prognosis that spelled out his future: “You will live with a Level 9 amount of pain for the rest of your life”. (There are only ten levels. Level 10 is, presumably, unbearable).

We are taught from birth to respect those in authority, those who have studied – trained, long and hard – to attain the knowledge they are then qualified to dispense. The doctor who made this pronouncement to a traumatized young man did so unwittingly, not fully realizing the power he was wielding. If it’s true that we create our own reality using the universal gift of Thought, (in fact there is no ‘if’ about it), then it is easy to see how Ashley took that doctor’s fatal words and translated them, literally, into his ‘fate’. This is a tragedy, and it is happening everywhere, every day.

As we talked, up there in front of the group, I suggested to Ashley that he visualize his pain for me. I used some simple NLP techniques to help him dissociate from it. What shape was the pain? What colour? I urged him to play with the mental image he had created, making it smaller, turning it from colour to black and white. Ashley felt empowered. He trusted me, as he had trusted the word of the doctor, all those years ago. In the course of our conversation I put him into a light trance so the learning could reach him on an unconscious level, where it could do most good. He returned to his seat a little dazed. By his own admission he felt confused and disorientated. He sat in his chair, hunched over, head bowed. After a moment I became concerned, and asked him if he was all right. He nodded, and I realized he wasn’t upset at all. He was reaching down to touch his toes, something he’d previously been unable to do. The pain in his back was gone and, (with the exception of the odd twinge), a year later it has not returned. Ashley has told me of the excitement he had felt on returning home to tell his family the news. His youngest daughter, then only five, was there to greet him as he walked to the door, without crutches. He was able to pick her up and hug her, for the first time ever. His daughter cried, his wife cried, Ashley cried.

Who do you trust in your life, and on what basis?