Part 3: The Process Of Problems


Bertrand Russell smoking a pipe.It was said that Bertrand Russell – one of the greatest Philosophers of the 20th century – couldn’t make a cup of tea (even though he was given very specific instructions by his wife).

In this section, I’ll show you how to make a nice cup of tea. Oh… as well as showing you how Problems work.

There is a point to this example.

If nothing else, you can feel good about learning to do something that even one of the most brilliant minds never managed to do!

How To Make A Cup Of Tea

Here are some simple instructions for making a cup of tea. If you already know how to do this – just feel good about being better than Bertie and skip to the next section!

  • Get a kettle and fill it with water.
  • Start to boil the water.
  • While waiting, get a cup and a teabag.
  • Place the teabag in the cup.
  • Wait for the water to boil.
  • As soon as the water has boiled add the water to the cup.
    Note: it is very important to use very hot water for a nice cuppa (you guys over the pond tend to use lukewarm water. That’s just wrong! Please don’t!).
  • Leave the teabag in the cup for as long as you like.
  • Add milk and sugar to taste (optional).
  • Enjoy a cup of tea.

Making Tea: The Analogy Explained

You may have already worked it out – or you should have as it’s in the title of this section – and so I’m simply reinforcing this point (as it has major implications as we shall see):

Problems have a process.

Just like making a cup of tea -there are definite steps in how any emotional problems work.

This process happens inside of the Problem Mind Bubble.

The Problem Process: Phobia Example

We can be see the importance of understanding that Problems have a process when we consider the impact on an emotional problem, like a phobia.

Just like making a cup of tea, a lot of phobias have very definite steps that lead the sufferer into the negative feelings of fear and panic.

For example, let us have a look at the process of a simple phobia (like arachnophobia):

  • The subject is initially calm and in a normal state.
  • The subject experiences an external stimulus relating to the phobia.
    (e.g. sees an object; sees the motion; hears a sound or touches the object. It is even possible that the subject may even just imagine this external experience).
    Note: this is called the trigger point.
  • The subject’s unconscious mind begins to work to protect the body.
  • The subject may recoil and move backwards to avoid the real or imagined experience (external action).
  • The subject may experience overwhelming fear, revulsion, shock (internal state).

The last 2 may be experienced simulatneously, or so quickly, that it seems like the same thing. All of this happens very quickly after the the introduction of the trigger.

As we can see, phobias have very definite steps in order to “make them work”. Each time the subject experiences the external trigger, they jump into the Problem Mind Bubble and the process starts again.

This is a Pattern of Behaviour that phobia sufferers will continuously loop on until the external trigger is removed.

Remember: although this may be an example of a phobia pattern, similar patterns can be found in any emotional problem you may experience.

The Problem Process: Breaking The Pattern

Now that we’ve seen that Problems have a pattern or a process, let me ask you something.

To make it easier for any phobia sufferers out there, let’s return to the subject of making a cup of tea:

What would happen if you were to remove the cup from the process?

I’m sure you’ve now jumped to the conclusion that the tea making process becomes a mess – quite simply: you can’t have a cup of tea. Sorry.

You can now make the association with phobias. And any other emotional problems…

If we assume that all Problems have similar processes at work inside them, then you can now start to see how simple it becomes to begin removing emotional problems.

…if you know how.

(And yes, as an Conversational Therapist and NLP Life Enrichment Coach, I do know how!) ;)

Pattern Interruption: Is It Really This Simple?

Is breaking a Problem pattern really this simple…? The answer is: Yes …and No.

You may be thinking: “if it’s this simple to remove a phobia and break the patterns inside problems, then why do a lot of people still suffer from them?”

People often suffer from problems simply because they don’t know (or haven’t realised yet) that breaking problems can be an easy process. When was the last time (if ever) you were shown how problems worked and really got to understand ways to overcome them?

The reason why NLP Practitioners (and other Conversational Therapists) exist is that they’ve had training in being able to properly identify the correct sequence of a problem in order to deal with them appropriately.

As we’ll see, there’s slightly more to breaking the patterns later on.

Pattern Interruption: A Caveat

Interrupting the pattern of behaviour can be a very effective way of stopping problems, such as phobias. However, in some cases the problem just won’t go away. There are a couple of reasons why phobias or problems just won’t shift.

The main one is called “Secondary Gain”. Quite simply, a person that gains more by having the problem is unlikely to give up the problem. For example, if by having a problem a person were to gain the love and attention of their family; a sympathetic, caring circle of friends and people constantly being around, then (sometimes) the person may be very reluctant and unwilling to give up their problem because if they did, those positive experiences associated to the problem disappear too. (Think of it a bit like a Munchausen By Proxy Syndrome without the proxy bit..!),

Another reason would be that the problem that the person thinks their dealing with isn’t really at the root of the problem. There are instances where a bigger problem needs to be resolved first, before the presenting problem can be cleared.

As a Conversational Therapist and NLP Master Practitioner, the one thing I look for is that a person really wants to change and is committed to changing for the better. Without this commitment to change it’s pointless to even try to remove a phobia or any other emotional problem.

In the context of Think & Grow Rich, you may want to ask yourself (and be extremely honest in your answer):

“Do I really want to get rid of this _____?” (add your problem in the space provided).

If you don’t, then ask yourself:

“What do I have to gain from not wanting to let go of the problem completely?”

The Process Of Problems: Summary

So, what have we discovered in this section?

  • Inside a Problem Mind Bubble there is a process.
  • It’s possible to interrupt the process and stop the problem from happening.
  • It’s easy to make a cup of tea.
  • …and you can feel good about being able to doing something that a great 20th Century philosopher never could!

In the next section, we’ll be exploring the notion of “When” your Problems happen.

The Anatomy Of A Problem Index:


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