Here is a NLP Success Story about 12 yr. old Jason with ADHD & limiting beliefs about capabilities.
Sometimes I have to go for a limiting belief change before anything else will work. An example of this happened just recently. This young man, Jason, was brought to me from out of state by his family. The family had scheduled several days in Oklahoma City and I had cleared my calendar for them. The young man was 12 years old. According to his mother “He was hyperactive and impulsive as a child. At age 6, we had him tested at Children’s Hospital for 3 days. They found him to be ADHD with all the symptoms. They medicated him with Ritalin and a wide range of other drugs through age 12. All were unsuccessful or caused severe side effects such as insomnia, anxiety, emotional problems, confusion, tics, etc.
In the sixth grade he fell apart. He began showing signs of depression. He talked of death, was angry, frustrated, confused, and had low self-esteem. I had talked to the mother before we started about the possibility of working on Jason’s limiting beliefs. This was primarily because of the shortness of time of their visit and the fact that I would not be available for follow-up. She had agreed upon this approach.
I started by asking Jason some questions about school and how he did in school just to build some rapport and to get to know how his mind worked. Shortly thereafter I had him spell several easy words which he already knew how to spell. After he could do that successfully, I had him attempt to spell a couple of them backwards to see if he could do it. The results were inconsistent and slow. Sometimes he could slowly spell them backwards and other times he could not. When I asked him to explain what happened to his pictures when he had trouble he said they disappeared — just vanished. I would get him to try different sub-modalities such as size, distance, and brightness and the changes seemed to help him stabilize the pictures.
I switched to having him visualize an apple and to learn to move it around in his mind. He was more successful with the apple even when I started trying to get him to picture the word “apple” on the face of the apple. He could do this quite easily. When I started having him print longer words on the apple, he started getting frustrated. He started tearfully saying things, with frustration in his voice, like “I can’t do this!” “This is not working.” “Why do I have to do this?” and “I want to leave.” We took a break. The statement “I can’t do this!” is a limiting belief about his capability.
When we came back from the break, he was really into frustration and anger and he was tired. He wanted to quit. I decided immediately to shift to work on changing his belief. I asked him if he ever believed in the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. He had. I then asked him if he still believed in them. He did not. I asked him to describe what had happened and asked him to consider how it was possible that he once believed in something and now did not. He described how some friends had made some comments that made him wonder about Santa Claus, then he had thought about how impossible it was for Santa Claus to travel that far that fast, and then he had caught his parents putting presents under the tree.
I told him that those were the natural steps to changing a belief: first, you would start to doubt it because you would experience some counter examples; second, the evidence would build up in support of the disbelief; and then, third, it would become an old belief that you no longer believed. Then you are open to replace it with a new belief which serves you better. I gave him several other examples of times in which he had believed something and had gone through the same process (e.g., Easter Bunny, tooth fairy, couldn’t walk or ride bike but then he learned how, etc).
We are constantly adopting new beliefs about ourselves and life and using them until they no longer serve us and then discarding them and adopting newer beliefs which are more relevant,” I said. “It is a natural process of growing. One of your limiting beliefs right now is that your brain controls you instead of you controlling your brain. Therefore, when you get bored or frustrated, you act out inappropriately — and you believe you don’t have any choices.” “Do you know the major difference between yourself and me?” I asked. “You believe that your mind controls you and I believe that I can use my mind to accomplish anything I want in the world.”
Jason went into several extreme counter examples like throwing a football to the moon, staying alive if somebody shot me in the head, and so on… I agreed with him that I probably couldn’t do those things but that there were some more simple things where his mind was getting him in trouble and that my mind did not get me into trouble.
“For example,” I said “when you get bored in school, you disrupt the class by making noise, moving about, or by leaving the classroom. When I am bored, I figure out a way to entertain myself with my mind. I remember when I first learned to do that,” I continued. “I was in the 5th grade and I was having to sit through long and boring church services and not get in trouble. I remembered figuring out that I could sit still while looking at the preacher and daydream in my mind of something I had rather be doing or make up a movie of something interesting. My mother and her friends thought I was very attentive to the sermon. I stayed out of trouble and didn’t get bored.” “Do you know that I still use that strategy to this day if I have to do something boring — like work out at the spa or mow the lawn?” I added.
Jason then came up with some more counter examples like “You can’t make a million dollars suddenly appear” or “You can’t heal yourself if you are sick.” I then proceeded to share stories with him of how I had changed a limiting belief about money being evil to a more useful belief which would support my career in helping others. The new belief had dramatically affected my income. Also, I related some stories about how we were able to assist people with allergies, asthma, cancer, etc. by eliciting their limiting beliefs about their health and assisting them in changing the limiting beliefs to beliefs which would empower their own natural healing. I then showed Jason a picture on my wall of myself walking on fire. I told him that walking on fire was an example of how the mind was so powerful in controlling the body. He was surprised and tried to deny it — but the photo clearly shows flames in the coals.
Jason started thinking about some possibilities and I started clearing some space so I could physically walk him through a belief change process. As Jason went through the process, you could see a physical change in him. His eyes and focus become clearer and more steady. He became totally attentive to what I was doing and the possibilities. He had changed his old belief of “My mind controls me!” to “I can use my mind to accomplish anything I want!”
After we finished, I future paced the new belief into several times in his life where I knew he had previously had trouble, such as when he became bored or angry in school. “Awesome!” was his response. “I can do this!” was another. He said, “This is just like running a movie in my mind and I’m the director.”
We then went back to doing some of the spelling words in his mind where he previously could not spell them backwards. He could now spell them backwards easily. We expanded the length of the words. He could still do it. He asked me, “what is the longest word you have ever spelled backwards?” I replied, “Super-cala-fraga-listic-expy-ala-doshas.” Luckily he didn’t have me prove it since it had been a long time since I had done it.
We broke for lunch and I instructed him and his mother to play the game of noticing billboards and street signs and spelling them backwards to each other. When they came back from lunch they were happily and easily spelling all sorts of words and numbers backwards. We continued to work on other learning strategies as examples that he could learn how to use his mind to be successful in whatever he wanted.
I also pointed out to him that when he tried to learn something and it was hard that it just meant that he needed to learn another way or that he needed to break it down into smaller tasks. I told him that in those instances all he had to do was “back off for a moment and remember that he could use his mind to accomplish anything.” I also reminded him about the time when he was very young and learning to walk and that “that little Jason didn’t get frustrated and quit when he fell down then — and aren’t you glad now that little Jason didn’t give up back then and that he persisted and kept trying?”