inappropriate behavior patterns

Stopping inappropriate behavior patterns

High expectations is often what drives inappropriate behaviour patterns. I had a client yesterday who is a successful businesswoman. She came to see me because she has become aware that she is getting trapped into a pattern of behaviour that she doesn't like, doesn't want, and that is threatening her marriage.
What she has is a pattern of sudden aggression towards others. She runs a successful hairdressing salon and manages 10 staff. Over the years she has learned to control her aggression with respect to customers and staff. But her problem now is that she's being aggressive towards her husband over real or imagined incidents.

The origin of the problem

Her mother had married a very argumentative man. They separated when my client was four years old. My client remembers even at four years old asking mommy "when is that bad man leaving?" Her mother then remarried, this time to a man who was physically abusive, as well as being verbally abusive. My client grew up in this dysfunctional household and remembers many occasions when she had to intervene between her stepfather and her mother. Her mother was passive and always tried to calm the situation down, but usually was not successful.

My client described an incident that was typical of her behaviour. One day she came home to find that her husband had thrown out some spring onions. She had been expecting to use these for some diet that she was on, and now could not.
This triggered an immediate rage. She accused him of trying to sabotage her, of having no concern for her feelings or her needs, of being totally selfish. But strangely enough, even while she was going through her rant, part of her mind was saying "why are you doing this?"

Indication of inappropriate behavior patterns

This "split attention" indicates an inappropriate behaviour pattern in action. All behaviour is designed to keep you safe. The sudden aggression is designed to back off danger and keep the person safe. My client learned in childhood that the only way to be safe, to keep the threat away, was to go full at it.

My client's stepfather was manipulative, abusive and constantly trying to put others down. Over several years she had learned to recognize the signs of a dangerous situation before it even happened. She discovered that what worked to stop it was to unleash her own aggression. Over time, this became her default behavior.

What is happening now is that she is identifying or imagining situations in her current life which matched the threat that came from her stepfather. And that then causes her to fire off her own defence mechanism. Unfortunately, it is now being directed at people who are completely innocent. And of course these people resent it deeply because they don't understand where it's coming from. In particular it is affecting her marriage. Her husband is quite baffled as to why she suddenly flies into a rage and then five minutes later acts as if nothing had happened.

Therapy to get rid of inappropriate behavior patterns

NLP pattern interrupts depend on being able to recognize and stop the behavior. The problem is that very often the damage is done by the time the pattern is recognized. What I try to do is isolate and destroy the trigger first. And then substitute a different behavior.

In this case I got the client to put itself back into the feelings that she had with the spring onions incident. What we were looking for was the initial feeling, and not the reaction to that feeling. I then used metaphor replacement to allow her to deal with that feeling.

After considerable prompting, she said that the feeling was like a red square with grey smoke coming out of it. I then explored all the different aspects of that red square. For example where the sides straight? Were the corners sharp? How thick is it? And so on. She quite rapidly transformed the square into an outline. Then she successfully made the outline disappear.

The next stage then was to remove the inappropriate behaviour pattern. I took into a fairly deep trance and told her that she was in charge of her inner mind. I got her inner mind to search for the thing that was causing that aggressive behaviour. Eventually her mind found it, and with my prompting, she was able to take it out of that place. It appeared to her as a wooden ball. This ball shattered and released all of its contents as a liquid. I got this liquid to drain down her body and then run out through the soles of her feet.

The final stage was to go back to the place where that wooden bowl had been, and fill it with something else. I asked her to think of something good that she could put in that place was represented a different feeling. This meant that if the feeling was ever triggered again the inappropriate behaviour pattern would be replaced by a different feeling.

David Mason

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