Realising that he had run out of ideas he decided to ‘cheat’.
He hypnotised the man putting him in a deep trance and invited him to go to some time in the future, a time when the problem had been solved and everything was as the man had wanted.
When the man was imagining this time when he no longer had the problem Erickson asked him what he, Erickson, had done to make this change possible. The man told him what Erikson had done in that imagined past that had made all the difference.
Erikson made notes about what ‘he’ had done. Then he brought the man ‘back in time’ instructing him to forget about their discussion.
He brought the man out of trance, then started the interventions that he had been told would work. The therapy went well and the patient overcame his problem.
Erickson later called this hypnotic approach, ‘Pseudo-orientation in Time’.
Fortunately we don’t need to be hypnotherapists or hypnotised ourselves to take advantage of this phenomenon. A Letter From The Future is a simple method that you can use to help you get internal guidance on how to get out of problem situations or to get to where you are wanting to go.
How to write a letter from the future
- Imagine you are five years in the future. Things have gone well and you are where you want to be.
- Write a letter from your future self to your current self
- In the letter describe where you are, what you are doing, what you have gone through to get there, and so on.
- Tell yourself the crucial things you realised or did to get there.
- Give yourself some sage and compassionate advice from the future
That’s all there is to it. It might look ridiculously simple, but it can be powerfully helpful. Try it out and find out what your happy future self has to tell you.
Many thanks to Bill O’Hanlon for showing us this technique at his workshop.