The NLP Pattern of the Month:

"Gentling" as a Path to Personal Growth

The following process was developed by Robert Dilts in 1991 as a means to apply the process of "gentling" to facilitate personal growth. The process is designed to promote a positive "grandmother" or "grandparent" effect by using Time Lines and different Perceptual Positions.

One key issue to be dealt with in attempting to adapt the gentling process to humans is, "What has the same relationship to humans that humans have to other species?" There is obviously no real analogy in terms of an actual creature or being. Besides something like the Earth itself, this relationship would be represented by something like a "guardian angel" or some type of spiritual being.

The basic steps of the process involve setting up overlapping time lines representing the lifetimes of yourself, a parent and a grandparent. (It is not necessary that the parent and grandparent be actual individuals that you have known and interacted with in your life. They may be imaginary or archetypic figures.) Once the time lines are established, the exercise involves going back in your imagination to the birth of your grandparent, as if you were a guardian angel or spiritual guide, and offering some type of gift to that person in the form of a blessing, a metaphor or vision. The offering of the gift is accompanied by gentle touching (in imagination).

After offering the gift, you associate into the perspective of your grandparent, as an infant, and imagine receiving this gift and being gentled. You then advance along the time line of your grandparent, maintaining the positive affects of the gift and the gentling, until you reach a point representing the birth of your parent. Here you repeat the process of offering the gift and "gentling" your parent; this time from the perspective of your grandparent as an adult.

You then repeat the process you went through with the grandparent. You imagine stepping inside the skin of your parent, receiving the blessing and gentling, and then, holding them, move up your parent's time line to a point representing your own birth. From the perspective of your parent, you pass on the gift and the gentling to yourself. Finally, you associate into yourself, receive the gift, and return to your own present point on your time line. (You may also want to imagine passing the gift you have received from your parent and grandparent to your own children, or some significant other in your life.)

It is sometimes useful in this process to have a partner who serves as your own "guardian angel" and who gently touches you as a reminder or 'anchor' for your own state of wisdom and gratitude.

Steps of the "Gentling" Process

  1. Lay out three time lines for a) yourself, b) your parent, c) your grandparent.

    Multi-Generationl Time-Lines

  2. From a 'Spiritual 3rd Position' of the awareness of this family system as part of a larger whole or mind, identify a set of resources or gifts you would like to bring to this family in the form of:
    a) a blessing b) a metaphor c) a vision

  3. From a state of wisdom and gratitude, imagine you are back in time to your grandparent's birth and early childhood. Fantasize that you can hold and touch your grandparent as an infant very gently as if you yourself were some kind of higher presence or spiritual guide. As you imagine holding and touching your grandparent very gently, offer your blessing and metaphor.

  4. Take the vision and go into 'second position' with your grandparent bringing your vision to him or her. From the grandparent's position, imagine being held and 'gentled'. (You may invite your 'guardian angel' to touch you gently). Also imagine receiving the blessing and the metaphor.

  5. Holding these resources and gifts in your heart as the grandparent, move up along the time line to the birth and infancy of your parent (your grandparent's child). In your grandparent's position, gentle your parent passing on the blessing, metaphor and vision.

  6. Associate into your parent's perceptual position. Imagine being held, blessed and gentled - receiving the metaphor and the vision. (Again, you may invite your guardian angel to touch you softly as you do this.)

  7. Staying in your parent's point of view, hold these gifts and resources in your heart and move up through your parent's time line to your own birth and infancy. From your parent's position bless and gentle yourself, passing on the metaphor and the vision.

  8. Associate into yourself as a baby and imagine being held, blessed and gentled by your parent - receiving the metaphor and the vision - inviting your guardian angel to touch you softly if it is appropriate.

  9. Move up through your own time line to the present, spreading the resources brought along by the gifts of the blessing, metaphor, vision and gentling, that has been passed down to you from the previous generations.

Also see the Article of the Month or the Archives if you are interested in checking out NLP in more depth.

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