The Secret of the As-If Frame

The As-If Frame is based upon Ericksonian Hypnosis technique which leverages a “pseudo-orientation in time.” What do we mean by that? Let’s say you are yourself or are working with someone who feels “stuck” by a problem. “Stuck states” often lead to limited behavioral flexibility, which robs us of our power over ourselves, our influence over a situation. It’s however worth noting that it takes commitment and effort to maintain such a mindset even in the present moment. It takes even more to lug that weight as we move into the future. And since the future hasn’t happened yet, it is to some extent undecided. This allows us to see possibilities which in the present moment, limited flexibility may not allow.

To keep things simple, let’s say that we’re going to use this technique with ourselves to bring about a change or solve a problem. Clearly, this works exceedingly well with others, also. In fact, as you explore this with me briefly, perhaps your mind can spot some ways you could benefit from this in your professional as well as personal life…

We engage the unconscious via the imagination, inviting the subject–us or someone with whom we’re working–to “time travel” six months into the future, to a point where this issue is resolved. We don’t even need to address the state of having been “stuck”, six months prior. Only that we’ve made changes in our life that have served us, resolving problems.

Now, knowing we’ve already resolved those issues during that six-month period, notice how we breathe, move, carry ourselves, feel the way you would, knowing those issues have been resolved and are a thing of the past. That learning, viewed from the perspective of hindsight, which we all know is 20/20, enables our unconscious to review the adjustments we made during that six months, how we expanded, how our flexibility and therefore ability grew. Not everything was perfect during that time, of course. Even on the path to solving their problems, some things didn’t initially work, and we gained valuable knowledge and experience from this feedback.

Invite the subject to experience and review all the changes they made in order to achieve that success before returning to this moment. They have achieved what they wanted, and now, as they allow themselves to travel back to THIS PRESENT MOMENT, they bring with them that wisdom, the knowledge of how they did it, and allow themselves to utilize that knowledge as they like, while reorienting themselves in this present.

I was speaking about this in a workshop a few years ago, and I was really enjoying the expressions on people’s faces, then. I invited a demonstration subject to the front of the training room to both give someone a direct experience of this, though also to show the other attendees what change looks like. I said to “Nancy”, an attendee who continually exhibited response potential to trance language, “I’m wondering whether you would you be surprised to find yourself standing up and walking up here, to the front of the room, where you can assist me in demonstrating this technique for everyone—and for yourself. Through such profound personal experience, you may find that challenges you’ve been facing, even problems that seem complex, perhaps even insurmountable, are things that you will figure out now and learn to do amazing things—both within your mind and within your world. Thank you, and we appreciate very much your willingness to allow us to travel with you.”

To the attendees, I said, “I invite you to pay close attention, use your sensory acuity to notice any changes in Nancy’s behavior or attitude. We want to stick to things you can visibly see–things you could write down in your notes, or point out to another observer and they too would see it.

“Now, Nancy, I want you to consider a problem in your life that you want to solve and that, until now, have not. Good. Thank you, and no, please don’t tell us what it is. The content of the problem isn’t as important as what your unconscious is going to do to solve it for you. Now, imagine a timeline that enables you to look back ot the past, move to it, and relive it in THAT present moment. Good. Now go the opposite direction–move along that timeline into the future. Six months, to be exact. See yourself in THAT present moment, where you’ve already solved it. Notice how it feels to have moved through time, having new ideas, new insights, gotten good advice, tried a few possible solutions, and then found the right one for you. Now you’ve learned so much, done a few strategic things, and now you have solved that issue. How does it feel to now have the solution in that future NOW? Notice that the answers were there, and from that future-NOW, you can review what you did between now-now and THEN-now (your present moment in the training room and your ‘present moment’ in your future experience). That’s it, feel it. Feel that sense of satisfaction, deep inside, radiating outward until you feel yourself glowing with joy and fulfillment. Very good. Now, only nod once you fully recognize and experience the lessons learned and solutions found.

“Your nod tells me that you’re ready to return from the future-NOW. Good. Visiting future-NOWs can be not only fun, but as you’ve seen, very useful. The best part is that once you’ve gotten what you need, you can come back to this present moment in the training room, the now-now. Since you have had this wonderful learning experience in the future already, that learning can return with you into this present, reviewing as deeply as you wish that past learning from the future. Bring that all back with you, into this present moment in the training room. The now-now.

“Wonderful. So now as you return to this present moment, the now-now, you can reorient yourself in this present, the training room, and your classmates here now. Though notice how you’ve brought back all that awareness and knowledge with you.

“Nancy, in what ways do you feel different? Are you aware of a change within you?”

Nancy smiles, and almost appears groggy. “Yes,” she says, “that feels strange. I feel as though I’ve just had years, not just six months, of new experiences and learnings. It’s weird, but I feel like my mind is reconnecting to the present and I know I can solve that problem now. I even know how to do it! I didn’t expect that part!”

Wonderful. Thank you very much, and as you return to your seat, seemingly glowing with new learning and insight, perhaps you can assist someone else as we find a partner and repeat this exercise. Please note the steps on the board and take turns being the time traveler and the guide.”

As a formal technique, this “As-If Frame” has existed for decades, and was modeled from the hypnotherapy of Dr. Milton H. Erickson, MD, a brilliant psychiatrist and the father of modern hypnotherapy. This workshop was held in 2001, but once the film The Secret was released, five years later, I began getting the frequent comment, “That’s the Law of Attraction!” Keep in mind that The Law of Attraction predates the film by quite a few decades. Though the book that popularized it was published in 1906, “Thought Vibration or the Law of Attraction in the Thought World” by William Atkinson, many believe it to be far older than that. I’ve had people tell me that Rhonda Byrne created it, though if you watch the film or read the book, she states clearly that she did not. Similarly, I’ve been told that the mystic Esther Hicks first revealed it to the world, though no, it predates her as well.

Remember that the objective truth of a belief is not as important as its usefulness. Therefore keeping our focus on the process and using it well is far more important than who first published it. Dr. Erickson may very well have read Atkinson’s book. Though he famously used the technique to gain remarkable outcomes for his patients.

You can, also.

Lastly, by way of full disclosure, I read Byrne, Atkinson, Hicks and a whole lot of Erickson!

Copyright © 2016 Chris Gingolph

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