This is a story about what is different in me now that I have been teaching and studying NLP for more than 10 years.
I teach several classes a week at Sheridan College in Mississauga. It's a twenty-minute drive by highway (on good days) or about 35 minutes when avoiding highways (which are not always reliable). My plan on Wednesday was to avoid highways (since my car was going into the shop for new brakes today) and so I knew I would need to leave about 55 minutes to get there in time to pick up a Starbucks and get into my room just as the previous teacher was leaving.
About 20 minutes before I needed to leave, I put my keys next to my phone and thought "I'll put my purse here too and I'll be set for a quick getaway." But my purse wasn't in any of its usual places. In fact, it quickly became obvious (my house is quite small) that my purse was nowhere to be found.
By now, I had to put on my make up and head for the door. Steady hand required. As I reached the car, I realized I had no money for parking. I called my mom and let her know what I needed and that I'd be there in ten minutes (fortunately, she lives on my route to work). I didn't have time for a Starbucks, but I did make it to class comfortably on time.
My purse does not always have all my credit and debit cards and almost all my ID in it at once. It did on Tuesday, the last time I had seen it. As I was making arrangements to get to class, I was thinking, thinking, thinking. Nothing made sense. I was 85% sure the purse must be somewhere in the house (after all, my keys and phone had made it home and they ride in my purse). But there was that awful 15% chance that my little black purse had fallen on the driveway or in the parking lot or somehow been left in a classroom or bathroom at Sheridan. Did I mention it had all my ID and bank cards?
I felt my thoughts racing to disaster. And stop. And then race some more. And then take a break while I checked in with security (who didn't have my purse). And then race. And I walked into class knowing that for the next three hours, I had to give my best stuff to my students. So I told them what had happened as our warm up conversation and then we got to work on how to ask the right questions to get answers you can count on. And we laughed and talked and focused.
My phone vibrated halfway through class. I keep it on "Do Not Disturb" which means that family calls comes through. My mom left me a voice mail saying that she had driven out to my house, but she couldn't find the purse.
I still wasn't panicking. I was still a little surprised that I wasn't panicking.
On the drive home, I had a thought - a wonderfully calm and peaceful thought that there was a place I hadn't looked where I might find my purse. And then when the other voice chimed in with an inventory of everything I would have to cancel or replace (and all the other things I wouldn't be able to do while I was replacing everything), I started to move from "OMG! I'll have to...." to a more matter-of-fact "I wonder how much I can do online" and "it's good that everything requires a PIN number now."
When I got home, I walked into the house and straight to my purse.
That's NLP for me. The state management to know what I wanted to do, get it done, and then walk through the problem without freaking out. And the little place of calm where I recognized that some part of me outside my awareness was sending me a quiet little message that I did know what I thought I didn't know.
I've staged this picture for you. In real life, the little black purse was under a layer or two of tshirts.