Future Pacing Technique

Future Pacing Technique

Future pacing is a type of Mental Imagery, a powerful way to anchor or connect changes and resources to future situations or a particular event (such as a sporting performance).

Usually practitioners do future pacing at the end of an NLP process to ensure the changes are available outside in the everyday world. It is easy to respond resourcefully when there is no immediate threat or pressure.

This technique uses the submodalities of association dissociation and NLP Anchoring. By imagining and virtually experiencing situations where you would appropriately use the resource or change, you can find out if it is triggered automatically.

For instance, imagine walking in the front door and seeing chaos – does your calm and patient resource kick in? What are you saying to yourself? How are you breathing and feeling?

When doing this for someone else, you need to consider – do they look calm and patient? What is their body language and breathing like? What is their voice tone and volume like? Do they sound or look tense like they did when described their previous response?

Future Pacing to Test

  1. Think of four possible situations in the future, which would have previously triggered the old behavior. For example seeing a mess in the living room, getting a phone call from the teacher, a colleague letting you down etc
  2. Imagine stepping into the first situation. See, hear, feel (as in touch not emotion), smell and/or taste what you would experience in the first situation, out of your own eyes. That is associated to the context.
  3. Does the change hold? Do you respond in the way you would like?
  4. Consider if you need to make further changes to fine tune the desired response.
  5. Repeat steps 2 to 4 for the other three situations.
  6. Come back to now, and imagine and see yourself (dissociated) in the future with the changes you have made.

future pacing diagram

Anchoring Resources to Contexts

Similar to the above process, the purpose here is not to test, but to anchor or connect resources to the naturally occurring cues in the context.

  1. Establish a resource anchor, using the NLP anchoring technique or state elicitation.
  2. Think of four possible situations in the future, where you want the resource available. For example a job interview, next Friday’s presentation, asking someone on a date.
  3. While triggering or eliciting your resource anchor, imagine stepping into the first situation. See, hear, feel (as in touch not emotion), smell and/or taste what you would experience in the first situation, out of your own eyes. That is associated to the context with the resource.
  4. Imagine responding in the way you want to. You are practicing perfect performance here.
  5. Consider if you need to make further changes to fine tune the desired response. For instance, you may need to strengthen the anchor or use a different one. The Circle of Excellence pattern might be useful here.
  6. Repeat steps 2 to 4 for the other three situations.

The more realistically you can experience the situation and the more strongly you access the resource state, the better these processes work.

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