Chris Parker

The Power of Words

Stories of personal change

A university student was unable to control her blushing whenever asked to speak in front of an audience. She was embarrassed by this seemingly uncontrollable response and concerned it might hinder or even limit her future career.

We had a few conversations about it and she was amazed when her blushing stopped suddenly. She concluded her university study by talking – without blushing and with great confidence – to over 200 people.

‘Fear of flying’
A young woman came to see me because she had a severe phobia of flying. To make matters worse she was scheduled to fly to America in just two weeks time. We talked about it for an hour or so. As she left I asked her to let me know how she coped with the flight.

She emailed me from New York to report that the plane had actually flown through a severe storm. She had been one of the few passengers who had remained calm. Try as she might she couldn’t remember any of the negative feelings she had once had about flying.

‘Phobic about sponges’
A manager attending a series of workshops I was running admitted to having a phobia about sponges, the sort used to clean surfaces. We agreed to discuss this after the next training session.

With the manager’s permission several other attendees stayed behind to watch and listen. What the manager didn’t know was that a friend had brought some sponges with her. I was able to make use of them. After half an hour of talking, the manager and I enjoyed a playful sponge fight. We were like young, excited children in the playground. The phobia had gone. We laughed lots.

‘Stopping smoking’
An executive in the first year of an MBA programme I was teaching on asked if I could help him to stop smoking. His wife had just given birth to their first child and he realised that because of his smoking habit he couldn’t smell the baby as he wanted to. He felt he was missing out on an important aspect of being a new parent.

We met in the bar after the last lecture of the day and had a chat. The hotel we were staying in was on the coast so we talked, amongst other things, about the powerful smell of the sea.

The next morning he reported that he had woken suddenly in the night and felt compelled to go the shore and breathe in the sea air. He never smoked again.

‘Needing to sleep’
A political campaign manager was struggling to sleep because he couldn’t switch his mind off from the demands and complexities of his work. I was asked to help. We met in an office at his workplace; another very experienced campaign manager was also present. He was someone my client admired greatly.

After a brief conversation I came to the conclusion that my client would benefit from being hypnotised. Before I could share this he told me that he did not believe in the value of hypnosis and, regardless, he was sure that he couldn’t be hypnotised. ‘You’ll be wasting your time if you try,’ he warned.

I accepted his feedback gratefully and followed his advice. I had noticed that my client was giving more attention to his role model than he was to me. So, as we talked I ensured this other manager gradually sank into a deep hypnotic state. My client, unable to resist the influence of someone he admired so much, followed him. I kept talking for a while and they both relaxed even more.

My client slept very well that night – and from then on. It’s fair to say he enjoyed the rest of the campaign.

‘Overcoming trauma’
A woman visited me needing help to deal with a terrible event that had happened many years before. She had been the victim of sexual assault. The memory still plagued her, creating many unwanted feelings.

Whilst we talked she realised she could actually change how she felt whenever she saw or heard things that reminded her of her experience. She considered how she wanted to feel and installed new, empowering feelings that changed her behaviour positively. She never looked back.

‘PhD pressure’
A university lecturer was nearing completion on his PhD thesis when he hit an emotional and intellectual brick wall. He asked to see me because he was, he realised, incapable of finishing his work. He said that he really couldn’t think straight about one final, challenging part of his study.

We met in a pub and had a pleasant chat over a pint of beer. He called me the next day to tell me he had woken up with the answers to his problem clear in his mind. He was, he said, feeling more positive about the project than he had for months. He completed his thesis within a matter of weeks.

A mum-to-be wanted to give birth without the aid of drugs or gas to relieve pain. She wanted the birth to be as natural as possible. We met several times during her pregnancy. Each time she enjoyed a deeply relaxed hypnotic state in which she prepared herself for the big event. When the time came for her to give birth she instinctively applied her learning, creating what she described as the perfect, drug-free, experience.

It was an experience she repeated with the birth of her second child.

Stories of sporting change
Here are some stories about how I have used the power of words to create sporting change.


Stories of professional change
Here are some stories about how I have used the power of words to create professional change.


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