And I want to demonstrate a little bit about what I learned. So I’m going to need a little help because unfortunately I don’t bring my own clients with me because I find there’s enough people who have enough horse shit no matter where I go. So is there anybody in here that had a bad memory and you think about it way too much and it makes you feel bad. You do sir? You seem smiling an awful lot for someone who’s got a bad memory! I beg your pardon? There you go! Do you smile when you think about this? No – and it makes you feel really bad? Has it done it for a long time? Okay, why don’t you come up here and sit down?
(Audience applause. A man goes on stage with Richard Bandler)
Richard: Where’s your name tag?
Man: It’s in my jacket.
Richard: Are you really in this seminar?
Man: Yes sir!
Richard: Hey, we’ve got somebody who snuck in! Take him out and draw and quarter him please! Just sit, that’s all right.
Man: In the chair?
Richard: (Pause) You’re a complicated guy aren’t you? (Audience laughter) Okay, now you don’t need to tell us what this is, that’s not important, it doesn’t matter what it is. So how often do you think about this?
Man: Most days.
Richard: Okay, how do you know when to have a day off?
Man: I’ve been working on it.
Richard: You’ve been working at what?
Man: Trying to think of other things.
Richard: ‘Trying’. That sounds like you’re failing. If I say I tried to open the door, it means I didn’t by the way. But anyway, when you think about it, it does make you feel bad?
Man: It does make me feel bad.
Richard: Okay. Do you think about it once a day, ten times a day?
Man: Probably three, five times.
Richard: Okay, and when you think about it, how long do you think about it?
Man: Up to three hours.
Richard: Per time?
Man: Per time.
Richard: That’s like nine hours in a day.
Man: Yes, I think about stuff a lot.
Richard: No, you think about one thing a lot, because there’s no day left!
Man: Yes, I think about it when I’m doing other things, I think about it all the time.
Richard: You think about it all the time? Well, you think about it nine hours a day. Okay, well let’s be conservative and say…
Man: It’s been getting better.
Richard: It’s been getting better? Does that mean like seven and a half? Alright…
Man: Probably down to an hour a day.
Richard: Oh, an hour a day. Well that’s only about 5000 hours every ten years… but not a lot of time, there’s nothing you could do with 5000 extra hours in the next ten years. Do you know how much sex you could have in 5000 hours. [laughter] Are you married?
Man: No Sir.
Richard: Do you have a… you don’t have time to be married. Do you have a girlfriend?
Man: These two things are related.
Richard: Aha, okay.
Man: So if I think about sex then I’m back to thinking about her, so…
Richard: Well you can be, but if she’s not there it’s not as much fun… then you’re actually having a relationship with your right hand. Hey baby, it’s you and me tonight! [laughter] I love you! [laughter]
Richard: Now, let me ask you this: when you think about this, I have a guess, because I’m a very intuitive person, Virginia taught me to be intuitive… that the memory itself is either life-size or larger than life.
Man: Larger than life.
Richard: Larger than life. So it’s not only do you have a movie in your head, you have an IMAX.
Richard: Okay, that’s cool, so how big is it then? Is it as big as this room?
Man: Bigger than the…
Richard: I’m talking about the picture in your head, size wise.
Man: The universe fits inside the picture, it’s an existential kind of…
Richard: I don’t want to be existential, I want to be literal. When I say it’s larger than life, is the picture…?
Man: It’s as big as Boston and New York.
Richard: Yes, well but when you visualise something the size of Boston in your head, how big is the picture?
Man: As big as this room.
Richard: So you have a gigantic screen inside your head with a big fucking horrible picture?
Richard: And do you have a big wall in your house?
Man: Not at the moment.
Richard: You don’t have any walls in your house?
Man: We have walls, but there are probably a few that are big…
Richard: Fairly good… okay. If I came in and painted the most horrible thing you’d ever seen on the wall in your house, would you leave it there?
Richard: But you’d leave one in your head?
Man: That seems to be what I’ve been doing.
Richard: Okay, it seems to be what you’ve been doing? It seems… it’s not really what you’re doing?
Man: No it is, that’s what I’ve…
Richard: Just say, ‘yes’ when the answer is yes.
Man: Yes sir!
Richard: You want to use that penis again? [laughter] Alright, now we’re going to try a little experiment because the brain is designed to remember and to forget. And both of those things are good things, especially if you get to choose which ones are which. And it’s not so much that you forget things, it’s that they don’t affect you viscerally, because when you think about this it makes you feel bad enough and of course you do it again and again and again, and then you have to have some crappy internal dialogue to go with it, just because…what would a picture be without some sound? In fact, you should really add music…
Richard: You’ve got an orchestra?
Richard: Oh my God, there you go It’s the whole work of art isn’t it? You know, if you’re going to destroy your life why screw around? Violins, the whole thing. Yes, that’s great. Well if you’re going to be stupid do it in style, that’s what I say. Now what I’m going to ask you to do is really quite simple, okay. Don’t do it until I’ve finished giving you the instructions because I don’t want you to do part of it I want you to do the whole thing. What I want you to do is I’m going to have you close your eyes and look at this big, fucking, nasty picture, and the minute you start to see it, I want you to shrink it down to a circle this big and I want you to start flickering it between black and white. Okay. You understand. Okay, you ready? Take a deep breath, close your eyes, look at the big bad picture… shrink it down… blink it black and white, blink it black and white, blink it black and white…. Okay? Now, one more thing I want you to do. Okay, that’s good enough, you’ve got it, that’s simple, I know how the brain works. I don’t understand what Freud did, I understand something that works. It’s a little different. Now the other thing I want you to do, is I want you… you know this memory, however long it went on, it’s got a beginning and it’s got an end. Otherwise… it may be three hours long but who gives a shit? You know where the end is. Okay. You may replay it a few times, but wherever it is, I want you to look at the last picture, in a minute, not yet, don’t jump ahead. I want you to look at the last picture and then I want you to rewind it to the beginning as fast as possible, so everyone’s walking backwards, talking backwards, back to the beginning, and we’re going to throw in a little circus music to make it interesting.
Man: Okay, close my eyes yes?
Richard: Yes, ready? Close your eyes, jump to the end, start running it backwards, [music] all the way to the beginning and stop! There we go. Okay. Now all you did was two things. It took us about three or four minutes. You’re convinced this was a bad thing right? Feeling bad about this, right?
Richard: Okay, now I want you to go back and look at it again. [pause] Can you make yourself feel bad?
Richard: [laughter] I can put it back if you want?
Man: Thanks for that, that’ll do just fine. Thank you very much.
Richard: Well we’re not done yet though.
Man: Oh no!
Richard: Well I worry about things, I’m a worrier by nature. What are you going to do with the 4000 hours? Have you thought about that?
Man: Well revenge was one of the things…
Richard: Then you’re still thinking about it. Do you want your future to be squarely aimed at your past?
Richard: Do you know the best thing about the past?
Man: It’s in the past.
Richard: It’s over. That’s the best thing about the past. You know the best thing about the future? You can do all kinds of wonderful fucking shit. You can do things you haven’t even dreamt about yet because you’ve been too busy replaying this bullshit over and over again. If you worry about the past, it reappears. I had a friend once that got jilted by his wife. Her name was Christina, they were friends of mine and I didn’t see him for about a year, he went off and practised depression until he got really good at it. And he would come over and he would go, ‘Do you think you could help me with the depression?’ And I said, ‘No, you’re doing a fine job!’ So, finally one time he came over and I did a little something and he was feeling pretty good, and he left… then I get this call that he’s getting married. It’s only 30 days later. And I went, ‘Uh oh!’ And I went over and the weirdest thing was, not only did he find someone like this woman, she looked exactly like her. She looked exactly… it was scary! And I accidentally kept calling her Christina, which was not a good thing to do by the way, that doesn’t make you a very good friend, but I just couldn’t help myself. I would say, ‘Oh Christina would you pass me the sugar?’ And she would go, ‘I’m not Christina!’ And I would look at him and go, ‘Is she or is she not? She might be, and if she is, she’ll do the same thing!’ But he married her and she jilted him. So thank you very much, you did beautifully. [applause]