The Hitchhiker

?I have a lump on my leg?, I told my friend. I could barely say it at first?although as time went on it got easier to say. I could not help but notice the concerned look that developed on the faces of everyone I told when I used the word ?lump? to describe it. That?s when I decided to affectionately name it ?the hitchhiker?.

I noticed the bulge about a year prior?and at my annual physical a month or so later, I mentioned it to my doctor. ?It looks like varicosity?does your mother have varicose veins?? the doctor said. I immediately thought of my mom?s bulging, purple, uncomfortable veins ? and I felt a bit bummed that my destiny might be the same as hers.

Who would have thought that, a year later, I would be wishing the hitchhiker was, indeed, a varicose vein.

In a moment of vanity two months ago, I booked an appointment with a plastic surgeon to check out varicose vein treatment options. That surgeon told me to see my doctor ?sooner rather than later?, to book an appointment with a surgeon, to have the ?lump? removed (which he said was NOT a vein), and have it sent for pathology. ?Often these things are nothing, but it could be quite bad?. Needless to say, I was concerned! ?What do you mean??quite bad??? I asked. His response was ?it could be sarcoma?. I didn?t know much about medical terminology?but I did know that anything with a ?coma? on the end was not the greatest.

There is a rather long story that happened next?however, I am pleased to report that the hitchhiker was removed today. Pathology will come in a few weeks.

The experience of having the hitchhiker got me thinking.

Don?t we all ? from time to time ? find ourselves carrying around something that we?d rather not be burdened with. I thought about John ? a colleague I am coaching through a tough time. John?s hitchhiker is a set of beliefs that are holding him back. John is almost paralyzed with fear ? fear that comes from his ruminating thoughts of the devastation that will follow the possible disintegration of an important relationship in his life. I thought about Mary ? a lovely lady I met in a workshop. Mary was carrying around her old manager?s voice?a voice that criticized her regularly (and who?s voice sounded much like Mary?s mother, incidentally). Mary?s hitchhiker was an expectation that she?ll never be happy or be able to achieve her goals ? because she?s not up to it. I thought that John and Mary might really like to have the procedure I had today?.to just ?cut off? their hitchhiker?to remove it all together from their lives.

Well, I think John, Mary and all of us can do just that. We can change our thinking, construct different internal dialogue, develop new behaviour patterns?and we can rid ourselves of these hitchhikers that hold us back. Yours might not be as obvious as mine; however, you?ll know it?s a hitchhiker if you find yourself in a pattern of thinking, feeling and behaving that is no longer working for you.

Just like the surgeon who expertly excised my hitchhiker, you can expertly remove yours. And ? just like me ? you may have a tender spot for awhile?until you heal. Know and trust that once the hitchhiker is gone, you?ll be able to focus on the thoughts, feelings and actions that will move you toward your goals?.rather than being distracted by the extra cargo you are carrying that has been weighing you down up to this point.

One idea you can try is to apply a little NLP to the excision of your hitchhiker:

First, identify the unhelpful thought, limiting belief, or behaviour pattern that you wish to eliminate from your life. Then, make friends with it. When I decided to call my ?lump? a hitchhiker, it changed my energy toward it. Although I definitely wanted it gone, I was not experiencing as much negative emotion around it as I had been when I thought of it as a ?lump?.

Second, locate it. Where in your body does the hitchhiker reside? Is it in your head? In your heart? On your limbs?

Third, paint it. If your hitchhiker were a colour and shape, what colour and shape would it be. See the hitchhiker in that colour and shape.

Four, shrink it. See your hitchhiker in the colour and shape and in the location that you have identified. Now, shrink the shape. Reduce the intensity of the colour. Repeat this over and over, each time making the shape smaller and less colourful. Finally, shrink it until it disappears.

Five, let it heal. Now, know that the hitchhiker is gone. You might feel the absence for a few weeks, but trust that it has been removed from your body.

(By the way, if your hitchhiker is more a sound that a sight, repeat these same steps with auditory cues?for example, in step 3 rather than painting the hitchhiker, listen to it. Then in step 4, turn the volume down very low on the sound of the hitchhiker, until you can no longer hear it.)

What hitchhikers are you carrying around? How will your life change when you remove them?

Deri Latimer, CSP, is an expert in possibilities for people! She is one of the top 10% of speakers globally who hold the designation of Certified Speaking Professional, the speaking profession?s measure of excellence in professional platform skill. Deri combines a business degree with experience from business sectors including health care, manufacturing, education, government, mining, transportation, tourism, and professional services. Deri impacts individual and organizational performance by applying the latest research and practice in positive psychology, appreciative inquiry, emotional intelligence, and employee engagement.

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