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Turn your emotions off. “Dissociation” Technique

Updated: Jul 8

There’s no such thing as a “good” or a “bad” reaction, there are only “useful” and “harmful” ones depending on what you really want.

Ask your friends if they consider themselves good at controlling themselves - and the majority will say YES. Ask the same exact people if they happened to yell at someone or say something mean recently and regret it later on, most of them, again, are going to say YES.

And that’s the problem. Because doing so a person is convinced that they’re acting very much rational. And not seeing anything wrong with their actions they rob themselves of a chance to change their behavior.

Scientists have showed us all long ago that we’re absolutely irrational! There’s a lot of material out there on this subject, and to begin with, check out “Thinking fast and slow” by Daniel Kahneman or “Choice architecture” by Richard Thaler.

We are pretty much hormone producing plants, that can be easily knocked off the wagon by a “friend’s” remark said mockingly, a rude coworker, a paycheck that’s a couple hundred dollars short, health issues, bad news or even a troll comment under our post.

None of those reasons are universally hurtful for us: a thing that can affect one person for months or even years won’t even be noticed by the other.

Every sensitive spot we have has a sensitive story behind it, shortage of the resources we needed right then and there. It’s like an inflamed wound, a pain point, which even when accidentally touched can cause a huge reaction.

Regardless of how rational and grounded you consider yourself, every (!) single person has a phrase, just 5-7 words, that will make them either cry like a baby, or turn into a furious monster.

That’s why we need to pay more attention to emotional hygiene.

The show “The handmaid’s tale” suggests an interesting idea. During the unpleasant but inevitable “ceremonies” maids were using the strategy of dissociating from the reality, as if they weren’t in that room or even in their own body. As a result that would lower the intensity of their negative emotions and they were less traumatized.

Yes, sometimes raising your voice, throwing something against the wall, cursing or slamming your fist on the table is the most adequate and healthy reaction. Sometimes it helps, sometimes you gotta do it and it’s the right thing to do. But most often it’s quite the opposite.

When exploding is not an option, feel free to use an NLP tool that helps shake off your aggression, fear and frustration and access emotional balance to avoid doing or saying things you’re going to regret later. That tool is called “Dissociation”. Dissociation helps you step out of the moment, take a look at yourself and the others from a different angle, even out your emotional state and logically decide what actions to take and associate back into the moment already being in a different state.


One can only describe the system from the outside, but in order to change it - you have to be inside the system.
NLP Presupposition

Dissociation works not only with current events. You can use it to heal your past traumas, phobias and situations that are still poisoning your life right here and now.

As you have probably already assumed, dissociation is the opposite of association, which means involvement into the moment, experiencing it fully.

Dissociation - is stepping out of a situation, leaving the stage and taking a spectator place watching all the events happening to us, as if it were happening to someone else, not being involved emotionally.

Basically what you do is you step into the observer position (remember 3 perceptual positions?) and become a camera, a recorder, a machine collecting data.

You know that you successfully dissociated when you feel…nothing. Having no emotional response means you did it perfectly! Cause, after all, you can think whatever you want (well, preferably - something that’ll help you to get the best out of any situation), as long as it doesn’t bring negative feelings back.

3 ways to dissociate

You can use one of them, or all three at the same time for more powerful effect.


  1. Put the moment on pause, “get up and leave the scene”, so that you can see yourself, others involved and the whole situation form “the outside”. Access the observer state where you’re only recording data, no emotions.

  2. Make the picture you’re seeing black and white.

  3. Make it smaller and further away from you.

  4. Move figures of people who caused your negative reaction away from you as well.

  5. Make the event go either 2x, 4x, 10x faster or slower as if it was on a videotape.

  6. Imagine what these people and this place are going to look like in 20-30-50 years.


  1. Try to hear your voice as if it wasn’t coming from you. If there are other people - imagine hearing them through a TV or phone speaker.

  2. Make the voices quieter.

  3. Speed up or slow down the speech, experiment with “equalizing” the voices.


  1. Access the observer position (3rd perceptual position) just like you did with the visual dissociation, but this time evaluating the situation.

  2. As much as possible separate from “yourself” and your emotions, regardless of how “legit” they are. Right now they are not your emotions, they belong to the person you’re looking at.

  3. Point out the key points: who, what, how, why.

  4. Try to predict different ways this situation can unfold.

  5. Calculate what can you do to make the situation go the way that’s the most favorable for you taken the circumstances. Here it’s important to know clearly what it is that you want exactly!

Multiple dissociation

Multiple dissociation enhances the effect by adding new layers of dissociation. This is the “heavy artillery” that you use to deal with high intensity fears and phobias.

For instance: if classical dissociation (I just described above) is when you “watch yourself being in the situation”, then multiple dissociation is when you add more layers to it: it’s when you watch yourself watching yourself being in the situation. And so on…you see how it works?

You can add as many layers as you wish to lower the intensity of negative emotions you’re experiencing.

Why does it work

Well first of all it works when two conditions are met: 1) you actually do it; 2) you do it right. In such case the results will impress you and here’s why:

  1. Our brain is incapable of thinking and feeling at the same time. So we’re getting ourselves busy with thinking at the moment. And not just random thinking, but related to our situation.

  2. We speak to our limbic system using its own language and translate emotional chaos into a matter you can shape and transform into anything you desire.

As a result not only we reach emotional balance and save ourselves from a breakdown, we also thoroughly analyze the situation in a timely manner (which is very important too). We give ourselves room to search for reactions that fit our ultimate goals before we lose it and do things we’ll regret later.

Emotions are our tools, and knowing how to tame and use them will get you where you want to be sooner and easier!


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