Neurolinguistic Programming for MS - An Interview
We begin this series of NLP for multiple sclerosis with an interview of Sharalee Clawson who began using NLP with her MS over 25 years ago. Learn the key blocks that she learned that help her heal.
Interview with Sharalee and How She Used NLP for MS
Eva: Hello, everybody. This is Eva Clark from Healing Multiple Sclerosis, and we’re going to begin a series on NLP for Multiple Sclerosis. Collaborating with me in this series will be Sharalee Clawson. Sharalee’s someone I interviewed more than five years ago, when I began working and testing what NLP and hypnotherapy could do for multiple sclerosis. I discovered her in a class I was taking (on NLP for Health with Robert Dilts, Tim & Kris Hallbom and Susie Smith). I was told, “Hey, go speak to Sharalee Clawson and Earl Corless. Earl used NLP to help Sharalee heal.” And so I was intrigued, and I interviewed both Earl and Sharalee. They have since wrote a book, “And Then A Miracle Happens: The True Story of Healing and Achieving Wellness.” The whole book, and Sharalee’s journey through healing her MS, was utilizing NLP.
Eva: So I thought Sharalee would be a great collaboration to do this series on using NLP for Multiple Sclerosis, because it’s always nice to have somebody that the audience identifies with and say, “Hey, she’s got things I’ve got,” or “She had the same struggles I had,” and to see that it’s possible. It’s possible to make those changes and help your body and our lives heal.
Eva: Sharalee was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986, and she used her training in NLP along with Earl Corless, that also was trained in NLP, to restructure her own life and health. And she has taught this model to others interested in learning this additional approach to health and healing. And you’ve remained virtually symptom-free since 1991.
Sharalee: And still going strong.
Eva: And still going strong. So I would love … I think it’s so important for people to hear directly from the experience of someone else what they went through, what they discovered, what has shifted, right?
Eva: So I’m really excited for you to walk them through your experience and help them, teach them this model of healing and health.
Sharalee: Yes. I will share. When Earl began working with me, he was just a practitioner in NLP. For those who are not real aware of what NLP is, coming into it early, I’ll just share that that’s the bottom level of qualification in NLP training. And I’m grateful beyond belief that he had the chutzpah to just assume he had learned enough, that it had changed his life enough, that he was able to determine right off the bat what were the elements of the trainings he had received that were the most important to the NLP model and that that would be enough to begin with. And so it was that he began, and it has not changed to this day.
The Most Important Techniques of NLP for Multiple Sclerosis
Sharalee: But the most important aspect that I got to learn was the well-formed outcomes of NLP and the presuppositions. Those were life-saving and life-altering, as well as belief-altering for me. Because I had not been raised in a system that held some of those interesting and life-giving beliefs that are in presuppositions. So there was an element of “Oh, is this okay?” You know?
Sharalee: And there was some internal conflict going on just in learning the system, because I was sensing it was making a difference in my system immediately. I didn’t know what was going on, and at the same time, it was one of those in which I knew it was good for me, and so it was that element right there that, although I was terrified of it, I wanted to learn more.
Sharalee: And then the next most important thing was that Earl started visiting with me as to what my personal resources were. He built a platform of personal resources for me that were good and solid, and I had lots of personal experience to back up that I knew I had those resources, so that then when I would hit a little barrier or hit a big barrier, he’d start anchoring in those resources. Do you remember when … And he’d say, “Would this be useful to you now? So when I needed courage, he’d revisit that and anchor that in firmly. And, oh, yeah, this is a time when I could use a little courage. Or, oh, yes, this could be a time when curiosity would serve me very well. That was a foundation.
Convincing Sharalee that NLP Works – The Allergy Process
Sharalee: He went straight for a convincing strategy for me, because I needed convincing to know that this was going to work. And I was at that time allergic to the world. It’s easier to state it that way, I was allergic to so many things. And the allergy process is reeducating the immune system.
Eva: Yes. Yes, that’s actually how I started using NLP for multiple sclerosis, after learning the allergy process and realizing, oh my gosh, this is reeducating the immune system. It’s like, what else is possible? And that’s when I thought, well, can we reeducate the immune system somewhere else?
Sharalee: Yes, yes, yes, yes.
Eva: So the same. I went through that same-
Sharalee: Correct. You went exactly through the same thing Earl had gone through. He reeducated my immune system, and I didn’t know what he was doing. As a total newbie, it was just a lovely conversation with a strange old man from the twilight zone.
Sharalee: And anyway, I didn’t go back to see him for over a year. I didn’t even know what had gone on in my system until it was a year later, in the fall, when the air in our region gets thick with all of the harvest dust and that dredges up a lot of pollen, etc., that you could cut the air with a knife at times. And I was walking up and down the street, and I noticed as the sun was setting, the harvest haze was so thick. And it struck me, I forgot to have my allergies this year. The process was so gentle and so unconscious that I hadn’t missed my allergies. I hadn’t been aware I didn’t have them.
Sharalee: And then when that awareness came, instantly my mind was asking, what is the difference that makes the difference? And when that awareness came, the tears started flowing just spontaneously. It was all of a sudden. This is what I learned from Earl a year ago. Oh my goodness. This is the gift of having been healthy for a full year, and I wasn’t even aware of it.
Sharalee: And then it occurred to me, the secondary gift was that my daughter had all the same allergies I had had, and the full year that I was healthy, so was she. It was at that particular point that I knew I wanted to learn how he was doing what he was doing. Because after I went back to him and said, “What did you do when we visited? It was, he knew that it was now time to work on the deeper issues. And we began in earnest going into those.
Learning to Integrate Conflicts As A Part of Life
Sharalee: Now I’m going to backtrack, because along with learning about the allergy process, which I was learning but I didn’t know I was learning, it was that he had also been doing a conflict integration, knowing that my system was in deep conflict. And he knew that that would need to be in place as well, as a foundation, so that the reeducating of the immune system would take hold. A system that’s working against itself is going to struggle in many different levels. So that it something else he had done. But he had only done it on a surface level.
Sharalee: It was then later I learned that this journey is going to address conflict after conflict after conflict, and that it was okay for me to learn historic conflict after conflict after conflict, because it was going to teach me a life process. Because excuse me, life introduces circumstances in which we will deal with conflict after conflict after conflict. It’s just part of life. It’s learning the process of how to resolve those conflicts in one’s self, in a healthy way in which it deals with the self and how the self is going to deal with the larger world, and that the larger world is not going to change.
Sharalee: Little elements can change as you begin to operate in that world. Just because if we follow the presupposition of when any element in the system changes, then often the system itself begins to change. But it’s in small chunks. And you’ve got to learn patience, love for self, love, unconditional, for others. And as I got into this model, and I’m just giving the very basics, this is what I call the lifesaving block. There’s one more element to that. But in that lifesaving block, when you can learn that your job is not to change the world, it’s to change myself, and that I can still love the world as it is, maybe not love the elements that are in the world, but those individuals that exist there. Then I knew, for me personally, my personal belief structure in a far deeper and better way than I’d ever learned before.
Sharalee: If you give NLP a chance, it will enable you to open to the world in a way in which you’re much more available to more people. Because the message of NLP … Well, Earl Corless was driving around in a car in which the license plate on the back said, “NLP 4 All.” And it gave me an understanding of where he was coming from. When he drove around this area, it brought up questions, and then he could begin to visit with people about the model. And I will say NLP is structured so, indeed, I believe it can be for everyone, if they stay true to the presuppositions and the well-formed outcomes.
Using NLP to Create a Compelling Future
Sharalee: Now, in addition to that, he also knew that with the diagnosis I had received and the way I had received it, as well as all of my personal history, it was that I had no sense of future for me. He knew I needed a compelling, healthy representation of myself in the future that would be perpetuating. And that if I had that, and that was anchored to my personal resources … I talked to you about courage and about curiosity. He was always re-anchoring those personal resources that I had, and there were many. As I would go through those, it was then anchored to my compelling future. I state in the book that that was my lifeline early on. Before I was going to be going into deep structure work that needed to be done, for me to learn how to put my health back together again, no one else had the answers. It was going to be coming from me, from my personal history, and from my personal resources. And having those was then going to give me the opportunity to begin to determine what I wanted for myself in my life.
Sharalee: And to recognize that those were things I was going to want and need to anchor in firmly, because there would be many people who would not agree with those. There would be people very close that would not agree with those. I’m very, very grateful that for me, my husband wanted to learn about the NLP model, as well as I did. So consequently he joined the journey, and we worked it together, which was absolutely wonderful and has served us well. Because excuse me, but marriage is not a Walt Disney movie. It never will be. I don’t expect it to be any more.
Sharalee: And I heard a quote once upon a time that said … And I’m going to insert here, as well, this isn’t just in marriage, but in business relations, in family relations, etc., etc. If two people think exactly the same, one of those people is unnecessary. When I heard that for the first time, it was one of the most wonderful, “Duh!” moments in my life. It was, “Oh, I’ve never thought that our differences are our very strengths.”
Sharalee: And that was another early-on learning. And when I learned that, it then started to anchor in a healthy way of moving through the world, operating from a well-formed position and, at a certain point, learning … I’d heard this saying many times, “Agree to disagree.” It brought clarity. All of a sudden it was, we need to learn to celebrate our differences. We are all in this together, which was another line I’d always heard and thought, well, that sounds nice. I wonder what it means. And anyway, it was one of those light-bulb moments in which, oh, this is wonderful. Rather than being one of those mm, mm, mm, mm, mm. I’m not going to cross that boundary. I’m going to stay in my own little shell and stay there.
Eva: But it sounded like it was another way to resolve the conflicts.
Eva: Like it was no longer a conflict, it was just being grateful of the differences.
Sharalee: Yes. Yes. And at the same time, when you start to think about internal conflicts, you know, with a person as they’re going through learning a new territory as well, that served me on an internal as well as an external model, which then brought a new level of health to my thinking as well as my physical being. And you can’t separate the two anyway.