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Terry Elston:

Accidental and Awful Time Travel

Accidental and Awful Time Travel

I had my first anxiety attack in 2010.

I was working on a particularly difficult contract and the pressure that our customer put on his personnel rolled off their shoulders and on to me. This was not unusual. I had come to understand that as a business we must be accountable for everything on every project, always.

However, this was 2010. South Africa was hosting a World Cup and everything was festive. Not for me. I was in a very angry boardroom when Tshabalala scored the first goal of the Cup and, by the time I was in my seat at Loftus for SA’s match against Uruguay, I was a mess. I had become so anxious about a potential issue with this customer that I kept my phone in my hand for the entire game so that, if they called (this was between 20:30 and 23:00) I would be able to feel the vibrating phone and answer immediately.

I did not think that I would ever suffer from anxiety. I was relaxed about most things and renowned for my ability to defuse tense situations with my calm. Therefore, when I had my first anxiety attack – accelerated heart rate, difficult breathing – I assumed the worst. I raced to the nearest hospital and announced to the doctor that I was having a heart attack!

I cannot stress the reality of the symptoms enough. Many naysayers think that anxiety, being “all in the mind” is an indulgence on the part of the weak. It is a very real and very frightening experience. It will floor most people who experience it and has become commonplace in a modern society deeply invested in ideals of speed, efficiency and focused on the “punishment” of failure.

My fear of a non-specific future event had become so acute that I was experiencing stress based on something that had not happened yet. I was, unconsciously, travelling into the future and experiencing a failure that I could not fix. I had become an accidental time traveller into an awful future.
The allopathic solution was the prescription of an anxiety drug.

These drugs have advanced significantly from the early days of the trusty diazepam shotgun. The drug had no side effects for me and had a controlled effect. While it did not completely remove the anxiety, it did make functioning easier. I should have listened to my Doctor sooner. The drug got me going again and allowed me to manage the project to completion.

picture of self control thermostatI stayed on the drug until the end of 2015, when I attended an NLP Practitioners course, and am now weaning myself off. The reason for this is that I have found that, through a combination of self-hypnosis and time-based techniques, I can now resolve the anxiety. From an NLP perspective, it is a simple matter of making an unconscious, uncontrolled process, a conscious, deliberate process.


Cobus Rossouw practitioner of NLPAn act of consciousness is empowering. It allows me to take control. I calm my mind, and travel along the timeline until I find the anticipated event. Then role-play through the event, using perceptual positions if it involves others, until I find the most likely scenario and can resolve that I am capable of dealing with it at that future time. I have also had great success with this approach in clients and, where they commit to regular practice of the technique, they can have lasting results.

You can contact Cobus on [email protected], or 082 464 0688

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