Jaina Dadia, survivor from the bombing in London on 07-Jul-2005, narrates how Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) helped her overcome her fears and rebuild her confidence.
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The fateful morning of July 7 2005 started much like any other for Jaina Dadia. “I was up a little early for work,” recalls the 26-year-old Londoner. “I normally get the train from Euston to Waterloo but the station was closed. I jumped on the first bus that I could find. It was completely crowded. We edged slowly through the traffic. A typical rush hour grind.”
In a move that saved her life, she requested that the bus stop, and pushed her way off it.
“I didn’t even know where we were,” she says. “As I stepped away, seconds later, there was a huge explosion. I felt the force on my back and just started running, running for my life.”
The atmosphere was charged. “People were going crazy, the streets became filled. I was hugging random people,” Jaina recalls. “Everyone was trying to comfort each other. I eventually ended up running into a local hotel and I told the receptionists that a bus had exploded. They thought I was mad. Then it flashed up on the news and all became clear.”
The full horror of what had happened was unfolding: the city was under attack. “The staff put myself and others into a room and the police came to talk to us, taking all our details. I’d been trying to call my parents but the signal had been cut dead. When I finally got through they were just so grateful that I was alive, that everything was OK.”
However, the repercussions from the event were anything but over. As daily life slowly drifted back into the capital, normality had a nervous and fraught battle. “There was an eternal conflict, I was very grateful, but also guilty that I’d survived. I was constantly anxious. Every time I’d go to get on a train or a bus I’d think 'this could be your turn now’. It was haunting.”
Life and work became a battle. “I had to face the prospect of public transport every day and I couldn’t cope. I was suspicious of everyone, analysing everything. I was working for an organization at the time, they were brilliant and understanding, but I was often in a state of panic. The things I used to take for granted became a daily challenge.”
With her confidence and self esteem severely affected, Jaina eventually sought help. She reveals. “Paul was handing out leaflets on neuro-linguistic programming. I was a bit dismissive but he told me it could help me. Ultimately I had nothing to lose so I booked into a course.”
Luckily for Jaina, Richard Bandler, the man who helped invent neuro-linguistic programming, was due to lead the event. Bandler, who counts Bill Clinton and Al Gore as fervent fans, is credited with revolutionizing alternative psychiatric treatment. “He said he would put me in a trance, that I’d then be in a receptive state so that he could work with me. He told me to imagine the bus, to make the image smaller in my mind, to scribble it out. He made the whole event seem really silly. He sang circus music as he was doing it. By altering my memory, it changed from being a huge thing in my mind, to a tiny speck that I could just flick away.”
The impact was astounding and immediate. “I was smiling when I came out of the trance,” explains Jaina. “It felt really weird, suddenly the experience on the bus didn’t bother me any more. My life changed from that moment on. He taught me that you can’t live in fear all your life, and now I don’t.”
Is it really possible to experience such a remarkable recovery in moments? Bandler explains that the science behind NLP dictates that phobias are best treated as they are born, instantaneously.
“Irrational fears are created when the person is in a high intensity moment,” he says. “The individual is in an altered state. Feelings are burning strong and therefore psychological impact is more profound. By recreating that state then we can have huge success.”
An estimated 13 million Britons suffer from some form of phobic disorder. “Psychiatrists are obsessed with reliving painful events,” says Bandler. “I am not interested in the past, I’m interested in the future. NLP diminishes the bad memory once and encourages people to move and get on with their lives.”
Jaina is now moving her life forward in huge steps and is working as an actress and broadcaster. “NLP is essentially about instilling confidence,” she says. “Anyone suffering from a phobia should challenge it, rather than suffering in silence.”