If you’d like a simple answer to the question “What is NLP?” (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) then read on. Learn how It helps us understand the connection between mind and body, affects behaviour and how change can take place.
“Human behaviour flows from three main sources: desire, emotion and knowledge”
Plato – The world’s most influential philosopher
NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming. It was first devised by Dr. Richard Bandler and John Grinder, two amazing scientists who studied human behaviour and language patterns, and developed these highly effective methods of understanding and changing how we process and store information.
But why should you be interested in What is NLP?
Well, primarily, because the techniques associated with NLP will be the major ones I use within my coaching sessions. Okay, you may not be interested in the detail as long as the coaching works, but I like to be upfront about what I’m doing so you don’t feel there are things happening you don’t know about.
Understanding how your mind operates and why (the way you think about things and how you experience the world) will help to identify the way you’re most likely to make effective changes – fast, positive, permanent changes that will help you during the process to feel motivation, achieve emotional freedom, increase confidence, gain balance within your life and feel good about yourself.
So let’s look at this for a moment.
The way you think and experience the world is not the same as other people because we’re all individuals and we’ve all had our own experiences that have shaped our understanding about life!
Based on those experiences, just think about the convictions, values and perceptions you’ve developed during your lifetime. These have now become your reality about what you can/can’t do, what kind of person you are, how you should/shouldn’t behave, your level of self-confidence etc.
Some of these may no longer be helpful to your current life, even though they may have been at one time. The result can be that you’re now limited or blocked by your beliefs – they’re just getting in the way of your development.
Because of these differences, NLP doesn’t provide a precise formula with just one solution – it provides models for how these things work. For instance, you can identify someone who successfully does what you’re striving to do, ask them or watch how they do it, and that provides the model. From this we can create appropriate techniques for quickly and effectively changing any of the thoughts, behaviours and beliefs that may be blocking your progress.
The processes underlying the development and use of language are one of the keys.
When we communicate with others it isn’t just in spoken language, we also communicate with non-verbal or body language which can either contradict or reinforce the spoken word, often making it difficult for the recipient to be sure what we mean. For example:
It contradicts if someone tells you they’re feeling comfortable but their body language says something different (e.g. they’re shuffling from foot to foot, clenching their fists, have their arms folded across their chest etc.)
It reinforces if someone tells you they’re feeling comfortable and their body language agrees (e.g. they’re smiling, leaning, sitting with legs open etc.)
What are we meant to believe?
Your choice of language is also a clue to the way you think. You will tend towards favouring one or other of the five senses you have. Look at the following phrases which illustrate each of them:
Visual: I see what you’re saying.
Auditory: That sounds like a good idea.
Feeling: I have a very good feeling about this.
Smell: Something smells a bit fishy about this situation.
Taste: I can taste victory already.
When you start to describe your experiences in words, you have to choose (albeit not always consciously) the language you use. This is a clue to how you see the world and how you think. And when you begin to understand the way your brain and other peoples’ brains make distinctions, it’s easier for you to make changes and to learn to communicate more effectively.
It’s also possible to study what successful people do, or have done, to achieve the same things you want to achieve (organising yourself, overcoming procrastination, dealing with confrontation, becoming an entrepreneur etc) then to devise an effective strategy for achieving your goals. Learning from others successful strategies should make the process quicker and easier for you.
Finally, there are some basic beliefs about NLP that might give you a little more insight into the thinking behind it:
- Everyone is already doing the best they can with whatever resources they have available
- Everyone already has all the resources they need to achieve what they want to achieve
- We control our own minds so we also control our own results
- People are not their behaviours. While helping them to change behaviour – even negative behaviour – it’s also possible to accept the person.
- There is no such thing as failure, there’s only feedback
While only a brief snapshot – hopefully this has begun to answer the question “What is NLP”?