Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a technique used to provide clients with the tools to overcome certain life obstacles. NLP is in short, a way of helping people help themselves to reach a state of excellence, happiness and peace of mind.
NLP is a learning model devised by two American academics (Dr Richard Bandler and John Grinder) in the early 70s, who were fascinated by the relationship between language behaviour and excellence. They believed that by analysing the unconscious linguistic techniques used by successful people, they could produce ‘a recipe for excellence’ in which other people could consciously learn to apply said ‘successful techniques’.
What is NLP?
NLP stands for neuro-linguistic programming.
Neuro - All of our experience is gained from the neurological processes that govern our five senses: taste, touch, smell, sight and sound.
Linguistic - We make sense of these experiences through a set of filters, including language. The language we use can also affect the way we experience things.
Programming - This is a way of controlling the outcome of something. A person can use NLP to ‘predetermine excellence’ by adjusting the language we use.
“NLP is the art and science of personal excellence” - Joseph Connor and John Seymour.
To break it down, the science aspect is the process of extracting and learning the techniques. The art aspect is the act of applying the techniques to our own lives.
There are four ways NLP techniques are most commonly used:
- to teach effective communication
- to ensure continual personal development
- to enhance learning
- to encourage a greater enjoyment in life
NLP is used to teach us how changing our perception of the world can lead us to adjust and adapt our behaviours to live the life we want.
NLP and hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapists aim to induce a relaxed and receptive state (trance) in their clients in order to access the subconscious. Many of the obstacles that prohibit or limit a person’s experiences are deeply embedded in the subconscious, so by accessing the thought processes that usually remain hidden, hypnotherapists can work with clients to change the restrictive thought pattern and make room for positive development.
An NLP practitioner will look at your attitude, your language and how you use it, your understanding of relationships and your ability to build rapport, as well as the physical and emotional states that are best for accomplishing a task. Effective communication and perception of others and ourselves, will also be key focuses. All of these will be analysed and examined by the professional, so that a strategy for improving understanding, motivation, learning and memory can be formed.
Many hypnotherapists train in NLP to help improve their ability to communicate more effectively with their clients, as well as to help their clients communicate more effectively with themselves.
The benefits of NLP
NLP is often regarded as a ‘tool-kit for the mind’. Because of this, NLP is a method used to improve many areas in a person’s life. NLP is known to be a particularly effective treatment for:
NLP focuses on the future. It works to explore an individual’s future possibilities and solutions, rather than looking into your past experiences. NLP encourages individuals to challenge themselves and take chances.
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NLP techniques focus on breaking down our assumptions and associations, in order to open our minds and expand our territories. For example, when faced with a challenge, do you focus on the potential problems, or the desired outcome? We explain more below.
Outcome or problem
In NLP, focusing on potential problems is known as following the ‘blame frame’. This involves analysing all of the negatives in great detail and asking questions such as ‘why do I have this problem?’ and ‘who’s fault is it?’. Whereas the people who focus on outcomes, find out what it is they want to achieve, what others want, the resources available and how they can utilise these to reach an outcome everyone desires.
How or why
When asking ‘why’ all we’re really doing is seeking affirmation of a problem that already exists. The ‘how’ question however, takes us further towards understanding the structure of a problem. For example, ‘why did this happen?’ is very limited as it searches for blame. ‘How did this happen?’ on the other hand searches for a cause and effect.
Feedback or failure
Often if we haven’t reached a goal, we think we’ve failed. Generally the term ‘failure’ connotes negativity and disappointment. But what if we look at failure instead, as a form of feedback and an opportunity to reflect? Thinking in this way can open up your possibilities and help you to achieve your goal the second, third or fourth time round. Instead of feeling disappointment, analyse the steps you took and identify which ones can be changed. Essentially, this is the common idea of ‘learning from our mistakes’.
Possibility or necessity
Instead of considering the necessities in a difficult situation, consider the possibilities. Possibilities open the doors to potential, whereas necessities (thinking about what you have to do) can restrict your way of thinking and only serve to narrow potential.
Curiosity and fascination, or assumption
A big part of NLP is opening the mind to change and possibility. Assuming we know something can limit the expansion of that knowledge. You may know that the world is round, but you should never assume that your knowledge is stationary. Knowledge is transitory and the more we learn, the more that changes. Just think, there once was a time where many people ‘knew’ the world was flat!