NLP: Change Your Mind For Good!
Back in 1997 I was fortunate to undertake trainings in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). The first a long-weekend training with John Grinder, co-developer of NLP, then later that year with Tad James for my Practitioner training.
That was a great time of transition for me personally and the interesting thing for me in doing my Practitioner training – was discovering elements of the prior training that were beyond my conscious understanding dropped into place to fit like a glove when I took the second training. It was almost like being able to revisit the first one simultaneously in the second training as different topics came up. Enriching the training and affording me a kind of broader context to place the new material in that worked with the prior training learning.
In 1998 I was asked to take over an online discussion group NLPTalk. I’ve been the ‘housekeeper’ ever since and during this time have been privileged to engage with many in the NLP world – trainers and other people who had an interest in learning and being around others with an interest in NLP. What’s remained consistent over the years is the interest of people learning NLP – to teach others… but to use themselves? It is less evident.
All these years later and many people who have trained in NLP yet there are still many people wonder: What is NLP and what is it good for? And for those who have some idea they may think it is all about some kind of tricky mind games or brainwashing.
Unfortunately but perhaps not surprisingly, some of those who have studied it a bit seem to fall into the trap of thinking it is about ‘doing something to others’. Of course the great gift of learning NLP is to understand and better manage our own thinking and emotional triggers.
As we grow up we are surrounded with messages that tell us what we can and can’t do. These messages are hidden in the unspoken but followed ‘rules’ by which each family runs how things are done. These subtle messages affect what we believe and how the world looks to us. Sometimes the rules are useful and help us. Sometimes they hold us back and shackle us to a life that isn’t our best or only option.
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly … Driver.
If you jump in your car and go for a long drive, on any day, you will see examples of people who are good drivers, safe and thoughtful drivers, drivers who are not really paying attention, and yet other drivers who are hostile and aggressive and frankly a menace on the road. These drivers put themselves at risk, put others at risk and generally reduce the pleasure of being on the road for everybody around them. We see highly competent drivers, good drivers, not so good drivers and really bad drivers – all driving.
So it is with life.
While we take lessons to learn to drive and practice until we can pass the driving test, we don’t have any formal instruction when it comes to how we use our brain. How we manage our emotional states and how we use language and our thinking processes to feel good about the world and reach our potential in life.
Neuro linguistic programming has many elements that combined, enhance our ability to feel better, think more clearly and understand the perspectives of others so that we can more usefully navigate our way through life with less hassle, a better understanding of others and flexibility in attitude that lets us cope and be resilient.
That is the great benefit of NLP for me. But it doesn’t work that way for us if we view using it as something to ‘do to others’.
One of the simple but useful aspects of NLP is the presuppositions – the implicit assumption about what’s true in the world. In NLP these are deliberate and have no need to be true – but need to be useful for us to think so. This allows us to work from this assumption and switch into our regular negative thinking patterns.
An example of one such presupposition is that nobody is broken. The follow-on from that is that nobody needs fixing. They may find it useful to develop skills to be more flexible, more resilient, more focused, in need of medical assistance, or whatever might apply to them. When we take away the option to fixate on ‘broken’ we widen our scope for other ways to describe a situation, and with that, we open the scope for a better range of possible actions we can take to improve the situation.
As a device borrowing presuppositions from NLP is a good way to identify the underlying assumptions that we normally make without being aware that our thinking is being sculpted by these unconscious signals. This automatic thinking is how we wind up ‘mindreading’ instead of finding out what others really think and mean.
If we assume that ‘everyone is out to get us’ then we become suspicious of everyone and begin to read sinister intentions into every situation. This is not a good way to develop healthy relationships – and that approach can not only lead us to feel suspicious about everyone – it can make people suspicious of us!
Similarly, if we assume (whether it is true or not) that ‘everyone is doing the best they know how’, we let ourselves off the hook of expectation that demands others should be perfect, or automatically do things the way we would. This position gives us room to accept people who are not following the same path that we do and lets us be more tolerant and less agitated by a different view or approach to life. As a result, we may find it easier to let people be and not feel the same compulsion to want them to act just like we would.
Just In Time
Learning NLP can be done a few ways. Sometimes rather than ‘learning NLP’ working with a skilled coach can be a good way to internalize the skills. By coaching as and when situations arise we cam learn how to use the skills in real life so we naturally pick up this knack in the course of regular sessions. This can be particularly useful for those who may have read a little or studied some NLP but have not yet integrated the skills into everyday life.
Learning to be mindful of the traps we can set for ourselves in our thinking and the triggers that affect our emotional states, allows us to better navigate problems to be more conscious of our own patterns of language and behaviour leading to results we don’t want.
Like the software we can access so easily now, it isn’t enough to have a program. To get the best use of the software requires us to get to know how to use it well. Yes you can do a few basic things with a sophisticated program. But when you learn how to use all the functions, you really have something sensational!
So it is with our mind.
More things you can do with the same equipment.
This is one way to change your mind for good!