What on earth is NLP?

NLP began in California in the 1970’s, founded by John Grinder and Richard Bandler, and has developed ever since. These two researches wanted to explore how we could model excellence, so they learned how some the best communicators in the world got their results. They then packaged what they learned as ‘NLP’ or neurolinguistic programming. 

NLP is most often called the study of subjective experience or the owners manual for the brain. I have found myself particularly stumped at how to properly explain what NLP is to those who haven’t yet studied it. This is likely because NLP is a practical experience and not so much a theory. Even so, I have been asked so many times about what it is and why I offer it as a training, so I am now attempting to put it into words. 

Let’s start with a brief rundown of its many benefits and then we will go into some more specific areas of why and how this works. NLP will help you to

  • Use language for maximum impact; 
  • Create instant rapport & connection with others;
  • Gain control of your thinking and emotional state;
  • Empower yourself and others with powerful tools for behavioural change;
  • Become a persuasive communicator;
  • Align your motivational energies with your dreams and goals;
  • Personal alignment of mind, body and emotions;
  • Choose your emotions instead of being run by them;
  • Increase your self-esteem and self-image, self-motivation and enthusiasm;
  • Learn to transform fear into action;
  • Transform limiting beliefs and learn empowering ones;
  • Release bad habits;
  • Align your conscious and unconscious minds to access all your resources and gain maximum personal power;

Communication 

The greatest takeaway I have seen from NLP is how it improves your communication with others. This has brilliant effects on your personal life as you learn to express your needs effectively and speak your truth. 

Yet in order to do this we have to address and enhance your communication with self. This requires us to understand how we already communicate with ourselves, and to increase our awareness of this process. When we are able to communicate with ourselves fully, we can actually choose our own programming to gain the most functionality and benefit. 

Here’s what I mean:

Your internal programming 

Each of us has an existing programming and a preferred internal language. This is due to many factors of our genetics and upbringing that we won’t go into here. You can think about it as an operating system like your phone or laptop. There are Apples and Samsungs and although they are quite different each works well in its own right. Some people prefer one over the other. Your operating system is the same. 

In the 4 day NLP training that I offer I will teach you to recognise your internal programming and language: whether you are auditory, visual or kinaesthetic; whether you are general vs specific or logic vs abstract. We will break down your internal system so you can understand how you really work. 

Once we know this about you, you’ll be able to have a clear understanding of what your programming is and therefore how we can get the maximum results you want to have for your life. This may be as simple as understanding how you can be happier, feel more alive, or communicate your needs more effectively to your spouse.  It can also relate to work, daily routines or any other aspect of your day to day existence. Really, the possibilities are endless. 

Your internal programming determines how you personally experience an event, which is what we call subjective experience. Let’s look at this in more detail. 

Subjective experience 

Each experience we have is data rich. But as we take in an event in time, we run it through our own filters to understand what we are seeing. George Miller explained that there are approximately two billion bits of info coming at us per moment in chunks of data, yet we only process seven, plus or minus two at a time. This means that in order to take in our experience we are constantly in a process of deleting, distorting and generalising the real experience. 

In order to share this experience with others we have to again delete, distort and generalise because of the limitations of language. Therefore we experience and share a watered down version of life. 

Here’s the important part: HOW we delete, distort and generalise our experience depends upon our current state. I like to explain this ideas of state using the metaphor of coloured glasses. You still with me?

Coloured glasses 

Let’s say you are in a sad state because you recently experienced loss of a loved on. Then it’s like you are wearing sad coloured glasses. This means you look around the world and everything looks depressing. Why? Because the sad glasses are deleting everything that doesn’t fit into the sad-lens. All those 2 billion bits of data are getting deleted, distorted and generalised down to fit the picture you have going on. 

Your best friend may be sitting next to you taking in the same sunset on the beach, but she is wearing lust glasses. She is deleting anything out that’s not gooey and delicious because her experience right now is of new love. Same scene, different internal experience. You could then both go home and describe alternate watered down experiences coloured but your glasses. Hers would be one of love, yours of sadness, even though you shared the exact same sunset. 

If we are wearing anger glasses, then everything looks infuriating, like a pair of shoes that lie out of place by the front door. The shoes are simply shoes. But if we look at them with angry glasses, then they become the F-ing shoes that the kids always leave out for you to trip over. The kids come home and see the shoes, but now they’re just shoes. 

In this way, the event itself is not what we responding to: ie the sunset or the shoes. We are responding to the state we are in at the time.

States 

In the 4 day NLP training we teach you how to identify different states. We then learn about “resource states” which are the states that are the most effective for what you want to do; ie what state do you need to exercise in? To parent, work or study?

We teach you to identify, access and lock in these resource states. We teach you to put on the right glasses. In this way you learn how to control your emotions or states, in such a way that they no longer control you. 

NLP is a beautiful way to understand yourself,  to learn the way your brain functions and to get yourself back in control of life. I hope this article has given you a richer understanding of what this training can do for you. Contact me if you would like to learn more book in to our next 4 day INLPTA training. 

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