The basic premise of NLP
is that the words we use reflect an inner, subconscious perception of our
these words and perceptions are inaccurate, as long as we continue to use them and to think
of them, the underlying problem will persist. In other words, our attitudes are, in a sense,
a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The word Neuro linguistic
programming can be broken down to three distinct words:
Neuro refers to the brain and neural network that feeds into the brain. Neurons or nerve
cells are the working units used by the nervous system to send, receive, and store signals
that add up to information.
refer to the content, both verbal and non-verbal, that
moves across and through these pathways.
Programming is the way the content or signal is
manipulated to convert it into useful information. The brain may direct the signal, sequence
it, change it based on our prior experience, or connect it to some other experience we have
stored in our brain to convert it into thinking patterns and behaviors that are
the essence of our
experience of life.
Our experiences and feelings affect
the way we react to external stimuli. Let me illustrate. I am afraid of snakes. The impulse I get if I see
a snake or even hear a sound close
to resembling that of a snake is a feeling of total fright. This is because, I was born in an area
infested with several deadly snakes. One day a boy from my
neighborhood came to our house. He knocked on the door. I opened the door. He had a snake in his
hand. He wanted to show me the prize catch he had. He was holding it like we hold a pet cat. For him it was a pet.
So, it gave him lot of joy to hold one. To me, it gave a migraine headache!
Both myself and my
neighbor boy saw the same thing. The same signal was passed to our brain. It was
the picture of a snake. However, our brains interpreted the implications of the
snake entirely differently. In processing the information, our brains used our experiences (good
and bad), our biases, our opinions, our value systems, etc. to convert it into
useful information that we can use.
Neuro linguistic programming
(NLP for short) was developed in the early 1970s by an information scientist and a
linguist at the University of California at Santa Cruz. They had observed that
people with similar education, training, background, and years of experience were
achieving widely varying results ranging from wonderful to mediocre. They wanted to know
the secrets of effective people. What makes them perform and accomplish things. They were especially interested in the
possibility of being able to duplicate the behavior, and therefore the competence, of
these highly effective individuals. It was the golden era of modeling and simulation. They decided to model human
excellence. They looked at factors such as education, business and therapy. They have then
zeroed in on the communication aspect. They started studying how the successful people
communicated (verbal language, body language, eye movements, and others). By modeling
their behavior, John Grinder and Richard Bandler were able to make out patterns of thinking
that assisted in the subject's success. The two theorized that the brain can learn
the healthy patterns and behaviors and that this would bring about positive physical and
emotional effects. What emerged from their work came to be known as Neuro-Linguistic
The basic premise of NLP is that the words
we use reflect an inner, subconscious perception of our problems. If these words and
perceptions are inaccurate, they will create an underlying problem as long as we continue to use and to think
them. Our attitudes are, in a sense, a
The neuro linguistic therapist
will analyze every word and phrase you
use in describing your symptoms or concerns about your health. He or she
will examine your facial
expressions and body movements. After determining problems in your perception,
the therapist will help you understand the root cause. The therapist will help you remodel your
thoughts and mental associations in order to fix your preconceived notions. These
preconceived notions may be keeping you from achieving the success you deserve.
help you get out of these unhealthy traits and replace them with positive thoughts, and
patterns that promote wellness.
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Does Neuro Linguistic Programming Work?
NLP uses self image and
attitude towards illness to effect change and to promote healing. Hope is our greatest asset.
It is one of the main reason why placebos (sugar pills used in clinical studies)
work. We also know how effective prayer can be when it is combined with faith
and hope. When a person loses hope and feels helpless in the
face of a chronic disease such as AIDS or cancer, it is very easy to lose the hope;
body may just "quit trying." If the patient is made aware of his or her unique
abilities and possibilities, he or she may see things differently. Now, the body's
natural healing power can be harnessed to do the job.
NLP is based on several useful presuppositions. NLP places great
emphasis on concepts that work as opposed to concepts that should work.
NLP therapists will tell you that if
what you're doing isn't working, you should try something else that will work
for you. Every person is different. Flexibility is the key element in a given
system. The person who is most likely to do well responds to changing (or unchanging)
circumstances appropriately. This is one reason why NLP has made so much progress. NLP is much more interested in
Other tools that are available to NLP
therapists are meta model, sensory acuity, Milton model, system representation and
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NLP makes a number of
presuppositions. Presuppositions or assumptions are the beliefs a person will find useful
in effecting changes to themselves and/or to the world. (Some people call these as the "givens".)
- Communication is more than what you are
- No one is wrong or broken. People work
perfectly to accomplish what they are currently accomplishing.
- People already have all the resources they
- Behind every behavior is a positive
- Every behavior is useful in some context.
- The meaning of a communication is the
response you get.
- If you aren't getting the response you want,
try something different.
- There is no such thing as failure. There is
- Having choice is better than
having no choice at all.
- In any system, the element with the most
flexibility exerts the most influence.
- The map is not the territory.
- If someone can do something, anyone can
- You cannot fail to communicate.
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Representational system in NLP consist of
our five senses. These are:
- Visual (images)
- Auditory (sounds)
- Kinesthetic (touch and internal feelings)
- Gustatory (tastes)
- Olfactory (smells)
Every one of us uses one or a combination of
these senses to perceive the world. The brain gets the "picture" of what we are
talking about from one or from a combination of these senses and from these senses alone. For example,
we see a dead dog on the road. The eyes senses the visual image and send it to the brain.
The nose will sense the smell and send it to the brain. For example, if the smell is rotten, the brain
may infer from what it had received so far (a picture of a dog lying still that
is giving out foul smell) that the dog had
been dead for some time. If the dog is crying, the ears will send this information to
the brain. In addition, we might touch the dog. We probably won't taste the dog. So, these
are the "inputs" to the brain.
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The qualities and attributes of the
representations you make using your five senses are called modalities. Let me
about a dog. This evokes different reactions in people depending on what we
perceive. One person may visualize a
cute, poodle. Another person may think of a vicious bull dog chasing after him.
the color of the dog? Our imagery and the reaction to it can change depending on
whether we see it
"in vibrant colors" or "black and white". Make the colors more vibrant.
What is the reaction you get as a result? Now move the picture further out and see how it
One of the great
advantages of using a spreadsheet such as Excel is that once we make a model in
it, we can change it by asking "what-if" questions. We examine various
scenarios till we are
satisfied that the model is satisfactory for our purpose. A similar thing is happening in our
mind or brain with the information that is "input" by the sensory system.
The information can be represented in different ways based on our feelings, prejudices and value systems. These
values are unique to each of us. It is part of our "internal" system.
These are our submodalities.
The great power of this concept is that
once we recognize how our submodalities may mask our perception, we can make changes
to our subsystem to effect the change or to "correct" the situation..
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Meta model in NLP is a set of questions
designed to find the explicit meaning in a person's communication. It is important that
the therapist makes no assumptions regarding the communication. The therapist
may ask probing questions to
find out what is in the mind of the person being treated.
- Subject: I am so tired.
- Analyst: What makes you tired?
- Subject: He is always taunting me and making
fun of me.
- Analyst: Who is making fun of you?
- Subject: Bob.
- Analyst: Bob who?
- Subject: Bob Sullivan, my neighbor.
- Analyst: Why is Bob making fun of you?
- Subject: He is such a tease!
An untrained person would have made the
assumption that the person was physically tired. By asking probing questions, the analyst
learned what the subject is really saying. The therapist will use the sound,
the way the subject is talking, the pitch of the voice etc. to understand
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We can take one look at a person and can infer a
great deal about what they are thinking or what their thought process is at that time.
For example, we will know when a person is happy or unhappy. We will know when a person is depressed. We
know when to avoid our bosses - it may be his or her "bad day."
Of course, some people are good at hiding their true feelings. We call it a "poker
In general, a person's thought process is very closely tied
physiology. A dog can sense when you are afraid. How did he know? We pick up
clues from the body language of the person we are communicating to: slumped shoulders,
downcast eyes, drooping head, lack of animation etc.
Sensory acuity takes these observations beyond the more obviously recognizable clues and
uses the physical feedback in addition to someone's words to gain as much from
the communication as possible.
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Milton model refers to a set of linguistic
patterns derived by Milton Erickson, the father of modem hypnotherapy. These language
patterns are used to help guide someone without interfering with their experience. For example, "Think of the time you saw the dog." The
suggestions are made purposely vague so that the subject will have ample opportunities to
shape it in his or her mind. For example, the therapist did not suggest what kind of dog it was, what
was its color etc. It is up to you to fill in those blanks. This way, you can personalize it
the way it makes most sense to you. Thus, this suggestion is very general and
can be used for everyone. The
Milton-model helps the therapist to maintain rapport with the patient. It is often used in hypnotic or trance state
By using these models,
them modeled from the behavior and actions of successful people) NLP enables us to
how we and others create our own unique maps of reality. It enables us to understand our
own and others' processes of decision making, communication, motivation and learning.
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Changes To Our Life Style Using NLP:
Once we understand our own map
of reality, we can make changes to it in order to obtain the life experiences we want. NLP provides us
"maps" used by other people. We learn how others have responded to a
particular situation we are facing.
We see the differences in the approaches and in the outcomes. Based on it, we may voluntarily make changes to our
own behavior. We step out of
our own map and step into the other's. When this happens, the rewards are many. We
experience a deep connection to the successful person. And our life will never be the
NLP increases the depth and
effectiveness of our relationships, beginning with our self and extending through personal
and intimate relationships to our professional and work lives, and finally, to the
therapeutic arena or working with others to bring about healing, change and growth. NLP
provides the tools that enable this rich connection with self and others to happen.
Many of NLP's tools and
applications are widely used in business, management, education, training and therapy.
Many of us may have encountered and applied these principles in our life, without even
realizing that it came from NLP.
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