Making sense with NLP

Nearly fifty years ago, at the height of space exploration, many astronauts were documented as having profound, transformational experiences as a result of looking at the Earth from a distance. This became a well-known side-effect of space travel and was labeled by journalists at the time as the ‘Lunar Effect’. This is an extreme example of what can happen when you get far enough away from your situation and can see it in the context of the much bigger ‘universe’ of reality. Problems become smaller, priorities become larger and clearer, and the interconnectedness between all aspects of life take on a deeper meaning.

NLP is about looking at the bigger picture, and the small details too.
  It looks at how you process information you receive
It questions how our awareness creates meaning

  It uses language to give structure to the meaning we are experiencing

And then it analyses and breaks down our behaviour, in order to rebuild it to achieve the desired positive outcome.

NLP is a bit like an ‘owners manual’ on how to use your brain. At school and college we learned wonderful things like history and geography and algebra. But we did not learn much about how to feel good or to have great relationships.

Each of us possesses, between our ears, one of the most sophisticated computers ever conceived. But we have no instructions on how to use it, and no real concept of how it works. No wonder changing how we do the simplest task, often meets with failure. If you climbed behind the wheel of a car for the very first time and had no instructions to guide you, how far do you think you’d get before driving into a ditch?

NLP itself is often about modelling how a task is done successfully, in order to learn it for ourselves. And that could mean something as simple as removing a phobia or a bad habit or as complicated as learning to grow a multi-million pound business.

Sometimes we wonder how people re-act the way they do, in some circumstances. We even get angry sometimes because they won’t listen to us no matter what we say. People stick to their beliefs, we can not blame them. We all do it.  Only when we walk a mile in their shoes, can we comprehend why a person acts the way they do. Self limiting belief is a complicated and difficult aspect of person’s personality. It is so easy to say, “Ok, I’ll change! I promise I will do it differently next time. … ” and consciously, you might mean it, it might be possible, but unless we understand and accept the reason for changing unconsciously, and change our model of the world, the habits, values and beliefs we hold, changes will always remain superficial which means the person has the tendency to go back to their former way of doing things. We have all done it, haven’t we? Fad diets, ‘going dry’ etc etc.

It’s like painting an old car with new paint. If you apply the new paint on top of the old paint, the car may look all shiny and new, but probably not for long….. In time the new superficial paint will wear off and expose the original colour of the car. Now, if we had taken it to a professional, a professional car painter, he will first remove the old paint, repair old dents and deep surface imperfections, prime the bare metal surface, and apply the new paint. Afterwards, the car is good as new. A shiny, perfect and long lasting change.

It’s the same for us. Unless we peel back the layers and extract the root cause of how and why we act the way we do, it’s impossible to make a long lasting, positive change in our lives.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming studies the structure of how humans think and experience the world. From these models, these plans, the manual if you like, techniques for quickly and effectively changing thoughts, behaviours, and beliefs that limit you have been developed, and they work!

We have an unconscious mind. The unconscious mind runs the body. So, it makes sense that if we have an issue with the body or the mind, we need to treat the mind.

Most people know that “How are you?” is generally a friendly greeting, not an invitation for a detailed health bulletin. Right? But my friend Max sees things differently.
“Well, I’m getting over my cold now but my sciatica is playing up terribly.
And, you know, I have the most awful pain in my bum … and…”  
If you know someone like him, you might find yourself switching off, rather than suffer the next 15 minutes listening to his aches and pains. Society is full of Max-like characters!

But for a moment, put yourself in his shoes.
What is constantly going through his mind?
He must be totally preoccupied with his own health, or his perceived lack of health.
Max is a man in his early forties.  I have known him for 10 years and he has never been any different.  He is, would you believe it, a fit and active father of five.

So think about it.  Max constantly fills his head with pictures of his imagined ailments and injuries.  I have no doubt that from time to time he does suffer ordinary aches and pains like we all do, but whereas most of us pass them off as the everyday occurrences of life, Max dwells on them, builds bigger pictures in his mind and then, as soon as he gets the opportunity, tells all his friends and acquaintances about them.
What does that do?  It reinforces every one of those ailments in his own mind (and it probably affects the minds of those he talks to too). The pictures get bigger and brighter and more vivid and what were little aches and pains become bigger aches and pains because he dwells upon them. Max is addicted to his own story.  He enjoys telling people how bad he feels.  And for him, it’s an addiction that needs to be broken.

And what will his five children be like when they grow up, do you think?

Power of positive thought

Throughout your brain there is a collection of synapses separated by empty space called the synaptic gap or cleft. Whenever you have a thought, one synapse shoots a chemical across the cleft to another synapse, building a bridge over which an electric signal can cross, carrying the relevant information you’re thinking about.

But every time this electrical charge is triggered, the synapses grow closer together in order to decrease the distance the electrical charge has to cross. The brain rewires itself, physically changing itself, to make it easier and more likely that the proper synapses will share the chemical link; making it easier for the thought to trigger. Your thoughts reshape your brain, and thus are changing a physical construct of reality.

Even more exciting is the fact that the synapses you’ve most strongly bonded together (by thinking about something more frequently) come to represent your default personality: your intelligence, skills, aptitudes, and most easily accessible thoughts. Because the synapses that you use more are literally closer together, they fire first, dictating the outcome of a particular event or stimulus in your mind, and thus dictating your response – your state of mind. And I’m not suggesting that by doing this you can completely eradicate negativity from your consciousness – there will be time when the heavier negative thought always wins. Negative thoughts always carry more energy in any case. They always grab our attention more.

And as my friend Max demonstrates all the time, it’s not just your thoughts that can alter your brain and shift those synapses; the thoughts of those around you can do it as well; When we see someone experiencing an emotion (be it anger, sadness, happiness, etc), our brain, or unconscious mind, “tries out” that same emotion to imagine what the other person is going through. And it does this by attempting to fire the same synapses in your own brain so that you can attempt to relate to the emotion you’re observing. This is basically empathy.

But it’s also true with your friends who constantly love to moan, whether it’s about their job, their partner, the government – whatever little thing they can pick apart. And how often do you find yourself nodding in agreement (perhaps just to keep them quiet), and unconsciously fire off the same synapses in your brain. Ouch. Reshaping your brain. These interactions make your short-path-personality as jaded and bitter as theirs over time. And that’s not to say you should never be critical or negative about something, but not all the time, not by default! This is why it is so important to spend time with people who lift you up, who are positive, happy (not in the slightly crazy delirious way) and optimistic – people who generally see the good before the bad.

Controlling your emotions

Imagine a time when you were really happy and excited. It may be a holiday you had, or a special event with a loved one, or a new born child.  The purer and simpler the better.  You know what is precious to you.  Close your eyes and think about it.  Imagine the picture in your mind. Imagine a screen, and project the image onto the screen. Make it compelling. Does if feel better if it’s brighter, if the colours are more vivid? Are there any sounds? Any smells? Are there even any tastes? How does it feel to you? What are those feelings?

Push the picture out, away from you, towards the front of the room, watch it get smaller as it goes away. Shrink it, small, smaller, smaller still, and dark, where are the feelings, can you feel them, or have they gone now? Pick it up again, Make it big, make it rush towards you, step inside, how do you feel? Do you feel how your emotional state changed at each stage?

Close your eyes.  Imagine you are floating, outside your body and look at your own body from across the room.  See yourself sitting there. What do you see? Who do you see? Is there anything you would like to say to yourself, quietly, now? Say something positive – say I love you! Try to use words which make you feel good about yourself. And follow them with a huge smile 🙂 How do you feel?

You are in control of your own unconscious mind, your state, your state of mind and your own happiness, if only you knew it.

Energy flows where focus goes

So, your results, all of your results, depend on your focus and energy. Energy flows where focus goes. Your mental health and wellbeing determines, to a large extent, how much focus and energy you have, and where it is directed. Emotions change that energy balance.

Energy balance

Negative emotions have far more energy than positive ones. Compare love to fear, anger, sadness, guilt, for example.  And unresolved negative emotion is like a toxin in the body and left unresolved will contribute to illness.

Chinese medicine makes strong claims to the effect of the emotions on our health. The health of our whole body and of individual organs and systems. In traditional Chinese medicine emotions are considered the major cause of internal disease. When there is prolonged stress or an over-abundance of joy, anger, grief or fright, serious injury can happen to our internal organs, making it clear that balancing our emotions is one of the keys to optimum health.

For example, anger is linked to heart attack, high cholesterol and diseases of the liver. Sadness causes a weakened immune response, and depression. Fear causes stress, PTSD and affects the kidneys. Guilt lowers your healing energy, a form of self sabotage. Conflict causes cancer.

We can use NLP to deal with negative emotions that you have today, those that you have carried with you from the past, and would otherwise carry out into the future.

Be your own authentic self

Don’t be afraid to be yourself and speak your own truth; Your own true and authentic self, not the personal you think you should be or have to be. There is nothing more demanding or stressful on the mind and body than having to maintain a personality or belief that is false.

Take time out

Do some yoga or find a meaningful way to relax. It does the body and mind good to be away from the stresses and strains of daily life and offers you an opportunity to explore what you truly feel inside, without obstacles. You’ll feel all sorts of emotions, both physical and mental. Go with it and let it be. Be honest with yourself. If you feel it, allow yourself to feel it, see what it is, and where it truly comes from. As questions. See help if you need it.

The body is a mirror to how we live our lives.

Our body speaks to us in whispers (those whispers are the unconscious mind) and often we choose not listen to them or take notice to the subtle changes going on in our body until one day we wake up and notice that we are out of balance. Now is the time to change it. Be honest with yourself and start doing things to regain your balance. Treat the root cause! This is where honesty is important.

Why am I the shape I am?
Why am I unhappy?
What does my body need to become healthy?
What needs to change in my life?
Am I willing to do what is needed to change?

Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and start to listen to your body, listen to your unconscious mind, now. How do you feel? How would you describe yourself right now? What do you need?

If you think NLP coaching can help you, in any area of your life, please get in touch today. You can contact me through the contact form on my website, by e mail or on Facebook in the first instance and arrange our first meeting.

Posted in NLP