What is NLP...Really?

November 18, 2020

The internet contains huge quantities of rather confusing, sometimes conflicting information about Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). It’s quite a challenge to pick your way through what sometimes feels like a knotted ball of wool and come up with a neatly knitted garment of truth that you can try on and find a good fit.

The best way to think about NLP is simplistically because at its heart, it is simple. It is the study of what successful people do in their heads when they do what they do so exceptionally. What are they creating in their mind that makes them so outstanding? Are there pictures, sounds, feelings and what language do they use when they talk to themselves? What do they believe and value? Do they do things in a certain order? NLP is about HOW we think.  It enables us to slow that process of thinking and break it down into its constituent components, then to rearrange those components in a more compelling way so that we can achieve better results.

How we think dictates our unconscious behaviour, the actions we take and the language that we use without thinking. Sometimes we would like to change that behaviour in order to create different results and we don’t know how. That’s were NLP comes in. It is an instruction manual for HOW to change our thinking and achieve our desired results.

People often ask me if NLP really works. A strange question to ask someone who has been working with NLP for the past 13 years! I believe in it. Why? Well, since NLP has been around since the 1970’s, there must be something in it offering this sort of longevity in the highly competitive world of personal development.

I think the best way for me to answer the question is to share my own personal experience. I know that NLP works because I have experienced its power first-hand. My story is real and transparent and is the reason why I chose to work in this highly rewarding profession.

Here’s my story…

I became interested in NLP because I felt stuck. You know the feeling, I was doing well, had a well-paid job in the Corporate world and I felt an overwhelming sense of inertia. I wasn’t going anywhere, I wasn’t doing anything that seemed to add any real value to the world, I knew I had success and I didn’t feel success-full. I was tired of seeing the results of months of work put on a shelf because the newest Corporate craze was now in focus. I needed a refresh and so I sought out something new to me, something very different that would make a difference. I found NLP.

It happened quickly after my NLP Practitioner Certification Training. A point of realisation as I fitted together the pieces of the great puzzle that had formed in my mind and at last, the full picture was laid out before me, clear now, I knew what was needed to regain some forward momentum and meaning in my life. I had found confidence in myself and my abilities at last and so I left my well-paid job to set up my own business. Now I could make a difference.

So, what made the difference? My journey towards my new world was accelerated when I decided to let go of my past. We all have a past and the events of that past have contributed to the shaping of our current behaviour, beliefs and attitudes. We all have moments in our past which have been more significant than others and mine were holding me back. The trauma of a 12 year old when her Father leaves, the sale of the family home, the struggle of a Mother to put food on the table, the transition from the well-off child to the child taking free school meals, the pain of seeing the Father with another child and the loss of the Father to cancer at 18. Not unique challenges, they are common to many and these were mine and they stayed with me, like a weight I carried round and couldn’t shed.

The trauma of elderly neighbours being murdered in their home and the investigation that followed, an abusive husband and divorce before the age of 30. All my experiences built up and I needed to let them go. NLP helped me to do just that by helping me to draw the positive results from highly negative events and to let the emotion associated with those events go. NLP taught me to change my relationship with my life and with myself. To think differently by changing HOW I thought about it.

Standard definitions of NLP and even the rather dated name, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, really don’t do justice to what the modern day concept has evolved into.  The unfortunate come away from their training believing that NLP is merely a set of techniques which they have learned to satisfy a self-serving purpose.  How much value they have missed, their vision obscured by the fog of process and procedure!

NLP is so much more than a set of techniques.  NLP is a compelling way of being, a new way of creating your way of living, a whole new approach to being me and a way of thinking which enables me to live the life I want to live.  Suddenly, anything and everything became possible.

I began to view others differently. By viewing each relationship from different platforms of perception, it became easy to appreciate viewpoints which differed from my own.  Out of the blue, relationships become so much more interesting.  Transforming the way I spoke to people, both verbally and non-verbally generated connections which meant I could have anyone really hear what I had to say and I learned to listen between the lines of what I hear.  Treating each communication newly and with wonder created relationships which last, with anyone, in any context and any environment. I became a master of my own communication, people actually began to take interest in what I had to say.

As my new thinking developed, it became clear that everyone projects their own reality.  Accepting that I create my reality, based on my own beliefs, values and perceptions, awarded me with the unique ability to begin to mold and shape my reality.  Projecting success is where success is conceived.  If I know what I want, know what action I need to take to get it and know when I am behaving appropriately, I began to embrace success and excellence in all I do.  NLP is the study of success, of what people do in their heads when they create success.

NLP is about a thirst for knowledge.  Sustained by continuous sips of learning which quench the desire for knowledge and understanding of self, I consistently push against the boundaries which define my thinking.  I undertook to tap into areas of my mind that have remained lost to me for so long.  The expansion enabled me to see new things in new ways and to move beyond the confines of what I believed possible.  As my comfort zone expanded, I developed the ability to understand what makes people tick and produce the behaviour that they produce and that change becomes possible.  Increasing my mental capacity for ethical and desired change awarded me with an incomparable control over my state, physiology and behaviour, producing what can only be described as miraculous results in the real world.  

I stopped complaining about life and the world around me, how hard done to I was, how other people adversely affected my life and I took charge. With the acceptance of responsibility came empowerment. Now I was ready!

I experienced unparalleled self-belief and confidence and a renewed energy that drove my motivation beyond the boundaries of what I thought possible. Now it was time for me to really live.

For many years, NLP has been viewed as the domain of the therapist and now in modern terminology, the coach.  A contemporary world has now demonstrated the flexibility of NLP thinking in a variety of environments.  Businesses across the world are experiencing amazing results through the introduction of NLP thinking into their organisational culture.  Sports men and women from a whole range of disciplines are now realising that optimum performance in sport begins in the mind.  Seats of learning and education are recognising the value of understanding individual learning styles and strategies and of course, the coaches and therapists continue to enable their clients to produce amazing results and transformational change.  Every week, around the globe, people are embracing their own personal development and pushing the boundaries of their thinking, creating new possibilities through learning NLP thinking.

Now, thirteen years later and as a Certified Master Trainer of NLP and owner of my own successful, international business, I am continuing my journey of personal development.  I strive to ensure that every student I train leaves the learning environment with a full and rounded appreciation of NLP thinking and the knowledge that NLP is so much more than a set of amazing techniques for change. I encourage them to transform. NLP is a new way of thinking, a new way of using your mind to create the life you want rather than the life that you feel you have been given.

So, what do you want to change and what are you willing to do to change it?

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