Understanding NLP

Understanding NLP

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a method that’s successfully been used to help people with all manner of issues. This includes mental health problems.

It is a system used so that people can develop self-awareness and a more effective way of communicating. This includes their own thoughts.

It helps people to realize there’s a link between neurological processes, the words we use and learned behavioral patterns. NLP seeks to change these in order to help achieve particular life objectives.

It’s a method that analyzes not only the words and phrases that someone uses, but also such as eye movements and body language. This gives valuable insight into someone’s real emotional condition.

A great deal of NLP is about learning and being aware of the language of the brain. This means that such as self-limiting beliefs can be replaced with positive thoughts.

NLP was developed during the 1970s at the University of California. Its co-founders were philosopher and mathematician Dr Richard Bandler and language expert Dr John Grinder.

Change the way you look at things…

Grinder and Bandler started to study how people with a similar background could have vastly different successes in life. They investigated the secrets of people who were consistently successful in producing their desired outcomes. 

They especially observed how these successful people communicated, both verbally and non-verbally. They looked at what it was that enabled them to accomplish things so effectively.

In particular they focused on three therapists who constantly achieved exceptional results with their clients. These were family therapist Virginia Satir; Gestalt Therapist Fritz Perls; and hypnotherapist Milton Erickson.

They looked at the language these three therapists used and how that set them apart from others. Bandler and Grinder observed connected patterns of thinking that were a major part in their successes.

They realized that anyone could learn such healthy thought patterns and behaviors. From “modeling” this, it can create a positive emotional impact that means living life much more positively.

In many ways, NLP can be summed up in the phrase made popular by self-help author and motivational speaker Dr Wayne Dyer: Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.

The Structure of Magic

In 1975, Grinder and Bandler’s first book on NLP was published. The Structure of Magic: A Book about Language & Therapy set out how people create inner models of the world to represent their life experience. This guides behavior and expectations.

NLP has in the decades since its introduction continued to study how high achievers communicate. When used in therapy, it seeks to help people understand that the manner in which they view the world affects how they respond and react.

Over the years, NLP has been used successfully to improve a great number of people’s self-awareness, communication abilities, confidence and their subsequent behavior.

This generally has positive impacts on their life and for those around them. NLP has helped people with anxiety, stress, depression and all types of mental illnesses.

Some popular NLP techniques

NLP can teach some useful questions to ask – and in answering these it is much more likely positive outcomes will arise.

These are questions such as:

Why do I actually want to change?

What can I do in order to change?

What will my life be like when I have made these changes?

“Anchoring” is where a certain touch, gesture or word is associated with a memory and/or emotional state. These can be deliberately created so that people are able to move themselves into a more positive emotional state.

So someone could, for example, realize a happy emotion whenever they stroke their palm and think or say “blue sky”. One immediate positive effect of this is that it’s a way of creating self-awareness and being in the present moment.

“Visualization” involves picturing what you want to see happening in your life. Then really imagine not only what it will look like – but what achieving that will be and feel like.

“Undermining” is a method that can be used to take the impact out of the internal self-critical voice most people have to varying degrees. It sounds quite bizarre – but actually can be extremely effective.

So this works by mimicking whatever the self-limiting or self-sabotaging voice is saying. But put it into a silly voice such as Donald Duck or Homer Simpson…

So next time there’s a thought such as “you’re too old for that” or “you couldn’t possibly ever do that”, try it as if any number of cartoon characters or comical figures were saying it to you. It’s a strange technique – but one that has really helped a great number of people.

“Moving images” is where you picture in your mind someone or something that you have a resentment towards. Then make the image go smaller, picture it moving away from you – and then turn it black and white.

Continue this method by picturing something that makes you feel positive and happy. Imagine it growing bigger as it comes closer to you. As it gets closer it becomes more colorful.

“Reframing” is another popular method. For instance, someone might say: “I don’t want to be overweight like I am.” NLP looks at what the real aim is – in this case to look and be healthy.

So the thought needs to be reframed. In this instance the thought most likely to achieve the person’s true aim is: “I am going to be healthy.”

We spend time carefully listening to every guest here at Tikvah Lake Recovery to ensure their treatment is personalized. This is so we can offer the best treatments for a swift, effective and long-lasting recovery.

Contact us today to discuss how we can help you or somebody you care about to get into recovery.

David Hurst - Tikvah Lake Recovery

About David Hurst

David Hurst has four books published on mental health recovery, including 12 Steps To 1 Hero, The Anxiety Conversation and Words To Change Your Life. He has written for national newspapers and magazines around the world for 30 years including The Guardian, Psychologies, GQ, Esquire, Marie Claire and The Times. He has been in successful continual recovery since January 2002.

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