When you see a set of words strung together, like neuro-linguistic programming, it is no surprise why that mouthful of words is many times shortened to just, NLP. But, what on Earth is NLP?! It “describes the fundamental dynamics between mind (neuro) and language (linguistic) and how their interplay affects our body and behavior (programming)” (Dilts, 2016). Pretty cool, huh? The thought of having complete control over our mind and therefore how we think, feel and act is pretty flipping amazing! That’s just my opinion, of course.
But what makes me feel so strongly about NLP and the affect it can have on anyone’s life? As an anatomy and physiology professor, who also teaches neurobiology, I am simply awestruck by the amazing capabilities of our mind and body. Our mind is so beautiful and complex, yet very efficient. Our mind is bombarded by tons of information every second. It is able to sort, edit, delete and relay information based on what it thinks is best for you at that moment in time. If you are constantly bombarding your brain with negative thoughts, it is going to hone in on those thoughts and disregard the rest because that is what it thinks is best for you because of how much you CHOOSE to continue focusing in on those particular thoughts. NLP focuses on what outcomes you are looking to achieve in life and aims to replace self-limiting beliefs with new beliefs that will serve you better in the long run.
NLP has a number of different presuppositions and my favorite one is that you are not broken, you are working perfectly just the way you are. Every habit or emotional response you have is serving you in some way. Maybe smoking helps you to relax. Maybe overworking, overeating, or overdrinking helps you to escape uncomfortable thoughts you want to avoid. This is very important because that means when you remove those habits or emotional responses, you need to have something to replace them. Particularly something that you feel is more beneficial in your life. This is why people who stop drinking usually take up smoking or put on a lot of extra weight because they never addressed why they were drinking in the first place and therefore never found a different way to process whatever thoughts were driving that action. NLP Practitioners are trained help clients replace habits and self-limiting beliefs that are no longer serving them with new habits and thought processes that will help their client reach their desired outcomes in life.
NLP is also great for helping you improve your relationships by improving how you build rapport and communicate with others. You can learn how to read people and detect what senses they communicate with most so you can match them and increase rapport. For example, if your significant other tends to utilize auditory forms of communication, they might express that they love you through words. Yet, they might not understand that you prefer visual forms of communication and therefore you would prefer for them to express their love for you through things you can see like flowers and other gifts. Or maybe you prefer more kinesthetic forms of communication and would rather your significant other expressed their love for you through hugs and kisses. You can probably think of times in your own relationships where there have been disconnects between how you communicated with one another, which ultimately led to problems in the relationship.
This is an overly simplified breakdown of NLP and how it works. I will delve into more depth on NLP through future blog posts. But, I hope it gives enough information to help you understand why I have chosen it as one of the techniques to use with my clients.
To learn about other tools I recommend for dealing with life, you'll find benefit in my book, Transformation After Trauma: Embracing Post-Traumatic Growth. Sign up to begin reading the Introduction and Chapter 1 for free: serotinouslife.com/transformation-after-trauma-book
If you would like to read or listen to the full book, you can find the eBook, audiobook, and paperback on Amazon.
Dilts, R. B. (2016). What is NLP? http://www.nlpu.com/NLPU_WhatIsNLP.html