NLP (“neuro linguistic programming” for those who are new to the term) can be a great tool for self-improvement. However, over the years since its creation, there have been offshoots from NLP which are confusing and not that effective for the user.
Working in the self-improvement industry I come across a lot of people talking about NLP and using it, which is great, however, I feel there are a few issues to be addressed with the system and how it’s viewed these days.
In today’s article, I want to talk about the simplicity of NLP and what works. I also want to bust a few myths that surround the area, so that you can get better results from using the methods inside of this monster self-improvement system, and not waste your time with certain parts of the NLP community…
NLP has many aspects and angles to it, for example here’s just a few key areas inside the system:
- The phobia cure
- The meta model
- The milton model
- Sleight of mouth patterns
What area you go into will depend on what you wish to get out of self-improvement. For example, some areas or obvious as to what they entail, such as the “phobia cure”. Others, such as “sleight of mouth patterns” or “calibration” induce more curiosity.
The Problem With Modern NLP
I’ll begin by saying that ALL the above areas do actually work, BUT, there is a HUGE problem with the way some of them are being taught…
For example, you can go to seminars, coaches, mentors, clinics and even friends who have studied and qualified in NLP to learn its techniques and self-help methods. However, not all NLP practitioners were created equal.
Richard Bandler (the co-creator of NLP) came up with the systems and techniques, but he himself admits that he’s a little embarrassed by what many NLPer’s are preaching and teaching these days.
The main problem is that people are teaching a “blanket” approach to NLP tactics. For example, calibration involves reading multiple areas of the body to tell how someone is operating. There’s a common diagram which shows the eye movements of how someone thinks.
VC = Visual constructed
AC = Auditory constructed
K = Kinaesthetic
VR = Visual remembered
AR = Auditory remembered
AI = Auditory Digital (self “dialogue” or “talk”)
So a persons eyes may move to the left and back to the centre quickly when they’re “remembering” an image or mental movie about something you ask them. The diagram has set eye movements, which state how people commonly move their eyes when thinking how they remember things or construct images int heir minds.
The issue with having a “set” diagram is that people take this information as “default”. But people aren’t default, everyone is different. Sure there may be a more common theme amongst certain people as to how they react to questions, but not everyone reacts the same.
The process works in terms of people will do things that give off signals as to how they’re feeling, thinking and operating, BUT people will do things in their own unique way, and each person must be taken as “unique” to learn from.
In other words, take things on a “case by case” basis and learn to read them and “their” way of calibrating, rather than taking the “blanket statement” that a lot of NLP practitioners teach.
Blanket statements and “default” processes are infested in the world of NLP these days, which is why so much of it is ineffective. It’s not that the model doesn’t work, it’s that it’s not being used on a case by case basis for the way individuals operate.
So if you’re planning on visiting a practitioner for help, they SHOULD take the time to learn your current state of calibration and operation, otherwise they might be using a “default” or “blanket” approach to helping you, which could be completely useless.
Also, this is true for if you’re planning on learning NLP from a course, make sure you understand that you’ll need to learn to read people individually, despite what the teacher may say!
Using NLP For Yourself
This, I believe, is one of the most effective ways to use NLP other than having an experienced practitioner who has proven results present with you…
Methods such as “self-hypnosis” or the “phobia cure” can work very well if you follow instructions correctly and really get into your imagination. The severity of your phobias or habits that you’d like to change aren’t really important, since the method is proven to work on anything.
The only reason these tactics won’t work for you is if you don’t create vivid enough images in your mind… So really get into the process and you’ll get results from NLP.
The Phobia Cure Technique
Here’s the “phobia cure” technique outlined, try it and see for yourself how it works. You may wish to get someone to read this script out to you slowly, otherwise you’ll have to memorise the steps to make this effective.
This method involves imagining yourself in a cinema, so if your phobia trigger is something to do with cinemas, just imagine yourself sitting at home comfortably watching TV instead.
“1. Before we begin, use some relaxation techniques such as deep diaphragm breathing, or self-hypnosis to get your mind in a state of comfort and ease.
2. I’m going to ask you to do certain things which will help to relieve the distress caused by recurrent thoughts and images that relate to your phobia. I will give directions one part at a time and then I want you to ‘visualise’ and take action on them.
3. I want you to imagine that you are sitting in the middle of a cinema. It is dark and there is no-one else there as the cinema has been hired just for you. It’s a comfortable seat, the cinema is warm, and you feel quite safe. You can picture a real cinema that you know well.
4. In a little while you are going to watch a movie of the memory that led to the phobic response you have. However, the movie won't be projected normally. It's actually a very old black-and-white movie in which you star, playing yourself. The picture quality will also be a bit fuzzy and washed out, as if the film is really old. There won't be any sound, but instead there will be a musical soundtrack. The music will be comical, so please choose something from a favourite TV show which sounds inherently funny. Benny Hill, The Muppets, Monty Python, etc. Remember too that you'll be seeing yourself in the film, so this will be a new way of viewing the events.
5. Before we start the film, think of some situation where you know you are solid, strong and excellent. This can be anything from being able to bake sensational food to being an expert on general knowledge. Let yourself feel that rather comfortable, smug feeling of power, and let it spread into every inch of your body. Really exaggerate it and notice how it feels, letting your body remember it. Let this be your state of mind while you watch the film.
6. On the screen you can see a black and white snapshot, a still in which you see yourself just before the traumatic or phobic event. On ‘Go', you're going to play the film. But not quite yet. Up above you is a little projection room.
7. Now I want you to float out of your body up to the projection room in the cinema where you can watch yourself watching the screen. From this position you will be able to see the whole cinema including your head and shoulders sitting in the middle of the cinema. Also see yourself in the still picture on the screen. The film will play from beginning to end and tell the whole story of the memory in vintage fuzzy black and white. At the end it will freeze-frame. If someone is reading these instructions out to you, you should let that very helpful someone know that you've got to the end by telling them. But keep your eyes closed. Ready? Start the music . . . Go.
8. I want you to turn the snapshot on the screen into a moving film and watch it at the normal pace from the beginning to the end. You will see and feel what occurred at the time. When you get past what is the worst of the experience the memory begins to fade, and I want you to stop the film and allow it to become a still again.
9. Finished? Good. Now, keep it frozen on that last frame. Float down from the projection room into the picture on the screen. Congratulate yourself for being so brave, and for having survived an unpleasant experience, or whatever is appropriate.
10. By jumping inside the experience, see everything as if it were happening now. The picture is now in colour. Feel the temperature of the air around you, notice what is going on, be aware of any sound, smell, or taste. I want you to experience this as accurately and quickly as you can.
11. In a moment, you are going to run the whole film back-wards, at top speed, with you inside it, viewing everything from that first-person perspective. The same music will play back-wards at top speed, but the fast rewinding will be over fairly quickly. When you get back to the start, you can open your eyes. That will complete the process. Ready? Full colour now, played backwards to the start and seen from inside. Go! Run the film backwards, all the people will move backwards, everything will move in reverse, just like rewinding a film except that you are inside this film, and you will experience everything happening in reverse.
12. Good. Eyes open? Great. Now, check that it's worked. Think of that old trigger again. What's different now? Are you finding that the old response has gone or feels less severe?
13. Repeat this experience, covering different aspects of the events if necessary. When you rewind it in full colour, try playing it again in full colour with funny music and a feeling of power. Play it at various speeds backwards and forwards with your new found confidence.”
14. Whenever your memory is triggered, the rewind technique will come in to play until you are back at a safe starting point and you are left with a good image.”
Wrapping things up…
All in all, getting results from NLP comes down to the following:
- The way you’ve been taught NLP
- The way the practitioner you’re working with was taught NLP
- Making the system personal to you and the way you operate
- Making your mental images and visions associated with NLP techniques as vivid and powerful as possible
I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post, please like, share and comment below as I’d love to hear your thoughts!