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What is NLP? (Neuro Linguistic Programming)

What is NLP? (Neuro Linguistic Programming)

NLP is the acronym for ‘Neuro Linguistic Programming’.

It was founded by a couple of men called Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 70s, modelling it after other therapies.

In short, NLP is used to understand how people organise their thinking, feeling, language, and behaviour to create the results and outcomes in their life that they do. In fact, it’s frequently called the ‘user manual for your mind’, as studying NLP gives you an insight into how thinking patterns can affect every aspect of our lives.

There are quite a few definitions of what NLP is, but here’s what the co-creators defined it as:

“NLP is an attitude which is an insatiable curiosity about human beings with a methodology that leaves behind it a trail of techniques.” Richard Bandler (co-creator of NLP)

“The strategies, tools and techniques of NLP represent an opportunity unlike any other for the exploration of human functioning, or more precisely, that rare and valuable subset of human functioning known as genius.” John Grinder (co-creator of NLP)

I don’t know about you, but those definitions don’t really shed much light on what NLP actually is! So, I thought I’d write a quick article about what it is, how it can help, the pros and cons, and more importantly, what NLP is not.

Before I move on to how it works, here are some other ways of describing it that may sound more interesting:

It’s like mind gardening, clearing out the weeds and planting new seeds that help the garden grow.

It’s accessing the control panel of the mind to get the system operating at its best.

It is a journey of the mind to make sure you’re following the right map to get you to your desired destination.

Person standing at the top of the mountain having achieved his goals

How does NLP work?

When you break it down, NLP can be split into three “blocks”.

First, Neuro.

Our first map of the world is built using pictures, sounds, tactile awareness, internal sensations, tastes, and smells. These form as a result of our neurological filtering process.

Everyone has their own unique mental filtering system. Not only do they have their own experience of going through the world, but they also experience the same situation differently to someone else.

This first “mental map” is known as ‘First Access’ in NLP.

Second, Linguistic

Each piece of information your brain receives is assigned a meaning. This meaning is personal to you and is the basis for the secondary “mental map”. This assigns language to the internal images, sounds, feelings, tastes, and smells that your brain receives.

This forms your everyday conscious awareness and as known as the ‘linguistic map’ or the ‘Linguistic Representation’.

Third, Programming

This is the behavioural response that comes from these neurological filtering processes and linguistic maps.

These blocks interact to have a positive (or negative) effect on us as individuals, and NLP coaching is a way of changing these patterns for the better.

break bad habits and build good habits with NLP

How can NLP help me?

NLP is a set of tools that can be used to facilitate powerful change which is quick and long lasting. It can be used on individuals, and within organisations.

An example I can give you us what we do. Our main focus is helping organisations to improve their results. To do this, we help individuals within that business to improve their results, thus helping the overall business results. However, we also offer sessions for individuals. It really depends on what the desired goal is.

For businesses, we can help employees overcome any mental limits or barriers so they can work at optimum capacity. To do this, our main focus is working on their mind-set.

Skills training is a great thing for businesses to invest in, but if the employees don’t have the right mind-set it would be a complete waste of time. We make sure that doesn’t happen by using NLP techniques to improve their mindset to make sure the skills training is fully absorbed and put to good use.

Some of typical things we can help employees with are; anxiety, stress management, mind-set management, confidence, presentation skills, communication skills, sales skills, managing change, goal setting, rapport building, procrastination, motivation, achieving dreams, and more.

When it comes to an individual NLP sessions, the things people mostly come to us for are; phobias and fears, anxiety, healthy habits, breaking negative habits, relationship improvements, confidence, stress management, parenting help, goal setting, mindset management, and more.

When it comes down to it, there’s not a lot NLP can’t help with if you have the right intention.

Man standing at the top of a hill having achieved his goal

The Pros and Cons of NLP Coaching

I’ve spoken about this in more depth in the article here: The Advantages and Disadvantages of NLP Training but I wanted to go over it briefly again here.

The Pros of NLP Coaching are:

  • Very time efficient
  • Relatively affordable when compared to other therapies to get the same outcome
  • You gain complete control of your mind
  • Other related issues can be solved along the way
  • When it works, it’s life changing (more on this later)
  • It works on a wide range of challenges

The cons of NLP Coaching are:

  • It only works when there’s a strong intention
  • You have to be prepared to do homework
  • You’ll probably have preparation to do before your session
  • It isn’t a “long” process, so if you want to open your heart up and talk to someone for an extended period you should look for counselling instead
  • It’s a larger initial investment for one session compared to other therapies (although you’ll only need 1 or 2 sessions, so it tends to work out cheaper).

What NLP is not

The origin of NLP comes from modelling therapists, and so it can get confused as a type of therapy such as psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, counselling, hypnotherapy, or CBT.

Although someone who has NLP qualifications may also specialise in these therapies, and use NLP to enhance or complement the language used with these therapies, it is not that.

NLP is more the language you can use to facilitate change within the mind.

It’s not a session to simply talk about your problems, in fact, a reputable NLP Practitioner will spend some time understanding the problem to begin with and move swiftly on, getting you outside of the problem doing the transformational work.

It’s not ‘woo woo’. Sorry, it’s not some miraculous magic (although the results can make it feel that way). It’s structure and process for how language is used to help the mind make changes and release unwanted blockages.

A common misconception about NLP is that it’s a method of seduction and manipulation. Unfortunately, that’s some people’s first impression of the field. Combined with NLP’s unregulated status, NLP is often linked with “mind control”.

This is NOT the intention of NLP, but there’s always going to be people who distort or alter an originally positive intention into something negative to suit their own personal gain.

That’s why the ANLP exists. They promote the responsible, ethical, and congruent use of NLP amongst NLP professionals. It’s one of the reasons we made sure we’re associated with them.

If you’re looking for an NLP professional, you should only go with those who are associated with them. Look for the ANLP logo (see below)

Association for NLP member logo

NLP is an incredible tool and it’s important to me, because I’ve seen the changes it can make. It’s helped me transform my life, allowing me to start my own business and help others transform their lives. I never tire of seeing people leave a session empowered having felt the relief and excitement of the changes they wanted to make. When people struggle through things for years thinking they are stuck with it, it is immensely rewarding to be part of facilitating the freedom and empowerment they have leaving the session.

If you want to know any more about NLP and what it can do for you or your business, send me an email at natalie@podhr.co.uk and I can give you any information you need!

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