By Santosh Babu
NLP is a major therapeutic tool and instrument for personal effectiveness and excellence. NLP therapy is witnessing immense popularity with applications galore
Richard Bandler and John Grinder created neuro linguistic programming (NLP). They studied and modeled people like Milton Erickson (hypnotist), Fritz Perls (gestalt therapist) and Virginia Satir (family therapist), took the most effective patterns from each and created a practical, replicable system to get consistent results. They also borrowed heavily from Alfred Korzybski, the author of Science and Sanity. In fact, Korzybski spoke about ‘neuro linguistic’ effects almost 40 years before Bandler and Grinder came on the scene.
NLP was a major shift in therapy. Earlier, psychologists were interested in the question ‘why’ something happens and spent a lot of time revealing the cause. NLP directly went into ‘how’ this problem could change just now. NLP practitioners claimed that they could change a phobia in half-an-hour and they did it! NLP then grew as a major therapeutic tool and as an instrument for personal effectiveness.
Initially, most therapists used NLP (since that’s where the model originally came from), but now its applications have extended into almost every area of life (sales, business, negotiations, modeling). So over the years NLP grew as an industry and in the recent past there have been many offshoots. The issue of who owns NLP came up recently since many people had contributed to the development of the science. Richard Bandler now asks his participants to sign a contract that says he is the author of the trademark NLP. Now there are all kinds of training programs and trainers in the name of NLP and some of them can make you an NLP trainer pretty fast. Ideally a practitioner level training is of seven to 10 days duration and master level around 15 to 20 days. To be a trainer one selects a topic within NLP and pursues that deeply.
So what is NLP?
First, NLP is based entirely on certain presuppositions. Presuppositions could be considered base beliefs. It’s like an operating system on a computer. Every program you run goes through that operating system (for instance, Windows). So, the more flexible the operating system the more options you will have when running a program.
Presuppositions are the internal, mental environmental structure we build that directs our conscious attention span. These presuppositions form the environment from which all NLP techniques take form. Bandler defines NLP as ‘an attitude, backed by a methodology, which leaves a trail of techniques’. Most people who are familiar with NLP just know of the techniques. The point is that the basis of NLP is the presuppositions and the attitude you have when you use these presuppositions. Here are some of them:
1. ‘The map is not the territory’ or ‘The menu is not the meal’. What we see, hear, and feel is not reality, but our brain’s interpretation of it. Everything you think, see, hear or feel is created by your brain in response to real external stimuli. We say that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. In reality we know that the sun is stationary. But through our five senses we feel that it rises in the East. Reality exists. We just never get to experience it firsthand. So our brain creates a virtual reality for us—a map. Just like a map of your town. The map is not the town, but it is similar and if you want to get to the corner store the map tells you how to get there—it’s useful.
2. People respond according to their ‘maps’. The human mind has a special capability. It can give meaning to things. What all meanings we have given to sunsets and sunrise! As we grow up in the world, we experience things and give meaning to them according to the map that we have.
3. https://lifepositive.com/Mind/body inevitably affect each other. If I cut you with a knife, your mind knows about it. If I say certain things to you, I can make you feel bad. Where exactly do you ‘feel bad’? In your body. Mind-body acts as a whole.
4. Individual skills function by developing and sequencing representational systems. We have five senses or antennae by which our brain receives information. Once our brain converts that information into something it can work with, we start sorting the information to give it a structure. There are five representational systems: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory and gustatory. Everything we do has a sequence to it. Before you decide to buy a car, you may picture yourself driving that car, then you may say to yourself, ‘this car seems to be ideal for me’, then you may get a good feeling about the car and you buy it. This would be called a buying strategy and it consists of the three major representational systems—seeing, hearing and feeling or visual (V), auditory (A) and kinesthetic (K).
5. Respect each person’s model of the world. Now that you know that we operate in a virtual reality of our own creation, you can respect that every other person on the planet is doing the same. The difference is you now know you are working through a map. Most people think everything they think and feel is REAL. Respect that. Rapport is created when you can step into that person’s model of the world (even if you don’t want to stay there). Leading is when you gently expand their map of the world.
6. Person and Behavior describe different phenomena. When you were three years old, maybe you sucked your thumb. Does that make you a thumbsucker today? You are more than the behavior you produce and have the ability to change them at any time. What you DO and what you ARE are two different things.
7. Every behavior has utility and usefulness—in some context. All behavior functions from positive intentions. This presupposition separates behavior from the person. A problem like stammering would have had some positive intentions when it was first developed. Maybe it saved that person from something.
8. We cannot NOT communicate. Even if we don’t say a word, our internal thought processes affect our body in such a way that our message gets out.
9. The way we communicate affects perception and reception. How many ways can you say ‘You’re the best’? Try it. Use different tonalities, voice tempos, tones. Change the way you stand, the focus of your eyes, and your posture. Experiment with a few friends and try to come up with 100 ways to say it over the next week. The words are the same, but the way you communicate them can make a radical difference.
10. The meaning of your communication lies in the response you get. This is one of the driving presuppositions in NLP. It forces you to take full responsibility for RESULTS in your communication. If you get a response you don’t like, then you need to change something in your communication. Again, everyone is functioning through HIS or HER model of the world. If you communicate to everyone using your model only, you will not get the response you want. NLP is all about results—if one thing doesn’t work, TRY SOMETHING ELSE. You aren’t just communicating to hear yourself, are you? You communicate because you are looking for a response from another person. Keep shifting and changing the way you communicate until you get the response you want.
11. The one who sets the frame for the communication controls the communicating. When you use a camera, you don’t take a picture of everything around you. The lens ‘frames’ the specific scene you want to focus on. Whoever sets this frame in any communication will control that particular communication. Just see the following scenario:
You: It is so cool and nice in the park. Let’s take a walk there. (Frame-park is a cool and nice place).
Your fiancée: It’s going to be too dark when we get there. (New frame—dark is not good).
You in a seductive voice: Well, that will be nice. That way no one can see us. (Reframe—dark is good).
12. There is no failure, only feedback. There can be failure only if you do not learn anything from what has happened. Until you die, you can continually alter your behavior till you get the results you want.
13. The person with the most flexibility exercises the most influence in the system. The Law of Requisite Variety—in any system, the one with the most flexibility will exercise more choices and therefore more influence in the system. Make sure your model is big enough to allow a wide variety of behavior. Again, simply, keep trying new things until you get the results you want.
14. Resistance indicates lack of rapport. With the proper amount of rapport you can convince someone to do almost anything. You can literally change the way they map their entire world. If you are getting resistance on any level (verbal or nonverbal, keep your eyes open), you need to step back into their map of the world for a minute and regain rapport. Remember presupposition 11!
15. People have all the internal resources they need to succeed. We all have the same set of antennae, the same nervous system to interpret signals. Sometimes we just need other people to bring it out of us.
16. Humans have the ability to learn from just one experience. This presupposition takes the Pavlovian thing to new heights. Humans can associate anything to anything and do it instantly if the state of mind at the time is intense. That’s how phobias are formed. When one has a terrible experience on a flight during a bumpy ride, one may develop a phobia of flying.
17. People make the best choices open to them when they act. Everyone makes the best choices from their current map or model of the world. So if you want to change yourself or someone else, you need to show more choices.
These presuppositions cover almost all aspects of NLP, but then it’s a growing science. Every day there is something new added to it. So stay tuned!
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