By Jayoti Pal
Neuro-linguistic programming offers simple ways to change your life by altering your belief system.
NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) is a system co-founded by John Grinder and Richard Bandler in the early ‘70s. The name NLP comes from three nouns,
N – Neurology – the mind with which we think.
L – Linguistics – how we use language and how it affects us.
P – Programming – how we sequence our actions to achieve goals.
It helps us to realise the power of our mind and channelise it effectively to enrich our lives.
Once you think positively, you can devise your own methods to deal with any situation.
Our brain functions in harmony with our beliefs. Beliefs form the foundation of our thinking and actions. Beliefs are acquired in our formative years, from our parents, friends, and the circumstances in which we live. So, people with experiences that are more negative, tend to form negative beliefs.
You are your beliefs
In NLP, a belief is seen as a table, and the evidence or reasons form its legs on which it stands. Therefore, if you want to overcome a belief then you just have to remove the reasons, which formed the legs of the table. Moreover, if you have to create a belief then you just have to add legs, i.e. to add reasons for that belief to form, and be established, in your unconscious mind. For example, if you think that everyone in this world is a cheat, then it is likely that you would meet such people. Our beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies.
Consider an example. When we learn a new word, which was not a part of our vocabulary earlier, we generally come across the same word repeatedly. Earlier, we did not know the existence of the word. The reality is that we may have come across the word many times, but as our brain did not know the word, it just ignored it, and we did not pay much attention to learning this word. Therefore, if you think that everyone is a cheat, then your brain will try to look for people who support this belief, and delete all the information which is against this belief. You will be blind to the good points in people, and be very aware of their shortcomings.
|“All that we are is the result of what we have thought.” – Buddha|
This is not to say that by thinking positive, you can avert failure. However, by thinking positive, you will find positive things in failure also. Like Thomas Alva Edison who invented the bulb. It took him years to achieve success and he failed many times before he actually made it. Would you consider him a failure? You would not, because he first learnt how not to make a bulb, before he learnt to make one. Therefore, instead of labelling everyone a cheat, it is wise to be cautious when dealing with people, and be consciously look out for good people.
Here is an exercise to reinforce the above.
Exercise 1: Stand straight with both feet a little over one foot apart. Move your right hand straight upwards bringing it to the level of your shoulder. In addition, point your index finger in the forward direction. Now turn clockwise without moving your feet and by just rotating your upper body including your right hand and waist. Turn as much as you can and remember the point until which you are able to turn your body. Make this turn in one go without stopping in the middle. Remember the point where you stopped.
Return to the normal position and close your eyes. Visualise doing the same exercise in your mind. Observe yourself doing every detail of the exercise. In your mind, see yourself going past the point where you stopped previously. Visualise that you are able to turn more than at that point, where you stopped earlier. Do this 2-3 times.
Now repeat the exercise in reality again. In addition, see whether you can actually get past that point or not. What did you find? Did you get past that point as you visualised in your mind? If yes, then perhaps you have realised that the power of your mind is beyond your comprehension.
Change your beliefs
NLP helps to change your belief system, and cultivate positive beliefs, to help you achieve whatever you want in your life such as, waking up early in the morning, tackling negative remarks, or doing something you have always wanted to do.
|“If you want something wholeheartedly then the whole world conspires in your favour.” – Paul Coelho|
Positive beliefs can be created by creative visualisation in your mind. As Dr APJ Abdul Kalam remarked:
“Dream, dream, dream
Dreams transform into thoughts
And thoughts result in action.”
Here is another exercise to understand the concept better.
Exercise 2: A calm and peaceful environment is more conducive for this experiment. Close your eyes and visualise that you are in a dark room where everything is just black. In the middle of the room, you see a white table on which there is a big lemon and a knife. You go ahead towards the table, pick up the lemon, and cut it into halves using the knife. Then you squeeze the lemon in your mouth. Feel the sourness in your mouth like you would have felt when you actually tastea lemon. Feel its taste on your tongue as if you are chewing a lemon. What did you find? Did you have more saliva in your mouth now? If not, then you might not have done the visualisation exercise properly. You can use this experiment with any food you like and check your reactions.
This exercise proves that our mind cannot distinguish between a real and vividly imagined experience. The mind sends out the same signals, as it would have, when we have the experience in reality. That is why most good fiction writers capture our attention, and get us involved in the book. They make us experience all emotions vicariously, and our body reacts in the same way.
|“Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, I acquire the ability to do it even if I did not have it in the beginning.” -Mahatma Gandhi|
Visualising positive things affects us in many ways. We cannot change things that are beyond our control but we can change the way we perceive them. As Stephen R Covey remarked in one of his books, we just have to change the paradigms with which we look at things. The paradigm of studying as a student taking an exam is different from the paradigm of studying if you have to lecture a class. By changing your paradigms and way of thinking, you can open your mind to possibilities even when the going is tough.
Here is a tip for procrastinators. The next time you find yourself procrastinating, change your physiology (the way you sit, body postures, breathing, eye movements etc), and visualise in your mind that you are doing the job at that very moment.Tell yourself loudly in your mind that you are tackling the job rightaway. Repeat a few times. Have a dialogue with yourself along with visualisation and see the energy flow.
Using our senses
NLP is based on how we use our senses. We pay attention to the outside world and gather information by using our senses:
V – Visual (seeing)
A – Auditory (hearing)
K – Kinesthetic (feeling, touch, smell, taste, etc)
Through NLP, we can control our emotional state. The positive ones are happiness, enthusiasm, excitement, and curiosity and negative ones are anger, frustration, and sadness. Emotional states are not controlled by events outside our control. They are actually created by us. Successful and highly energetic people experience more positive emotional states than negative ones. NLP believes that you can change your emotional state just by changing your physiology, visualisation, and mental talking. You can set anchors, which can instigate a specific state. For example, if you are tired, a change in your body posture and breathing along with visualisation can work wonders. Playing good music or telling a joke can dispel negative emotional state like sadness. Here, the music and the joke act as anchors, which alter the state. Once you become aware of the state you are in, you can set anchors to change it.
Sometimes despite adequate preparation, many students are not able to give their best in the exam. It is not because they are not capable, but because they are not in the right emotional state to write the exam. They are overburdened with anxiety or exam fever. If such students set anchors to change their state, and mentally gear themselves up to tackle the exam positively, they can perform to their optimum level.
|“Whether or not you believe you can or you believe you cannot, you are right.” – Henry Ford|
Mental rehearsals help us control our emotional states and set anchors. Visualisation is more effective if you use associated visualisation, rather than dissociated visualisation. Dissociated visualisation is one where you see yourself doing something from a distance. Associated visualisation is a method in which you are in the body yourself, and imagine things as if you are in your own body, and not looking at yourself from outside. You can make your visualisation more effective by changing the auditory part – by increasing or decreasing the sound at which you talk to yourself. The effectiveness of the visualisation increases by zooming and making mental pictures or videos larger or smaller as required.
Exercise 3: Given below are 20 words. Give yourself two minutes to look at them and memorise them. Write these words exactly matching with their numbers or in the exact order in which they appear without seeing them. Let us see how many correct you get. Be honest and do it in just two minutes.
Now write down these words without looking at them on a sheet of paper in the proper order. How many did you get right?
Is it possible to get all of them right in just two minutes? Well, as stated earlier, you just have to change your way of thinking or your paradigm. How do you do that?
of trying to memorise them, make mental images of the words and connect them logically or illogically. For example: Hen is sitting on an egg, then that egg flows away with water, water is then poured on hair, and the hair belong to a girl – you can make moving images and connect all the 20 words in their order. Do it for all the twenty words given above and see if you can write all these twenty words in order without seeing them.
in yourself and believe that you can change for the good. NLP is just a method, which tells you how to do it. Of course, actually doing it is left to you. As self-help guru, Anthony Robbins reiterates, “take massive action.”
Exercises were taken from Khoo, Adam with Tan, Stuart; Master your mind, design your destiny
• O’Connor, Joseph : The NLP workbook ( E-book: Harper Collins publishers).
• Khoo, Adam with Tan, Stuart: Master your mind, design your destiny (Adam Khoo Learning Technologies group Pvt Ltd.
• Covey, Stephen R: The 7 habits of highly effective people (Pocket Books, 2004: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd ).
• Kalam, A.P.J Abdul: Ignited Minds ( Penguin books India 2002).
• Bandler R.: Using Your Brain for a Change (Utah: Real People Press, 1985).
• Shone, S.: Creative Visualization (London: The Aquarian Press, 1984).
• Coelho, Paul: The Alchemist
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