Neuro-Linguistic Programming: Empowering the Self by Knowing the Self

How does the language we think in influence our behavior? Can this understanding help us achieve success?

If you never change your mind, why have one?  
– Edward De Bono 

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) describes the fundamental dynamics of thought and perception, and how their interplay affects our body, language and behaviour. In other words, it reveals how the arrangement of our thoughts influences our perception, response and language.  

The problem starts when people try to change their behaviour alone, leaving their thoughts the same, which results in a failure to achieve the intended objective. Absurd, don’t you think? NLP, therefore, is a ‘HOW’ methodology that reveals how you can think or arrange your thoughts to produce the behaviour you want. In such a practice, therefore, the change comes from within. It is self-made and therefore long lasting or permanent.

NLP was created by Dr.Richard Bandler and Dr. John Grinder in California in the early 1970s. They wanted to model the behaviour of successful people by understanding how those individuals achieve results. The researchers believed that such success strategies could be learned and might produce positive emotional and physical effects.

What they learnt has shown us that the term “ordinary individual” is only a frame of mind. There are no â€œordinary” people. There are just people who run ordinary mental programs, maybe very well. We all have more or less the same mind and unfortunately, everyone has been telling us what to do, but not how to do it, or how to get better at it.  

When we started to walk for the first time, we had no concept of failure. When we fell, we never bothered about what others would think until our loving parents cautioned us against falling, and voilĂ , the concept of failure was introduced. Subsequently, the more we fell, the more we believed that walking was too difficult for us, and so the concept of â€œlimiting belief” was introduced. When these beliefs become too many for the mind to remember, they become the dangerous unconscious beliefs, the ones that prevent us from doing what we love to by inserting seeds of doubt without our knowing where they came from.  

 Our mind works like an ocean liner. The conscious mind is the captain’s deck where all the decisions are made; and the unconscious mind represents the engine room that stores all the power, but is directed by the captains’ deck. So whatever we think of ourselves becomes a command passed onto the powerful unconscious mind, which obeys it. In this way, our thoughts about ourselves end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even if these words and perceptions are inaccurate, they will create an underlying belief so long as we continue to use and think them.  

The author conducting a level 1 basic session with the Psychology Department , Graphic Era University, Dehradun, February 2018

The author conducting a level 1 basic session with the Psychology Department , Graphic Era University, Dehradun, February 2018

The basic premise of NLP, therefore, is that the words we use reflect our inner, subconscious perception and thinking. The mind is essentially limitless in potential and it is the belief that makes the difference between being ordinary and otherwise. We have a one-million GB neck-top PC as our brain, and NLP is like the software â€“ a kind of user’s manual. When we understand the specific ways that our brains make distinctions, we can change the way it works to cancel, replace or improve the behaviour of our choice, whenever and wherever we want.   

The best way to start a change is to have a dream that is so desirable that it excites the mind. The mind needs to experience and enjoy the effect of the change in order to create a want, a purpose or a reason to change, and then make that change happen. 

Imagination and reality are carried by the same neural circuit. When the mind imagines, its fantasies appear real, like becoming sad after seeing a sad movie or feeling elated after a wonderful one. And so the mind gets excited and acts to make that dream possible. Outcomes and our beliefs trigger a blueprint in our mind, and when we start to act, our mind knows how and what to do. Like Stephen Covey’s “begin with the end in mind”, once a desire is created it also creates a vacuum that the mind will race to fill.  

The Reticular Activating System (RAS) in the brain is like a security guard between the powerful unconscious mind and the limited conscious mind. For the RAS to work effectively – to get the proper and the best ingredients from the unconscious and give it transmit those to the conscious – it needs to know the purpose. To bake the best cake you need to know which cake you want to bake in the first place, so that when you go to the shop (unconscious mind), you can get the best ingredients. So dreams that are energised by self-belief trigger the RAS to get the best out of the mind to make those dreams come true. 

Unfortunately, NLP, like all other trainings, has become commercialised to an absurd degree and has become all about certification and levels. Some of the trainers claim to have been personally trained by Richard Bandler, when they may have attended only one of his seminars! This has also led to promise-making without truly empowering anyone. This becomes a recipe for failure. NLP needs to be seen as a methodology for self-empowerment and success, and incorporated into various trainings and life.  

NLP has the potential to change the future of the world. I gave up my medical career in the UK as I found that the best way of helping others (which is my passion) is to help others help themselves, and in NLP we have the best! 

Practitioner session conducted in Chandigarh in association with Planet Psychology and National Institute of Technical Teachers Training and Research (NITTTR) October 2018

Practitioner session conducted in Chandigarh in association with Planet Psychology and National Institute of Technical Teachers Training and Research (NITTTR) October 2018

When we have empowered youngsters who have a dream and believe in their dreams and in themselves, magic will happen. The challenge is that we need to want to change, and the resistance often comes from people who are either reluctant to change or can’t be bothered to work towards it. We are used to being spoon-fed, as one participant remarked: “Oh, you mean I have to go home and work on this!” 

There is an old Joke: “How many electricians does it take to change a light bulb?  

Answer: Just one. Yet the bulb must want to change.  

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