Neuro Linguistic Programming – NLP

NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming was first developed in the late 60’s and early 70’s by Richard Bandler (a computer scientist) and John Grinder (a linguist). The techniques were developed by modelling the successes of Family Therapist Virginia Satir; Gestalt Therapist Fritz Pearls and Hypnotherapist Milton Erikson.

A key NLP concept involves ‘modelling.’ The idea is that all behaviours, whether successful or not, have a specific sequence of thoughts or ‘cognitive’ steps, which directly impact on their defined ‘action’ related steps. Therefore if one individual has a particular skill or is successful in a certain activity, it is often possible to unpick the relevant steps they took and for you to try them on.

The core of NLP is about understanding the structure and content of subjective experience – how we all create our unique worldviews. It examines the basic processes of the mind, and models the mind’s own language and the way it uses information and communicates.

The term comes from ‘Neuro’ – how we use our nervous system/neurology, particularly the sensory impressions of memory and created imagery. ‘Linguistic’ – our use of language to communicate (language is also the mind’s software) and ‘Programming’ How we string these together in thinking, planning and experiencing.

Put most simply, we all have an overwhelming amount of information (~2million per second) entering our 5 senses – sight; hearing; touch; taste; smell. It’s impossible to consciously process that amount of data, so most of this occurs outside of our awareness. In fact typically, we can only consciously handle between 5-9 bits of information. Therefore information is unconsciously filtered (or sorted for) through our beliefs; attitudes; memories; values; language amongst others, and this is how we form our perceptions of what is real, sometimes referred to as our ‘map of reality’.

Our perceptions of events are always going to be different to some degree from another’s, due to our unique filtering system. This fact generally lies behind most disagreements. The saying, ‘no two people ever truly meet’, highlights how people can often present themselves in reaction to their perception of the other. NLP provides ways of decoding these differences and enhancing communication.

In some ways your mind is like an Internet search engine (Google for example). If you put in ‘poverty’ then what will come back at you is all manner of things related to poverty. Similarly, by the nature of our chronic ongoing problems, it’s often clear where we’ve been sending our inner search engine!

This aspect of the mind (related to beliefs) is very literal and even if you add the words ‘I don’t want’ before (e.g. poverty), the mind ignores the ‘don’t’ and still pursues whatever you are focussing on. There are a variety of NLP tools to address the result of using the mind negatively (focussing on the things you don’t want) and others to help build the things you do want.

Just try it …Now, don’t think of a pink elephant. You have to think of it first, in order to try not to think of it.

Don’t think about all the goals you’re going to achieve. You’re not, are you?