mind tools personal development neuro linguistic programming nlp what is nlp

What is NLP?

A lot of blogposts about NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming start explaining about the literal meaning of NLP. Neuro stands for your Neurology, Linguistics stands for … Not a bad way to start. Yet to keep things interesting, let’s start this blogpost a little different, at least differently as other blogposts have started. Ask yourself this question. ‘Were you born with a User Manual for your brain?’. Probably the answer is ‘No’. Once you were born out of your moms belly and the naval cord was cut, you where there. Two eyes, one nose. Two hands and five fingers each. You were planted on Mother Earth. On your own. And the remarkable fact is that you already knew that very moment how to make a sound, how to move your muscles, how to breathe, without a question. Your life has started.

Your life has started.

After a few days you started to open your eyes more and learnt to focus. You learnt to follow people moving around you, you started to learn to interface with your environment and all the things around you. How quickly have you learnt that the moment you were hungry, you started to cry? How quickly have you learnt, the moment you wanted attention, to draw it to you?

Since the day you were born, you started learning. After a few months you started to stretch and exercise your muscles. You observed your environment, you observed the people who took care of you and you mastered very quickly skills to develop yourself. As you observed mom and dad and how they were moving around, you started to keep up with them. First you started crawling and came to the conclusion that you were not fast enough. Your parents did something differently with the tings you learnt later on those are called legs. 

You practiced more and more. With the use of a table that gave you support, you grabbed the corner, held tight, stretched your legs and made a beginning to learn to stand. Probably one of the first times you have done this, your parents applauded and cheered. They were proud of you. Shortly after you learnt to walk. A new way of moving yourself around was there. You have learnt to control your center of gravity. Most probably you fell down quite a few times. In the way of learning to walk, falling is one way to learn. Yet you kept up with good spirit. By falling down you found a new way how not to walk. And you added it to your repertoire or your library. Somewhere in your mind you stored this experience and continued.

The age of Trouble!

Now around the age of one, the trouble for your parents began. As you were walking and wandering around, maybe a bit wobbly and as curious you were, your parents got a day job I chasing you around. Telling you what is dangerous, what not to do and in which directions to go. Remember that they done that out of their experience, their library, to prevent you from being hurt, just because the simple fact they love you. And and as your curiosity was not bound by a conscious mind, you virtually had no limits.

Maybe if you retrieve an old box from the storage room with you childhood stuffs in it, you find a drawing. Ask yourself the question while looking at that drawing: ‘Was I bound by the limitations I am holding up right now?’ The answer will be ‘No’. You drew that drawing as you liked it. Using your imagination, being fully focussed on drawing what is in your mind. You were not withheld by questions like is this right or is this wrong. Maybe as a little test now, take a piece of paper and make a drawing and observe yourself what kind of questions you are asking yourself. What kind of criticism are you providing yourself. And when you notice the difference between you as a young kid and now, ask yourself you desire that childish freedom you had.

So, What is NLP - Your Neurology.

Let’s start with an experiment. Read the experiment first, so you know what to do! Here we go. Stretch your left index finger. Close your eyes and start to move your left index finger to the tip of your nose.

Did you manage to do it? Congratulations! You just became aware that you can follow instructions and, most important, know your body very well! Your finger itself does not knows where your nose is located.

This experiment shows that there is something going on in your body. Probably you have heard that you have a brain, right? That is right! You do have one! And connected throughout your whole body, there are nerves attached from your brain wiring our throughout your whole body, taking care of all kinds of complicated tasks. Did you ever asked yourself the question why you breathe? Why your eyes blink? Why your heart beats? 

Probably now by reading these lines you start asking it yourself, yet in daily life you do not. Your nervous system takes care of that. It helps you do the most amazing tasks everyday. Your nervous system also helps you to protect yourself from hurting yourself, it helps you to keep balance while you are walking or cycling a bicycle or motor. It helps you to differentiate from what is hot and what is cold. Imaging what you do when you step into a piping hot bath filled with way to hot water. What do you do? Probably you wait until it is cooled down, or start pouring cold water in it so you can enjoy a not to hot bath instead of looking like boiled cancer sitting in it, leaving all kinds of blisters on your skin.

A Wonderful Thing.

So your Neurology or your Nervous System is a wonderful thing. It is a great tool and companion to maneuver trough life. To help you complete all kinds of tasks. Your Neurology is also lazy. Have you ever been in an airplane? Probably you have. Maybe you have experienced some turbulent weather and the plane went up and down. Were you able to tell if the plane went up? Or down? Probably not. Being high from the ground and having little view trough tiny windows, you could not anticipate truly what was happening. Did you feel your nervous system? You did. Automatically grasping the armrests from your chair the moment the plane made an unexpected move.

Your nervous system is here to do all kinds of complicated daily tasks for you. It also helps you prevent from doing something very stupid. It also builds in many other wonderful things. Did you ever had the experience that something was falling out of the closet? And before you knew your hand was already there to pick it up, just before it dropped onto the ground. It is called a reflex. Did it take a lot of time to think this over? No you just did and you did the right thing. Start to imagine how powerful your Neurology is!

You are habitual.

All kinds of habits that you have evolved throughout your life. Let’s do another exercise! Imagine, you put on your favorite coat. What hand do you put in first? Did you ever reverse that process? Instead of the hand that goes in first, put the other one in first and then the hand that went in first as last? Probably you come to the conclusion that it feels odd. It feels a bit strange. And that is logical. You started to do it in this way as you have learnt it and you keep on doing it the same way you are comfortable with. Nothing wrong with that by the way.

Your Neurology is also lazy. All kinds of habits that you have evolved throughout your life. Let’s do another exercise! Imagine, you put on your favorite coat. What hand do you put in first? Did you ever reverse that process? Instead of the hand that goes in first, put the other one in first and then the hand that went in first as last? Probably you come to the conclusion that it feels odd. It feels a bit strange. And that is logical. You started to do it in this way as you have learnt it and you keep on doing it the same way you are comfortable with. Nothing wrong with that by the way.

An exercise to make you experience what is NLP.

Just another exercise. Did you notice your handwriting? Probably you did while doing the exercises you already have done earlier in this book. Did you notice how you write certain letters? Now comes the experiment. Try to change in a short period of time, the way you write, for now and the rest of your life. Hard? Sure it is. It shows how we have learnt and embedded things trough our neurology how we act and behave in life.

Combining Technology.

Now combining all the chapters before this, we come to the fact of training. You physically work out and notice after a few moths that your muscle tone becomes better, you get a better condition, you get a greater exhaust. The same is true in changing the way you treat your neurology. Remember that your brain is a muscle too and the more you demand from that muscle, the more it expands.

We call it ‘Going out of your Comfort Zone’. As you learn new insights by continue reading this blogpost, the more your horizon starts to broaden. Ask yourself, ‘What new learnings am I able to learn today?’.

BUILDING BLOCK: Your neurology helps you a great lot in day-to-day activities. Yet is everything the truth your neurology tells you? Have you ever had feelings that came true? Combining each and every technique you have learnt as of now, start to reevaluate if you truly challenge yourself.

For an exercise on your Neurology do the following. Imagine the inner of your body. Remember a time where you felt incredibly well. Not just a little bit, no over the top. You felt excited. Imagine what you saw, say out loud what you said to yourself and start to notice how great you start to feel. Easy isn’t it? Just a small and simple exercise to feel good!

What do you say? Linguistic!

In human behavior it is natural to talk to yourself. In daily life we talk a lot to ourselves. Not a bad thing, yet somethings we have discovered is way and way too much. ’Shall I do this or not?’, ‘Shall I buy this or not?’. ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ make place for each other. Earlier in this blogpost we stated a sentence. We asked you to look for the difference between the statement ‘I cannot do this.’, and ‘I cannot do this yet!’. Do you mention the difference between the two sentences?  Did you already wrote down what the exact differences are between those questions?

Let’s start with the first one, and write it down from our own experience. ‘I cannot do this’, imposes a fact. A fact that I cannot do this. Period. It is a given fact and the moment you keep on repeating this to yourself, one way or another, it becomes the truth.

A little shift in Self-Talk.

Moving on to the next one: ‘I cannot do this yet.’, implies the same but a little different. It is still the notification to yourself that you lack specific skills, yet the word ‘yet’ helps you in this sentence. The small word ‘Yet’ in this sentence makes a hell of a difference. It imposes that you cannot do it now, but are able to learn. And at least it shows the willpower to learn and master it, no matter what the subject is on hand. Funny, right, how a small word in addition to a negative sentence can breakout to something you realize you cannot do yet, but are able to learn.

Let’s step to another example. Take the following sentence: ‘Can you see how the wind blows and feel how it hears?’. Obviously it is a normal sentence. Please reread that sentence. Notice that you cannot see how the wind blows. And also notice that you cannot feel how it hears. Now taking the complete sentence into account and notice that the full sentence is utter rubbish. You cannot see how the wind blows and see how it hears.

Your Unconscious Mind.

Yet our unconscious mind is capable of making something out of this sentence. It starts to imagine how the leaves are moving trough the air and while you feel the wind blow on your skin, you hear the rushing of the trees around you. But was that truly the fact? Nope it was not. When you take the sentence ‘Can you see how the wind blows and feel how it hears?’, it is utmost and utter rubbish. Can not!

So what is going on with self-talk and the things we say to ourselves? Remember we are building skill on skill, so everything you say to yourself is stated in the positive. You maintain a rhythm that you know is successful. You maintain the attitude to improve day by day.

The exercise for now is to write down all the negative self-talk you had. And next to it you write down all those self talks in a positive way. Write it down as precisely you can. Notice how much you have already learnt towards a positive mindset. Notice the changes you are already making. Be proud of yourself in the changes you already are making in a few pages of reading and exercising.

Are you a Computer? Programming!

Do you use a computer? Probably yes, you do. What is the system that makes a computer so successful? Simply, it does what it is instructed to do. No questions asked. Or do you have a computer that asks you when you want to do something ‘Why do you want to do this?’. Guess not. Computers aren’t that smart, yet. Even worse, back in the old days you would receive a message like “Command not Found.” And it would be up to you to figure out what to do next.

Let’s take a long shot. Did you ever play around with a Comodore 64 or Atari? Probably you have made or shown a program that looked like ’10 print “Hello”, 20 Goto 10’. And after that you hit the command ‘RUN’, it kept on looping from ten to twenty, printing the message ‘Hello’ on the screen, endlessly.

This little technical demonstration shows how we are possible to program a computer. Nowadays programming language is more complex, yet you start to realize that our brain was far before the computer language and our brain works like a computer! Maybe it is time now to start to ask yourself, how advanced is my programming language?

In our experience, we have been feeding processes to computers a lot, we discovered that not only a computer is capable of learning, we ourselves are also capable of learning and feeding new information to the brain. Your own brain!

The Code of Creativity

In order to crack that code we need to open our minds to different levels of meaning. At current, no one would suspect that a word would work differently. Our mindset is that a letter is the carrier of the phonetic value, and then a word is the carrier of the concept.

Ask yourself, did you harness your creativity? Did you truly ask yourself the right question? I remember myself that we are still maintaining the pistol theory to shoot things of this earth and a nuclear power plant being nothing more than a high powered steam engine. Now you become a bit more aware now that we did not make such a great progress in creativity at all.

To understand deeper structure of creativity, you have to understand and start from the approach that the letters in an alphabet are the carrier of the concept and that word are extended sentences. Are you reading this?

So What is NLP?

Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP is best described as the study of the structure of subjective experience and what can be calculated from that and is predicated upon the belief that all behavior has structure. People such as Virginia Satir, Milton Erickson and Fritz Perls had amazing results with their clients. They were some of the people who’s linguistic and behavioral patterns Richard Bandler built formal models of. He then applied these models to his work.

Because these models are formal they also allow for prediction and calculation. Patterns that may not have been available in any of these people’s work could be calculated from the formal representations he had created. New techniques and models were (and still are being) developed.

Last but not Least

Remember, to increase your efficiency as a NLP Practitioner, know your positive intention for the message you want to convey, build rapport and pay attention on what and how you use language. Leave people and business in a better place that where you found them, every day! Put yourself to work and start making the NLP Meta Model part of your knowledge. The sooner you start, the sooner you benefit.

Mind Tools provides NLP Practitioner and NLP Master Practitioner Trainings and Certifications. We educate you according to the renowned, latest and highest standards set by the Society of NLP. We will train you thoroughly in all the corners of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and some extras we learned from Richard Bandler directly.

See for yourself what our NLP Practitioners Say.