What is NLP?
People often ask “What is NLP?” Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a model of communicating consciously with the subconscious, often by using hypnotic language. Imagine the brain is a filing cabinet. Thoughts, memories, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors are the individual files. By adjusting how senses (sight, sound, etc.) are associated with the files, the filing system gets rearranged. When the files are stored and accessed differently, the result is profound and lasting change in thinking, feeling, and action. NLP is best known for providing rapid relief from phobias, trauma, compulsive behaviors and allergies. It is great for transforming thought patterns to strengthen confidence and build self-esteem. And because NLP is based on the idea of modeling (if one person can learn to do something, then anyone can learn to do it), it is also very helpful for learning new strategies, especially strategies for how to learn.
History of NLP
NLP was created in the 1970’s by Richard Bandler and John Grinder. They began by studying the methods of the most successful therapists of the time – the ones whose patients achieved relief from their symptoms – Virginia Satir, Milton Erickson, and Fritz Perls. By modeling techniques that produced results, Bandler and Grinder made many discoveries about the structure of subjective experience. The premise of modeling led to what are now called the “presuppositions” of NLP. It is not necessary to believe these are true, only that they are useful. Here are a few of these presuppositions:
- The meaning of the message is the response it gets.
- There is no failure, only feedback that a different approach is needed to achieve the desired outcome.
- All behavior has a positive intent (for the person engaged in the behavior), and the greater a person’s behavioral flexibility, the more likely they are to create their desired outcome.
- People are not broken, and don’t need to be fixed; they do the best they can with the resources they are consciously aware of, and by learning to develop and/or recognize new resources people can create dramatic change for themselves.
- The perception of reality is not reality itself, and all people experience their own perceptual map of the territory (reality).
Bandler and Grinder parted ways in the 1980’s, both continuing to expand on NLP as a “behavior change technology.” Their work creating this new field spawned many books (see suggested reading), lead to the training of other NLP practitioners, and ultimately to the creation of the Society of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, which certifies that trainers and practitioners like me are properly prepared to help you manage your mind and mood to create the life you truly want.