Use Your Outside Voice…Inside

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Dave Berman

Think of the ways you can modulate your speaking voice.  You can hear the volume louder or softer, the tone nastier or nicer, the tempo faster or slower, the pitch higher or lower, among many other attributes, or submodalities, in the lingo of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).  Say the same thing in different ways and you will likely get different responses.

Now listen to the voice in your head.  You may already be aware of the powerful mind/body connection that means you can influence the way you feel by what you say to yourself.  But have you stopped to consider the fine tune controls you also have for delivering the content of your self-talk?  That’s right, when you use your outside voice features on the inside, how you say what you say will also have a profound impact on the way you feel.

There is an exercise I often do with new NLP clients to move this point from intellectual concept to embodied experience.  First I’ll have the client stand with one arm straight out at shoulder height and ask the person not to allow me to press the arm down.  With permission, I’ll then touch the arm and find the pressure can be easily resisted.

I’ll then have the client lower the arm for a moment as I give the next instructions: 30 seconds with closed eyes and whining, moaning self-talk about feeling weak and tired.  When in this state of mind, I’ll then ask to see the extended arm again, and invariably the ability to resist my pushing it down has disappeared or lessened. The mental state influences both the emotional and physical response of the body!

Next the client will spend another 30 seconds with closed eyes, forcefully and adamantly using self-talk about feeling strong and powerful.  When the arm is once again extended, naturally the ability to resist my pushing it down has been restored.

People learn best through experience and this 90-second self-talk demonstration provides an effective lesson that can readily flow into several different areas commonly addressed by NLP, most notably improving confidence and self-esteem, plus increasing the ability to manage and sustain energetic states (what does it sound like in your head when you exercise?).

This technique is also a good jumping off point to illustrate how each of the other senses contains submodalities that can be controlled to greatly influence emotions and behaviors.  In Making Sense of Senses With NLP I described various visual submodalities that can be changed to quickly eliminate a phobia.  I demonstrated this at a recent workshop, helping a woman overcome a fear of spiders.  A free video of this event is at

Watch the video and you’ll also see how undesired feelings can be improved by noticing and then altering properties such as color, shape, texture, movement and location – all kinesthetic submodalities useful in rapidly letting go of anxiety, trauma, addiction and other unwanted habits.

NLP is a versatile modality that can benefit anyone whose feelings or actions do not match with their conscious intention or desire.  This is usually due to the influence or control exerted by the subconscious part of the mind.  NLP is a model of communicating with the subconscious via the senses to reorganize a person’s “mental filing system,” or how information is stored and accessed by the brain. In other words, NLP is a means of updating neurology (Neuro) using the language (Linguistic) that drives how we manage our minds, moods, and models of reality (our Programming).

UPDATE 9/23 10pm: This article has been published in the August/September Isis Scrolls magazine, widely available throughout northern CA and southern OR.

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Dave Berman is a Life Coach and Certified Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). He offers private and confidential sessions in his Arcata, CA office and remotely via Skype. Learn more at or call (707) 845-3749 for a free consultation. Subscribe to future articles from Manifest Positivity:

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Posted: 6/30/11


About the Author:

Dave Berman offers Life Coaching, Laughter Coaching, Laughnosis and Hypnotherapy. He earned a B.S. in Communication from Cornell University and has extensive experience as a public speaker and workshop facilitator. His book, “Laughter For the Health of It,” co-written with Kelley T. Woods, is available here. For speaking or writing requests, or for a free coaching/hypnotherapy consultation, write to Dave, connect with manifest_positivity on Skype, or use the Viber app to call his mobile number from anywhere in the world +1 707-845-3749.

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