by Anné Linden
Once upon a time in the early seventies a man named Richard met a man named John and the model of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) came into being. Richard Bandler was a master's student at the University of California at Santa Cruz and John Grinder was a linguistics professor at that same school. Richard was a mathematician and computer genius who became curious about how certain master therapists (Milton Erickson, Virginia Satir, Fritz Perls) created their magic – how they were able to impact so strongly the people with whom they worked. Both John and Richard were also influenced by thinkers like Gregory Bateson, Alfred Korzybski and Noam Chomsky, to name a few.
They put a group together and began to experiment with the effect language could have on people's feelings, reasoning and behavior. This was the beginning of the actual model of NLP. The philosophy underneath NLP came from Dr. Milton H. Erickson and Alfred Korzybski. One of the NLP principles came from Korzybski: The map is not the territory - a comment on reality. The others came from Erickson: The meaning of your communication is the response you get; people have all the resources they need; there's a positive intention behind any behavior; people make the best choice available to them; failure is feedback.
From this beginning, Richard and John studied how the communication magicians did what they did – not their theories but how they used language and their non-verbal behavior to elicit responses that moved people toward change.
Over the next several years they developed the patterns and processes that became the foundation of NLP. At the same time they began to teach various groups throughout the country, refining their work as they taught. I was lucky enough to participate in many of these early trainings and in 1979 assisted Leslie Cameron-Bandler in setting up the structure for NLP Practitioner and Master Practitioner certification programs. These are the essential building blocks of NLP.
NLP is a way of thinking, it makes specific how our minds work, how we think. When you realize that you think in pictures, words and sounds it's much easier to change your thinking by changing the picture or the words. You can shape the thoughts that run your motivation, creativity, language relationships, behavior, and knowing and understanding the difference between your perceptions and reality make you more effective and flexible at communicating and living.
NLP helps to shatter the "I am the center of the universe syndrome" where we are obsessed with "me" and taking everything personally. Then we can pay attention to the world around us, to other people, to really understanding others and empathizing with them. It provides a structured path for optimism and ideals and accomplishment. It is sensitive to emotions and understands how emotions work and how to change them; it can be a blueprint for managing relationships, especially that all important one with ourselves. When you use those basic principles given to us by Erickson and Korzybski as a primary filter for your thinking you will see the world differently, understand others in a whole new way and feel encouraged about what's possible. Like any powerful model NLP can be used in positive or negative ways. It can be used to make a positive difference in your own and others' lives; it can be used to bring hope and change to the world or it can be used to promote the "star" status of the user. It can be used to further greed and consumerism; to serve instant gratification. It all depends on the person teaching and using NLP.
NLP has "evolved" by giving people the tools to create new approaches to change, new ways to teach and reach children of all ages, new, more humane ways of management, more powerful ways to influence for good, to bring more compassion and acceptance. However, beware of those who distort NLP simply for quicker profit and self-aggrandizement. The foundation of NLP is just that: The foundation. Like the foundation of a house, it must be correctly constructed, consistent and stable; while the house itself can be different shapes, colors, sizes and have unending variations limited only by the creativity of the builder. Too many "NLP trainers" have distorted the foundation of NLP through ignorance, inherited distortions or self-delusion. The foundation of NLP is the Practitioner and Master Practitioner Training. You can always build your own individual house but do so on a solid foundation. Barack Obama said that our past economy was built on sand, now we must build our economy on rock.
The challenge for third, fourth and fifth generation practitioners of NLP is to be grounded in the pure basics while bringing their individual creativity and expertise to the use and teaching of NLP.
I am often asked, how do I apply NLP, of what use is it to me, why should I spend time, energy and money to learn it, how can it contribute to my success? If you are looking for the quick fix, the pretty boxed answer, the key to happiness – look somewhere else. Many will promise you these things – marketing has evolved to the cutting edge of promises. Let me tell you, nothing replaces time and practice. I heard the author of The Outliers describe the definition of talent – the desire to practice.
If you are looking for a structure and tools to define and develop who you are, to connect to your unique possibilities, to increase your chances of reaching others, to tap into your limitless potential, to be more accepting of yourself and others, to know the difference between acceptance and attachment, to experience occasional moments of freedom – then NLP may be for you. I cannot promise you, cannot guarantee you these things, but with time and practice you can come close.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) explores the inner workings of the human mind: how we think, how we develop our desires, goals and fears and how we motivate ourselves, make connections, and give meaning to our experiences. NLP presents the specific skills and patterns necessary to make positive changes, create new choices, be more effective with others, break free of old habits, self-destructive patterns and behaviors, and think more clearly about what it is we want and how to get it.
NLP is the study of the structure of subjective experience - the relationship between the mind, language, emotions and patterns of behavior. It is a psychology of interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence and communication.
NLP principles and presuppositions
The meaning of your communication is the response you get
There is a positive intention beneath every behaviour
Failure is feedback
The map is not the territory
People make the best choice available to them
Everyone has sufficient resources to get whatever they really want
DIRECTING YOUR ATTENTION: Attention is limited and malleable, and can be shaped by you for your - and the other's - advantage. Learn to really focus and read the ordinarily hidden clues in others (and your own) behavior.
RAPPORT SKILLS: The keys to getting along with anyone - the foundation of persuasion. Backtracking/Matching non-verbally/Sorting by Other/Cognitive matching and mismatching/verbal and non-verbal tools used with different perceptual language, key words and values.
INFORMATION GATHERING: Learning to recognize and utilize certain patterns increases your understanding of the experience beneath the language/Questioning Styles/Reading eye movements/Moving between Generalizations and Details.
THE SMART OUTCOME MODEL: Creating practical, doable and ecological goals/Using inner imagery to organize and motivate/The difference between Goals (desirable but not under your control) and Outcomes (under your control).
MOTIVATING SELF AND OTHERS: The consequences of your actions or anticipated actions are the basis of motivation/Utilization of values, cognitive patterns and language.
UTILIZING RESOURCES/ANCHORING: Connecting your resources (many hidden or not recognized) to goals and problems/Resolving inner conflict or ambivalence/Creating useful self-anchors/Understanding past experiences in a new way.
FLEXIBLE POINTS OF VIEW: Awareness of the many different positions from which you (and others) can perceive the world allows you to change those position to give you more information and choice/Association and Dissociation/Aligned Perceptual Positions.
REFRAMING -- A PROBLEM SOLVING STRATEGY: A different way to think about problems/Reframing frees you from the typical stimulus-response approach and allows you to think outside the box.
What is Ericksonian Hypnosis?
Dr. Erickson was a renowned and brilliant psychiatrist who created an approach to the unconscious mind, known as Ericksonian Hypnosis. He believed that a hypnotic trance was a natural occurring state that people experienced many times in their daily life. It was his ability to access and utilize this natural state that became the ground breaking model we study today. Trance is a state of highly focused attention; hypnosis is the processes we use to access that state.
Ericksonian Hypnosis is a gentle, respectful and ethical approach to communicating with one’s own and other’s unconscious mind. This enables you to discover and utilize your resources and ultimately reach your potential. NLP is built on the fundamental principles of Ericksonian Hypnosis. Without Milton Erickson NLP would not exist!