Have you ever heard of NLP, neurolinguistic programming? If you’re in advertising, sales or marketing, into personal development, competitive sports or you’re a therapist you probably have.
Maybe you took a class got an audiobook or even read a REAL book about it, or you had a motivational speaker come to your job and get you pumped up with some new skills.
If so, did you actually EVER learn to use it? Can you describe it right now?
Or if you’ve never heard of it – should you even CARE?
To that I can say – DEFINITELY! Everyone should! Naturally, if you like everything and everyone exactly they way they are, you’re at your perfect weight, in a perfect relationship, have perfect friends and kids and pets, AND you never forget your keys, don’t worry about it! If that’s you, I want YOUR secrets…
If that’s not you, then, let me say that learning to use NLP changes everything about how we can get where we want to go, and can help us help others do the same, in the BEST way possible.
So, what about babies, weight loss and memory!? Yea – it’s for all that, and pets and spouses or partners or BOSSES or anyone you would like to do things they aren’t doing. Which, by the way, also includes YOU!
Is USING NLP an unfair advantage…ASSUMING it’s actually something that works? In one word – YES it is! (I know that’s not just one word – silly!). It’s an advantage and a very powerful one. But, it’s not unfair. It’s all about learning to understand and work WITH the way our brain works. And like anything else, when we understand how it works, we can use it much more to our benefit.
NLP – neurolinguistic programming. That reminds me of another tongue twister psychoneuroimmunology – but, that’s for another day!
I’m beginning to notice that people who come up with great ideas, never get them “to market” so to speak, because they make them sound so much scarier and complicated than they are that people freak and run. They THINK something’s more complicated than it is. I think that’s the case with NLP.
So, I’m going to take the liberty of changing NLP to meaning: New Learning is Positive! You CAN and you WILL remember those three words!
New Learning is Positive = NLP.
Or you can always say “neurolinguistic programming” when you’re trying to impress someone or you’re in a room of very serious people who don’t understand what NLP is all about. If they did, they’d be open to calling it anything they could remember.
The problem I find is that with people who DO remember “neurolinguistic programming”, when you ask them what it means it’s funny how you suddenly hear the sweet, harmonic sound of summer crickets in the room!
One more thing. Before I get to what NLP is and how to use it to accomplish big and small feats in everyday life and work, I want to explain why in the world I chose NLP as my first blog post of the year – after being away for over a year.
The answer is simple. After searching for my writer’s voice and my “simple” 30 second elevator speech for the past 20 years, I FINALLY found it all the other day; and in doing so, I realized that the “P” in NLP is one of the KEYS to what has turned my life around! I use NLP all the time for TONS of things. It’s SIMPLE once you get the point – which we’ll be getting to RIGHT NOW!
First, if you’re getting a warm fuzzy feeling when you hear the word Positive – like in the famous book The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, that’s not the definition I’m using in regard to NLP = New Learning is Positive. So, let me temporary pull you back down to earth, because in this case, positive means something different and VERY specific and VERY important.
So…here we go. Woo hooooooo!
I’m going to keep this as simple as possible because I know that if you want a lot of details or you like to keep things complicated, so you can never actually learn them, but, talk about your “working on them” then go to Amazon and knock yourself out with stacks of books. Or…you can believe that by remembering the following that you’ve “got it”.
Like anything else, once we get it, we have to practice and use a new tool over and over until we don’t have to think about it. That takes time, but, you can be up and running as a NLP newbie as soon as you finish reading this article.
Let’s start by stating the obvious…If you want to help yourself or someone else accomplish something, you have to know how your body or mind WORKS. So, if you want to build muscles and you just arrived here from space, you might not know that you have to give your muscles the correct nutrition as well as more and more physical ‘work’ and they will know
how to grow. That seems pretty simple.
If you didn’t know that small fact, you might rub cream on yourself day in and day out, waiting for the muscle to appear more toned or larger; and never know why you’re still boney or flabby or why you can’t lift your own designer handbag or toolbox, without making a pathetic noise and complaining that you don’t understand why things have to be so heavy these days!
Did I make my point?
Things work in a certain way whether we like it or not. AND they work in a certain way whether we KNOW it or not. So, if you’re not getting the results you want in life, over and over, I’m going to take a WILD guess that you must not actually KNOW how your mind works! Surprise, surprise! And because you were willing and able to read all of this, that’s now about to change! Hurray!
Here it is. Has anyone, including YOU ever said the following or something similar? “Don’t forget your keys, your backpack, your phone, your homework!” Or maybe something like, “I try not to eat sugar (fat, cholesterol, cookies etc) because I’m already overweight.” Or how about, “How come you always forget my birthday (our anniversary, picking up xyz, to take out the trash)?”
If you haven’t said or heard anyone say any of those things and you’re over the age of 8, I question if you have a problem with your hearing.
So, let me analyze all of that in a nutshell. Every single one of those statements or questions is exactly the WRONG way to get what you WANT. ALL of it. It’s totally backwards with how the mind does things.
Wait, here’s another prize, “No, no, no, how many times have I told you NOT to do that.” or just for a little more drama. “I simply CANNOT take you anywhere! I’m sick and tired of…”
YIKES people. I KNOW you’ve said those things because I’ve personally heard you and have worked making a LIVING trying to help people who work AGAINST the human mind’s way of working – and that includes EVERYONE who comes to therapy and most people who don’t!
That’s not an insult. I’m trying to make the point of how common it is NOT to work WITH our brainpower.
So, here’s the KEY to it all. Pay attention – this is going to be SHORT and seem VERY simple, too simple. But, it’s EXACTLY how it works.
The human brain can follow a POSITIVE command. All verbs are POSITIVE commands. ALL of them. Even the ones that sound like they’re not. A positive command does not refer to a nice command – like being a positive thinker. This is the other definition of Positive I was referring to above.
Remember that a VERB is a Positive action word. Words like don’t, won’t, can’t are MODIFIERS to verbs. Yes, this grammar lesson matters. LEARN something new. Learn NLP. Isn’t that why you’re reading this?
The only thing that we can do is to take a Positive ACTION. We can WALK we can’t “don’t walk” because when we’re not walking we are standing still. Standing still is a specific ACTION. That means that when you want someone to NOT WALK, you will be MORE effective if you tell them to STAND STILL. Standing still is an ACTION to the mind. Not walking, is less clear to the mind. That is because, if I say, “Don’t walk.” In the most concrete way, you don’t know if I mean that I want you to stand still, or to run, or to hop.
For the sake of understanding NLP, you must see this in a very basic way to get the more complex subtleties.
Think about it this way. You’re in the car as a passenger and the driver doesn’t see the red light. Do you scream, “Don’t press on the gas!!” Or do you scream, “Stop!” Analysis: The ACTION verb in “Don’t press…” is PRESS! The word “Don’t” is a modifier, not a verb or action word.
So, it’s very possible and likely, that if you said, “Don’t press on the gas!”, the driver’s mind hears PRESS and then their instincts HOPEFULLY kick in, in time, to STOP or to “Break!” Does this make sense?
NLP is about using the most effective Positive verb or command. The bottom line, stated another way, is that NLP is about saying what you WANT and only that. Saying what we don’t want only reinforces the word that comes after, “Don’t…”
Another example. You have a puppy who’s about to have an accident. You the little fuzz–buster and you yell, “Nooooooooooo!” But, quickly notice that he’s now standing over something naughty on the carpet looking very ashamed.
Yes, he heard your tone and realized that he was doing something wrong! Yet, he did it anyway. That BAD, BAD puppy.
Assuming your puppy is old enough to make it outside, first of all let’s see how NLP would work. You see the little guy circling or sniffing and you KNOW what’s coming. NLP is about what to DO, not what NOT to do. So, YOU, being the adult human need to DO something. Usually, the only thing to DO is to pick up the little guy and say something like “OUTSIDE” or “POTTY” or whatever term you use and whisk him OUTSIDE to do potty! That’s what you WANT, right?
So, NLP says to say and DO what you want. All the yelling doesn’t give any direction to your poor little puppy, who has a clueless owner who doesn’t know why all of his/her puppies take for ever to train! Dumb dogs! Really? The 2 or 3 month old puppy is dumb? Hello…
Another example. Your kids are leaving for school or your spouse for work and as the caring person still remaining in the house, you yell, “Have a good day and don’t forget your keys…phone…backpack…homework etc.”
Why do you have to remind them not to FORGET something. It’s because you keep using the word FORGET! YOU!
NLP’s version? “Have a good day, remember everything you need today.” It won’t take long for that message to become part of the daily inner thoughts of your loved ones…”Remember.” After a while they’ll remember and you can just say, “Love you! Have a good day!”
Are you starting to get it?
It applies to EVERY single thing.
I like this example. I was working as a dietitian in an outpatient facility and saw a lot of people for issues relating to weight loss and diabetes. One day a patient came in looking upset and started confessing his latest sins of candy!
Before he got too far, I said, wait, you’re making me hungry! That got his attention. Then I said, “Clearly, you already know what not to eat because you came prepared to read a long list of all of your transgressions.” Then I said, “Since you can’t UNeat anything, let’s focus on what you WANT to do instead of eating all of that.”
The point is that we MUST absolutely see the connection that we are constantly giving ourselves COMMANDS which are actually just Positive actions. The problem is that we don’t realize how much we’re saying what we DON’T want.
Advice takeaway: Reread the examples I’ve given. Start ONLY by noticing your own speech and that of other people and you’ll start to hear the action verbs which are frequently the opposite of what you REALLY want. Once you can hear it, practice substituting the POSITIVE action verb – or say what you DO want. Practice, practice, practice and keep practicing until it’s a HABIT and that’s just the way you speak. You’ll be amazed when you start listening how common it is for people to say exactly the opposite of what they want. Learn to think about and then SAY what you WANT!