Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a powerful coaching methodology that enables you to have choice about how you think and behave, build positive new strategies and let go of things that have held you back in the past. NLP is based on a number of assumptions about people, which have proved useful in enabling people to change.
One of these assumptions is that we all have the resources we need to achieve our goals. The role of the coach is to enable the client to access those resources. Very often this will mean shedding a number of limiting beliefs, that is the negative things we believe about ourselves such as “I’m not very clever,” or “I’ll never be able to lose weight,” or “I can’t relax.”
Another assumption of NLP is that every behaviour has a positive intention – this simply means that things we do which might seem daft or even self-destructive may actually play a positive role in some way.
I can speak from my own experience here: when I was 11 years old, I was sent away to a boarding school which was run along very Victorian lines – not quite Dickensian but almost. In order to survive in that environment I had to develop defence mechanisms including being very independent and self-reliant. This may have served me well at school, but was not so helpful in adulthood.
My experience of boarding school caused me a lot of anxiety about being separated from the people I loved and this continued well into adulthood. My response to difficulties in relationships continued to be one of self-reliance rather than communication. This strategy was no longer adaptive, but it seems my unconscious mind only knew one way of doing things. So while the self-reliance was not the best approach in all situations, it definitely arose as a protective mechanism – i.e. it had a positive intention.
So when you come for coaching, whether it be about anxiety, weight loss, chronic pain or phobias, we start from the assumption that your “problem” is a behaviour which has a positive intention. We then explore the fact that it is possible to do things differently and that there are other ways of achieving that positive intention. This allows you to set aside that problem behaviour in favour of something healthier.
NLP relies on the power of the unconscious mind. The unconscious is that part of your brain which runs all the systems which keep you alive: your heart, breathing, hunger, digestion, and so forth. It also processes all the information which comes in through your senses, and then presents your conscious mind with a “finished image”.
The visual images you “see” and the sounds you “hear” are created in the brain using raw data from the outside world and internal models which the unconscious mind has already created. This is beautifully illustrated by Peter Kay in this clip:
If you can hear the original lyrics – hats off to you!
From the point of view of NLP what we are interested in is that usually these models are not conscious: they have been developed over decades and are built up brick by brick from the things we have been told, our beliefs, fears and values.
Sometimes in the course of a coaching session some of these beliefs and fears will come to the surface and be revealed for what they are: the Emperor’s new clothes. Sometimes the client may realise that her values are solid, and that there are better ways of living them.
Using NLP to work with your unconscious mind, I can enable you to make shifts that you may never have thought possible. These shifts may take a few days or weeks, or they may happen in an instant.
Whatever the case, shift happens and you are able to transform and move forwards.