What is NLP?

What is NLP?

By Caroline Winn, Master NLP Practitioner & Master Coach, Ascent NLP Ltd.

The most common question we’re asked is “just what IS NLP?” NLP is short for Neuro Linguistic Programming. I could give you a detailed explanation, but there’s not enough room here. Suffice to say, NLP is like an instruction manual for the brain – and we could all do with one of them, couldn’t we?!

NLP describes the images, sounds, and feelings that make up our inner and outer worlds. 'Neuro' refers to the mind and how we organize our mental life. 'Linguistic' is about language, how we use it, and how it affects us. 'Programming' is about our sequences of repetitive behaviour and how we act with purpose. So, when an experience is sorted out at the linguistic and neurological levels, procedures and techniques can be created that allow you to change the structure of your experience and run your own brain. The key phrases here are “allow you to change” and “run your own brain”. Intrigued? Read on…

Most of what we do every day is done at an unconscious level. Not sure about this? Well, think about your breathing right now. Or your pulse, thumping away in your neck. How fast are they going now? Our breathing and heart rate are managed automatically by our bodies, essentially at an unconscious level. Yet as soon as you become aware of them consciously, you can choose to make changes to them, for example by taking deeper, slower breaths, and by relaxing and becoming calmer, to slow your pulse rate down. Try it, right now! This is the same in absolutely everything we do – we can choose to change our thoughts, and our behaviour, and learn to stop what we don’t want, and change it to what we do want. That’s really powerful!

This is what NLP is all about. It’s a set of techniques which can be used to make major changes very quickly in a person’s life, changes for the better. NLP operates mainly at the unconscious level, and works by initially bringing things into our conscious awareness, so giving us a choice to change them, before letting the new behaviour patterns become automatic and unconscious again. Typically you work together with an NLP coach; the coach will guide you but it’s actually YOU who makes the changes, meaning you’re in control. Always!

Some people are scared by the idea of working with the unconscious mind – we hear comments about hypnotism shows on TV, about being controlled, about “voodoo” or mind-bending. This is NOT NLP, it’s just stage shows for entertainment purposes! With NLP there really is nothing to be scared of: you are awake, conscious and in complete control at all times. The WORST that can happen in an NLP session is that you won’t change from where you are now.  That’s really not so bad, is it? But just think how wonderful it will feel when you do change, and leave old, unwanted behaviours behind, and emerge with a new you!

It always amazes me how many areas of life NLP can be used in, to great effect! Yet so many people are unaware of what NLP can do for them. For example, did you know you can use NLP to help stop smoking? Or to lose (or gain) weight, even to eliminate one or two troublesome foodstuffs – how would you like to stop eating biscuits, or chocolate, or chips, or cut down on the quantity of alcohol you drink? These are simple tasks using NLP. Getting rid of phobias – even the extreme, life-debilitating ones – is quick and painless with NLP. NLP can help in relationships, by resolving old emotional baggage – such as anger, hurt, guilt, sadness and fear, to name just a few feelings – quickly and painlessly, enabling clients to start afresh, with a solid, emotional foundation. It can help to change the destructive, negative self-talk that’s inside most of us – think about this: if you spoke to your best friend like you talk to yourself, would you have any friends left?! You can choose to change those thoughts into positive, affirming ones, helping you to also improve your confidence and self esteem.

I could list many more applications, but luckily, I’ve come to the end of this page, so I’ll leave you with this thought: Can NLP help you? Yes, unquestionably. Will it help you? That’s your choice. How amazing is that?

Caroline Winn is a qualified Master Practitioner of NLP, Time Line Therapy and Hypnosis, and a Master Coach at Ascent NLP Ltd, www.ascentnlp.co.uk. Her coaching services are also available through The Zen Zone in Milnathort.

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