What is NLP?
NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Psychology. Neuro stands for our neurology (the brain/mind), through which our experience is processed via the five senses. Linguistic refers to language, and is about the way we communicate with ourselves and others.
NLP is about communicating with your brain in its own language. Instead of your brain running you, you can run it! And since the way we think affects the way we feel and communicate with others – learning NLP will give you practical methods for rapid personal improvement.
NLP is also a great way to make changes in the way we motivate ourselves, create desirable outcomes, and release the past – thus creating a more enjoyable life for ourselves and those around us.
In spite of the peculiar name – which will be explained later in this article – NLP is very straight forward and logical. It builds on an understanding of how the mind works.
The history of NLP
The roots of NLP go back to University of California in the 1970ies, where it was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder. Bandler’s and Grinder’s aim was to develop practical techniques that could help people create the change they wanted in their lives. They wanted to find the answer to the question: why are people stuck in problem situations, and what does it take for them to move on?
Bandler and Grinder began studying successful people, to find out what they do, and how they think. And they began to explore the structure of thinking.
The structure of thinking
Bandler and Grinder discovered that thoughts can be categorized into: inner pictures, inner dialogue, sounds and body sensations. They discovered that the way a person thinks about a certain issue determines the way the person feels about the issue, and how much success the person has in dealing with it. They discovered that people who are good at reaching their goals see an inner picture of themselves having reached the goal, and that this picture is often in widescreen in light colours and has a supportive soundtrack (people applauding or an encouraging inner voice). Whereas people who have trouble reaching their goals often make blurry pictures, in black-and-white or grey nuances, - and they don’t see themselves in the picture. The soundtrack often consists of an inner dialogue going “I will probably not get there.”
The good news is: we can all learn to make supportive inner pictures with a supportive soundtrack!
Why is it called NLP?
Bandler og Grinder developed a number of techniques to help people having a better life, and then they chose to call the new techniques Neuro Linguistic Programming: Neuro has to do with the brain, Linguistic with words. Using NLP you can change some of the old programs in the brain. To quote Richard Bandler: We were given the most advanced computer in the world when we were born – but they forgot to give us the manual.!” NLP is a sort of a manual that can help us create better inner programs and better results in our life. - In Makani we like to call it Neuro Linguistic Psychology.
The idea of NLP: our personal filter
The basic idea of NLP is that people have a personal inner filter which sorts the information that we receive through our five senses. A person may for instance enter a room and he at once notices a big picture hanging on the wall. Another person entering the same room notices first the soft carpet and a third notices the beautiful music playing in the background. Afterwards they discuss the room, and have very different impressions of it: one mentions the picture, the other the carpet and the third the music. You would not believe they were talking about the same room!
This describes how our brain works: we do not have the capacity to take in all of reality, but as we are not conscious about this we think hat we have all the information we need. And we often build our beliefs on this information.
Our brain needs to sort and delete some of the information it receives through the 5 senses – the brain does not have the capacity to process it all. In NLP we describe this phenomenon as a personal filter, which each person uses to interpret reality. Which means that what we experience depends on the filter we experience it through!
You may think of it as wearing different colours of glasses: some people may have a filter that sees the world as grey and boring, and the person will not see the beautiful flowers and the sweet smiles. Others may have a more positive filter, and may not see the angry faces or the daily tragedies.
The map is not the territory
As stated above, we do not perceive the world as it is – instead we perceive a model of the world. Or, as we say in NLP: The map is not the territory. Our inner map of the world is not identical with the outer world – is it just a map in the same way a map of London is not the same as the city of London.
What our brain experiences depends on our filter, and depends on what has value for us. An example of the way our mind sorts information is reading the daily newspaper. Surveys have shown that most people read between 5 or 10 % of all the words in the paper. What do people choose to read? Well, of course, the things that are interesting for each person.
Some read the sport pages, others the business pages, Some read the culture pages. And so on. Our values determine what we spend time on and what we notice.
Another thing that determines what goes through the filter is what we believe. If I believe that people are kind to me then I will notice the kind people, and will probably behave in a way that will make people want to be kind to me. In this way I will again and again get proof that my belief is true: people are kind to me. And vice versa, unfortunately.
How is this knowledge useful?
People think in different ways and experience the world very differently – and therefore communicate their experience in different ways. In NLP we utilise this for two things: one is to be aware of that the person you are speaking to probably experiences the world in a different way than you do – and then learn how to communicate specifically with this person.
Another important thing is using this knowledge for your own personal development. How is your filter? What are you focusing on? What do you thjink about yourself and other people? What results do you get?
NLP contains a number of techniques that can be used for “cleaning” the filter and changing the way we perceive the world – and ourselves.
Welcome to NLP!