“I am so scared to give that presentation next week as my boss [and his boss] will be watching and listening to me,” pleaded Ritesh, a senior sales executive with a Bangalore-based MNC.
Whether it’s the competitive world of business or matters of personal relationships, our thoughts and emotions dictate our behaviours. The trouble is, most of us are unaware of how our brain [or mind] works. It is therefore no surprise that we do not realise the extent of damage our thoughts and language cause—to ourselves and to others. For example, the brain cannot compute negatives, so a statement like ‘don’t do that’ is interpreted as, ‘I must do this now so that I will not do it next time.’ Think about it—How often do we tell children ‘Do not’ only to find the same prohibited action carried out?
When it comes to illnesses of the body, our language can also be instrumental in preventing us from healing quickly. Here is a simple example: If you constantly say, “I have a cold,” your mind reads this as something to hold on to—that you ‘have’. Your sub-conscious mind then programmes the body and the immune system to hold on to the cold so that you ‘have’ it for longer.
How does NLP help?
Positive thinking methods like those discussed in The Secret [the book and the film] teach us to always talk in positive terms. Neuro Linguistic Programming [NLP] adds to this thought process by including the concept of Clearly Defined Outcomes. In the previous instance, for example, when we display the symptoms of a cold [or any other illness], we need to speak positively and elaborate on a clear outcome in our mind. This instructs our brains to act accordingly. So, instead of saying, ‘I have a cold’ you can change it to, ‘I am allowing a virus to pass through my body and will assist it on its way out as much as I can. The act of coughing, sneezing and other methods are all used to help my body easily expel the virus.’ NLP believes that by consciously staying aware of the language that we use in a day-to-day basis, we can identify problems that we are creating in our health and in our lives.
The school of excellence
NLP is also often known as the study of excellence. The core principle of NLP is based on modelling excellence, not only of other people but also in reference to our own personal experiences of excellence. By studying our own experiences with excellence, we are able to recreate the same thoughts and actions later, at will.
Take the example of Ritesh, who is terrified of public speaking. In order to make his presentation in a confident and informative manner, Ritesh must get into a relaxed frame of mind.
An NLP practitioner will first use the popular 10 minute phobia-cure to rid the Ritesh of his fears. After that the practitioner will teach him how to get into the state he want to be in, for the future presentations. This is done using a technique known as ‘The Circle of Excellence”.
NLP promotes the theory that it is better to dwell on our experiences during times of excellence i.e. when everything was going well, rather than on times when things were not so good.
The main aim of NLP is change. Remember the famous saying, ‘If you always do what you did; you will always get what you got.’ In much the same way, NLP believes that if you want something different, you must do something different. NLP also recognises that people not only learn things in different ways but that they understand things in different ways. Keeping this in mind, one of the first assumptions is that everybody is different and that everybody has their own ideas and interpretations of all aspects of their lives.
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