Let’s start with the basics.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is the term used to describe a successful method of self development and communication skills. What makes NLP so different from other types development or change disciplines is that it is an efficient and effective technology for creating change.
What Does The Name Mean?
Let’s break down the name just a bit so you’ll understand the foundations before moving on. “Neuro” stands for the mind and how it influences and controls the body. It is much more than just the physical brain; rather, it is the way that the brain affects the body on both conscious and subconscious levels.
“Linguistic” stands for the way a person uses language (words, tone, statements, questions, etc.). Language is a powerful window into what a person thinks, and by observing a person’s language, it is possible to discover a great deal about him or her.
The last part of the name – “Programming” – creates confusion when it is not correctly defined.
This part of NLP is not about programming a person to think certain things, do things a certain way, or feel a certain way. Instead, programming is the process of examining the patterns and thinking a person uses habitually (their programs) and how they affect that person’s life.
Everyone has their own programs, but many people simply aren’t aware of them and the impact they have.
Where did NLP Come From?
NLP has been around for over 30 years, so it is not a fad or passing fancy. It’s roots are in the collaborative work of Richard Bandler, John Grinder, and Gregory Bateson in the early 1970’s. Through observation and study, they created models for how a person’s mind, language, and patterns of thinking combine to create what that person perceives as reality.
From these early beginnings, NLP has evolved and grown as technique that can be used in a variety of situations. It is based on behaviour and observation with the goal of uncovering life patterns that work well and life patterns that do not work well. Once those patterns are identified, it is possible to go about strengthening what works and changing what does not work.
Pop Culture or Valid Change?
NLP is not without its critics. Some people say that it is not a proper discipline because it is not scientifically proven to be effective. Others take a more emotional stance, attacking it as “new age” silliness and cult-like programming. To a certain extent, these criticisms are valid – NLP is not empirically proven and there have been extreme examples of practitioners misusing NLP to take advantage of others.
But that does not mean NLP is without value just because of a few extreme examples. These kinds of criticisms do not take into account one very important thing – NLP really works. Anyone can do it with just basic training in the techniques, and there is certainly no shortage of people who have transformed their lives using NLP strategies.
How Does NLP Have Such a Dramatic Impact?
The easiest way to explain how NLP produces such amazing results is that it is a simple, straightforward approach to communication and personal development. NLP effectively works with the structure of how people hold their realities in place, whether it be a simple association one can make with a particular song or entire belief systems about how they think the world to be. Those who study NLP learn right away the tools and skills they need to directly and deliberately change thoughts and behaviours.
There is one more critical element that has a direct impact on the effectiveness of NLP – practice. As with anything else, NLP techniques must be practiced and used regularly for them to be most effective. Many people attend workshops or seminars to learn about NLP, and that is where they learn what they need to know. The real work and real growth begins when participants head back out into the world and focus on applying what they have learned in their everyday lives.
NLP is a popular and effective approach to personal growth and development. It is practical and behaviour based, which makes it relatively simple to teach and put into practice. The techniques can be used by anyone who knows them as a powerful tool for improving lives.