What is NLP?

Written by Terry Elston

what is nlp?

So What is NLP?

One of the most difficult questions to answer is the basic learner’s initial comment “What is NLP”? Or What is Neuro Linguistic Programming? Or even Neuro-linguistic programming? Yet even experienced practitioners should still be asking that question!

To answer what is nlp?, we will have to uncover what underpins the thinking and being of a skilled NLP Practitioner. So what is NLP? Many NLP Trainers may also be surprised to find that what they teach isn’t actually NLP at all. Just what was marketed as NLP!

Let’s have a look at the factual definition, then we can get into the reality a little later.

NEURO. This refers to all the neurons in the body and the ability of the mind and body to communicate with each other. There are so many possible neurological connections available in the mind and body that it would be impossible to count them. Some have said as many as the number of stars that are in the sky. Anything happening in the mind also happens in the body and vice versa. From studies by Deepak Chopra (1989), he cites the neurotransmitter as being the communication device of the mind. These neurotransmitters are bathing every cell in your body. Therefore every cell is listening intently to every thought emitted from your mind!

This has particular implications on your body language. There is a saying in NLP that you cannot – not communicate. That’s because your deeper mind will always be commenting on something and showing it through the body. Really, the body can’t lie! We all give off unconscious signals that other people pick up on.

How this is useful is to start to become aware of your own signals through your body (remember that another person will be more inclined to believe your body language than your words). You can then also start to be more aware of another’s unconscious signals, and start to master the knowledge of the ‘unseen’ world of communication.

Which brings us onto the word LINGUISTIC, which is then all the verbal and non-verbal translations of the inner world. The transmission of all that data has to come out of your mouth or your body. There’s a saying in NLP that you cannot not communicate. Either you are doing the communicating overtly or covertly!

Lastly, the word PROGRAMING describes the patterns that are inside us all (also called filters in NLP). The basic premises being that we are all programmed at an early age and have to deal with those patterns, until we can be free of them and regain some independence.

neurons in brain nlp

Here are some of the interpretations you may have heard when listening to the description of the art and science of NLP:

Magic of the mind
A set of processes that consistently cause change
A toolbox of transformational techniques

The official definition is that NLP is an “attitude and a methodology that leaves behind a trail of techniques.” That’s a bit of a mouthful in itself! In practical terms, it’s about success. It’s about knowing that whatever someone else can do, so can you. This has been proven scientifically as well as seen from examples in the world. The well-known multi-millionaire Anthony Robbins started out as a Janitor before finding NLP.

So how does it work?

An Attitude

Fun and play are a huge part of any learning cycle. From this perspective, we can show you how the masters got their fantastic results in various different distinctions of business and therapy.

For instance the arena of anchoring (which the advertising world has adopted as its savior) came from Pavlov (remember the dogs and the bell); so what did he do and HOW does it work?

The area of Lateral thinking, Edward Debono claimed it, but never explained HOW to do it.

If you get the right NLP Training, you’ll discover the HOW to do what the masters did and the many other NLP techniques that are available:  And be able to perform with the same consistency, allowing you to shift yourself and clients from the effect side of the equation to cause quickly and gracefully. The attitude of an NLP Practitioner is one of curiosity and experimentation. We know that there are many ways to get results, so the job of a good businessman or therapist is to have flexibility – and good techniques!

A Methodology

Next, the methodology, which is about modelling, the process of duplicating excellent behaviour. Another person’s behaviour can be duplicated by studying what that person does inside their head (language, filters, programs, etc.) to produce results.

Richard Bandler and John Grinder, who began modeling and duplicating the “magical results” of a few top communicators and therapists, initially created NLP in 1975. Some of the first people to be studied included Hypnotherapist Milton Erickson, gestalt therapist Fritz Pearls and family therapist Virginia Satir.

Techniques

Since then, many others have contributed to the growth and development of the field. And finally, the trail of techniques created through this type of modelling is what is commonly known as NLP. The programs in this catalogue describe the many different techniques we teach and use. In reality, the techniques are the least important part of your NLP training. Why? Because if you have adhered to the first two, you will be developing your own NLP techniques!

Knowing these descriptions of NLP, what is it really?

NLP is reported as being an ART as well as a SCIENCE for good reason: Firstly, you can consistently expect the same (or very similar) results when approaching problems or challenges.

spider phobia nlp

Personally, I can predict that 9 out of ten phobias I treat, will be gone within 30 minutes. That could be with complete strangers with no previous experience of NLP. You cannot fake or pretend a ‘proper’ phobia gone, so when tested, it’s either there or not! That’s the scientific side to NLP. It’s measurable and consistent. The one out of ten would also have the phobia removed; it may just take a little longer for that one!

How does NLP Work?

The ART side to NLP is in the approach. Even though the structure to NLP can be classified as scientific, the way different Practitioners tackle an issue can be universes apart! I deliberately put my previous experiences of success away when meeting a new client, as I cannot possibly predict what method will work with another human being.

I have had situations where the client has literally healed themselves just by turning up to my studio! What replicable scientific method was present on those occasions?

Which brings us to the answer of what is happening in the dynamic of practitioner and client in any learning, therapy situation.

seeds of possibility nlp

If you think of the client as a seed of possibilities, or even just as a seed; your environment (I.E. your studio, your training room), will act as a womb (from which the word room has come in the first place) and therefore the clients will begin to heal themselves or at least assist greatly in the transformational process.

This we cannot measure and is not scientifically provable. I can just assert that when my preparation of my own mind, my clients’ mind and the training room or studio has been immaculately prepared, the transformation of people is a whole lot easier!

Terry recorded intro, transcribed into text

Today I’m talking to Terry Elston, Managing Director of NLP world. Terry, for those people who don’t know, what is NLP?

Well, on a basic level NLP is how you manage your inner world so it’s nothing that you don’t already know except most people aren’t aware of how their inner world works. Now what do the people inside your head do? What do the voices inside your head do? How do you talk to yourself with the self-talk that you have in your head? So most people aren’t directly aware of how important that inner world is and what NLP has done is, it’s come along and it says ‘hey, you have voices in your head.

You have pictures in your mind. You’ve got feelings in your body that are all coded in some way or another’, and depending on the memories that you’ve got, from the events that you have had in your life, will depend on what those codes now inform you about what life’s all about. And the good news is that although that’s hard-wired, you can’t just kind of physiologically think your way out of those pants because they are so deeply ensconced in you. With NLP it’s able to get right down to the very core of that hard-wiring enabling you to release. The hardwiring allow for you to have some more choices and that’s what it’s all about in the big picture.

So I know that you work with people on the law of attraction, don’t you?

Yeah because NLP can be used in various different ways, we wanted to show people how that most of what they are doing in life is about attracting. So almost like repelling and attracting things that you want and repelling things you don’t want and that’s very unconscious for good reasons because you haven’t got time to set up everything that you want to attract and everything you want to repel. So it’s usually done by your experiences in life. Things that are good, you feel good about them and you keep on attracting them. Things that you didn’t like, you repel them but the way that gets a bit tricky is that if you have had experiences in your life which are subjective – like a bad dad or when you think a bad mum or something like that everyone that reminds you of those kind of people, you are going to start repelling in life which can get a little bit tricky.

So what we have done is we’ve devised a course called the laws of attraction which enabled people to really get inside this inner working for themselves as opposed to an NLP practitioner programme where we come along, we train you with all the tools and you go out there and you do it for yourself. With the laws of attraction we are going to show the people over a couple of days how you do this for yourself, how do you get inside these patterns, how do you start to release old memories which have been trapped in you, release old ways of behaving which used to trap you. For instance habits; all habits come from memories of how you think you should be and hardwiring and stuff like that.

Then enable you to start to attract the things that you would consciously like to attract in your life as opposed to always attracting things unconsciously which can be anything and everything, and it is. This synchronicity, we were talking about this earlier when we were off the tape (this thing called synchronicity) people like to take responsibility for the things that they like that come into their life. They say ‘yes well, I attracted this man’ or ‘I attracted this money’, and that’s synchronicity, but really synchronicity is everything that you are attracting in to your life. It’s the good, the bad and the ugly and that’s all synchronicity so when you’re coming to look at something like your laws of attraction it will be first of all you’ve got to take responsibility for what you do attract and you are attracting. From that place then you are able to – it’s a bit like if you think in terms of gardening the first thing you do if you’re going to be doing a gardening project is you look at the lay of the land. What’s the reality? Because there’s no point trying to put positive stuff on top of stuff that’s already in there, like weeds and rocks.

We don’t do positive thinking. I don’t believe in positive thinking so much but I believe in reality to start with. Once you know where the weeds are, you know where the rocks are that you don’t want in the garden, you can have a look at how you take them out. This is where your EFT comes in or your NLP or your hypnosis or whatever you want to be using to take the weeds out. It doesn’t really matter what tools you are using. You use those tools, you go in the garden, and you do the spade work, the bit that people don’t want to normally do. You get inside the patterns, you relive memories sometimes, you look at your relationship with your family, parents and sisters, lovers. As much as you can take out the weeds and the rocks then you have got some beautiful fertile soil which are ready now for those nice positive thoughts that you want to put in there. So the seeds of their laws of attraction would be then the thoughts, your desires, your dreams that would then be the planting of the garden. Then another important step would be you still have to take care of that garden. You can’t just say I did everything, I had these thoughts, I planted the seeds and now I’m just going to wait.

In fact that is the most challenging bit isn’t it, the maintenance of something?

Right, well it’s all about consciousness when it comes to it because as we are raising our consciousness as human beings we need to pay more attention to what’s in our heads, in our minds and in our bodies and then be able to focus that. It’s like the watering of the garden, you know, if you’ve got bad thoughts coming in what are you going to do with them? You’ve got thoughts which are not appropriate, what will you do with them? Now that’s really taking charge of the animal because we are an animal body as such and the animal has got a few functions, pretty basic stuff.

Is it automatic?

It’s automatic, right absolutely. So we are evolving more into the human side of our human beingness we will be able to take control of the animal and say ‘hey that is what my instincts says but what do I really want? If I was a being that could just choose where to go, what to do, who to be with, what my life is going to be, what thoughts I had in my head even. What would I have right now in this moment’? So it’s really engaging yourself in more self-awareness ever single second.

So can you give me an example of something that you have worked on to attract abundance or attract a new relationship?

Well recently, this is probably a little bit more advanced than for most people I work with but recently I haven’t had a partner for quite a long time, that has been alright but recently I was thinking if my life was a beautiful lunch, what ingredients would be in it? What would be in this beautiful lunch, this dinner? And I thought yes actually right now in my life a partner would probably be a good idea. So what I did was clear out whatever was in the way of me having a partner. I amended a few processes around that; not just NLP but different processes. I believe in flexibility of using whatever’s on hand to use. And then what I did was something quite strange, quite unique that I wouldn’t recommend to everybody but I sent a note out. It was like a tonal note but I knew what was inside it was.

Can you just say what you mean by ‘tonal note’?

Like a music note, but it was in my head so everything in your head can be absolutely perfect. So I sent out this perfect note and inside it was the message about partner but I didn’t put too many you know in the past when we were younger we used to do all these lists. You know the lists we used to do he’s got to have black hair, blue eyes. She’s 5’7’’ and she drives this kind of car, that sort of stuff we’ve all done that. I don’t do that much anymore, I just know what I want, I know it inside. So I sent out a note with a kind of a package. I don’t put too many constraints on it and a partner so I sent that out and it was about a month ago. And then right about two weeks ago a partner came along so now we’re together and she was here about an hour ago. She just left.

Okay, does she know about the note?

She is part of the note and we have a great melody together now. And that’s not life over okay because I don’t believe in this thing about having…

Happy ever after…

Right. Life is minute by minute, second by second and you’ve got to keep the game going you’ve got to keep yourself up for it like an athlete, you just can’t just stop training and expect to win races.

So how can people maintain that momentum?

I’d say for the most part Jules, it comes from a commitment and say we can use all these tools and we have got so many tools that we can use in life but before the tool ever even came into our head to use, there was a commitment to do something. It’s a bit like stopping smoking or cutting something out of your diet, you’ve really got to go this is it, I’m serious, stop – I’m stopping now, that is it and this is my commitment. Maybe I don’t even know how to do it, maybe I don’t even feel like I’m strong enough but that is my commitment and I’m throwing that, my cap is over the wall and just go in there like that.

Now from that you find that you find people to help, you find the technique to help, you find some avenue that will guide you down the path that you have just thrown your cap over the wall to go towards. I think the first thing is you have to really commit and be totally serious and it has got to be the right time. Don’t start committing to stuff if it’s the wrong time. What I used to do is, I in terms of timing of this commitment, I will normally if it is not the right time or I don’t feel strong enough, whatever I will put it on the back shelf. I know it’s there I’m saying to myself that’s the commitment, I’m not making it right now because it’s not the right time but it is there. I know there will be a time when it’s right just to say now. Then when it’s now press the button and that’s it you are 100% committed.

So is it partly about trusting your instincts as well around the commitment?

I think that is part of our evolution too Jules because this third eye area that we have all got, I think we need to start using it a little bit more. There’s so many experts out there that would tell you ‘do this course, do that course, drink this drink that. This is good for you this is bad for you’ you know and if you haven’t developed your own instinct, like as you were talking about, that element of you that knows something’s good, knows it’s bad, knows it’s the right time, then that’s what you need to develop and I think that’s why I’m saying sending a note out might be a bit advanced until you’ve virtually got the idea of really trusting yourself, knowing what you are doing and riding that bicycle that’s your own self, your own internal world.

So anything you can leave the listeners with? Any more tips or advice just to help them with their beginning to start on their journey of creating the life that they want?

Right well I think the first stage of anything is completion and that’s a bit funny because most people might say well the start of anything is possibility, isn’t it? I say no, first of all you have to start with completing things in your life which are outstanding even little things like paying the bills that you know you should be paying. Having the conversation with somebody that you haven’t had that conversation, it’s blocking you a little bit- have that conversation. It’s like doing the washing up. How can you prep a great kitchen when there’s piles of washing up to be done. Or the garden – how can you plant seeds when there’s weeds around.

First stage, always complete the work that you know is right in front of your nose and you don’t need an expert to tell you what there is to do, you know what there is to do and you know what you’re procrastinating about or whatever so finish those things, complete that cycle. Then you have got a clear space. You’ll have a clearer space to say right now this is what I want now. This is what I’m going to create now then that’s your seed and you’ve got to follow that, you’ve got to be so, so strong with yourself to follow that and trust yourself to follow that route and not be persuaded by anybody that it’s the wrong route or whatever and commit to it 100%. Rather like a sperm would commit 100% to an egg. What happens to that sperm is it’s going to die so it dies into the possibility and you’ve got to be that strong where you commit to something. It’s as strong as I’m going to die into this possibility that’s how sure I am that I want to go to this particular place.

Great image! So if anyone want to find out more about you and what you do, where would they go to?

Well my website is nlpworld.co.uk or if they want to e-mail me it is terry@nlpworld.co.uk.

Great, thank you Terry very much

You’re very welcome

Quotes from Press and media

“Terry Elston, director of training provider NLP World, said “One of the growth areas is from firms who send employees for NLP training. They can then take their newly-learned skills back into the workplace to help colleagues and ultimately, the business”

Daily Express

“You’ve managed to use a Web Browser and you’re here, aren’t you? But how much do you know about what’s going on inside yourself and others? Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is about just that. Knowing about what is going on inside you and what’s going on inside others! Perhaps you’ve wondered, “How do I communicate better,” or, “How do I get in control of my own personal computer — my brain!

The internet (Today)

” NLP cannot be dismissed as just another hustle. Its theoretical underpinnings represent an ambitious attempt to codify and synthesize the insights of linguistics, body language, and the study of communication systems.

Psychology Today

“(NLP) offers the potential for making changes without the usual agony that accompanies these phenomena … Thus it affords the opportunity to gain flexibility, creativity, and greater freedom of action than most of us now know…”

P— Training and Development Journal.
  • Training and Development Journal

“…estate brokers and salespeople use Neuro-Linguistics to enhance their communication skills and provide them with more choices when working in a difficult situation… it shows how we make sense of the world around us and communicate.”

Estate Today

What is NLP? By Terry Elston