I’m a big fan of NLP – or neuro linguistic programming – so I thought I’d devote this particular blog post to some of my favourite NLP techniques.
NLP is a personal development system based on an understanding of how the mind works – how people use thoughts, feelings, words and actions – and using this understanding to enhance our potential. Life’s everyday challenges can often produce stress, anxiety or anger if we are unable to find the right strategies to deal with them, so this is where NLP can come in handy.
Here are some things NLP can help with:
- Releasing negative emotions such as anger, depression, anxiety, sadness, fear, hurt and guilt.
- Helping people who feel stuck in their careers or relationships, or those who are looking to change direction in their life.
- Boosting confidence and self belief in all areas of life.
- Demonstrating how to focus on what you want and feeling good, rather than on what you don’t want and feeling bad.
- Providing effective listening and communication skills to improve relationships with colleagues, family, partners, and most of all yourself.
Here are some techniques you might want to try out yourself:
The ‘swish’ technique
This technique is used to replace any negative thoughts surrounding a past experience with positive ones. For example, you might have been asked to give a presentation at work and it went badly, so now you’re dreading the next time you have to give one. Here’s how to dissolve those fears.
Begin by closing your eyes and imagining yourself in that uncomfortable situation, giving the presentation. Make the picture as vivid and realistic as possible. Visualise the audience and see yourself standing there, looking uncomfortable. We are going to call this your ‘anxious moment’.
Next, visualise yourself having successfully given the presentation. Like before, visualise everything in vivid detail. See the audience looking impressed and visualise yourself looking relaxed and confident. Allow yourself to feel those positive, happy, confident feelings. This is your ‘successful moment’. Then, turn the image to black and white, and shrink it until it’s just a tiny dot.
Next, fill your mind with your ‘anxious moment’ again. Make sure it fills the whole of your vision – then, imagine in the bottom left hand corner, a tiny black and white image of your ‘successful moment’. When you’ve got this firmly in your mind, say “SWISH” and switch the two images, so that the successful moment is filling your mind’s eye in full colour and your anxious moment is a small black and white image in the bottom left corner.
It might sound tricky, but keep practising this technique several times each day. Do it until it becomes second nature and you can easily switch the ‘anxious’ moment to the ‘successful’ one.
A technique known as ‘collapsing anchors’ can also help change negative feelings into more powerful, positive thoughts. Here’s how to do it:
Let’s say that the situation which is causing you negative feelings, and which you want to turn around in your mind, is an upcoming driving test. Start off by bringing to mind a situation in which you felt positive, happy and confident. For example you might think of your wedding day or a social occasion where you felt really good.
Relive that moment in your mind and, as you experience it, apply a stimulus, known as an ‘anchor’. One suggestion is to press your index finger down on the first knuckle of your hand. Do this several times until simply touching the knuckle creates the positive state.
Then, in your imagination bring to mind an image that triggers negative thoughts for you (for example the upcoming driving test) and anchor this once by pressing down on the next knuckle of the same hand. Then, with your index finger and middle finger, press both these anchors at the same time and feel the negative anchor dissolving into the positive.
Release the negative anchor knuckle and hold the positive anchor for a further five seconds. As a test ask yourself how you feel about your driving test now?
For this technique, let’s say that your mother-in-law is coming over to visit and you’re absolutely dreading it as you don’t tend to get on that well. By setting in place some positive intentions you should be able to reverse your negative view of the situation into a more positive one. For example:
- Say to yourself that you are responsible for how you feel. You choose how you feel in response to your mother-in-law – you are in control of your thoughts so choose to feel confident and adequate rather than angry and insecure, for example.
- Before the visit, decide that you will notice at least one thing that you admire or are grateful about your mother-in-law by the time she leaves your house.
- Decide that you will take note of at least one positive thing that you have never before noticed in your mother-in-law.
- Then before she arrives, visualise the successful outcome of the visit. Think about what that means to you. For example everyone feeling happy, having had a good weekend, and you feeling closer to your mother-in-law.
photo credit: JoelMontes
The detached observer
This great thing about this technique is that it helps you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and gain a new perspective on a previously negative situation. Let’s say, for example, that you’ve had an argument with your partner because he or she hasn’t done the housework and you feel that they’re not pulling their weight around the home.
Instead of nagging or starting an argument, instead try writing down how you view the situation and list all your feelings surrounding it. Then go away and do something else for an hour or so to clear your mind of your thoughts.
Next, put yourself in your partner’s shoes and imagine how they might see the situation – write down all their possible thoughts and feelings. For example, they might work long hours and want to do their share around the home, but want the time to relax first.
Again, go away and do something different for a while to clear your mind. Lastly, read through both accounts as an objective observer and try to come up with some ways to resolve the situation for both sides. Try to be as objective as possible.
There are many NLP techniques around, but these are some of my favourites and ones that I use myself. I hope you find them useful too!
About the author: Liz Parry is a writer specialising in holistic health and wellbeing, personal development and spirituality.