So what is NLP?
In a small nutshell:
NLP teaches you how you do what you do, so that you can then change what you do so it works better for you. It gives you practical perspectives, tools and techniques to make immediate and lasting changes. How far the change goes, is completely up to you. Are you ready for a change?
In a large nutshell:
The Neuro part of NLP refers to our neurological system and the way we use our 5 senses to translate our experience into thought processes, both conscious and unconscious. It highlights the way in which everything is part of the same whole - literally, as we speak, so we feel and we act.
Linguistic refers to how we both create and reveal to ourselves and others our unique model of the world, the way we think about it, and the way we experience it.
Programming refers to the processes and strategies - the specific steps we go through - to achieve the effects we get. There is sequence of thoughts and behaviors that results in our experience.
A complicated name for a simple process?
The founders of the system were John Grinder, a Professor of Linguistics, and Richard Bandler, a mathematician and computer programmer with a keen interest in the behavioral sciences, who met at the University of California, Santa Cruz in the early 1970s. They collaborated in studying and exploring how the mind works. And when they put all their expertise and experience together and asked themselves "What shall we call this body of work ?", the answer came straight from their particular disciplines: Neuro Linguistic Programming.
What is NLP based on?
As human beings we live in a five sensory world. We take in all information through our five senses. Now if we absorbed everything that comes to us at the rate of 3 million bits of information per second, we'd fry our circuits. So to deal with it - to make the pieces of information into small enough chunks to deal with - we filter the information.
Some of the filters are our perceptions of time and space, energy and matter, the language we use and our understanding of words and meanings; our memories; the unique way we go about making decisions; the patterns we look for when selecting information; our values and beliefs and our overall attitude. And we delete, distort and generalise information according to our unique filters.
Once we have passed incoming information through all these filters, we take what has got through and we make it an internal representation of it. This internal representation is in the form of a sensory perception: a picture with sounds, feelings, tastes and smells. The next thing that happens (instantaneously) is that we react to the internal representation and enter a corresponding state.
What is a state?
Being happy is a state; so is depression. Being "fired up" is a state, so is tiredness or lethargy. Many people are familiar with the expression "It's a state of mind" but what's really interesting about the state is that it leads us to choose corresponding behaviour.
The "fight or flight" syndrome is the best known example of this. There's the caveman walking along the path and out jumps a saber-toothed tiger. The caveman's body immediately reacts: the arousal system kicks-in, there's a surge of adrenaline into the system, the breathing rate goes up and more oxygen enters the lungs, the heart pumps the blood stronger and faster through the system and simultaneously the blood drains away from the extremities, not only so that it can be used more effectively internally but so that if the caveman decides to fight, he won't bleed so much should he be cut. Now his body is ready for his behaviour, running or fighting.
In a nutshell then, we have a process which starts with information and ends with behaviour and physical manifestation.
The working model
NLP both stems from and is an enormous and well-documented field of study. It draws from and incorporates work from the disciplines of semantics, linguistics, transformational grammar, cybernetics, anthropology, gestalt therapy, family therapy, behaviorism, hypnosis and quantum physics.
Studying NLP is like starting a journey - a journey into consciousness. It looks not for right or wrong choices, but for the reason (positive intention) for the choice. It looks for the patterns and draws into conversation the parts involved in creating our experience. It reveals that "the map is not the territory", our memories and woes are perceptions and we can take up a position meta to them so that we can get the learning and let go of the emotion.
The NLP journey is about increasing awareness ... increasing awareness of the information that is available to us and the realization that we can choose how we deal with that information. We begin to see that different choices will get different results. As our awareness increases, so we become more resourceful. By realizing that we have more resources available to us than we thought, and by using more of our innate capability, we gain greater flexibility. And so we grow.
In the end, NLP is about usefulness and results. By understanding the processes that we all use, we can find out exactly what it is that successful people do - and do it ourselves.
Written by Robyn Bastable