Thursday, November 26, 2015

Getting Started With NLP - Part 1

In my experience there are several factors that can prevent people from getting what they want in their lives, whether in business or in other areas:

- Lack of clear goal & evidence
- Not addressing the benefits of the current situation (aka. secondary gain)
- Familiarity of the current situation (a particularly sneaky benefit)
- Lack of belief and/or limiting beliefs

In Robert Anton Wilson's excellent book Prometheus Rising , he models the mind as having two main parts; a thinker and a prover. The thinker is extremely flexible, and can think any number of things. The thinker can think the earth is flat; the thinker can think the earth is spherical. It can think all men are poison; it can think all men are essentially good. The thinker can think that women are intuitive and men are rational; it can think the opposite. It can think that there isn't enough to go round; it can think we live in a world of unlimited abundance. The thinker can think pretty much anything. The prover is much more predictable: what the thinker thinks, the prover proves.

Whatever we are thinking, we will look for evidence to support it. If a person thinks that all homeless people are lazy, the prover will sort through their experience to find evidence to support that idea. If they think all homeless people are victims, the prover will find evidence to support that idea. If a person considers themselves to be stupid, the prover will find evidence to show that it's 'true'. If a person thinks they are brilliant, the prover will show that to be true. What the thinker thinks, the prover proves. While it's easy to see that this is the case for everyone else, it's not so easy to recognise that it's also the case for us. While it's easy to identify the ways in which someone else is limiting themselves, the things we believe are 'really true' - aren't they?

Beliefs are very powerful and help us to get a sense of certainty and direction in an unpredictable world. They are so powerful, in fact, that we sometimes don't remember that they're not necessarily 'true'. I used to be a project manager, employed to manage multi-million pound business change & software projects for large companies. While it was a matter of record that I was able to lead these large and complex programmes, I 'knew' that I could not go solo and succeed as a contractor. Two weeks after going on my first NLP training, I handed in my notice and started my own business. What had changed? My thinker started thinking something different, and my prover found evidence to support it. So, with regard to a current goal you wish to achieve or change you wish to make (or just for fun)...

1) Write a list of 3 beliefs which have been limiting you.Sometimes, just the process of writing them down can allow you to begin to realise that they are not really true. As you look at these beliefs, you may become aware that, at one point in time, they were useful for helping you make sense of the world. But perhaps they've passed their use-by date now.

2) Underneath the list, write the heading 'Evidence'. Start to find evidence that these beliefs are false (get a friend to help you if you need to.) When evidence is presented, leave decision & judgement to one side. Just write the evidence on the evidence list. Nature abhors a vacuum, so begin to think about what sort of beliefs you'd like to have instead of these.

3) Write a list of 3 useful, empowering beliefs that will help you achieve your goal (or that you'd just like to believe.) Remember to state them in the positive.

4) Write 'Evidence' under this list, and start to find evidence that these beliefs are true. When evidence is presented, leave decision & judgement to one side. Just write the evidence on the evidence list.
I sometimes do a training exercise where I get people to shake hands with the other trainees a) while imagining that the person they are shaking hands with is going to be difficult to deal with, and then b) while imagining that the person they are shaking hands with is a great friend who will help them in many ways. The difference is always profound and it demonstrates (among other things) that what you are thinking changes the signals you give off. Someone once asked "So, are you suggesting we tell ourselves lies?" "Not quite", I said. "I'm suggesting that you change the lousy lies you are telling yourself to good ones, which support you."

Milton Erickson, an extraordinary communicator and patron saint of NLP used to say "You can pretend anything and master it." So...

5) Pretend that the new positive beliefs are true.  Pretending is a big part of how Robert Deniro gets into role, how Jimi Hendrix learned to be so good at guitar, and how you learned to walk. It's also part of how Richard Bandler and John Grinder developed NLP, but that's another story. Pretend until the pretense starts to seem real. While NLP has many new approaches for structured belief change, this approach has been used throughout history, is lots of fun and, best of all, you already know how to do it!

©2003 jamie smart all rights reserved
http://www.saladltd.co.uk/ (first published 21 January 2003 - http://www.saladltd.co.uk)in/

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