What Is NLP?

What Is NLP?If you were to look up NLP in a Google search you’d probably find that people generally fall into 2 camps.

Well, maybe 3 but the third camp (the one I’m in) is probably very small, so mostly 2 camps: 1) a bunch of people who love NLP; a lot of whom are very evangelical about it and 2) a bunch of people who discredit or find it controversial for one reason or another, ranging from citing it as unproven to fears of mind control and world domination.

So What Is NLP?

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is based on the idea that with the limited ability of our senses we are only able to consume a limited amount of the data that is thrown at us every second of every day and that we do this via our very own particular set of filters – basically that everyone effectively has their own ‘map’ of the world. A practical implementation of this idea would be to ask 100 people to describe the same event – you would be unlikely to have 2 views that were exactly the same as we all have our own point of view – our own map.

Our own view of the world (or ‘map’) is therefore filtered by our experience, beliefs (or limiting beliefs), values and assumptions as well as any physical limitations we might have.

Knowing that we each have our own map of the world, our own set of filters and our own interpretation of things (or ‘connections’) NLP states that we can modify these filters, interpretations and connections once we are aware of them by ‘re-programming’ using a set of “proven” techniques. The reason the word proven is in quotes here is that this is where some of the controversy comes into play. People who swear by NLP (camp 1) would doubtlessly be able to cite examples of where NLP techniques have resulted in life-changing results and those who are skeptical of NLP (camp 2) would no doubt discredit the claims or proof.

NLP Concepts and Techniques

NLP covers a lot of concepts and techniques to explain the theory put forward by it’s founders Richard Bandler and John Grinder). I’m not going to go into details here suffice to say that these are used to explain the theory and to put into practice the re-programming of our filters, connections and associations such that we can ‘model’ preferred behaviour and change our own through this modelling. Concepts (in case you wish to do a Google search for these and find our more) include: Internal ‘maps’ of the world, modelling, meta-models and meta-programmes and representational systems. Techniques (listed for the same reason in case you want to do your own research and find out more) include: anchoring, the ‘swish’ pattern, compelling futures/well-formed outcomes, sub-modalities, re-framing and metaphors.

The 3rd Camp

I’m not sure this camp is so big, but where I sit, I think there is a lot that can be learned from Bandler and Grinder’s studies. Rather than fight the validity of scientific proof (or as some people would do take issue with NLP being described as scientific at all) or embrace it religiously, I prefer to find it extremely interesting and useful particularly when considered in conjunction with other theories and philosophies.

Having had all of the training, I have seen it work. I am personally more ‘attached’ to some aspects of NLP theory than others (e.g. I’m a big believer in visualization and most aspects of the limiting beliefs theory). I also know that most NLP techniques work better on some people than on others – and often if one technique doesn’t work well for a particular person, almost certainly a different one will.

Questions Welcome!

The good thing about NLP is it’s easy to learn more about it and it can also be learned in pieces (for example you could just learn the NLP anchoring technique and nothing else if you wanted to – Paul McKenna often uses this one to very good effect in his shows). That said, there is a lot of infromation on the subject to explore so rather than stop there if you have comments or questions, please feel free to use the comment facility below.


What Is NLP? — 4 Comments

  1. I like your well-written article. Fantastic! I love this statement: “The good thing about NLP is it’s easy to learn more about it and it can also be learned in pieces.’

    NLP is really powerful, isn’t it?

  2. I’ve actually read some NLP books with even one from Bandler and Grind. There is some good stuff in there, but it does seem as if they exaggerate its usefulness. It’s hard for me to say since I haven’t had much opportunity to use it. I did have a friend who was getting a degree in NLP who swore by it so there does seem to be a lot to it.

    • Well Steve, I hear you. Really I do. I have studied NLP (not at university but I’m a qualified practitioner) HOWEVER I completely agree, people get very OTT passionate about it to exaggerated extents. I am also fascinated about the Law of Attraction stuff (I think I left a comment on your site on that one) – there are definitely HUGE advances that can be made by really believing and getting strong awareness and control of your thoughts, but these things won’t do everything for you.

      Law of Attraction zealots are in my view even more extreme than NLP zealots, lots of them from what I’ve heard really believe all you have to do is 100% believe in something and it has to happen. The only caveat is they always get to say (yes, but you obviously didn’t believe it 100%).

      Personally, I believe I can fly. I don’t know when, but I know it’s going to happen someday. For now, I’ve left all of the windows open just in case.

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