Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLP is very simply a science that studies how the brain and our body (our neural networks) responds to the languaging (linguistics) in a scenario. NLP Practitioners work from the principle that each of us have been taught or ‘programmed’ from a very early age to behave, respond and to prepare for events according to our earliest lessons. 

We each learn differently. Some of us learn best using visual cues like following a recipe, others may learn by doing a task like feeling the consistency of your pie crust between your fingers. Some of us need to taste a meal to see if we have the appropriate amount of spices, or perhaps smell the cookies in the oven to signal that they are ready.  

Each of us have developed our senses differently and we rely on them in greater or lesser extents to complete a job or to communicate with our family, friends and co-workers. Sometimes what ‘you’ understand from a situation and what ‘I’ get out of the same situation may be very different. That is because we each use different learning strategies and we strain out and separate the particles of information through different filters.  

In studying the picture above, what do you see? I see a horse, but then I am a horse lover and  the shape of a horse is very familiar to me. Many will see a frog in the picture. The interesting piece is that in this scenario, we would both be right. There is a frog and a horse in the illusion above. To see both you need to shift your perspective.

Sometimes we learn lessons as children that were valuable at the time, but have limited use for us now. In fact, our early lessons may even hinder our progress in areas of our adult life. For example, Terry was a child of an alcoholic parent. He learned to hide in a closet after his parent has been drinking and become angry. While this is a very effective tool for a youngster who has limited options, this same behaviour as an adult is not appropriate. Yet there are many adults who are still hiding in the closets they have built in their minds, in an effort to escape from an angry confrontation.

Given the above scenario, what do you think the chances are that Terry will be able to approach his wife to discuss an issue, if Terry has a wife who tends to speak loudly and to be generally demonstrative with her hands and posture? Remember Terry has had years of early training on how to stay invisible, to go about his day without reacting and to get out of the way when things were going to get tense. The problems here are obvious.

From an NLP perspective, a Practitioner would ask Terry to examine how he learns so that he becomes familiar with these concepts at a conscious level. Most of us are functioning at the unconscious level. Terry may be an auditory learner. Next we would look at his use of filters. For example, Terry tends to react to the decibel level of his wife’s voice. This is one filter. His early learning has taught him that louder voices mean a fearful emotional escalation is imminent. In other words, Terry was taught to see a horse. While this may have been an accurate depiction of events in Terry’s childhood, this same may not be true in his present day scenario.  

Terry is able to identify that his wife tends to get loud a lot, when she is happy, angry, or just getting passionate about her subject matter. In fact, Terry has never actually seen his wife become inappropriate. This is a shift in perspective. Terry is now opened up to the idea that his wife is just a woman who loves life and wants everyone within a three block radius to know that. I bet she uses her decibel level as a filter that supports and gives strength to her emotions!

I often think that we are actually in the business of re-programming when it comes to NLP. If you would like to learn more about NLP and how I might help you to recognize and eliminate some of your hidden lessons, so that you can experience increased success and to live a life of your own design, please call to book a 30 minute phone session with Simone Usselman-Tod, Dynamic Visioning Coach, Certified Life Coach & Business Coach and Certified NLP Master Practitioner. Learn more about Dynamic Visioning.