Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP as it is commonly called is way of changing our thoughts and our behaviours. (Neuro) meaning mind (linguistic) meaning language and (programming) meaning our behaviour.
Unlike Psychiatry that is based on the study of sick people, NLP, is the study of human excellence and communication. It provides us with the tools to run our own brain and manage our own emotions and behaviors.
It was created originally by two guys called Richard Bandler and John Grinder, in the 70’s; they studied an expert called Milton Ericson. He was an expert in creating change in others.
So by watching him , then breaking down what he did with his clients, into thoughts, beliefs, values and actions they were able to replicate what he was doing with his clients and get the same results as he was.
So by changing the way we think, feel and speak about things we get changes in our lives. NLP helps to discover the patterns that make people’s minds and body’s work together and change them into something more useful or desirable.
It’s about moving from present state to desired state. It’s about thinking outside of the box or thinking about thinking.
NLP has many tools on many levels to help assist change. It’s not the only modality in the world that can produce great change, but it is a very effective one that has hundreds of processes that are specific to making certain change.
We have 2,000,000, bits of information coming into our minds every second. As a human we can’t comprehend that amount of information. So when the information comes in it goes into a filter and when filtered, this becomes our reality.
The filter is made up of our values, our beliefs, and information from our parents and peers, information from our culture and religions and many other things. Now everybody on this planet has different filters as we all have different lives.
Changing our beliefs can be one of the most powerful experiences ever. So what we do using NLP is to change those filters to something that is more relevant to our lives right now. We can never change the past but we can change our perceptions of the past.
It is generally not reality that limits us or dis – empowers us, but rather our map of reality.
NLP uses the power of the subconscious mind to make lasting change. The subconscious mind is simply everything that you are not attending to at any given moment. It includes all past experiences, future projections, and present things that you are not sensing.
To give you an example; I bet you weren’t thinking of your hand until I mentioned it. But your subconscious mind was aware of it; it was pumping blood to it the whole time. Your subconscious mind also controls body functions like breathing and your heartbeat.
You subconscious mind is here to protect you. Once it realises the fear or old behaviour does not serve you anymore it will gladly give you a new and alternative behaviour.
When You Visit An NLP Practitioner For The First Time, What Can You Expect?
Each NLP practitioner will work differently. When you come to see me you will expect to get a full assessment of what is happening at the moment in your life. I will ask questions related to what is going on for each individual client.
I will ask about the presenting problem, how are you feeling and what emotion is this ‘problem’ bringing up for you. I will find out when else in your life have you felt like this before.
Our subconscious mind holds memories from our past and sometimes holds negative emotions there too. So when we clear the old memories and get the client to see things from a different perspective the emotions will change.
The thing that troubled the client in the past will feel differently for them. We need to find out all the negative patterns in a clients life and change them.
So for some clients they come to me with a problem, we spend the time talking about the past because to move forward in life we have to change our perceptions of the past.
When we have found the root cause of the negative behaviour or emotion, we will then use techniques that clear these negative emotions and replace them with new positive behaviours.
Once the patterns of the past have changed it changes our behaviour now and also in the future.
Can NLP Assist People Suffering From Depressive Illness?
The short answer is yes if the person wants to be clear of depression. Some people benefit from being depressed or unwell. This is what we call secondary gain.
They can get attention from loved ones, money from the government; some don’t want to work so they create their own sickness.
Now I am by no means saying that everybody consciously makes themselves unwell. But we do have to factor this in to whether a client gets better or not. To give you an example – when I was a massage therapist and living in N.Z.
I had a client who had fibromyalgia, she was from America and had had a accident, her insurance company was paying for her to come to see me for massage once a week for 1.5 hours have personal training two times a week, and treatment with a chiropractor 3 times a week.
Not only was she having this treatment but she was paying us in N.Z. Dollars and her insurance company was paying her in American Dollars so she was actually making money from being unwell!! For an average person that is a lot of treatment and this is expensive.
Can you see why being sick could have benefitted this lady? Now she would have not consciously realised this but that is what was happening.
This is an extreme case. So if I am seeing a client who isn’t getting better we would have to look into the secondary gain associated with the sickness.
How Long Does It Take To Show Results?
Each client is different. NLP is different from other therapies where you have to go for an hour a week for years. For some clients one or two sessions is enough to make positive changes. You can clear a negative emotion very fast.
It really depends on each client and the structure of their subconscious minds and how they store the emotions of the past. When you clear one emotion it can affect others.
For some 12 sessions is a great amount. For others it could take 3-6 months depending on the ‘issues’ they are holding on to. Usually my clients leave in the first session noticing a change in their thinking.
If we are dealing with depression due to rape or abuse, this will usually take longer as there will be lots of emotions and aspects to address.
So we may have to look at grief, anger, sadness, fear, anxiety because all of these emotions could contribute to depression. Also we will need to look into the beliefs the client now has about themselves.
Do they have self love, self esteem, confidence, strength, do they feel supported by life. All these things need to be addresses.
Can Negative Self Perceptions Contribute To Depression?
Yes for sure they can. I know we have to check what are bodies are doing hormonally etc as hormonal balance and other dis-eases in the body can cause depression but for me I believe thought comes first.
So when we clear our negative thoughts our negative sickness can get better too. The mind affects the body much more than we are all aware and studies are showing this more and more.
So when we sit there saying I am fat. I am ugly. No one likes me. I am no good, and telling negative stories in our heads it will put us in a negative mind frame whether we are depressed or just humans.
The difference between someone non depressed and someone healthy is the depressed person will engage and believe the negative stories they are telling themselves.
It’s as if they are playing a negative story about themselves on video over and over. Of course if you do this all the time you will start to feel lower in energy.
A quote I think is appropriate is – ‘You can sit there forever, lamenting about how bad you’ve been, feeling guilty until you die, and not one tiny slice of that guilt will do anything to change a single thing in the past’. – Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
To give you an example of how our emotions can change easily; If I asked you to stand up now, bend over so you are slouched, put your head down, turn your mouth down notice how low your energy gets – this is the stance that most people with depression gets in.
Now stand up straight, shoulders back, put a smile on your face and notice the shift in energy.
What a depressed person needs to do to start feeling better is;
Firstly change their posture – you have seen the change in energy already.
Make sure they get out of bed and shower – a lot of depressed people will stay in their pj’s all day
Open the curtains – Let the light into the room
Get out in nature – Sunlight contains Vit D – happy vitamin
Start to do things that make them happy
Watch comedies – to put you in a good frame of mind
Obviously the emotions need to be addressed as well but these things are a great start. A person can start to feel better instantly. 😉
What Is Your Personal View Of Antidepressant Medication?
For me personally I would not endorse them at all. I found that when I was on them years ago they worked for a short while, and then the doctor had to increase the dose as time went on as they were not strong enough for me.
I found that I felt like a blanket had been put over me. What I mean by that is I didn’t feel as depressed as I did before I took the pills but I could no longer feel anything. I was living life feeling nothing.
For me my aim is to get my clients feeling their emotions whether they be good or bad emotions. Bad emotions are telling you that something is wrong.
Good emotions are telling you that things are good. It’s all about being able to listen to your body. If you are on antidepressants we lose the ability to do this.
As A Therapy, Does NLP Work For Everyone? Is There A Type Of Depressive Illness Or Type Of Person That NLP Has Particularly Good Results For?
NLP can work for anybody if they want to change. NLP is a do with not do to process. The client will only change if and when they want to.
A client who comes to see me pays for themselves (and it is not cheap) so they have invested energy to come see me. Therefore they are most likely to change.
A client who just turns up for a therapy because their doctor has sent them and they have to go to therapy to stay on benefits don’t have the same amount of energy invested in getting better.
Anybody in this world can change if they want to. It depends how much they are willing to put up with the pain they are in. When the pain is too much change will happen.
We as NLP practitioners are not allowed to treat schizophrenic people or the extreme mentally ill. We have to stick to the rules although I personally believe some of these clients could benefit from NLP.
Can NLP Be Used In Conjunction With Other Therapies Or Lifestyle Changes?
Yes NLP works well with many other things. For depression I would suggest looking at diet and exercise and I have someone who works closely with me who I refer to who works in this area.
Diet is a massive factor in depression. Eating bad foods make you feel bad. The more processed foods you eat the worse you will feel.
I think the more we get back to nature – eat raw foods, walk for exercise – it doesn’t need to be going to the gym…fresh air is AMAZING MEDICINE.
Meditation works wonders as it gets you into a quiet zone – this is the state our bodies work best when they are repairing. Relaxation techniques, dancing, singing or any activity you do that makes you happy are therapies.
They distract the mind from the negative story and put you in a positive mindset. The more you can put yourself into a positive mindset the better you will feel.
Are There Any Downsides To NLP?
Some clients don’t like fast change some would prefer to sit with a counsellor and do a different type of therapy. I think that a client will be drawn to be best therapy that suits them.
When I was depressed a typical counselling session didn’t suit me. I was sitting there crying while the counsellor sat and watched me and gave me tissues.
They didn’t ask any questions they just said that I would tell them what was upsetting me when I was ready. The problem was I did not consciously know what was troubling me. So for me I didn’t feel I got results at all and stopped going.
Once I went to an NLP therapist they were able to ‘talk to my subconscious mind’ to get the answers, only then was I able to make changes because I could then understand what was going on for me at that time.
Are You Able To Describe Any Particular Cases That You Have Treated And What The Outcomes Were?
I don’t feel its right to talk about any of my cases in any great detail, but I had a client with severe anxiety who would not drive a car, had panic attacks and after only 2 sessions she was able to drive and get a job with no more panic attacks.
Another client with depression had no idea why they were feeling the way they did. So we had to focus on the emotions they were feeling at the time. When we were able to access those emotions it was easy to find the root cause of the depression.
The cause of the depression was from years ago. They had filed away the memory and emotions as it was too hard to deal with at the time.
The depression was there to let the person know that they were now strong enough to deal with the incident from years ago. Once we cleared the old memories the person is now living a normal healthy life anti depressant free.
Is There Any Last Comment You Would Like To Make?
Start eating well – moving well – thinking well and RELAX, life is here to be enjoyed.
This was the transcript from an interview with Sharon White.
You can find much more information on living a holistic lifestyle in these free magazines and on our YouTube channel.
If you would like to learn more and work with me one on one I would love to work with you. I am passionate about people having a voice, being heard and creating the change you want in your life.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how I can help you. Sharon is the founder of Global Healing Exchange. You can work with her on her Emotional Freedom Program here.