How does NLP work

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What is NLP?

NLP stands for ‘Neuro Lingusitic Programming’ and has been around since 1970’s when its co-founders, Richard Bandler and John Grinder first modelled other therapists.  Bandler and Grindler took aspects from across the many diverse areas of life coaching psychology and positive psychology to formulate their own device and called it Neuro Linguistic Programming.  Neuro Linguistic Programming is known as NLP among it’s students and NLP practitioners – as it is more convenient and easier to say.

When you hear the words NLP you might associate them with a technique for building on and achieving freedom of thought through better managing your thoughts.  NLP is frequently known as the “users manual for your mind” and studying NLP gives us insights into how our thinking patterns can effect every aspect of our lives.what is NLP

A turning point for most students of NLP is when they come to accept that thoughts become things and the way your think about a situation – from running late for a bus to your childhood experiences – defines how you experience it.  Reflecting on an experience as unsatisfactory actually makes it unsatisfactory.

what does nlp stand for

NLP looks at the way in which we think and process our thoughts (Neuro), the language patterns we use (Linguistic) and our behaviours (Programming) and how these interact to have a positive (or negative) effect on us as individuals.  Even more simply, it is how your words define your behaviour and your experience.  Or at it’s core, your words define your world.

NLP is a collection of a wide range of methods, models and strategies which help you understand how your thought process impacts on your behaviour. Understanding these techniques can bring about a positive change in you and others.  Simply by becoming more aware of how your language impacts on your life you act to bring about change – and this is always a good thing.

NLP techniques for happiness

For me personally, it is about being aware of other people when they say old sayings like “don’t get your hopes up” – this little saying is loaded with unhelpful and act
ually toxic thought processes that are actually harmful.  Being told not to get your hopes up is akin to hearing that things won’t work out, or there is no use trying, or that failure is more likely than success.

It drives home a retreat and a shrinking away from taking on the challenges of life.  Instead, in the exact same situation, it would be preferable to suggest “As long as we keep doing our best, things will come our way” or “things will always turn out for the best” – a similar, trite little saying but one that does not hold the defeat and resignation of the first saying.

Just think – if you are immersed on a family or social circle where these little unthinking gems of resignation and defeat are repeated over and again – it actually permeates your worldview and you come to see the world this way.  In the same sense, being immersed in a social environment where possibilities and potentials are explored
and celebrated instead of being limited will lead to better life experiences.


neuro-linguistic programming techniques

The co-creators of Neuro Linguistic Programming defined NLP as follows:

“NLP is an attitude which is an insatiable curiosity about human beings with a methodology that leaves behind it a trail of techniques.”
Richard Bandler (co-creator of NLP)

“The strategies, tools and techniques of NLP represent an opportunity unlike any other for the exploration of human functioning, or more precisely, that rare and valuable subset of human functioning known as genius.”  John Grinder (co-concept creator of NLP)

At some time in the past, you may have found yourself in a situation where you felt anxious or stressed, and maybe it would have been useful to have some strategies that could help you deal more effectively with those feelings in the future.  How does NLP work? That’s where NLP is a genuinely useful tool.

NLP can give you the tools and coping mechanisms to change your normal patterns of behaviour, break from the cycles and gives you the freedom you need to respond and react in a healthier, more positive and beneficial way.  It’s about first gaining the self awareness that you can in fact improve your response and secondly, that your response can improve the quality of your life.


neuro linguistic programming

Neuro-Linguistic Programming is used to enhance performance, to help an individual control their emotional state and to stay focussed on what they want from life. It incorporates specific Neuro-Linguistic Programming strategies and techniques designed to produce specific outcomes. For example, the famous Neuro-Linguistic Programming “Fast Phobia Cure” has a very different set of techniques in comparison with the Neuro-Linguistic Programming “Motivation Strategy.”

In short, Neuro-Linguistic Programming allows people to have more choices about their lives. For that reason, Dr Bandler, the inventor of the term “Neuro-Linguistic Programming”, likes to say that “most of all, Neuro-Linguistic Programming is about freedom”.
what does NLP do
Here is a short case study of NLP.  “I contacted the NLP life coach and felt that with her understanding of the mind ( NLP ) combined with her hypnotherapy she may be able to help me with my problems, although I was not very optimistic having suffered with this problem for so many years.”

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I went along to my first session and time was spent going through my personal history of how I arrived at the point of being here and although the session for me was quite emotional and exhausting it was such a relief to be speaking to someone who was totally understanding and who was so confident that she could help me remove this problem that continually drained me and dominated my life.

Over the next few weeks the NLP life coach gave me the tools and understanding to view my emotional feelings in a completely different way. She gave me different techniques to try to see what suited me and together with her vast knowledge she gave me different avenues to explore which was very refreshing. At no time did I feel any pressure from the NLP Life Coach to follow a certain path. How does NLP work?  It was very much up to me to work with what I felt comfortable with.”

The ideas and approach found in NLP draw from two main areas of thought. The first is cybernetics, a cross-disciplinary view of how systems are organised based on feedback that was developed in the 1940’s and 1950’s, and in which another major influence on NLP, Gregory Bateson, was a core figure. The founders of NLP, Bandler and Grinder, echo central principles of cybernetics when they say that `the basic unit of analysis in face-to-face communication is the feedback loop’

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how does nlp work

The second area of thought is the work of the Palo Alto Mental Research Institute in the 1960s, in which Bateson again was involved. Significantly, the Palo Alto researchers emphasised the practical energy of human communication, which also shows how does NLP work, and constructivism, which is the idea that people cannot knowhow does NLP work `reality’ as such, so inevitably they act according to constructions that they create.


Among other influences, the self-help movement that emerged in the USA in the mid-twentieth-century may have shaped NLP more than is usually acknowledged. NLP’s emphasis on the potential for a person to change themselves, and its promises of empowerment and personal success, reflect an ethos of self-improvement that can be traced back to Dale Carnegie’s `How to Win Friends and Influence People’ (first published in 1936), and Norman Vincent Peale’s `Power of Positive Thinking’ (from 1952).

The human potential movement was also significant. In the 1960s California became the centre of the growth movement, most noticeably the Esalen Institute founded at Big Sur in 1962, in which psychotherapists Virginia Satir and Fritz Perls were both involved.
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Perls, one of the main developers of Gestalt therapy, was an author published by Robert Spitzer. Perls died in 1970, leaving behind him some unfinished work. Spitzer asked Bandler to transcribe recordings of Perls at work and edit an uncompleted manuscript, to be published posthumously. So, how does NLP work? Bandler then met Virginia Satir, again through Spitzer, who asked Bandler to tape and transcribe a month-long workshop that Satir was due to lead in Canada, intending to turn this material into a book.

Following these experiences, Bandler went on to study at Kresge College, a radical experiment in communal, alternative education, at the University of Santa Cruz. There he met the co-founder of NLP, John Grinder, who joined the University of California as an assistant professor in 1970. How does NLP work.  Kresge was by no means typical of American college education, nor even of the University of Santa Cruz; Bandler, Grinder, various peers and later on Bateson himself, met while this experiment was at its height.

nlp information explained simply

  1. NLP argues that people are not their behaviour and that when you accept the person, you are free to change behaviour.
  2. Neuro-Linguistic Programming states that people already possess everything they need to succeed and to achieve their outcomes and that they simply need to learn how to unlock them.
  3. Neuro-Linguistic Programming is based on the notion that the success of communication is based on the response you get. As you learn to communicate better, the world will respond to you better than before.
  4. Neuro-Linguistic Programming is rooted in the principle that you are in charge of your mind, and from this, your life.

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