Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) offers some great techniques for reprogramming your mind and changштп your life.
Language is the primary distinguishing factor between human beings and animals. While animals communicate, language goes beyond mere communication because it allows for the expression of abstract ideas. A dog can express danger with a growl, but it cannot discuss rising crime rates in San Francisco. Human beings are not limited to vocal language, either.
Our first impressions of others are often formed before they have spoken a word, and we form these impressions based on body language. The subtle body expressions that cue others into how a person is feeling towards a situation are commonly known as body language.
If language goes beyond mere communication, then the question arises as to what exactly is language? Our species wouldn’t have come nearly as far without the development of complex languages, but is communicating with each other the sole purpose of language?
Well, if you don’t have anything to say; do you say something?
To need language, we need information that must be communicated. For human beings, this goes beyond telling each other where the nearest watering hole can be found. Language allows us to process and interpret our internal thoughts into something that can be shared with the outside world. This also allows us to reshape that world as we learn to work together to enact change on a grand scale.
But what about internal change? If a person can use the ability to communicate with others to change the outside world, couldn’t that person also use it to change their internal world by communicating with themselves?
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
Enter psychology and the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). While this field of study was once considered a discredited pseudoscience, it is now gaining some traction.
Pop culture has adopted the idea through the use of daily affirmations to change your reality, but real psychologists have also found it to be useful in treating PTSD, bulimia, anxiety, and other serious disorders.
Guided self-reflection seems to be the key to successful NLP treatment. A licensed psychiatric evaluator sits down with a patient and takes them on a guided tour of what they feel. This is often coupled with accompanying visualization exercises, and the patient is instructed to process the emotions and images until they come to associate them more positively or negatively.
Some practices require the patient to ask their feelings questions such as “what do you want?” As the patient progresses down the layers of emotions, they eventually get to a place where peace or presence is the only answer.
Beliefs are Like Molecules
Robert Dilts, a practicing NLP expert, uses an interesting technique that strikes at the heart of how language and memory relate. Dilts uses NLP to change the way people view failure and success. Instead of seeing success or failure as a result of short-term actions, Dilts helps his patients to see it as an ongoing feedback loop. In this way, the anxiety-producing fear of failure can be mitigated and overcome. How does he do it?
Dilts targets our beliefs. In his mind, beliefs are simply disparate sensory elements of an experience coming together to form a “molecule.” These are described as being made from an image, which is likely the primary memory, and an assortment of sensory experience fragments that are attached to that image.
These could be what others had to say about the memory, details about it, perceptions of how things happened (The Poetic Function), mental fantasies, and the self-talk that surrounded the memory and remains attached to it.
Dilts works with his patients to identify and break limiting “molecules” that do not promote healthy behaviors. By employing positive self-talk, the patients can then begin to form better “molecules” of belief.
This says a lot about the power of suggestion. Think about it. Negative comments from yourself or others can attach themselves to your memories, causing emotional turmoil, without you ever consciously realizing that they are there. On the flipside, positive comments can do the opposite. You really can use positivity to change your life.
If you want to try this, but you can’t afford a trip to see your local Neuro-Linguistic programmer, then take a look at Eastern religions. The parallel has already been drawn by professionals within the NLP community.
Certain NLP therapies that are designed for positive reinforcement employ many of the same methods as meditation. The reason is simple: to get to those “molecules,” you need to bypass the conscious mind.
Memory lives in the subconscious. Our conscious minds are literally the flowering of our subconscious thought processes. Any form of verbal trickery or hypnosis relies on tapping into the subconscious. This part of your mind experiences imagination as reality, so imagining a better one in the right state of mind will actually help you to create it. This is because the process of imagining is replacing troublesome worldviews with a healthier perspective.
It seems that much like our conscious thoughts, language is only at the surface of things. When you go deeper, it is the words and emotions we have attached to our past experiences that color our present. You can become more productive, less anxious, or even treat PTSD by changing how you talk to and think about yourself.
A good place to start is by looking at the critical thoughts you hold towards others as these always mirror the critical thoughts that you hold towards yourself. Work on changing some of those underlying beliefs, and you’re well on your way to a new and improved you!
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