In the field of behavior modification Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a valuable component. The precepts it presents are building blocks in many self-help techniques but employing the interventions and principles of the discipline involves training. To this end, various practitioners and researchers, including the “founding fathers” of NLP present seminars.
What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming?
A defining statement of NLP from the website nlp.com says that it is “like learning the language of your own brain.” The term “neuro” refers to the neurological system, including the neurons that are conduits for receiving and sending messages. “Linguistic” refers to the messages, both verbal and non-verbal, that are sent, and “programming” is the term used to denote the way our brains process these messages. In another quote from the website, NLP is like a “users’ manual for the brain.” The discipline cannot be used for diagnosis, and can only be taught through experience.
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The History Behind NLP
In the 1970s, a team of two researchers at the University of California at Santa Cruz theorized that there were thought patterns common to successful people that accounted for their accomplishments. They believed that by replicating those patterns, people could also duplicate the success in their own lives. To investigate this theory, they first looked into the education, the businesses and any therapy the successful individuals had in common. They included communication habits as a component of the study as well. The communication elements studied were not only verbal, but involved body language, eye movements and other factors. From the data they accumulated they formulated a series of principles upon which they constructed models of thought that could be utilized by others to achieve a positive effect in their physical and emotional states.
How Neuro-Linguistic Programming Works
When the neurons send messages about things we see, hear, smell, touch or taste, our brains interpret these things using our past experiences, according to
. For instance, when we see a pie with dark patches on the crust, we may perceive that the crust is burned because in other experiences, burned food looked dark. As a result, we may avoid eating the pie. The dark places, however, may be caused by wood smoke used to enhance the flavor. By not tasting the pie, we miss out on an enjoyable experience. Life presents many problems. Our verbal communication demonstrates what our perceptions of these issues are. The perceptions may not reflect reality, or may be only partially true. As long as we don’t alter the words and the perceptions the problems will persist. The practitioners of NLP have developed scientifically-based models that can be used to alter these perceptions and affect positive changes in the resulting behavior. The premise rests upon several principles including, among others:
• “Communication is more than what you are saying.”
• “People already have all the resources they need.”
• “If someone can do something, anyone can learn it.”
Applications of NLP
Neuro-Linguistic Programming is not a treatment for psychological or physical conditions. It can, however, be used as a tool to help people form more successful habits. Perceptions about smoking, for instance, may make stopping difficult, but altering those perceptions could lead to a healthier outcome for the smoker. In reality, because we predicate all our responses upon our perceptions and upon the way our brain processes sensory input, applications of the principle are boundless.
NLP is a new discipline and continuing research results in discoveries that change and enlarge the principles it is based upon. Our brains are powerful communicators and the understanding of that communication is the basis of Neuro-Linguistic Programming.