What is NLP?

In this NLP article Master Practitioner Terry Elston of NLP World explains what might see a simple question – What is NLP?

What is NLP?

by Terry Elston
What is NLP?  This has been taken from my new book “Knowing NLP”.

One of the most difficult questions to answer is the basic learner’s initial comment “what is NLP”? Yet even experienced practitioners should still be asking that question!

To answer it, we will have to uncover what underpins the thinking and being of a skilled NLP practitioner.

what-is-nlp-reallySome of the secrets I’ll approach in this book will surprise you and shock you. The purpose is to show you what’s behind all of the principles that have been trained over the last thirty five – plus years since its inception.

Many NLP trainers may also be surprised to find that what they teach isn’t actually NLP at all. Just what was marketed as NLP!

As well as this being an informative book, I will give you plenty of chances to use the concepts here, so you can experience the process of NLP at the same time as reading about it.

To begin, let’s uncover the very title itself.

NEURO. This refers to all the neurons in the body and the ability of the mind and body to communicate with each other. There are so many possible neurological connections available in the mind and body that it would be impossible to count them. Some have said as many as the number of stars that are in the sky.

Anything happening in the mind also happens in the body and vice versa. From studies by Deepak Chopra (1989), he cites the neurotransmitter as being the communication device of the mind. These neurotransmitters are bathing every cell in your body. Therefore every cell is listening intently to every thought emitted from your mind!

This has particular implications on your body language. There is a saying in NLP that you cannot – not communicate. That’s because your deeper mind will always be commenting on something and showing it through the body. Really, the body can’t lie! We all give off unconscious signals that other people pick up on.

How this is useful is to start to become aware of your own signals through your body (remember that another person will be more inclined to believe your body language than your words).

You can then also start to be more aware of another’s unconscious signals, and start to master the knowledge of the ‘unseen’ world of communication.

Which brings us onto the word LINGUISTIC, which is then all the verbal and non-verbal translations of the inner world. The transmission of all that data has to come out of your mouth or your body. There’s a saying in NLP that you cannot not communicate. Either you are doing the communicating overtly or covertly!

Lastly, the word PROGRAMING describes the patterns that are inside us all (also called filters in NLP). The basic premises being that we are all programmed at an early age and have to deal with those patterns, until we can be free of them and regain some independence.

Here are some of the interpretations you may have heard when listening to the description of the art and science of NLP:

  • magic of the mind
  • a set of processes that consistently cause change
  • a toolbox of transformational techniques.

So, knowing these descriptions of NLP, what is it really?

NLP is reported as being an ART as well as a SCIENCE for good reason: Firstly, you can consistently expect the same (or very similar) results when approaching problems or challenges.

Personally, I can predict that 9 out of ten phobias I treat, will be gone within 30 minutes. That could be with complete strangers with no previous experience of NLP. You cannot fake or pretend a ‘proper’ phobia gone, so when tested, it’s either there or not!

That’s the scientific side to NLP. It’s measurable and consistent. The one out of ten would also have the phobia removed; it may just take a little longer for that one!

The ART side to NLP is in the approach. Even though the structure to NLP can be classified as scientific, the way different Practitioners tackle an issue can be universes apart! I deliberately put my previous experiences of success away when meeting a new client, as I cannot possibly predict what method will work with another human being.

I have had situations where the client has literally healed themselves just by turning up to my studio! What replicable scientific method was present on those occasions?

Which brings us to the answer of what is happening in the dynamic of practitioner and client in any learning, therapy situation.

If you think of the client as a seed of possibilities, or even just as a seed; your environment (I.E. your studio, your training room), will act as a womb (from which the word room has come in the first place) and therefore the clients will begin to heal themselves or at least assist greatly in the transformational process.

This we cannot measure and is not scientifically provable. I can just assert that when my preparation of my own mind, my clients’ mind and the training room or studio has been immaculately prepared, the transformation of people is a whole lot easier!

So, I trust you have a greater understanding of what NLP is.  For further information read my book Knowing NLP.

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