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NLP does not exist

Updated: Oct 28, 2023

NLP does not exist.

One of the most frequent questions we get asked is: What is NLP? How can I use it?

The answer to this is that NLP stands for Neurolinguistic Programming and you are already using it in every moment of your life.

But this is not answering the real question, which is: I’m using NLP effectively?

In the old days, NLP was designed for and focused on therapeutic breaking of patterns in behaviour and communication. Nowadays it is also used for a wider range of intentions such as marketing, sales and public speaking. Back then, the way that patterns were broken was so radical that today you would go to jail for doing the same. But in 2017 you can follow courses to personally and professionally develop yourself.

Applications Let’s first give an idea of how you can use NLP. NLP gives you a way to: understand communication patterns, influence others, connect better with others, break patterns, use hypnotic language in marketing, sales or coaching, achieve goals more effectively, understand your or other people’s thinking patterns, recognise non-verbal signals better, deal better with your emotions, convince others with language and your non-verbal communication, negotiate, deal with your inner voice, fears or negative beliefs, break negative patterns, and so on. This list could be endless. And these are things we already do in our lives: people already communicate, talk to themselves, negotiate, influence, get rid of fears and change beliefs. The problem is that people don’t always do this effectively, because they usually lack three things: self-awareness; positive, congruent, self- motivation; and the most effective way to change.

Self-awareness To be self-aware means noticing all the things that are going on inside and outside of you, such as verbal and non-verbal communication with yourself and its effect on others. We have had cases where people were so convinced about themselves or their way of doing things that they could no longer see the effect of their communication. In public speaking, we have encountered people who thought that you always had to smile. But when you feel differently inside or when the topic or the emotional state of the audience is not a happy one, you have a big mismatch. Another example is people that say they want something, such as a new job or a new relationship, but the non-verbal communication implies that this is incongruent with what is going on subconsciously. And when your conscious mind and body do not match with your subconscious mind and body, you get pain, doubt, friction and other signals for change. These are useful when you are self-aware, but a pain when you are not. How can you be more self-aware? Train yourself in sensing and observing, ask outsiders for feedback and most importantly start noticing what you are doing, why you are doing it and how you are doing it.

Positive, congruent, self- motivation The second thing that a lot of people lack is positive, congruent, self- motivation. Positive motivation means that people tell themselves what they do want rather than what they don’t. Congruent motivation means that what is going on is consciously aligned with what’s happening subconsciously. And finally self-motivation means that the motivation is what they want themselves and not what others want; living your life and doing it your way.

How can you create more motivation? Start noticing what you are saying and doing, and ask yourself and others about your motivation.

The third element that people lack is an effective way to change. Some people stay with patterns for years. For too long they stay in unhealthy patterns in their lives such as smoking, drinking, unhealthy/over-eating, bad relationships, unhealthy work and so on. They try all kinds of things to change, but cannot find an effective way to do so. What is effective could vary from real action to finding the right level for someone to enact change. People tend to focus on a (relatively) small thing like smoking, while they would be more effective changing their lifestyles. Or they focus on relationship therapy rather than self-love. Or they stay in a job for the wrong motivations and don’t have insights into their values and intentions, or the way to satisfy those values or intentions.

How can you apply more effective change? Start mapping your thoughts and patterns, find creative ways to change, take action and start connecting.

The statement “NLP does not exist” for us means that it does not exist as something separate from your life. Because NLP is life, and life exists. It’s here and now. And we only have one. So taking care of that is a gift you want to give yourself every day—by being self-aware, finding positive, congruent, self-motivation, and using the most effective ways to change.

Peter Koijen and Ligia Ramos

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