Do you ever think about changing your life? And what do you believe to be in YOUR power, when it comes to changing your situation, behaviours etc? WELL! let me give you a little 411 on NLP, which is a powerful tool that uses language to reprogram your mind, change your behavior, and achieve your goals. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most effective NLP techniques for self-improvement, so you can start unlocking your full potential.
What is NLP and How Does it Work?
NLP is a branch of communication/psychology/self improvement that focuses on how language and behavior are interconnected. It was developed in the 1970s by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, who studied successful therapists and communicators to identify patterns in their language and behavior. NLP techniques are designed to help you change your thought patterns, language, and behavior, so you can achieve your goals and live a fulfilling life.
The way I like to describe NLP is ‘a cheat manual to do really well in life, by learning successful techniques from other people who do really well in life’. Cool right? This practically takes away the guesswork from your end in favour of ‘copy/pasting’ what others are doing well into your life.
Setting Goals with NLP
One of the first steps to self-improvement is setting clear, achievable goals. NLP techniques can help you do this by teaching you how to visualize your goals and making them more tangible. Here are some tips for setting goals with NLP:
1. Create a vision board
A vision board is a collection of images and words that represent your goals and dreams. Creating a vision board can help you visualize your goals and keep them front and center in your mind. I talk about the power of visualization A LOT in my YouTube channel, because our brains can’t always differentiate between what is real and what is imagined, so visualizing helps the brain internalize the challenge and see it as possible and real.
And if you don’t know the first thing about positive visualization or if it really works, I guarantee you know about the power of negative visualization, also known as anxiety. That’s right – how many times have you experienced negative thoughts and felt them to be true and real? and how many times have you actually manifested negative behaviour by leaning into negative behaviour?
2. Use positive language
When setting goals, it’s important to use positive language. Instead of saying, “I don’t want to be overweight,” say, “I want to be healthy and fit.” Using positive language can help you focus on what you want, rather than what you don’t want.
A big reason for this is that we actually don’t want to focus any attention or light to the negative. Saying ‘I don’t want to be fat’ is focused on fat and not wanting to be . It’s not empowering and it’s not positive. Even if you test it out for yourself now, see how differently these two statements feel:
- ‘I don’t want to be in-between apartments and at the mercy of landlords anymore’ VS
- ‘ I want to own a three-bedroom house that will make me feel safe and proud of my achievements’
I bet that the imagery that the first statement evoked were dull, sad and hopeless, whereas the second statement probably made you think of warmth, space and quartz kitchen countertops. Right? 🙂
Positive Language is:
- Proactive, helpful and resourceful
- Open to possibilities
- Informative to those listening
- Provides alternatives
- Hopeful and empowering
Positive language is good for us, our sense of self, our goals, and also for those around us.
3. Use the SMART method
The SMART method is a streamlined, goal-setting technique that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Using this method can help you create clear, achievable goals that are relevant to your life, and it’s only 5-steps deep. If you’re after something slightly more in-depth, I’m also a big proponent of my 8-step goal setting guide, which also gives a nod to how to keep up the work once you’ve actually achieved the goal.
And if you know me, you will have heard me advocate for physically doing the work, even if that means simply writing your goals down instead of just thinking them. Like the latin saying goes ‘verba volant, scripta manent’, so write write write it down!
Overcoming Limiting Beliefs with NLP
I talk a lot about limiting beliefs, because I feel like the poster child for them. I feel like I’ve spent my adult life deciding – with no empirical data and buckets of bias – that I couldn’t do something or that I was destined to something else… just ’cause I decided that. By myself. I would talk myself into these holes where I would fabricate proof and data to support my point, and then I would believe my own analysis, disregarding (of course) the absolutely bullshit data set I was working from. DOES THIS SEEM LIKE HEALTHY BEHAVIOUR?!
Limiting beliefs are negative thought patterns that hold you back from achieving your goals. NLP techniques can help you overcome these beliefs and reprogram your mind for success. Here are some of my favorite tips for overcoming limiting beliefs with NLP:
1. Identify your limiting beliefs
The first step to overcoming limiting beliefs is identifying them. Write down any negative thoughts or beliefs that are holding you back. They may be things like ‘I don’t think I can ever make money being an artist’ or ‘I’m never going to find a partner’. Then you can ask yourself questions like :
- What empirical data do I have to prove my point?
- In what situations was I able to have a different outcome?
- Have others in my situations ever achieved what I am after?
- Are there other ways to achieve what I am after?
- What have others done to achieve success?
- What does success look like for me?
- Do I have a monetary ‘goal’ I’d like to achieve?
- What kind of partner would I envision myself with?
- What about me makes it hard to find a partner, and how could this be turned into an asset?
2. Reframe your thoughts
Reframing your thoughts means taking a negative thought and turning it into a positive one. For example, if you have a limiting belief that you’re not good enough at your job, you can reframe it as, “I am capable of learning anything I don’t already know.”
A great tip I often offer my clients is to deconstruct the ‘unconscious standards’ they have placed on themselves. We so often think there is a good, correct way to live life (making a certain amount of money, having a certain type of life etc) that we lose sight of what WE bring to the table. Reframe your thoughts to consider how YOU could be in the situation you are in, but as a glass half-full instead of half-empty.
3. Use positive affirmations
Positive affirmations are statements that reinforce positive beliefs about yourself and your life. For example, “I am confident and capable,” or “I am worthy of love and respect.” Repeat these affirmations to yourself every day to reprogram your mind for success.
If you know nothing about Positive Affirmations or why they work, you are in for a treat – because Positive Affirmations are a science-backed method of improving self-esteem and fostering the neural pathways that make us feel happy and at peace.
I do LOTS and LOTS of positive affirmations on my YouTube, so go check them out!
Communicating Effectively with NLP
Effective communication is key to success in all areas of life. NLP techniques can help you communicate more effectively and build better relationships. Here are some of my favorite tips for communicating effectively with NLP:
1. Use rapport
Rapport is a state of connection and trust between two people. Using rapport can help you build better relationships and communicate more effectively.
If you’re talking to someone and you aren’t getting through or not getting the feedback you expected, there may be lack of rapport. What can you do to connect better, on a more even level? What level of familiarity, intimacy or need do you need to achieve, in order to create better rapport?
2. Listen actively
Active listening means paying attention to the person you’re speaking with and responding in a way that shows you understand them. This can help you build trust and communicate more effectively. One amazing tip that I learned from my first therapist was to ‘listen to others as if they were telling you the most interesting story in the world’ – because to them, they are.
I find this approach fascinating, because it makes me think “if they are taking the time to tell me about it, it must be important to them. So the least I can do is give it my undivided attention’.
3. Use sensory language
Sensory language is language that appeals to the five senses. In NLP, sensory language is often referred to as VAKOG (Visual, Auditory, Kinestetic, Olfactory, Gustatory). Using sensory language can make your communication more vivid and engaging. For example, instead of saying, “I understand,” you can say, “I see your point” or ” I hear your concerns” or ” I feel your pain”. Using sensory language can help you connect with others and make your communication more memorable.
A great little tip to better connect with others is to actually respond with language that showcases the same of the five senses that they are using. For instance, these are some examples of ‘visual’ type communication that you could respond to with more visual language.
- I am watching my life go by
- I don’t see the point
- This looks good to me
- When I look back on it, I view it differently
- I went blank
- Everything looks blurry
- You could use a new perspective
Visualizing Success with NLP
Visualization is a powerful technique that can help you achieve your goals by imagining yourself already successful. NLP techniques can help you visualize success and make it more tangible. Here are some tips for visualizing success with NLP:
1. Create a mental movie
A mental movie is a visualization technique where you imagine yourself achieving your goals in vivid detail. Create a mental movie of yourself succeeding and replay it in your mind whenever you need motivation.
2. Use anchoring
Anchoring is a technique where you associate a particular state of mind with a specific gesture or action. For example, you can anchor feelings of confidence and success to a specific hand gesture. Whenever you need to feel confident or successful, use the hand gesture to trigger those feelings.
3. Use timeline therapy
Timeline therapy is a visualization technique where you imagine your life as a timeline and make changes to the timeline to achieve your goals. For example, you can imagine yourself going back in time and making different choices to lead you to success.
NLP techniques are powerful tools for self-improvement. By using language to reprogram your mind, you can overcome limiting beliefs, set clear goals, communicate more effectively, and visualize success. Remember to use positive language, active listening, and sensory language to make your communication more engaging. By incorporating these NLP techniques into your daily routine, you can unlock your full potential and achieve your goals.
- Is NLP a scientific discipline?
No, NLP is not considered a scientific discipline, but it is based on theories from linguistics, psychology, and neurology.
- Can anyone learn NLP techniques?
Yes, anyone can learn NLP techniques with the help of a trained practitioner or through self-study.
- How long does it take to see results from NLP?
Results can vary, but many people report seeing results from NLP techniques within a few weeks or months of consistent practice.
- Are NLP techniques safe?
Yes, NLP techniques are generally considered safe, but it’s important to practice them under the guidance of a trained practitioner.
- Can NLP techniques be used for therapy?
Yes, NLP techniques are often used in therapy to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD.