One’s thought patterns, beliefs and attitudes can be used to “preprogram” actual experiences that are yet to happen. NLP is very focused on how we think, what influences the way we think, and how we structure what we think. Subscribers to the science are encouraged to closely study and then model those individuals who do things well.
When studying them, you don’t ask them how they did it—just what they were thinking when they did it. For example, if you asked Michael Jordan how to play basketball, he could give you a big list of dos and don’ts. He might outline a series of necessary drills, but that is not what NLP is about. Instead, you would find out how Michael Jordan perceives basketball in his mind. What are his beliefs and attitudes about basketball? When he makes a decision on the court, what is he thinking?
NLP is made up of several different models, each then having different techniques associated with it. Let’s break NLP down further and take a basic look at some of its major models.
Sub-modalities: The Five Senses
Perhaps the foundation is, simply enough, our five senses. Each of us takes in the world around us through our five senses: seeing, hearing, feeling (both tangible and emotional), tasting and smelling. Everything and anything we think about in life, and the resulting beliefs and attitudes we form, can be based on what we receive and then interpret through these sub-modalities. Taking it a step further, with the entirety of our life experiences encapsulated in our memories as we experienced them through our senses, we can recreate those experiences in our minds, alter them if need be and thus gain tremendous power over our thought patterns, beliefs and ultimately the outward manifestation of such through our capabilities and achievements. The way you structure these representations in your mind determines how you will respond.
Try a basic experiment. Picture someone in your mind you hold very dear to your heart. Now, in your mind’s eye, enhance and intensify the colors of the image and observe how you respond. What happens when you turn up the volume of what has been said? What about if you visualize the image in shades of gray instead of color? For most people, “turning up” the colors or sounds also intensifies feelings, while turning them down diminishes those feelings. Cultivating your ability to fine-tune the way you perceive things, or the way your mind represents things, can be used to make powerful changes in your life. Once you realize that you can, in essence, create your world, you also realize that you also have the power to change it.
A meta-model is a set of questions that are developed for the specific purpose of finding the exact meaning in a person’s communication. For example, often when we communicate, we generalize, or we may even distort information or leave it out altogether—intentionally or unintentionally, consciously or subconsciously. Individuals who use meta-models are able to systematically verify and clarify both verbal and written communication in order to communicate even more clearly and precisely.
Our thought processes are very closely tied to our physiology. For example, people can sense that you’re happy, scared or angry without you even saying anything. Body language sends out strong cues about how we’re feeling. That is, our posture, our eyes, our head position, etc. all say a lot about us. Most body language is fairly obvious, but sensory acuity takes these observations beyond the obvious and uses physical feedback in addition to verbal communication to be as discerning as possible. Verbal cues even give some suggestion of which sensory modality a person operates from most strongly. For example, if someone says, “I hear what you’re saying” versus “I see what you mean,” it suggests that his or her auditory sense is more dominant than his or her visual one. It is helpful to give this concept consideration since miscommunication can often simply result from two people trying to talk about the exact same thing, only in different ways. Some experts argue that if certain thought processes are reinforced enough, over a long enough period of time, they can actually alter a person’s physiological state.
The Milton-Model, named after Milton Erickson, the father of modern hypnotherapy, is a set of linguistic patterns that are designed to guide an individual without actually disrupting the way s/he is experiencing the particular activity internally. For example, the command “Recall a time when you were crying” doesn’t dictate whether the person was sobbing uncontrollably or weeping softly in the memory. This skill of describing feelings, places, events and activities in a manner that is specific and yet still universal allows the user to develop rapport with his or her subject. It also helps move the subject into a trancelike state. As a result, the Milton-Model is commonly used to induce hypnosis.
Meta-programs are essentially the “looking glasses” through which we view the world. The classic “Is the glass half full or half empty?” is a perfect meta-program example. Meta-programs control our personality and therefore how we behave. For instance, do you tend to be more of an active or passive person? Do you focus more internally or externally on the world around you? Is your orientation more focused on the past, the future or the here and now? Two people may regard the exact same thing from totally different angles, to the extent that that “exact same thing” may actually become a very different thing altogether. For example, do you move towards your goals, or do you move away from the things that are not your goals? One may simply seem like an inverted restatement of the other, but each has its own distinct nuance.
By: Kurt Mortensen -
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