Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP, is the integration of three important concepts in our lives. It is the combination of our neuro (brain) processes, our linguistic inputs of experience, and the programming that occurs between the two. As a science, it was developed in the early 1970s by John Grinder and Richard Bandler. By studying therapy sessions of some psychologists, they were able to determine certain patterns of thinking that helped in a patient’s success. They then theorized that anyone could be taught these behaviors. Thus, NLP was born.
However, what does NLP mean in simple terms? In order to understand this, you have to understand that NLP works strongly with certain presuppositions. One of these is that no two people are alike. Another is that communication (linguistics) is more than just the spoken word. This sounds simple enough, but it is an important part of understanding the theory behind NLP. Two men stand in a room. Both are 6 feet tall, have similar hair color, are roughly the same age, and even have the same education. One man is a successful lawyer, the other has bounced from job to job, and is currently unemployed. What makes these two similar men, with similar backgrounds so different? It is the way that they were taught to view things in their lives. The lawyer may have been taught by his environment to study hard, push himself to achieve, and that he could accomplish anything he wanted. The other man may have had negative influences at home. They then took these patterns of looking at things out into the world with them and applied them to their lives.
Thus far, NLP seems easily understood. The next step is where it becomes a bit trickier. You can actually change the way a person perceives his life in order to change it for the better. The man who has trouble holding down a job can go to his therapist and the therapist can then help change his way of viewing things, causing him to try to strive more or be more content at a job, even if he feels it is less than what he wants. A good example of this is the theory of immersion therapy. If a person is afraid of bees, the end result of this type of therapy is to have that person able to sit in a room completely filled with bees. The way to accomplish this is to get to the root of why the person is afraid of bees and change the way he views them. While this is a very simplistic example, the person may be afraid of bees because he was stung as a child. His brain sees the bees as a form of pain. By having the person talk to people who work with bees for a living, he will begin to change the picture the mind sees. This picture is the total result of NLP. The body has input certain suggestions based on experiences and the mind has interpreted them in a specific way, causing the body to react is the way the mind best sees fit. The therapist is changing these patterns that the brain sees, using NLP to cause the mind to reprogram the reactions of the body. In the end, the patterns have been changed to achieve a more successful result.
This is the basis of what NLP really is, in layman’s terms. In the next article, we will describe some of the ways to remap the brain, thus giving it successful patterns of thinking. If you can understand exactly what NLP is, you will be able to understand the basics of changing the mind’s patterns of thinking into a more successful map.