NLP is an acronym for Neuro Linguistic Programming. The idea behind NLP is that our thoughts and language affect our behavioural patterns. So if we change unpleasant thoughts and phrases, we can kick bad habits and react differently to stressful situations. NLP could be an effective way to sculpt your business into something bigger than what you imagined.
NLP was theorized in the 70s by two self help pros in California. John Grinder and Richard Bandler found ways to change how people think by using the power of visualization. Switching from auto pilot to controlling the thoughts that come into your head is key. With practice and persistence NLP could help you excel to a higher level.
Imagine your brain as an enormous movie theatre screen. As you go through your day you experience the external world but you also have internal thoughts and visualizations that interpret your experiences. Many times it is based on fear and doubt. Those thoughts, even though they are just thoughts, can feel just as real as if they were actually happening. Your brain doesn’t differentiate between reality and your imagination. This can be a good thing if you are an optimist but can also be dangerous for people surrounded by negativity or those suffering from mental illness.
NLP: Simple ways to change your mind
Think of a happy situation. Don’t just think about it, really THINK about it. Hear it, see it, smell it, taste it, and feel it. Notice the brightness of the colours, the size of the picture, and sounds of the things around you. Let the feelings flow as you imagine you are there again. Try to brighten up the colours, change the volume or the speed of your “movie,” or freeze the frame completely. Does this change the intensity of your feelings? Experiment with different elements. Be patient. Visualizing details won’t come easy to most of us so combatting what automatically pops into your head will be challenging at first. Spend 5 – 10 minutes on this exercise.
Now think of something really awful from the past. Notice how your body feels. Does your heart sink? Your throat get a lump? As you sit in your movie theatre seat start to picture the screen shrinking, the colours fading to white or black and the sounds softening. This awful event hopefully doesn’t seem so overwhelming anymore. You’ve taken away it’s power and so your brain and body will be less likely to panic. Be prepared for the memory to come back big and loud each time and expect to dim and shrink it over and over again. Eventually you will teach your brain that it is an unnecessary thought and there’s no room for it in your head. This takes practice and patience but it is useful for not only disappointments from past business losses, but also for fears of future endeavours.
NLP: Focus on the positive and humour
Train your brain to make positive events seem larger than life and to make terrible experiences and thoughts insignificant or maybe even funny. You may have a work situation that makes you feel anxious. When the thought or vision comes about, do away with the hangman theme song and play circus music in your head. Dress yourself up as the ring leader and the others as clowns; shrink them and imagine them doing something silly. Something that you can’t help but smile at. This is in no way to mock anyone but to actually have you link comedy with tragedy, therefore making it feel way less intimidating.
So even though negative thoughts are inevitable, it is comforting to know that you don’t have to run on auto pilot. There are tools to help you direct your movie. Make your positive thoughts about your career bigger and brighter and the hardships less significant.