Eliciting fast sequences: time distortion and alternatives

by Steve Andreas, Joy Livingwell, and Jan Saeger In working with clients and developing NLP interventions, we frequently find it useful to elicit the sequences and submodalities of how people do things. Even “instant” state shifts get triggered somehow. Time … Continue reading


Try some basic NLP

by Joy Livingwell Neuro-Linguistic Programming utilizes the way your brain naturally works to improve your results — and your life. Want to try it? Here are some exercises that use very basic NLP. The power of pictures Think of a … Continue reading


Study: Empathy represses analytic thought, & vice versa

Research in neuropsychology continues to shed more light on how and why NLP processes work:

Empathy Represses Analytic Thought, and Vice Versa: Brain Physiology Limits Simultaneous Use of Both Networks

ScienceDaily (Oct. 30, 2012) — New research shows a simple reason why even the most intelligent, complex brains can be taken by a swindler’s story — one that upon a second look offers clues it was false.

When the brain fires up the network of neurons that allows us to empathize, it suppresses the network used for analysis, a pivotal study led by a Case Western Reserve University researcher shows.

How could a CEO be so blind to the public relations fiasco his cost-cutting decision has made?

When the analytic network is engaged, our ability to appreciate the human cost of our action is repressed.

At rest, our brains cycle between the social and analytical networks. But when presented with a task, healthy adults engage the appropriate neural pathway, the researchers found.

The study shows for the first time that we have a built-in neural constraint on our ability to be both empathetic and analytic at the same time.

This study has a lot of interesting implications.

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How much do you care what other people think?

Recently I assisted at a workshop designed to help singles gain social skills and connect with each other.

At the end of the evening, an attractive young woman said she is usually shy because she cares too much about what other people think. During some of the workshop exercises, she was able to not care what others thought of her, and found it liberating. She wanted the ability to not care what others think in the rest of her life.

I gently pointed out that while not caring what others think can be liberating, it can also be problematic. Would you really want ignore how your actions affect other people to the point that you hurt or offend them? Or maybe suffer serious consequences, such as getting fired? Probably not.

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Re-traumatized by old memories

When Gary recalls a negative memory, he re-experiences the emotion he felt, and gets upset. Since he is prone to obsessive thinking, once a negative emotion triggers, he can obsess about it — and stay upset — for hours.

Tabitha gets trauma flashbacks. She re-experiences events so vividly that they re-traumatize her. Afterward fear, anxiety, depression, and crying jags can debilitate her for days, and affect her mood for weeks.

Emotionally loaded recall is especially common in people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), a learned trauma response. It’s also common among people with Asperger syndrome. Like Gary, Aspies are prone to obsess over negative emotions and make them worse.

Of course, re-experiencing remembered emotions can be an asset when you recall pleasant memories. But with negative experiences — especially traumas — it’s usually preferable to get the useful life lessons from less-than-positive memories, without getting upset or re-traumatized.

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Relationship chemistry: What is it? How does it work?

After getting my final chemotherapy treatment at the beginning of May, I experienced ongoing problems with tiredness. Curiously, mental fatigue severe enough to keep me from writing blog posts had little effect on my ability to date and socialize. Which makes sense, I suppose; our ancestors spent millions of years socializing, not blogging.

My busy dating life gives me plenty of opportunities to learn more about relationships. Which brings me to today’s topic, personal (relationship) chemistry.

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Love convincer strategies: the Love Languages meta-program

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Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts explores common convincer strategies for love. Chapman calls them love languages.

When someone gets plenty of convincing evidence they are loved — evidence that fits their convincer criteria — they feel loved and appreciated. In Chapman’s words, their “emotional gas tank” gets filled.

When people don’t get convincing evidence of love — or worse, when they get convincing evidence that they are not loved — their emotional gas tank gets depleted and they feel unloved, unappreciated… and often hurt, hostile, resentful, etc. This can happen even when they are receiving lots of love — because it’s in a form they don’t recognize as love.

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Disassociation IS association!

One of the most fruitful parts of my modeling work involves unpacking aspects of NLP that most of us NLPers don’t question.

Take disassociation, for example. In your NLP training you might have learned that disassociated = not associated.


When my research buddy Jan “yon” Saeger and I started investigating disassociation, Jan quickly realized that, strictly speaking, disassociation doesn’t exist.

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The myth of fast NLP mastery

In “NLP and the myth of the quick fix,” I discussed how promoting NLP as an instant cure-all causes problems for NLPers an our customers.

Unfortunately, NLP’s “quick fix” mentality also extends to NLP training.

Instant NLP mastery!

NLP includes advanced technology for quickly transferring skills. However, while training can expose students to skills and techniques, mastering skills takes practice. And practice takes time.

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NLP and the myth of the quick fix

When I began my NLP training in 2002, I quickly embraced the myth of the NLP “quick fix.”

To their credit, my trainers were fairly low-key about what NLP could do. But they did promote the idea of NLP working “much faster” than alternatives, such as conventional therapy. And during training, my fellow students and I were often able to quickly fix some of our own and other people’s problems. Sometimes these were issues that had endured for decades, yet with NLP we could resolve them in under half an hour.

Many of us NLP students, including me, quickly developed overblown ideas of what NLP (and we) could accomplish.

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