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

  1. Think of a picture of a memory, that when you see it, makes you feel good. Notice how the picture looks… and just how good it makes you feel.
  2. Now notice your picture’s details: Is it color, or black and white? Is it still, or moving?
  3. Now take your picture and make it small, dim, and distant. Turn it from color to black and white, and if it’s a movie, make it into a still picture. Notice how you feel when you look at it now. Are your feelings stronger, or weaker? More or less positive?
  4. Now put the picture back the way you had it to begin with.
  5. Now make the picture bigger, brighter, and closer. Turn up the color. If it was a still picture, make it into a movie. Add some music. Step into the scene. Add sparkles. Notice how you feel as you see it now. How intense are your feelings?
  6. Now put the picture back the way you had it to begin with.

For most people, making a picture small, dim, black and white, and far away makes their feelings weaker and less positive. Making a picture big, bright, intense, and close makes their feelings stronger and more positive.

Some people who feel chronically depressed have a pattern of making their pleasant experiences into small, dim, gray, far-away pictures. When they look at their memories, nothing makes them feel good, and life seems joyless. Such a simple thing can make a profound difference…. Since most of us look at internal pictures hundreds or thousands of times a day, this gives you thousands of opportunities to feel good, every day.

Dealing with an inner critic

Do you have an internal voice or voices that makes you feel bad? Maybe it nags… or criticizes… or reminds you of the dumb things you did, or might do, or the things that could go wrong in the future. It doesn’t seem very friendly…. And even when it has good advice, it’s hard to listen because of the way it speaks.

  1. Listen to your inner critic. (If you have several, start with just one.) Notice where its voice comes from. Do you hear it in one ear, or both? Whose voice do you hear? If it’s your voice, is it saying some you would say, or more as if you’re speaking someone else’s words? Is the voice tone friendly, or hostile? What does the voice say?
  2. How do you feel when you listen to the voice? Take a moment to notice….
  3. Now move the voice to your big toe. How does that change your response?
  4. What if speaks in your other ear? From across the room? From the other side of the street?
  5. Try changing the volume. Add some static, like a radio station with poor reception. Make the sound tinny, like it’s coming from an old radio. How do you feel now?
  6. Experiment with the sound of the voice. If it says harsh, hostile, or angry words, have it say them in a sweet, loving, supportive voice. What if it sounds like Daffy Duck? Whispers? Squeaks? Give it a silly lisp, and play goofy music as it speaks. Instead of having it nag, tell, or demand, turn it into the sexiest voice in the world and have it invite you to do something. How do you feel as you listen?
  7. Suggest to the voice that you are more likely to listen to it if it tells you what you do right (instead of what you do wrong), makes helpful suggestions before you make a mistake (instead of criticizing afterward, when it’s too late), and speaks in a friendly, supportive way that you will want to listen to. How does it respond?

Believe it or not, you can change your relationship with internal voices, make friends with them, and achieve inner harmony. An internal voice that supports and encourages you, and gives you good advice, can do a lot to make your life better.

The book NLP: The New Technology of Achievement contains an excellent series of exercises for making peace with critical inner voices. View in the NLP bookstore.

Going beyond the basics

As you’ve just learned, even little changes in the way you process information internally can make a big improvements what you experience.

If you’d like to try more do-it-yourself NLP, I suggest any of the introductory NLP books in the NLP bookstore.

If you plan to get help from an NLP professional, you may still benefit from getting some do-it-yourself experience from books first. Once you get used to paying attention to your inner pictures, audio, and feelings, you can work with an NLP professional faster and more easily.

Imagine how good you will feel after you have fine-tuned patterns you use dozens or hundreds of times per day! When you like what you see and hear, you can feel really good inside as you successfully achieve your goals.

Originally published 29 May 2004, revised 2021

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