I first published this as an article on neuro linguistic programming in the October 2010 issue of Ottawa Natural Magazine.
The room was filled with a charged atmosphere in anticipation of what was to come while people introduced themselves over morning coffee. What was this excited and eclectic group of people; coaches, and engineer, a retail manager, high school students and others gathering for? NLP training. What is NLP training you ask? It is an acronym for neuro-linguistic programming, a set of techniques allowing you to reprogram your mind and body. Or as Roger Ellerton, one of the trainers and author of the book Live Your Dreams: Let Reality Catch UP, says is it is a program for making a better life for yourself and others. Roger’s description certainly describes my personal experience well.
My conscious mind brought me to the course to learn new tools to help me in my life coaching business. While I did not realise at the time, I believe that it was my subconscious mind that drove me to take this training. It knew that I badly need life changes. The NLP training allowed me to connect with my subconscious which had reams to tell me once I became receptive.
Did NLP help make my life better? Absolutely! Early on in the program my wife and kids commented on my calmness and inventiveness. When one of my daughter’s friends remarked, “wow I wish my dad was so cool and calm and so much fun” I knew something was happening when you contrast this to only as short time before when family, friends and colleagues were constantly urging me to relax and start enjoying life. How did these changes occur so quickly and completely?
The primary difference between NLP and other forms of wellness development methods is that it is less focused on the past than it is on creating a present and a future that you desire. It is also based on the premise that people have arrived where they are on their journey by the choices that they made and that these choices where the best that could be made at that time. These concepts are very powerful when coupled with the principle that people have the resources within themselves to create the life of their dreams.
Over the years I had become overwhelmed by my work or just about anything I did. While usually performing competently and taking leadership in all I did, I just kept adding more and more to my responsibilities. I was running totally on an urgency mentality and nervous energy to get more done with no time to notice the present. No matter what I did I felt the need to do more. An apparent upward spiral was, in reality, a downward spiral. Does this sound familiar? Odds are that it does in our hectic world. NLP can help with these maladies while at the same time vastly improving our lives.
One of the techniques we learned early on was called anchoring, a technique based on classic conditioned response; a trigger brings on an outcome. A positive example of this would be that each time you smell pumpkin pie you have fond memories Thanksgivings past with family and friends. Another example might be “Every time she looks at me that way I get angry.” We used NLP methods to create a positive response to a trigger by establishing a trigger point, such as a knuckle, to invoke a calm and happy response; simply by touching that knuckle the state occurs. This is a technique I still employ with great success as I prepare to deliver calmly a speech.
Another technique allowed me, in less than five minutes, to stop drinking Sprite light containing aspartame and instead having a glass of cold water each time I see a can of Sprite or even an ad for one; I did this in early July and have not had a sprite since. Imagine how many habits you could change in a short time, such as replacing smoking with good health perhaps?
About day five of the seven day program I developed a mild dis-ease. As the day progressed the mild dis-ease gave way to extreme physiological and psychological stress. The experienced trainers and their aides recognized the signs and assured me that this was a very positive sign that a major breakthrough that would change my life forever was about to occur. I was assured that I was the one guiding the process and I would move forward as and when I was ready. When practicing a technique called “time line therapy” my partner Pete set me at ease. During this exercise I realised my driven, compulsive and overachieving tendencies were formed during childhood. People I held in esteem often told me that I was inadequate or to lower my expectations. I responded by making sure I accomplished more than any of them and at a higher level. Armed with this knowledge I am now free to choose what I do. I now chose what I devote my time to based on value to myself and others; I no longer need to prove myself to anyone. I am who I am and that’s OK. This has given me an incredible power in creating the life of my dreams. I am no longer overwhelmed. I am “here in the now” with others rather than planning what I do next. Am I finished the journey yet? No, but that is OK too. I do not need to prove myself nor do I need the approval of others. That is my definition of personal freedom. The first line of the Introduction in Roger’s book is “How many of us live our lives according to other’s expectations?” I am happy to be one who no longer one who does. What is next?
You recall my feeling of dis-ease that I mentioned having on day five. The more I think about this the more I realise that dis-ease is only a hyphen away from disease. My next challenge is to use NLP to achieve levels of health that even are greater than those I enjoyed as a youth
I discovered things about my life that I had not known at the conscious level. Discovery is interesting, but the real value is that NLP allowed me to quickly change my life so that I no longer run on auto-pilot. I am the pilot of my life. The subconscious mind that brought me to the course for healing was successful. The conscious seeking a tool set to help my clients is also satisfied. The course was an incredible life changing experience for me. Thank you NLP Partners Su Thomas, Roger Ellerton and John Sweetnam; I will be back.