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So much of what attracts people to NLP is their desire to create or experience a change for themselves. Sometimes it’s a good idea to have an experienced friend help. Dr. Bandler has a great phrase that you may have heard “Either you will change or die while I’m trying!?”. It’s his tenious resolve to get the result for the client that allows him to go further and push the edges of the technology and lead to even better and newer ways of doing things. I’ve noticed this pattern in many other very skilled NLPers and Master Trainers who are willing to do whatever it takes to get the client to the outcome they want.

So what are the key patterns that exist in doing great change work. Here are three that new and even experienced NLPers sometimes miss, yet are core to making the process occur even quicker than you can imagine.

1. Figure out what the heck is going on!

It would be a stretch to say that people are conscious .. I mean when you think about it that from moment to moment we are all getting trigged by events and activities that que a specific response in us .. more often this happens entirely outside our conscious awareness.

Personally I wonder if this is a game in the system – to keep people stuck in a loop of repeating patterns that often don’t serve them such as busy, stressed out, tired, in fear to name a few. That’s not to say we all can’t be more aware of the patterns and processes operating in our life. Of course we can, but that’s for another post.

Although much of the time we think we are “consciously choosing” a specific path or choice in fact it is often a repeat of a “well worn neural pathway”.

For example I was talking with a client recently who said they wanted to exercise more .. new year and all and I said “great, so ….?” .. “well the thing is, I just can’t get myself to exercise” and I said “cool, what do you do instead?” and they said “mmm, never thought of it that way, I guess it’s just that when I come home, I think to myself “God, I’m tired” and I see the TV and big comfie armchair with the amazing leg extender and think to myself: “I’ll relax for ten minutes here and drink a brew” …

and next thing the client is sitting there for the whole evening .. and does this every night of the week!

As a wise person once said – discipline will get you started but it is habit that keeps you going.

In this case the client had a habitual pattern with a lot of continuos momentum of doing the same thing over and over and the trigger was outside his conscious awareness.

If you think about your own life, I’m sure you can spot a few of these type of patterns.

So the key lesson here is don’t even bother trying to create a change with yourself or anyone if you haven’t got a really good idea about how the process is working. What’s the glue that keeps the whole show running? With practice you will get quicker at this. Inference and being totally present to what is being said and NOT said plays a key role as does quickly coming up with hypothesis and testing them on the fly with your client (simple Q&A process and noticing the responses you get) will help greatly.

The NLP toolset gives us very powerful tools to do this, a good starter is mapping out the triad of a behavior – looking a the what you or the client is doing with their body, how they are focusing and how they language the bevhiorual pattern to themselves is key.

A step beyond that is to understand their broader worldview that this pattern is operating in … what is the context that this behavior fits within? What needs does it serve and what are the friction points that could occur if you introduce a change without taking the other bigger goals the pattern is looking to serve.

2. Get Immediate Leverage!

If you or the client are serious about creating a change now .. then you will want to get immediate leverage. Something that will get them wired up so that change is the ONLY choice right now.

There are many ways to get leverage but the bottom line is .. no leverage then most likely no lasting change will happen. Period. And that leverage to work best needs to be something they immediately experience in their gut right there with you. Or if not immediate you need to build it up layer upon layer so that they do.

One of the approaches Dr. Bandler and others in NLP use is “get your client so fed up with the problem – they can’t live with it anymore”. This is a very sound approach.

Another way is to get them so fearful of what will happen if they DON’T change now they can’t live with it going on for one moment longer.

A 3rd for now is to figure out what is most important to the client and create a link to losing that very thing if they do not change the problem situation right now.

Whatever way you do it, ultimately you are looking to put the squeeze on the client (in the best sense possible!) so that change will happen today.

The 3rd guiding principle I’ll leave with you for today is …

3. Destroy the old pattern BEFORE you introduce a new pattern of responding

There are many many ways to create change, however whatever avenue you take you will want to ideally destroy the old patterned way of responding before introducing a new way of dealing with it.

Failure to do this is a core reason why so many people try to introduce a new pattern of behavior such as saving, going to the gym, losing weight etc but spring back to the old pattern within a few days or weeks.

You will want to wire the clients nervous system so that there is only one dominant way of responding to a specific situation or at least one major group of responses with the same positive outcome. If there is still strong associations to the old way of responding you can guess which pattern will kick in and over-ride so to speak, when the context comes up that they want to respond differently in.

Making it Practical:

Review the 3 guiding principles for creating lasting change above and identify which pattern is missing in a change you are looking to introduce in your own life. Figure out how you can implement the above for your own specific context and then get busy making a new change happen.

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It’s been a hectic month travelling and doing many new and exciting things on the NLP front (more on that in a future post) but while I had some quiet time I wanted to take the time to respond to a number of emails I’ve been getting from both new and experienced NLPers wondering “How do I …” and wanting to know how they can apply NLP to some area of their life.

Answering these got me thinking .. what is one of the quickest ways to dramatically improve your skills with NLP and improve the quality of your life? The answer .. is to apply the NLP attitude and rapid change techniques on yourself. Is this something you do consistently, or even at all? We can all do with a “personal enhancement” from time to time.

I have lost count the number of NLP trained folks I have meet who have significant psyco-somatic “challenges” in their life, like lack of belief in themselves, shyness, under confidence etc that are a big drain on their life. While it is true that it can be hard to get a jump on yourself .. to notice when you’re invisibility caught in a habitual de-energising pattern, a skilled NLPer can develop the skills to catch him/herself doing patterns of behaviour that doesn’t serve them and transform it.

So what are some of the more destructive emotions we all have experienced in our life and for some are still caught on to them like a fur ball that won’t just disappear out of their life.

The top four I’ve noticed in many people are:

  • Anger
  • Regret
  • Self-Pity
  • Extended sadness

Using NLP we have a whole series of techniques and tools to change this rapidly. For the beginner or the advanced the famous collapsing anchors pattern is still a very powerful technique to change a feeling rapidly. The Decision destroyer pattern and time line techniques are again very powerful to use to improve the quality of your life and to “get over” the habitual debilitating stories of life.

A rarely mentioned tool not typically taught in the training schools but essential to any skilled practitioner is humour, taking the mickey out of yourself and not taking anything in life too seriously. If you find yourself experiencing self-pity a good technique to use is to really go to town on it and write out all the ways you have been hard done by in as much detail as possible and write a long long very detailed version of “war and roses” and then re-read it out loud with as much drama and gusto as you can until you find yourself (at threshold) either laughing your socks off and finally seeing the silliness of it all or just plain “can’t handle another re-run of that” for your life.

Extended sadness can and often does include an aspect of unconscious self-pity in ones life. Simple yet very powerful patterns like visual swish and rapidly changing the sub-modalities or using Dr. Bandlers superb “spinning of feelings” technique can make a big difference. First I would also encourage yourself to move and use your body, engaging your physiology makes it challenging to hold on to a deep feeling of sadness and creates the room to using any of the many other NLP techniques to transform your life.

A golden rule with transforming all of the above feelings is to start from a place of acceptance .. in that you accept that ‘hey these are just emotions and they may seem quite real and present in my life right now, but they are not who I am or what I am about’. Starting from that place will allow yourself to explore with a sense of wonder and interest as to traverse the neural pathways and emotional rivers that have had been running your life.

So what has any of this got to do with the title of this post “using your body and mind for a change”, well interestingly enough it is this – many NLPers and NLP book surfers get caught in the trap of “staying in their head” too much, thinking that NLP is just cognitive stuff and not accessing the great resources that are available in the form of listening and being aware to the signals of your body and mind (which in this context I mean intuition and unconscious instinct).

Part of the language that showed up in later decades of NLP was very much around “feelings in your body”, and doing subtle body and energy work as used by many of the Master Trainers and Dr. Bandler. John Grinder focused on “New Code” and accessing the unconscious mind for change.

If the NLP you are using today is still primarily focused on just the cognitive part of what a person is conscious of and the mental pictures that they make then you are leaving a massive area of untapped resources out there. When working with yourself and indeed others, you will want to be tuned into these other key information and change centres to transform your life.

Making it Practical:

So if you are the kind of person who is or can be very much “in your head” then take some time this week to get re-acquainted with the ebb and flow of your body in motion and your breath. Go take a Yoga, Tai-chi or dance class and get re-experienced with the feeling of energy and emotion moving within and beyond your body. Or if you’re into sports such as jogging or swimming use that experience to tune into your breathing and the moment by moment awareness of being aware and conscious of your life and life force.

As bizarre as this may seem, this can allow your NLP skills to accelerate beyond the plateau or level they are at now. By following the suggestions above you can allow these experiences to tune up your intuition, your sensitivity and awareness to your feelings and so catch yourself when you fire off a pattern that doesn’t serve your life.

And in the magical moment when you “catch yourself” you can take out pen to paper to capture the cycle of behaviour, thinking and feeling that is driving that aspect of your life. Writing it out is important as it will help you “work on yourself” and help give you clarity to notice all the false beliefs, unhelpful thinking and notice what is the “attractor” (the one thing that is attracting and drawing on all the others) is and by noticing what is the glue that is keeping the whole structure together you are able to self-diagnose and from there decide which of the many many NLP patterns you can use do dislodge or transform your experience of that behaviour.

As you do this, employ another of the truly great NLP attitudes, to have an insatiable curiosity …

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In part 1 of 10 tips for greater Meta Model effectiveness we covered the five key aspects to get in applying the Meta Model. If you haven’t already read that post please do so as it plays an important role in seeding key principles that I will talk about now.

6. Apply it to Yourself

Many years ago as a new person to NLP I found myself absorbed by Structure of Magic 1 and 2. (If you haven’t already got a copy of them be sure you do.) And in the years that have passed since I continuously have been impressed with:

1. The usefulness of the Meta Model in any context (I’ve applied it in Business, Therapy, Consultancy and many other areas) to provide really rich information to help ensure you correctly identify what is going on in a person world view (including many times my own!)


2. How language runs so deep and outside most people conscious awareness yet someone who is skilled in the Meta Model can influence them self and other really powerfully. The best of NLP (IMHO) is not in doing a fancy techniques but in doing the fundamentals really well. The Meta Model was the first model of NLP and from which Richard and John developed the other models of NLP.

Whenever I need to make an important decision, business or otherwise I will almost always Stop and ask myself how accurate and clear is your thinking about X? And I proceed to use the Meta Model along with some additional powerful frameworks to ensure I understand and can identify any achilles heels in my thinking. So tip number 6 is use the Meta Model on yourself, daily. And whenever you find yourself or a friend “stuck”, turn on your Uptime state, listen attentively and rather than using other aspects of NLP such as any of the change techniques simply restrict yourself to Meta Model queries and you will find your skill greatly improved in no time at all.

7. Pay attention to non verbal and analogue communications

A basic premise in NLP is one cannot not communicate. People are constantly oozing message and display many additional messages in their communications (often non verbally and outside their conscious awareness) that a skilled practitioner can “tune” into. By being in an uptime state and noticing the non verbal communications of your client and apparent incongruenties, you can place well targeted questions that will allow you to rapidly identify the core restriction the person is operating from and develop a path which will help reframe or shift the persons thinking, often entirely, about the whole problem.

Therefore tip 7 is, pay exquisite attention to the non verbal and analogue communications of your client and track them to identify the key structures that are keeping your clients world view restricted so you can use the meta model to shift their experience.

8. Be aware of your own tendency to hallucinate

If someone say you, “I had a bad accident when I was 28 and it really bothers me”, what do you understand by that? Do you know what I mean? Most of us would say “we do”. However as a practitioner of NLP you need to ensure that your understanding is grounded in sensory experience and that you avoid hallucinating what the other person means. That simple statement doesn’t tell you what representation system the person is using to “hold” their “botherment” nor does it share with you what specifically about the accident is bothering them. So Tip 8 is, as you listen to people be aware of your own filters and how language calls up it’s own anchors which can mislead you if you aren’t aware of how you are representing what your hearing.

9. Stay on Track

One of the guiding principles to NLP change work is to lead a person from their present state to their desired state as efficiently as possible. When you are using the Meta Model, you can use this information to develop a path from the present state to the desired state.

By attending to this you can begin to ask yourself the question “where is the point of leverage in this system?, How is this person maintaining the “problem space” and what well placed question could change all of that?” By making sure you are only going after information with a specific intention in mind and constantly scanning to understand how the person is holding this problem space, you can quickly identify ways to influence the speaker to a positive outcome.

10. Have Fun

Using the Meta Model can be alot of fun and enormously rewarding. However learning and mastering anything can seem uncomfortable at times. However it’s worth pushing through should this happen to you. As you practice each day you will begin to find yourself getting greater results all the time. If you only use the meta model in habitual uncreative ways then you forget to have fun .. so tip 10 to greater effectiveness is make sure you enjoy the experience of using the Meta Model and have fun with it as you get better all the time.

Making it Practical:

Take two of the tips above and use them this week in your Meta Model communication with anyone you meet. The more you practice and incorporate the feedback you get the greater your skill will become. So have fun and feel free to post any questions or comments.

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After seeing one too many people wonder “how do you anchor non kinesthetically?” I decided to put together a quick video showing three live examples of anchoring in action. Anchoring is a key skill for any NLPer and one which you can find many creative ways to develop new anchors for. Be on the look out for anchoring being set and fired in your everyday life.

To see three examples in action, click on the play button below.

I’ve also included an example of a great comedian “stealing an anchor”. If you like seeing comedy sketches on George Bush you will enjoy this one.

Feel free to comment any questions or queries you may have.

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