“I am leaving for my next training,” I announced to my friend with some excitement, “hypnosis and NLP.” He looked at me. “NLP? What’s that?”
I knew the question was coming, and I also remembered my past attempts to explain being exercises in futility. When I tried to explain NLP as “Study of effective communication and excellence,” it was rather insufficient. The more pointed definition such as “Therapeutic modality geared toward shifting internal representations to create change in internal state (prevalent emotions), internal process (the “how” of our psyche), and external behavior” was more confusing.
So I decided to take a different route. “Let me give you a little taste of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). Do you like ice-cream?” My friend still had a puzzled expression on his face. “Yeah, sure. Ice-cream is good.”
” Which flavor is your most favorite?” I continued.
-“I like, hmm. Mocha is my favorite,” he said.
“Ok, great! So when you think about this delicious Mocha ice-cream, do you have a picture?”
-“In my mind, you mean?”
-“Yes. Do you have a picture?” I persisted.
-“Yes,” my friend replied with the unchanged perplexed expression.
-“ Is the picture Black & White or color?”
– “Ahmm…it is in color..”
-“Is it near or far?”
– “Right here.” He made a frame with his hands in front of his chest.
-“Great! And what is the size of this picture?” My friend again put his hands into a shape of a frame in front of his chest.
-“Do you see the picture from your own eyes, or do you see yourself in the picture, as if you were looking at yourself through someone else’s eyes?”
-“Hmm, I am looking through my own eyes.”
-“Are there any sounds associated with this picture?”
-“Are there any sensations associated with this picture?”
-“Hmm…a chill feeling on my tongue and nice feeling in my stomach.”
-What is the shape of the feeling in your stomach?’
-“Shape? I guess it’s kind of round and filling my belly.”
-“Ok, great”. I had a smile on my lips, thinking of a little surprise I had for my buddy.
-“So recently,” I started,“ I celebrated my friend’s birthday in one of the restaurants in my city, and one of the desert items was garlic ice cream!”
My friend’s eyes visibly grew in their orbits and his eyebrows were threatening to jump off his forehead – “Garlic?”
-“Yes, garlic. Is that something you would be interested in trying?”
-“Oh man, its sounds awful!”
-“Great!” I continued. “So when you think of garlic ice-cream, do you have a picture?”
-“Ok, and if you did, would it be Black & White or Color?”
I proceeded to ask the same sequence of questions regarding the garlic ice-cream as I did regarding the Mocha ice-cream. My friend’s picture of a garlic ice-cream was very different from his picture of the Mocha ice-cream. The picture his mind offered for garlic ice-cream was in black & white, removed from the center to the bottom right corner of his visual field, and the feelings that came with that picture were tightening of throat and discomfort on the back of the mouth.
I pointed out the difference in mental representations of the two food items and explained that these pictures we have in our mind are the mental representations I was talking about. I clarified that each mental representation is comprised of multiple elements and routed in multiple sensory modalities – Visual, Auditory, Kinestetic (bodily sensations), Olfactory and Gustatory. I also pointed out that our mind codes our attitudes toward different objects and issues through size, distance, location, color and other elements of the picture we might have regarding the “thing” at stake. If we change elements of mental representation, our attitude toward the object at stake is likely to shift.
At this point I noticed that the puzzled look was gone from my friend’s face, and he was listening with interest and focus. I proceeded to explain that by using NLP we can do pretty basic stuff as well as pretty complex things. For example, we can help someone stop liking a food item, if they do not wish to eat it any longer. We can also shift the hierarchy of values to change client’s perception of the world around them. Once our values change and different things become more important, our behavior and focus change to support the new value system, and so do the results we get in our life, from having a more fulfilling relationship, to having more money.
I was on a roll, describing the wonders and richness of NLP. Then I realized it was time for my next session, and my next client would be waiting for me.
“I have a session,” I interrupted myself, “Got to go. We can talk more about NLP some other time.” My friend nodded, “Yeah, it sounds fascinating. I want to hear about the training!” “It will be a blast, I thought to myself, walking toward my office, “I’m loving life…loving it.”