NLP For Habit Creation

It’s surprised me to no end that there are people who don’t really teach the NLP techniques properly. For example, in the process of habit creation, it’s extremely important for someone to develop the right concept and capabilities or else their habits won’t get formed in the right manner. It seems that some trainres are using a very formulaic method to teach people, rather than teaching the best way to create the changes for that specific individual.

You can use techniques; at the same time you need to realize that techniques do not define a human being.

Let’s take one habit creation strategy known as The Swish Pattern and discuss this. Common mistakes made by people when using the Swish Pattern include a lack of understanding submodality patterns and driver submodalities.

In the Swish Pattern, you basically want to think about creating a cause-effect behavior pattern.

Think about what you want to do (as opposed to what you don’t want to do). You want to be in a position where this has happened for you. Now for a moment, ask yourself what it would take for you to reach there. What emotional states will help you be resourceful to get here?

So, we have a set of resources that lead to the behaviors that create those results.

Now it’s time to build the habit. Ask yourself waht you want to trigger off this emotion. Do you want to look at something and this emotion fires off?

For example, people who are constantly in a state of lethargy don’t realize they associate certain situations with that lack of energy. If you walk into a room, and you actually want to feel great doing stuff in that room, you must use that image of the room and all its surrounding visual stimuli to trigger off the emotion (say, motivation) you want.

So, now you have something called the trigger image, and the ‘desired’ image.

Using the drivers you learn from NLP, take your trigger image and transition it as rapidly as you can to the ‘desired’ image. Your transition could be distance (i.e. trigger image moves out away from you into the distance followed by the ‘desired’ image moving toward you). You can use brightness as a transition. Use your trigger image, brighten it until it turns into complete white-out, then when it dims back to normal brightness, it reveals the ‘desired’ image.

You must remember to do this several times. The faster you do it, the more associations you make to it. Also, you will get an ‘impact’ when you do it the first few times. However, after those times, you might feel like you’ve lost the impact. That’s normal. You’re supposed to feel that way – because when you look at the desired image, it usually feels as if you already have it. After you’ve rehearsed this several times to the point of “taking it for granted it will happen for you”, you can do a future pace.

When you future pace, you go into the future and see what the trigger does for you. Does the trigger bring out that emotional state and desired image again? If not, why? Could it be that there is a benefit for remaining the same (secondary gain)? Or else, could it be you didn’t make your resources effective enough?

Go back and review your process until it works… or, seriously, get a professional NLP coach to guide you in the process. 🙂 It’s not that tough to do, and you might find it easier when you have a ground foundation of NLP.

NLP Modeling: What Makes People Successful

It seems that there are people who are always performing well and those who are not performing well. You know what the ironic thing is? The more of what you get will lead to more of what you will get!

Here’s an interesting model that I believe you may have thought of before. It typically follows that people who are in the top 10% of their game are performing excellently. They have models of excellence and therefore have a high level of focus, determination, energy… all the things about a person you’d love to see.


At the bottom 10%, these are people who perform with mediocrity – people whom you may not even want to associate with. They’re not evil people (because some evil people are driven as well), but have absolutely no interest in their own success, let alone others’ successes. These are people whom you would say “It’s possible to be successful” or “Make a million in your lifetime” and they’ll go “yeah, right. Make my day and get lost.”

With skeptics and poor performers forming the bottom rung of the entire social hierarchy, we realize that there must be people in between. People who have woken up from their previous reality to find out that there must be a lot more they can do, but just don’t know how to do it.

In other words, many people are seeking to be better. They are simply lost amid bad advice and plenty of inspiration that they end up missing out on skills they can learn and prove to themselves that work.

Modeling is as much a science that is observable and transferable as it is an art, where the execution of modeling can be subtle and unnoticed. A master of modeling is able to identify role models, find out how they think through the results they produce, and be able to transfer it for personal benefit and prove those results.

Most people are not able to understand themselves well enough, which makes AWARENESS a doorway to success. Once you have “lost your mind and come to your senses”, you’ll literally have better sensory acuity to identify these differences that are out there in the open.

Even the way someone carries himself or herself can create charisma, and is a highly observable and “model-able” skill.

More importantly, people who are highly successful also know how to handle their weakest spots with effectiveness. They are better able to grasp their moments of stress, and know exactly what they are doing when they deal with stress.

Unlike most people who deal with stress as though their clothes were set ablaze, people of excellence handle stressors with finesse. They know when they get triggered, and understand themselves well enough to take the corrective, balancing action.

When do you get triggered?

What do you normally do when you get triggered?

What alternatives do you want instead?

These three questions are very easily answered through life coaching. However, to move from this to the end result of actually behaving the way you want requires someone who has an understanding of how to wire up the new unconscious patterns in your brain, while dumping the old patterns that didn’t work before.

In other words, someone who is always angry and turns verbally abusive at the sight of incompetence can literally choose to see that same situation of incompetence and react in a compassionate manner.

It’s just a question of how you elicit, then install the strategy that is deemed excellent in a social context.

The power of transformation: That’s the magic of NLP!

Learn NLP: Modeling Strategies

As humans, we have the flexibility to achieve quite a number of results in our lives. For instance, a number of people I know tend to have a huge amount of depression, anger, and failure in life. Well, sardonically, of course, that is a result.

However, I’m pretty sure we can achieve better results than that because I know from my experience that learning something to a level of proficiency isn’t in our genetics – it’s in our strategies.

I’m going to introduce you to a basic level of modeling. It’s the smallest building block of modeling known as the TOTE strategy model, representing TRIGGER, OPERATION, TEST and EXIT.


The trigger is the external or internal stimulus that activates the human program, known as the operation. In order to tell that the operation is completed, a human being naturally has well-formed outcomes that lead to the exit of the strategy.

Example: you are thirsty and you go fill a glass of water and drink it. That’s one TOTE cycle.

However, there are many other TOTEs nested in complex behavior. To be able to be aware of it and assess its effectiveness is what a Master Practitioner of NLP ought to do.

Consider the interlocking TOTEs for public speaking. Confidence, answering questions, structuring a speech, memorizing a speech… each part of the model needs to be broken down to specific chunks in order for modeling to take place.

More to come!

NLP Definitions: Submodalities

It’s not always easy to explain submodalities to someone new to NLP. Submodalities are often defined as “the difference that makes the difference”. Rather than ascribing you the vague explanation, let’s use a metaphor.

Your mind is like the hardware that gets to run certain kinds of software. Think of your mind as the computer. In order to run certain habits or behaviours (programs), you need the codes that make those programs work (submodalities).

That means that if one program runs a particular way and is configured in a particular way, there must be a logical reason for their function. For instance, if happiness is always pictured as bright and colorful, it must mean that anytime a picture is made bright and colorful, you will become happy.

For submodalities to function as a program effectively, you need a combination of elements in them.

  1. a strategy. These are frequently refered to as NLP techniques, and there are a wide range of them (six-step reframing, swish pattern, circle of excellence, change personal history, fast phobia cure, mapping across, intensifying or de-intensifying) alongside variations of each.
  2. an understanding of the client. This requires the use of the meta model in order to create some kind of understanding of the client and the situation, particularly the question of how important the change is to the client.
  3. a well-formed outcome. There are several elements that will enable the achievement of an outcome, particularly evidence that one is actually reaching there.

A submodality checklist is available here.

NLP At Your Best… And Your Worst

It’s said that NLP is meant to bring out the best in you. Well, I’ve recently just concluded an amazing training with a bunch of high energy individuals, and you can catch them on my Facebook album.

What I’ve learnt is that no matter what tool we have, we need to always have faith that the future can be better for us. We are not who we “are”. The only “best” we can be is being “better” every time.

Sometimes, that’s not possible. I know some people who will say “But Stuart… we are in a crisis right now! How can you have “faith”?” Well, that’s the whole idea.

Somehow, human beings have been programmed to get in their own way. I think that’s what Bandler said, at least. As I get to understand this even more, I realize that the process of being at our best is sometimes about our worst. Hasn’t there been a time where you felt so miserable that you knew you bottomed out? Almost like the economy now, kind of. So when things get so bad you think they can’t get any worse, you learn from it.

Balancing actCreative Commons License photo credit: tanakawho

This “get in your own way” program seems to have been developed for our own good. As an NLP trainer, one thing that I often do is observe behaviors that are moving someone toward his or her goals. If their state is so bad that they can’t take action, it’s going to be likely that the failure is going to leave them disappointed and wondering if they can move forward. But we all know that there are different perspectives to the same issue. Someone can see the financial crisis now and scream in pain at the loss of opportunity. Someone else will scream in ecstacy of the possible wealth they can create for themselves.

Maybe, therefore, this whole modeling thing is meant to help us to increase our awareness of our best as well as our worst.

Maybe excellence presumes the inclusion of passionately going in the opposite swing of things. When we gripe and swear and wish others were dead, perhaps that is as low a state as we need to go to bounce back up.

In NLP, we explore the ideas of meta programs and values. Meta programs are those internal programs that create for us a sense of ‘personality’. They operate in the unconscious and shift from state to state. Values are the filters in our head that process what is important to us. Harmony or excitement, wealth or intimacy. These are values that guide many decisions in life.

When we are at our best, our values and meta programs activate in a much different way than when we are at our worst.

In a state of depression or fear, what is important to us activates an away from. We sometimes do everything possible to avoid all things, often to the detriment of our own results. I know someone who is so afraid of snakes, that anything that looks similar to it triggers off his fear… including a lock of long hair! He starts feeling that the people around him cannot be trusted (meta program: pessimism), that the people who had just bought his lunch were going to poison him. If he reacts instead of responds, you might even find him running onto the road with heavy traffic… simply because of an imagined stimulus. But if his survival instincts work, maybe this state will bottom out with him losing all his friends and loved ones simply because they can’t stand the way he reacts to a pipe, a wire, a water hose…

Somewhere along the line, this balancing out on the worst of us could cause us to bring out the best in us. We start saying “I lost all my opportunities or loved ones because of a stupid hose??” then we come to our senses. 🙂

I suppose as NLP practitioners, we only need to pay attention to what is happening. We keep people alive long enough for them to realize that they could do more with what they already have.