Learn NLP: How To Focus

I received quite a number of requests to help with focus and concentration using NLP. So, I decided to do a general MP3 recording to show you some complexities, then write out a format to help.

As we know, focus is about getting into the appropriate emotional state. If you can’t do it right away, it’s likely that there are other factors at play, but I believe it’s also about having the resilience and determination to let your brain and mental muscle grow over time. So, be patient and do it.

Focus Using Trigger Method

Step #1 – Identify your environment. Make a list of items that you will see around you.

Step #2 – Think of an emotional state that will make you/force you to focus. It may be a frustration, a belittling statement, maybe even excitement of having achieved it. Feel it as intensely as you can (amplify it if you can)

Step #3 – Build this emotional state to its peak by making it bigger, brighter and louder, then open your eyes and look at the environment around you.

Step #4 – clear your mind

Step #5 – repeat Step #2 – #3.

What you are doing is using your environment as a trigger to engage the states that help you to focus.

Test it out!

Warning: do not do this in a place where you need to rest or relax!

For clarifications, please submit your questions below.

Learn NLP – Success And Prosperity

First of all, let me state what might be a little obvious here – many people aren’t driven by success. They are driven by failure. So, if this post kind of gets you wondering why I am talking about money as it relates success and prosperity, it’s not my intention to say that success and prosperity is ONLY about money.

Welcome 2008!!! / Bienvenido 2008!!!
Creative Commons License photo credit: pasotraspaso

Okay, disclaimer over. 🙂

Let’s look at using NLP for creating wealth and prosperity. I’ve observed that there are a number of people who appear to be wealth and prosperous who have certain characteristics about them. There is a certain path through which they travelled to arrive at the destination of “success”.

I had written before that “mastery” is not just about skill and that it really is about perseverence. The idea that hard work really gets a person to achieve their goals sometimes eludes people.

The other thing is that most of these people don’t consider it hard work. They actually enjoyed doing the things that they did. They were obsessed with doing the work they had to do.But, how does one obsess about something they have no passion to do?

Well, it brings to mind moments in my life where I had little passion to achieve something. When I was much younger, I hardly had the motivation to get things done, let alone finish my homework in school or prepare for examinations. Because I hadn’t taken much of it seriously, I didn’t have much of a focus for anything.

It seemed that learning how to play the piano was easier for me to do than to submit my homework on time. I didn’t improve because I was “driven”. I merely made a “wish” to get what I wanted, and I did. It was less about “pain” than it was about making a decision, even though I admit that pain is sometimes a useful way to drive oneself toward success. Some people, however, don’t know how to do this, and end up filling themselves with bad emotional states that drive them but also make them sick.

I find that people who are successful overall have a nice blend of success in many areas of their life, particularly in relationships, money and health. I find this particularly intriguing. It no longer is a balancing scale of two sides, but three. Of course, it means there is potential to make this idea more complex – what if we had 4 or 5 balancing poles, etc… but I’m not going to go there yet.

So it begs the question – what really causes someone to drive their health, wealth and relationships? I believe it is the way in which we make decisions on a regular basis.

I suspect that you know how to stay healthy already. It simply takes exercise. Sure, additional strategies can help you to develop your body properly, but you really just need to keep your body exercised. Even if you don’t know how to exercise, you could probably do some research or ask someone.

I suspect that from reading, you already know that you have to create wealth through multiple streams of income, through prudent spending and the like. Even if you don’t have strategies to run a business or trade, you know you can learn these things from people who do know.

I even suspect you know how to create a loving relationship. It’s the way you communicate, and yes, even if you don’t know how to do it, it’s not that tough to learn – by communicating with your loved ones.

So does it mean that success and prosperity is all about action? It seems pretty simplistic, right? You might even question the purpose of this article.

But I think at a deeper, fundamental level, this is what everyone wants to hear – that there is something more than just action. Ever tested an action plan? Maybe you were really good at starting something but never was able to follow it through. Maybe that’s the issue rather than motivation.

In other words, we know that people who succeed are able to sustain their effort over a period of time.

Ask yourself: how long have you been able to sustain an interest enough to become good at doing it? Has there ever been a time where you were able to keep doing something (exercise, diligent work, effectively listen to others) over a sustained period of time? Why?

This sounds even more simplistic, doesn’t it. It implies you haven’t been doing enough. But when I look at people who don’t sustain their progress, it becomes a tell-tale sign that there’s something else at work here. If you don’t do what you are supposed to do, what do you do instead? Is this where all your attention has gone to?

Remember – while we enjoy doing certain things because we prefer it, does not mean that we should be allowed to indulge in that. Whenever we have no time/money/relationships, it’s likely that we did not create enough space for them and keep track of what did exist in the first place.

I think that to be driven to do something, you need a very strong reason. You need to have access to the “why” and that usually can sustain you. What do you want to achieve? How clearly can you see yourself doing it for the next few years? How much better can you get at doing this?

As you create a clear mental picture about what you want to get, it might even be good to review the reasons why this is so important to achieve. Even if it isn’t, make an excuse and consider how bad it could be for you and the people around you if it isn’t achieved. This is a basic propulsion system as described by NLP. Emotions, as it seems, can drive us to move in the direction we want once we notice the importance of that outcome – the reasons why.

By driving the process into an unconscious habitual mode, we need to first of all believe that what we want to achieve is compelling and worth doing, and that we can do it. This is the basis of the belief change process as described in NLP as well. All you need to do to make your beliefs more compelling are to explore how other beliefs of yours became compelling and follow the same process that you did previously: literally, self-modeling. When I doubted I was a good speaker, I realized I was constantly comparing myself with other people. When I shifted, I discovered that I stopped making those comparisons and started focusing on the people who were in the seats. For me, believing in myself was more of looking at someone’s need and helping them to reach their goals, than a popularity contest of who’s better.

If you believe you can handle your life well across those three areas, it is likely you will produce the relevant results. If you find these areas important, you will find yourself obsessing about them so you can achieve positive results. Once that happens, working hard at life becomes a passion rather than work.

Learn NLP: outcome Clarification

Here’s a simple exercise to gain clarity about what you want to achieve.

1. What do you want specifically?
2. Where are you now?
3. How will you know when you have it? What will you see, hear and feel when you have it?
4. What will this outcome get for you or allow you to do?
5. Where, when and with whom will you be doing it (with)?
6. What do you have now to assist you in getting this outcome? Resources? Resourcefulness?
7. What additional resources do you need?
8. For what purpose do you want this?
9. What will happen (that you might gain/lose) if you have/get it?
10. What might happen if you don’t get it?
11. What might not happen if you get it?
12. What might not happen if you don’t get it?
13. What is your first step toward this goal?

NLP FAQ: Are NLP Practitioners Perfect?

Well, nobody is perfect. We’re all human, and practitioners of NLP do their best to strive for higher standards. Let’s just say they are in the process of excellence rather than perfection.

That being said, there are practitioners who learn NLP to solve their own problems. Unfortunately, sometimes, that’s not enough. To get the most of your own personal development, some measure of coaching or mentoring is required because we can only be aware so much by ourselves.

Personally, I recommend anyone who is in an NLP Practitioner training to learn to “walk the talk” as best they can. Practitioners who are living NLP day to day will get better in their ability to practice the NLP concepts, and are more likely to be able to help others.

NLP FAQ: Someone may be an expert but can't explain how they do it?

Yes. This is a level of unconscious competence. When you ask them how they do it, they say they just do it. That’s the reason why you need to be able to learn the modeling strategies in NLP because you will be asking a different set of questions that help to define your model’s processes better. You can facilitate an expert sharing ideas with you in a concrete and practical way.

NLP FAQ: When I Model, Am I Really Being Myself?

Some people think that modeling leads to the loss of identity. Actually, most people already model, but on autopilot. We are already modeling people whom we have an affinity to. We already unconsciously learn from people who are around us whether we realize or not.

We have already been modeling. Children are great at doing this and our unconscious models include our parents and teachers.

It’s pretty much like your memory. Why is it that sometimes you remember stuff you want to remember, but a number of times, you remember things you don’t want to remember?

Wouldn’t it be good for you to learn to model after people you want to be like? In other words, you must learn to seek out people who are exhibiting skills you want to pick up. Therefore, you need to be clear who your role models are.

Learn NLP: Becoming Happy

There are a lot of unhappy people in the world, aren’t there.

What happens in your head when you’re unhappy? You think something isn’t right, or someone else should do something for you but didn’t – you basically think of things that are not going your way.

You may then make a conclusion that you’re not happy.

Well, actually, happiness is not what happens to you. Happiness is an emotional state derived from neuro-chemical changes in your brain. It’s based on the mental representations you build (see ‘submodalities).  The level of happiness is not created as a result of having something, well, at least not necessarily anything tangible.

So, think of all the things that you want. Imagine as vividly as you can that you are already living that life. How does that feel? Good? You could then say you are “happy”.

But some people will say that when they wake up from that dream, they become sad again because they are in a reality where they know that their imaginings will never come true!

Isn’t that sad! I mean, not sad that their dream will not come true, but to have an absolute believe that where they are and where they imagine are two different things or places.

The fact is, if you imagine yourself feeling happy, you already go there. The main issue is not whether you feel happy or not, but rather the expectation that you have to feel happy all the time. And true enough, we are all creatures of habit. The less we think about being happy, the less happy we become. We are also emotional masochists sometimes. We ruminate in bad feelings and are really good at feeling bad for no good reason. Don’t you know someone who can get upset at literally almost anything?

From a neurological perspective, what does that mean? Aren’t you rehearsing the same feelings, thereby begetting the same feelings? Neurology has discovered that when the brain fires the same patterns, they literally solidify and become easier to access. In other words, over 90% of the world’s population regularly trains their brain to make them feel bad.

Do I never feel bad?

Well, of course not. I’d rather just focus on the good feelings that I want to build and leave out the rehearing of bad ones. It doesn’t mean I’ll ignore the bad feelings, because bad feelings can also be signals. I mean… if I feel lots of pain, then it’s a signal that I have to attend to. If I’m stepping on a bear trap, I can’t just ignore the pain. I attend to where the pain is, and then figure out how to remove the thing that’s causing the pain.

To ensure you keep triggering happy thoughts, you need to build for yourself a reminder system. What are your successes? Who cares about you? What can you do that others can’t do? What makes people feel you are special?

As you build a mental database of these items, imagine if everything in your life just reminds you of these things. Even the worst of problems help you to connect to the mental database of great things happening in your life.

Most of the time, human beings forget that there are good things that have happened in their lives. We forget that even the time we could tie our shoelaces was a triumph, let alone learning to walk or swim or make friends. We take for granted these achievements, then say that life is bad.

Instead, we need to remember. We need to learn to re-connect ourselves with moments in our lives that matter, even for a split second. Even if it no longer matters today (lollipops may have mattered at age 5 more than they do now).

Travel back in time (see ‘timeline’) and associate in the moments of your success and happiness. If you do that everytime you open your eyes, turn on the TV, argue with someone, open a door, write an email, start your car… anything can remind you of the other side of you. Simmer in those good feelings for a while before you start your day!

Learn NLP: Fear of public speaking

I decided to just write my thoughts about public speaking, especially for people who are preparing for it, and wonder why they have the heebie-jeebies.

Let’s first of all say that it’s normal to feel anxious about public speaking. But what’s more important is that it is an indication of how much confidence you’ve built in yourself.

I don’t want to swing over to being too overconfident, because I know when I’m overconfident I tend to screw up a presentation. If I’m to cautious, the same result occurs. I need a nice balance of confidence and anxiety to be able to create the best environment for me. Richard Bandler calls this situation a “propulsion system”.

Think of what you want, then build the feelings deeply inside of you and begin to enhance those feelings of confidence.

At the same time, a bit of anxiety (not overwhelming like a level 10 type of phobia, but more like a level 1 kind of questioning – did I cover everything) can help. Explore the anxiety again, and notice what level of that feeling you have. If it is too strong, reduce the intensity of the feeling with submodalities.

The most important is not the feeling, but the belief. Confidence comes from a sensation of belief that you can do exceptionally well. Look at your submodalities. How compelling and real are they to you? If they aren’t, just make it compelling by enhancing the submodalities you see them in.

The progression I made from an embarrassed child to confident speaker would have been faster if I had known this much earlier. Give it a shot and explore using the submodality checklist here.

Learn NLP: Problem States versus Solution States

I came across the concept of Problem State and Solution State when I was first exposed to Robert Dilts’ work. I later came to understand it as the way in which our emotional states drive our actions.

Emotions are the pre-requisites for our behaviors. Suppose you have an outcome of losing weight. In this case, you will need to shift the emotions you currently have that drive your eating behaviors.

If you are constantly in a state of compulsion, then you might find that you get overweight really fast. Conversely, weight loss becomes a bit easier if you have a compulsion for exercising and staying fit, while you reduce your desire to eat to an appropriate level.

Once you know what drives one behavior, you will know that you need to have a state change. But what state? This is the art of defining your solution state. If you know that fear keeps you from starting a business, but you want to do it, you know you need an emotion that is congruent with your goal. It could be many possible emotional states. Curiosity, determination, frutration are all emotional states that can drive you out of a comfort zone or from fear.

The important thing you need to bear in mind is that there’s no longer such as thing as a good or bad emotion – merely an appropriate or inappropriate one.

Recently, I worked with someone who had a lot of confusion in studying. So I got this person to tell me the outcome that was desired. As a student, this person wanted to score good grades. So, to test, we looked at emotions such as motivation. It didn’t t really work for her. I tested frustration from hearing her parents nagging at her to study. She seemed more affected by this – because she wanted to prove to her parents that she was better than they thought she was. Wow… frustration at people who disbelieved her capability really riled her into action.

Whenever you want to create change, always ask yourself what is an appropriate solution state that can drive you closer to your desired outcome.

To fully appreciate this, you need to study a little bit about submodalities and how you can control your emotional states.