NLP Training: State Control

The most important skill, in my opinion, is state control. Personally, the word ‘control’ isn’t really the best word to use, because people are often already over-controlling their emotions.

What I have discovered is that people who ignore their feelings often end up compartmentalizing these emotions in a way that prevent integration. One of the ways in which these emotions actually end up coming back up over and over is that there hasn’t been any resolution to it. History, it seems, has a knack of repeating itself.

Hasn’t there been a time where emotions tend to wreak havoc for you? What emotion was that? If you use that emotion to revisit its source, you will probably find a few things. Firstly, there may be memory fragments. You might not be able to see the memory chronologically. This often means that the memory has not been fully integrated and explored.

Secondly, if you revisit the emotion at its source, you will find that they are childhood sources. For instance, a ruined relationship may connect with a childhood memory of someone whom you were attached to, leaving your life. Many of these require exploration and investigation, especially since the goal of integration is an important one as you progress in life.

State control, therefore, is a process of looking at your states and getting yourself in a position where you can really see yourself. Many of the states that used to bother you will at least be within your awareness, and possibly, become integrated in a manner that helps you to reach clarity and happiness.

NLP Singapore – NLP Is NOT Therapy For Heaven's Sake

last book i've readCreative Commons License photo credit: Ranoush.

I just read with some angst that yet another journalist has lumped NLP into the field of psychotherapy again. This is incorrect. NLP has its roots in linguistic modeling. It just so happened that Bandler and Grinder were formalizing NLP methods by looking at some linguistic models who happened to be psychotherapists because it seemed like they were doing something extraordinary.

If they were modeling chefs, you can’t say that NLP is about cooking. NLP is a science of modeling, but it happened to be modeling processes of things that have already been working. Psychiatrists have said that NLP is not scientifically valid, but that’s silly. NLP is not about scientific validation – it’s about modeling.

In fact, the process of anchoring comes from psychology, known as conditioning. If conditioning works, anchoring works. There’s tons of literature on behavioral conditioning.

There’s plenty of literature on the fast phobia cure, which is based on the psychological treatment in desensitization therapy. If desensitization therapy works, then the fast phobia cure works because it’s been modeled.

NLP was never meant to be simply a model for psychotherapy. It is a linguistic approach to understand what’s going on in the mind. So, newbies, please don’t lump NLP together with psychological testing. If you want to see the effects of NLP, then show me a target, and I’ll model it for you. This is what good master practitioners of NLP do. We will model results and figure out strategies to reach outcomes appropriate to the model.

However, psychotherapists who learn NLP find out that they are able to deepen their understanding of psychotherapy. Marketers who learn NLP are able to deepen their understanding of marketing. NLP puts into the hands of the average person, a way to model the blueprints of excellence. You use NLP methods for modeling and achieving similar results as others.

One clear example is in the area of Public speaking. For the longest time, I just could not understand why I didn’t win speech competitions. Then after I applied my modeling strategies, I discovered that there were certain things I had to do in order to jump through the hoops. From 1997 to 2002, I cracked the competitive speaking code and emerged champion for Evaluation Speeches. Using the same models, I taught others to win other international speech competitions.

NLP is about linguistics – understanding the representations in your mind. It spans many possible theories, which are highly accepted in the professional field of linguistics. Some of them come from the now defunct Transformational Grammar. Newer linguistic models (Gricean Pragmatics, Speech-Act Theory, Systemic Functional Grammar and other models in Pragmatics) will point the way to the achievement of more effective representations of the way the mind works.

To find out more about this, join my mailing list and I’ll update you when I’m running a real NLP certification training.

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 To Find Oneself?

My wife recently posed me this question: how does someone actually “search their soul” and “find themselves”? My reaction to the question was that they have to know themselves better.

Which, of course, begged the question, how does one get to know oneself better? Here’s what I think.

  1. Find time for yourself, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. I know a number of people who are extremely uncomfortable with silence. You may finally get to hear what you really are thinking.
  2. Make a list of what’s important to you in your life. By doing this, it will assist you in knowing what your patterns of behavior are. Also, it is a good idea to do this regularly so you can ask yourself how you might have changed in the last few months. I’d recommend you make this list, file it, and re-do this every 6 months or after every major accomplishment or setback.
  3. Make a list of what makes you angry. By doing this, you get you know more intimately what affects you in the world, and definitely helps you understand (2) even more.
  4. Challenge yourself to neutralize reactions, in place of responses. If you find that you have a problem controlling your emotions, then set a target to put yourself in the most aggravating position possible, then test out new reactions. You might actually surprise yourself with your versatility!
  5. Find out if what you think makes people happy actually makes them happy. We are always thinking from our own perspectives, that we might even think that whatever it is that we like is what other people will like. Well, think again. I just found out recently, that some people don’t really like creative ideas, and in fact find it far-fetched and insulting to their “practical” intelligence. Woah! Never knew that.
  6. Understand what people value about you. This will help you understand your contribution to the world, thereby making you understand your merits for being in this world.

Hope this helps at least a bit. Oh, and if you find some lost soul out there, do remember to quote them this page.

Depression Help… From NLP (tadah…)

I’ll bet you encounter depression once in a while. Or, you might actually be someone who has been battling depression for some time. Maybe you have someone you’d like to help.

Next DimensionCreative Commons License photo credit: h.koppdelaney

Whatever the case, the perspective I’d put on this is that depression is normal. Yes, can be debilitating, but it’s normal. Millions of people go through it. Some people get out of it faster than others.

In recent days, especially after the announcement of major job losses in America, I’ve seen a surge in people seeking depression treatment or depression help. Somehow, many people are in a bad spot and just don’t know how to go about helping themselves.

To get out of a spot of depression, you’ll have to acknowledge that:

  • what you are going through is not your regular self;
  • it’s good to get out of the feeling of depression;
  • if you’re not doing something, you have too much time to think about things that are going wrong in your life.

Most of the time, depression comes about from inner thoughts and connections. You might not know where those thoughts came from. It’s often due to a response from observing (although unconsciously) the world around you, and then the propogation of lots and lots of thoughts associated with that.

If you have trouble expressing yourself, it might cause you to think “wait, let me sort out my thinking first, then speak”. But that might simply aggravate the sensation of depression, anxiety or anger. Or worse, all of them.

NLP has a model known as submodalities. By learning to shift our mental images, we get to change the experience we have in our head. For instance, making an image brighter or darker in our minds can help to reduce or increase the intensity of a feeling.

Test it out.

If you look at an image of yourself depressed, how about making that image brighter or darker? Which direction works for you? Then keep doing it!

Of course, it’s not easy for someone to do this who has never done it before (I know some children who do this very well, though). It’s about mental flexibility and the ability to see different perspectives. If you are able to shift your perspective, coming out with alternative, healing mental images is going to be easy.

This process, in NLP, is known as reframing. Putting on different lenses and seeing from someone else’s perspective can help you to put things in context.

If you need to process your thinking, though, drop me a message and I’ll see if I can help. 🙂

Buying experiences, not possessions, leads to greater happiness

Can money make us happy if we spend it on the right purchases? A new psychology study suggests that buying life experiences rather than material possessions leads to greater happiness for both the consumer and those around them. The findings will be presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual meeting on Feb. 7.

The study demonstrates that experiential purchases, such as a meal out or theater tickets, result in increased well-being because they satisfy higher order needs, specifically the need for social connectedness and vitality — a feeling of being alive.

“These findings support an extension of basic need theory, where purchases that increase psychological need satisfaction will produce the greatest well-being,” said Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University.

Participants in the study were asked to write reflections and answer questions about their recent purchases. Participants indicated that experiential purchases represented money better spent and greater happiness for both themselves and others. The results also indicate that experiences produce more happiness regardless of the amount spent or the income of the consumer.

Experiences also lead to longer-term satisfaction. “Purchased experiences provide memory capital,” Howell said. “We don’t tend to get bored of happy memories like we do with a material object.

“People still believe that more money will make them happy, even though 35 years of research has suggested the opposite,” Howell said. “Maybe this belief has held because money is making some people happy some of the time, at least when they spend it on life experiences.”

“The mediators of experiential purchases: Determining the impact of psychological need satisfaction” was conducted by Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University and SF State graduate Graham Hill.

"Psychological Healing" – Does It Work?

I’ve been a pretty big skeptic about so-called ‘healers’ and for the life of me, none of it would make sense. Recently, I investigated more stuff related to psychoneuroimmunologyBeware! Bomb girl and flame head (?), and realized that the process in PNI actually works the same way as the healing models in NLP.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Mark and Allegra

Is NLP about psychic healing? Heck no. But could it faciliate healing, psychic or otherwise? Heck yes!

When you think of healing, you may ignore the fact that health is a mind-body phenomenon. Whatever you can envisage in the mind, you are able to trigger in your body. A classic example would be this. Why is it that just thinking of something or someone can trigger off physiological responses in you? The memory of someone you are madly in love with can increase you heart rate, and trigger off neurochemical productions of serotonin and oxytocin.

If this is so powerful, why aren’t we manufacturing our own ‘good stuff’ in our brains?

As far as I know, the human system is based on the idea of homeostasis. If you have a relaxed environment, you will encounter a fairly balanced emotional state. If you are stressed out, you will find that there are moments where you encounter heightened states of arousal. This is due to the production of certain chemicals, particularly cortisol, in your body. If this stays in your body, though, your body will start to feel the strains from overexertion and excessive stress – burnout.

However, it is also interesting to note that the body has “memories” as well. Moments that were considered “traumatic” tend to lodge themselves in our body. The psychological ‘pain’ may not have been relieved based on the theory of the unconscious mind where difficult moments are ‘repressed‘ or suppressed to prevent the emotion from overcoming us. This still remains in our body. Sometimes, they manifest themselves in various events such as emotional outbursts and unexplainable physical symptoms of illness. Sometimes, the onset of cancers and heart disease are attributed to past ‘dis-ease’ emotionally.

PNI, psychic healing or whatever process of psychotherapeutic healing really is about release. Releasing old patterns of behavior and beliefs in a way that enable to journey forward to be lighter. In NLP, a technique known as parts integration (modelled from Gestalt Therapy) is commonly used to create psychological alignment within an individual. The idea that we are pulled apart by choices (a fragmented self) needs to move toward completion (the Gestalt – whole) leads one to stop ‘fighting’ internally and release a huge rush of energy and often ending with relief.

However, most people will also find that this kind of release requires attention to the surrounding environment. Did the healing process take into consideration other factors? Sometimes, because of systemic homeostasis, a problem acts as a benefit for a specific behavior (secondary gain). A person with long-term illness is cared for by family members who would have otherwise left the person. In a situation like this, a cure would lead to something detrimental — the leaving of family members — resulting in lonliness.

A good NLP practitioner will ensure that these changes and healings take care of the secondary gain issue and constantly help the individual in need develop a greater sense of resourcefulness over time.

Mental Health Expert – Singapore Develops More

I was recently privileged to deliver a presentation at the Institute Of Mental Health, Singapore, on the topic of NLP and mental health. It was a pretty wild presentation, and I actually had it recorded. My pre-symposium training was met with a lot of enthusiasm, and I’m hoping to continue to teach more people there. Most of the psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses have learnt some basic NLP skills, but NLP and mental health training is very lacking in this part of the world, largely because most people have thought of NLP only as a commercial skill rather than a modeling tool.

I’m fortunate to have met Dr. Alex Su and Dr. Joseph Leong from the IMH who are supportive in exploring other potential wellness related concepts with NLP rather than just the “illness and disease” focus that psychiatry has always been associated with. One core element was about “resilience”. I think that’s a very important thing that NLP can contribute, knowing that using NLP can help to toughen minds.

Stuart Tan

I personally feel that there is a lot more room to investigate NLP. One area is through the use of neurological research tools that are currently available (I’m actually wondering out aloud if the Institute of Mental Health might actually have research facilities that I might be able to use!), as well as investigation in the area of NLP specific to Asian patients (after all NLP is pretty skewed to English).

Overall, mental health in general is something that I think we all should be concerned about. It’s as important (if not more important in this day and age) than physical health. Among some of the top statistics for mental “disorders” include depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Well, I’ll explore more of these over time.

nlp mental health

Is there anything you’d like to know about NLP and mental health? Fill in comments below!