NLP Techniques For Inducing Flow

To set an impossible goal-of-your-dreams is easy. Taking the next step should actually be easier. But most people let procrastination kill the step after that.

Instead of doing that, learn to build momentum. Momentum comes in being in the Flow, a concept pioneered by positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (wow I managed to spell that right first time around).

Flow is a state of completely focused motivation. Some people have problems accessing this very powerful state. In experimenting with strategies to induce states of flow, I have found that a few things work very well.

#1 – Finding out what kinds of things let time seem to “fly past”. Often, it is a series of behavior that is outcome oriented and driven by some sets of skills that you enjoy using.

Usually, skilled individuals who do not set goals effectively tend to “fall” into flow by accident.

#2 – The ability to go “internal”.
Most of the time, we spend our waking hours looking at things around us, often being lost to the environment. The ability to go “internal” allows us to be caught up with the flow of our inner thoughts.

Usually, people don’t have a good balance of “internal” time, and hence end up looking stoned all day long. Most effective flow states are an internal series of high speed images, focused on a very narrow set of themes. That is, if the images contain many different theme, you will probably end up being distracted, even if you might find that time flies past.

#3 – “Bending” time.
Sometimes, people accidentally fall into a state where time seems to slow down for split second. Often, this is when you are immersed in your senses. You have a combination of internal and external activity, merged to achieve a target.

#4 – A challenging goal that you strive toward.
In my experience, challenging goals (with a few caveats) often lead to a state of flow. However, it is also my experience that many people don’t set the goals appropriately. It is important for goals to be challenging but yet “strivable”, out of reach but only just slightly. This approach typically works well with those who already have a relatively high confidence level, compared with those who have no confidence.

I’d recommend using state management strategies as well as time distortion induction patterns to create Flow states, then anchor the Flow states in order to make it effectively accessible.

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: Clarifying Why You Want To Learn NLP

I’ve been involved in learning NLP since 1995, and it has been an interesting way to my own personal growth, as I believe it will be yours.┬áNLP has been associated a great deal with people like Darren Brown in recent years. Recently, on my YouTube page, a viewer asked me if what Darren Brown does is real.

Well, first of all, I’m not Darren Brown, so I can’t tell you. ­čśÇ┬áSecondly, I’m sure Darren Brown does what he does simply to impress an audience. I’m very skeptical he has the ability to create change in pathological clients (which is the domain of clinical psychology) nor will he be able to model organizations effectively (which is the domain of organizational psychology). But I’m very sure he does well for himself as a street magician.

Now… if you are going to ask me to certify you as an NLP Practitioner, please don’t make it be because you want to be like Darren Brown! NLP is not a magic skill, it is a linguistic skill. As with almost all things linguistic, you get a chance to influence people by the very nature of your communication. This is because, communication causes people’s perceptions to change. NLP has modeled ways to shift perceptions (such as the therapeutic process of reframing a person’s beliefs, for instance), but NLP itself is NOT a tool for influence.

NLP is a tool for studying knowledge. If you want to be a master of enhancing your human capital, NLP is the tool to use. It helps to peel away the layers of an expert’s hidden knowledge. In organizational science, it is a common phenomenon for experts to have a problem really expressing what they are doing. An NLP expert, however, will better be able to extract the information from a talented member in order to understand the hidden processes that an expert goes through. This is the art and science of modeling.

I’ve always been amused by some Chinese martial arts movies. It’s bizarre that the student always gets into trouble, is saved by the master who then is mortally wounded, and then just before he dies, transfers all his “internal energy” to his student who is now filled with power, but lacks precise control over his capabilities.

To a great extent, this pretty much sums up what modeling is. You can model the skill, but you also have to model the process, structure and context in order to ensure that your model works well for you. Without practice, you can model a skill but find that it simply goes to waste. Research shows that skills that are not practiced decay as much as 92% within just one year (Arthur, Bennett, Stanuch, & McNelly, 1998).

Here are some sources of modeling literature you can enjoy reading about. Do remember that reading does not mean that you become an expert in it. It merely means that you get to know about something. To transfer it to real life, you need to maximize your practice time.

Modeling With NLP by Robert Dilts.

This book is great in so far as it shows you Robert’s approach to modeling. It’s very ‘clunky’ in the sense that the models he has developed are tabular, boxy and sometimes unappealing to the average reader. To the modeling enthusiast, the book holds a lot of hidden gems for the taking. This is currently the only known modelling source book, and unfortunately, may cause people to think it is the only approach to modeling.

Once you have studied some modeling, you should look at the models that were built as the cornerstones of NLP. One of them is The Structure Of Magic Volume 1, which was rumored to be Bandler’s doctoral thesis. This volume talks a great deal about the structure of language and how we have hidden information under the surface layer. Although it is based on the outmoded model of transformational linguistics, it serves the purpose of creating a model for extracting information from someone. Personally, I think this work deserves a lot more than it is credited for due to its application to many areas of talent development.

Magic In Action – Richard Bandler

After learning the Meta Model in The Structure Of Magic, Vol 1, you will hear things a little differently. In this book, Bandler does therapy. You watch, but hopefully you can figure out what he is really doing in a masterful way. Each interaction with a client is a modeling process, thereby enabling him to be a master therapist by understanding the client’s model of the world, his rules and his approach to living life as is. And of course, once you have this knowledge, you can experiment with shifts in cognitions, utilizing submodalities.

Patterns Of The Hypnotic Techniques Of Milton H. Erickson, Skills For The Future, Strategies Of Genius

These books are basically examples of modeling as applied to geniuses. The first work (Patterns for short) is often defined as the only thing related to NLP. For this reason, most people only think of NLP as persuasion and influence or that NLP is covert hypnosis. In this particular case, hypnosis is the area of modeling as perceived by Bandler and Grinder. The other two works are the study of creativity and the study of selected geniuses by Robert Dilts. By reading these, you understand how the entire process of modeling can be better founded.

Back to Linguistics

Unfortunately, in many cases, when psychologists explore the somewhat misleading claims of the commercial NLP practitioner, they are barking up the wrong tree. Since NLP is not an academic rigor, it fails to support itself from the standpoint of academic literature. However, the fact is many of the elements of NLP are actually supported by research literature not because experiments were done on NLP, but the phenomena that NLP modeled after are in and of themselves predicated on workable science, including the following:-

  • Similarity studies. In sociology and social psychology, imitation, rapport building and attraction are part of the basis of NLP’s rapport building process
  • Behavioral conditioning. In behavioral psychology, reinforcement theory shows at least some support for NLP’s approach to anchoring.
  • EMDR research in cognitions. The now world-famous phenomenon of EMDR for post traumatic stress disorder has been researched widely in the last decade and two of the protocols they use called “Subjective Units Of Disturbance” and “Validity of Cognition” are very similar to NLP’s approach to submodalities. EMDR kicked off in the 1990s. NLP started in 1970s. To read more about this, get access to Francine Shapiro’s main book on EMDR and Carol Forgash’s Healing The Heart Of Trauma.
  • Systematic Desensitization. NLP’s approach to phobia cures basically took an age-old concept of behavioral desensitization and exposure therapy, and turned it into a cognitive model for treatment.
  • Linguistics. NLP is founded on two linguistic models, the Meta Model and the Milton Model. However, the research is wide open to show power-distance relationships through a process of discourse analysis (see Joan Cutting’s book, Pragmatics and Discourse, 2002), which lends support for the way some people are more influential than others.┬áNLP modeling is similar to the process of cognitive task analysis in the organizational psychology literature (see Kraiger, 2002 and Shalin, Geddes, Bertrim, Szczepkowski, and DuBois, 1999). This approach to modeling is founded upon on the long-time Whorfian hypnothesis of linguistic relativity┬áand another set of theories in General Semantics┬á.
  • Unconscious Processing. This is a black box. Bandler believes that we learn unconsciously (do we not?) and has put into place the concept of nested loops (taken from computing science). However, this concept is so far ahead of its time, it’s really hard to determine through science itself. Freud’s concept of the unconscious has been largely accepted, and a lot of research in hypnosis has shown to a great extent the fact that unconscious processing of linguistic commands does appear to be effective in many cases (see the hypnosis body of knowledge, particularly Stephen Lankton, Michael Yapko, Ernest Rossi; you may also find a significant body of knowledge from the Milton Erickson Foundation, one of the national bodies in the USA for certification as a hypnotherapist).


Having studied linguistics and psychology for the last 16 years of my life, I think I have a fairly keen grasp on some of the ideas that supports NLP.┬áNot surprisingly, therefore, many NLP “trainers” or even practitioners of NLP will never be able to explain all this themselves.

Which is one of the reasons why I prefer to be highly selective in my apprenticeship of new NLP practitioners and master practitioners. Unlike the “paper” mills that exist today, I feel that competence is the goal, not certification. After all, we know that certification does not amount to transfer of learning.

Bandler is a thinker and a philosopher. His approach to creativity is unbridled and really uninterested in the research to justify the workings of NLP. The fact is his models of hypnosis had enabled many people to learn hypnosis far more easily than before, showing that modeling is actually a powerful cognitive skill. His modeling of psychotherapeutic techniques has also enabled individuals who have no foundation of clinical psychology or organizational psychology to do magic… some of the time. Granted, there are issues pertaining to the ethics of practice as well as being effective as a real therapist where a proper body of knowledge is required. There’s currently no quality control measure that helps consumers to understand NLP and their trainers well, which itself is one of the problems with NLP. With no strong competency structure, NLP continues to have more of a mysterious backstage reputation than what it actually deserves.

If you are a business owner, a senior manager, a parent, a teacher, a trainer, a leader… or anyone who has to work with people and needs to use skills to maximize your knowledge about others while enhancing your own capabilities to reach expert levels of learning, you probably want to learn NLP.

If you’re out to use NLP to impress others, to collect another certificate, to take a shortcut to a powerful skill instead of being meticulous in your studies, profiting by declaring yourself an NLP trainer without being competent in your own trianing, I’d advise that you step aside.

NLP Practitioner: Basic Modeling

In being an NLP Practitioner, basic modeling questions are required. You may default to the standard Meta Model. However, the process is important to recognize as well.

  1. Always break down the topic area into its various parts. A question like “what are important components of this skill” would be very helpful.
  2. Always target nominalizations. Nominalizations carry a high level of deletion and the deep structure of such words can reveal important processes.
  3. Convert all processes (especially verb forms) into a tangible TOTE.
  4. Sequencing is essential. Processes must be clarified for the purpose of structure and sequence.
  5. Play the sequence in your mind. To ensure transfer, the best way is to demonstrate it to your model.


You want to model public speaking. Great! Now, find a model.

After you’ve found the model, you have to go and identify all the parts of public speaking. These may include verifying the different types of public speaking.

So, if the model tells you it includes the following:

  • preparation
  • rehearsal
  • story-telling
  • humor

Notice all these are nominalizations. Once you find out the processes, you will be better able to explore the “unseen” elements.

Let’s suppose you want to focus on “preparation”. Preparation may include other sub-components. Chunk down on that and you might find the following:

  • Identifying an outcome
  • Setting up the introduction
  • Crafting the conclusion
  • Making a list of possible points to make
  • transitions between one point to the other

Notice that this now enables you to dive even deeper into the model’s inner strategy. Now you can focus on the unspecified verbs and the other nominalizations that the model has offered.

For more information about modeling, you can register for notification when I decide to conduct an NLP Practitioner training.

How To Deal With A Quick Tempered Partner

NLP is not a therapeutic process, and isn’t a psychological approach. It is a way of enhancing your resourcefulness and enjoying life. If someone is interested to discover how NLP is used, they can find so in many, many ways.

One such way is personal development. I’ve found NLP to be a great skill in developing better relationships by understanding how people communicate, for example.

In this case, how can you deal with someone who is quick tempered? The simple way to find out is to know that person well. Identify the triggers to that behavior. Very often, quick temper is triggered off by a variety of factors. Your job, if using NLP, is to look for resourceful emotions to completely counteract those (we call that collapsing anchors).

  1. Find the triggering event. It could be a person’s voice, a particular situation or a particular sound, maybe even a combination of all of these.
  2. Reframe these events before they happen. This is important – you don’t want to wait until it occurs then do “NLP stuff” because you’re training the brain. And the brain does need time to react and adapt!
  3. Associate these triggering events to different emotions. Once you have completed step 2, it would be easy to associate triggers to a different emotional state.

Here’s a word of caution, though. If you want to handle someone quick tempered, you may also want to consider if you are the trigger sometimes. Are your listening skills up to par? do you know what your partner needs? If you are able to listen and put your own self out of the way sometimes, it can help! To help you build those skills, you can approach a relationship coach who can then guide you a long.

NLP Modeling: Selection Of Models

There is a lot of question in terms of who is the best model to use. To be able to select a single model of excellence is great. Many top NLP developers are able to model people well. However, the question goes back to how NLP modeling processes are themselves “model-able”.

James, I think your cover's blown!
Creative Commons License photo credit: laverrue

The first thing to do is to ask if the selection of models is appropriate. In my experience, it is the selection and categorization of models that enriches the map of modeling. An world-class expert will show you certain things that the average expert will not be able to show you. Similarly, natural experts, trained experts and even those who are always doing what experts consider to be “mistakes” add to the modeling map.

Categories I modeled in the area of public speaking:

  • Championship public speakers
  • Humorous public speakers
  • Inspirational public speakers
  • Terrible public speakers

Sub-categories of public speaking

  • Intonation
  • humorous punchlines and failures
  • Structure of delivery
  • Body language

Modeling is a fascinating tool that has enabled expert NLP developers worldwide, and is the crux of my training program focusing utilizing NLP in the context of enhancing the skills of life coaches.

For more information, register for the World Of NLP mailing list.

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!

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. ­čÖé

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.

Laid Off? Then Lay Out Your Plans

It’s common for people during a recession to end up feeling hopeless and fearful of the uncertain future. In a situation like this, all you really need to do is to begin this simple process of evaluation and goal setting.

  1. Were you fired because you were overpaid? If so, it might be because you’ve not been able to add value to the organization relative to what you were being paid. It may also mean you have reached an income scale that doesn’t make sense for an organization to keep you. You might need to start out on your own, if you dare.
  2. What kinds of useful skills do you have? Make a list of the skills you have developed. Would anyone hire you to use your skills? Can you confidently say you have a valuable set of skills that the market will value? If not, you really have to start over by developing a new set of skills. NLP can help you develop those skills faster through the process of modeling.
  3. How are your life skills relative to your work skills? If you have great work skills but have never developed your life skills, it’s even more imperative for you to make plans for this.

Now, start building your plan.

  1. Create a vision for your future. What is your intended lifestyle? How do you want to live your life? Put yourself there.
  2. What resources do you need? Resources such as your skills, the appropriate emotional state, the skills that prevent your weaknesses from overwhelming you, etc.
  3. When are you going to develop or model those resources? You need to set a time frame for you to build those resources. Write these down and visualize yourself after these have been developed. How different will your behaviors be? How different your results?
  4. Who are your role models? Of course if you are going to model these skills, assuming you already have the modeling technology at your fingertips, you need to know who you are going to learn from! You will need to be able to observe them and learn from them, engage them in conversations. They may have to be formal coaching relationships to be effective in many instances (i.e. get ready to pay your way to develop the skills). Or else, you could develop accelerated learning skills and read widely to developed the expertise.