NLP Techniques: Reframing

A reframe is a way to see things differently. It is about allowing the possibility of a new perspective. Sometimes, some people can view something that is generally positive in a negative way. This tends to be disempowering. Instead, we want to view something generally unpleasant or negative in a positive way. This does not remove the problem, but allows us to feel resourceful.

  • I admit I am lazy, that’s why I keep failing.
    • You’re not lazy, you’re just trying to protect yourself from embarrassment.
    • You may think you are failing – you are actually learning.
    • You’re honest to the point of willing to expose your weknesses
    • You are only saying this because you are frustrated.
    • I know many people who failed to, who eventually became very successful.


  • I scored only 80%, it means I’m not good enough.
    • You’re not bad. You simply have high expectations that you will reach with the right strategy.
    • You like to achieve perfection.
    • I know people who are at 100% who are still not good enough.
    • Damaging your sense of self-worth isn’t worth the extra 20%.
    • It’s not your result that isn’t good enough – it’s your self-esteem that isn’t good enough.


  • The subject I study is boring.
    • E.g. Of course it is boring, because you haven’t seen anything challenging about it yet.
    • It’s the mindset you carry with it that makes it boring.
    • It’s not about the boredom, it’s about the reason why you are studying in the first place.
    • You’re only saying that because you feel you can’t do well in this subject.
    • Well, at least it’s predictable.


  • I hate my teachers – they always force me to do things I don’t like.
    • E.g. Aren’t you surprised they believe in you enough to make you do these things?
    • I hated my teachers – they let me do anything I wanted and look where I am now.
    • It’s good to know you desire freedom, and true freedom does come with a price.
    • If you cared about your own children, would you freely let them do things that would endanger them?


  • Life is not worth living because I have a disability.
    • You don’t have  disability, you have a disabling thinking pattern.
    • If you think this way all the time, no wonder life isn’t worth living.
    • Many people who have disabilities love life more than those who don’t.
    • A worthwhile life is created from a vision, not from a lack of disability

NLP: Using Nested Loops

One of the most impressive things in NLP is the ability to transfer knowledge through the use of nested loops. The process is simple – you need three stories that you nest between them (as depicted in the diagram) in order to transmit information throughout the presentation.

There are several elements. The first thing is the ability to (1) segway, (2) stack on anchors, (3) close loops.


Segways. A segway is a “break” in the storyline. An effective segway usually creates what we call “premature closure”. It means that the story appears to be over, but actually isn’t. This is the way through to the next story.

Stack on anchors.

In a typical NLP Practitioner training, it is important to learn basic anchoring. Stacking anchors is the the way in which you can intensify emotions through the story. In the use of nested loops, anchoring is a process within the stories. Each story carries a peak state of experience that either stacks or chains.

Close Loops

The process of closing loops is simple – you continue with the previous story. This will only work if the story that you have told is emotionally impactful enough.


The only way to continue to be good in nested loops is to practice it in multiple settings. As far as  can see, the most practical way to do this is to attend a good Master Practitioner training program, once you have the proper foundations settled. Remember, not all NLP training programs are equal because of the capabilities of the trainer!

Learn NLP Techniques: Utilizing The Swish Pattern

I recently reviewed several practitioners’ use of the Swish Pattern and realized that many have gotten their concepts wrong.

Problem Illustration #1: I want to quit smoking… how do I use the Swish Pattern? 

In this case, it is possible to do one of the following.

(1) Make a list of all the Trigger Images that link to smoking and handle them one by one, Swishing to alternative behaviors. This is sometimes viewed as too tedious by most practitioners to do, but I would recommend it highly because it creates fairly stable new behaviors if done properly.

(2) Leverage off Values in order to collapse the need for smoking. This is the sensational one where people watch videos of people crying and being emotional. Be careful – this can work, but often needs some clinical judgment. Don’t just do it because you see a sensational approach on YouTube, then blast your way to do the same thing. People are different, and techniques don’t work exactly the same way all the time for the different people.


Problem Illustration #2: I hate my job, and I want to use the Swish Pattern to be happy with my work. Why doesn’t it work?

Erm… maybe because you already dislike your work. The trouble here is that the Swish pattern is for creating a new habit through a new state. The problem is not at the level of your habits, if you hate your work. The problem is your beliefs. In this case, you may need to do one of a few things. (1) Swish the belief instead of the habit. In other words, build an amplified belief that what you do it worthwhile, or that what you do is meaningful. To do this, you need to understand how to utilize mapping across techniques to shift your old belief into an absolute belief. If I get a chance to demonstrate this on video, I will (soon). (2) Use a Logical Level Alignment process to find congruence in what you presently are doing.

I hope this will continue to help more practitioners find their grounding. Please note that it is important to understand the key principles of NLP so that you can become a better practitioner, not just to learn something in an exam format only. If you are an NLP Practitioner who has found that your technique don’t seem to work, I can explain why. It’s likely you are applying it incorrectly, and may need input as to how to improve your abilities.

Contact me if you have issues. If you are NOT certified by the Society Of NLP, you SHOULD BE! Contact me for a conversion program so you can learn NLP techniques in a clear practice environment.

NLP Phobia Cure: Many alternatives don't work

Just thought I’d share this.

Someone on Facebook asked me if exposure to the thing they are phobic about will remove their fear. I think this all comes about as a result of someone’s stupid idea that you have to “face your fear”.

Sure, you face your fear when you have the relevant amount of resources to help you.


Because your brain is thinking the same way! It will always interpret that signal (snake, heights, worms, spiders, flying, stage presentations) as a fear and trigger of emotions. Exposing without any change to the brain will not accomplish much.

(Well. Maybe it would increase fear and anxiety even further!)

You really need to consider from the point of the brain. Brain says: wow this is something that terrifies me. It pushes a few buttons.

It means the trigger is not being reinterpreted. You need to get the brain to a point where it says: Hmm is this something that is dangerous for me?

I think it was Einstein who said that insanity is defined as doing something the same way and expecting a different result. Change your strategy. Phobias can be eliminated effectively within a single session for simple or single-event trigger phobias. Conversely, even for an intense event (PTSD or exposure to a traumatic situation like war, dead bodies, artillery shelling, family abuse, etc) you can still handle it pretty well within a few sessions, depending on the nature of the client’s pathology.

NLP Techniques: Creating confidence

Home Renovation CupcakesCreative Commons License photo credit: clevercupcakes

Objective: to create a higher level of resourcefulness and confidence

Step 1: Stand Up. Close your eyes and think of a time when you experienced confidence.

Step 2: Scale up the intensity of your feeling from 1 (not very intense) to 10 (very intense). Increase the intensity of the colors, brightness and size of the mental image.

Step 3: Imagine yourself transferring the feeling into an empty spot in front of you, and notice this empty spot taking on the energy patterns of your confident state.

Step 4: Break state.

Step 5: Now, think of a problem that you have that you would like to have more confidence in, anchor this problem using a kinesthetic anchor.

Step 6: While holding the kinesthetic anchor, step into this Circle of Confidence and notice the difference. Allow the intensity of the feeling of confidence to flow back into you while you face your problematic situation.

Usually by this time, the feeling of confidence would be more powerful and allow you to be more empowered in the face of problems.

In testing this, of course, the effectiveness of NLP methods will vary from person to person. If the technique doesn’t work, it’s likely that it’s due to the fact that you are a unique individual who needs unique solutions. To find out how you can get customized coaching for confidence, click here.

Learn NLP: Underestimating NLP techniques

I was just doing a little bit of reflection on the use of NLP skills. Many people who complete an NLP Practitioner certification don’t use the skills beyond their current presentation. A number of them also stop using NLP. I thought about it and I think I know why.

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

Many NLP practitioners only do what they are shown. They don’t have the capacity to go beyond that, because there’s little continuous training for them. For instance, submodalities is deemed as too technical to use. Also, the Meta Model is taught in, often, a very structured way that prevents learning by exploration. And a lot of people still think the Meta Model is just about asking questions, but seldom know what is the purpose behind it. That’s a little sad because I can say that a lot of my learning and achievement comes from knowing the Meta Model inside out.

The Meta Model is an approach that allows for greater clarity and precision in communication. Without the ability to be precise in our communication, there is a great tendency to assume that we know what someone else is thinking. Virginia Satir and Fritz Perls were powerful users of questions such that it created incisive insight for their clients. Likewise, the Meta Model can help you to become more precise and allow you to fully understand another person’s model of the world. This basically means that I can learn what’s going on in a person’s head by asking those questions to such detail that I can replicate that experience myself.

That’s “modelling”!

Purpose of Meta Model

The Meta Model comprises several challenges, which come in the form of questions. Refer to the chart below for all the possible questions.
There are two approaches to Meta Modelling. You could either use the Meta Model to examine and explore a problem state, or to use it to explore a resource state.
Steps in Problem Meta Modelling
  1. Information gathering
  2. Identifying limits of the client’s world
  3. Exploring and expanding the quality of meanings in life
In problem Meta Modelling, we expand the awareness of the problem state to reduce fixation on the problem. Usually, we want to move a person from the Problem State to the Desired State.

The Meta Model comprises several challenge questions, which come in the form of a set of questions that you will find in a typical NLP practitioner certification training.

Generally, Meta Modelling is highly misunderstood. Remember that the Meta Model is not meant to persuade. Rather, it is meant to explore. Many practitioners, upon learning the Meta Model, unintentionally, end up interrogating their clients.

Problem Meta Modeling – you want clarity of the problem to make a decision or to come up with an intervention.

  1. Information gathering
  2. Identifying limits of the client’s world
  3. Exploring and expanding the quality of meanings and choices in life

Resource Meta Modeling – you want to assume people already have the resources to achieve what they need to achieve, so that they can find evidence of resourcefulness and move forward on any problem they encounter.

  1. Information gathering
  2. Identifying limits of the client’s world
  3. Matching the external meaning/map (what you need) to the inner meaning/map (what you have)

Meta Modeling Resourceful States

Find someone who has a resourceful state and model that state by asking questions within these broader categories:-

  1. How does this (emotion/state)process work?
  2. What internal structure governs the way this experience works?
  3. What does a person represent first, then second, then third, etc? What is the sequence of thinking?
  4. What other qualities and factors play a crucial role in the formula of this piece of human excellence?
So you can see that there’s a very deep divide between an expert knowledge of Meta Modeling versus an amateur one. I’ll post a little more about this in subsequent posts. Just know that asking questions is an art form, and some people know how to do it better than others! Let’s learn how to ask these questions with elegance and move clients to the desired result they need.

NLP Training: Anchoring

Okay! Let’s get started on a simple lesson on anchoring.

Anchoring basically refers to the process by which we get conditioned to certain behaviors, and there are several kinds of anchors. Any external stimulus could be an anchor, and the key characteristic about an anchor is that when you re-present the anchor, it triggers of the emotional state that was associated with it.

espejoCreative Commons License photo credit: A6U571N

The key to anchoring is emotional intensity. Well, think of a moment when you were very excited. Using this emotion, it’s likely you can think of a situation that had that state of excitement. In your mind, you’ve successfully made a link between the state and the event. Now the question is, does it work the other way around? Think of that situation, and realize that it reconnects you with emotions of excitement.

These are basically conditioned responses. However, you can enhance its effects quite easily. All you need to do is to choose something that you’d like to use (something you can see, hear or touch) that you wish to link to the emotional state you desire.  If it is something you see, it’s known as a visual anchor and could be a photograph or even an object. If it’s something you hear, it could be a sound, a phrase you say to yourself in your head or even a piece of music. If it’s something you touch or can feel, then it could be  a unique feeling of touch that you apply to your arm, or grasping an object.  So…

Step 1: Recall with deep intensity your emotional state.

Step 2: Apply the anchor.

Step 3: Clear your mind.

Step 4: Test the anchor.

You’ve successfully created an anchor!

How did this happen in the first place? Well, simply because you were looking, hearing or feeling your anchor at the peak of  an intense emotional state. It’s a simple triggered response and all you need to do is to re-introduce the trigger to get back the emotion.


If you need to be charged up, there are certain processes that will allow you to access states of motivation and drive. You could apply this is almost any area in your life.

Generally, I’d advise that anchors are created in order to be more resourceful generally. It’s impossible to create a positive anchor when there is an adverse problem. Instead, preempt this problem and develop resources within yourself so that when such a problem does occur, that you have the inner emotional resources to pull you through

NLP Glossary – Submodalities (detailed)

Submodalities are like mind codes. The way it is explained is that it is a “sub” element of a modality, comprising visual, auditory and kinesthetic modalities of perception.Past
Creative Commons License photo credit: h.koppdelaney

What do I use submodalities for?

Generally, submodalities are used to change the way we represent or perceive information in the mind. While this can be quite heavy to understand, think of it as a new software that you want to install into a computer.

Your mind carries a “template” of thought. This “template” is filled with your experiences based on certain codes in your mental template. This template of codes can be found in this submodality checklist.

What parts of experience are coded by submodalities?

Situations represent the context of your experience. Submodalities are the structure of our experience. Submodality Techniques are the process you use to change your experience.

I’ll give a variety of examples to illustrate this.

Do you realize that there are movies that give you a different feeling, simply based on the lighting they use in the movie? For instance, a dark movie that brings out more mystery would be “Batman: The Dark Knight”. notice the visual effects bring out a much darker, ominous feeling.

However, looking at a much more lively and vibrant scene in a show like “Sex In The City”, you’ll discover the colors are much different. The mood and rhythm of the entire movie is different, bringing out a different flavor in the movie.

How do I use submodalities?

Since we know that submodalities are like the elements that movie directors use in order to shift the way we experience the movie, then it is clear that by creating these changes in our mind, we literally become our own movie directors.

Using The Submodalities Checklist I have on this site, you can easily compare and contrast the effect within the submodalities in your mind. So I’m warning you ahead of time, until you have received proper NLP Practitioner training, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to fully grasp the way submodalities can work, even though I’m giving a detailed description here. You’ll need supervised practice most of the time in order to gain the maximum benefit out of using the submodalities.

Submodality Comparisons

First of all, submodalities are a way to understand the way we think, and how we construct our reality. For instance, taking two different emotional states, you can discover their differences through contrastive analysis.

Contrastive analysis is the process in linguistics to compare sentences and to identify the difference it makes to our mental representations.

  • Statement #1: Happy young boys play enthusiastically.
  • Statement #2: Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

Notice both statements follow the exact same sequence grammatically, but one makes sense and the other does not, thereby enabling a linguist to determine the effect of syntax (structure of the sentence) versus the semantics (meaning).

In the case of linguistics, we use contrastive analysis with sentences. In submodalities, however, you use situations and contexts. Think of the time you are working at your office and compare the time when you were stressed and the time you were energized. You will be able to detect the difference between two experiences quite easily, and therefore know how they were coded.

“So what?”

By understanding the way they are coded, you can:

  • change the way you perceive and therefore experience a context.
  • shift a negative experience in that context and adjust it so that it appears more positive.
  • shift a positive experience in that context and adjust it to become even more positive and powerful.
  • utilize processes that make change more habitual and natural

Example: Submodality shifts

I had a client once who had a build up of panic just prior to doing a presentation. In his mind, the audience was bright, loud and big. All I did was to get him to adjust the audience in his mind so that they were of the appropriate size and volume that made him comfortable to speak to them. He reported that he could not change the size of the audience, but said he could make himself turn into a giant in his mind so that the audience was in awe of him. This shifted his emotional state when speaking on a stage.

Example: Submodality utilization

A client once asked me how to be more motivated. So I asked what kind of pictures and sounds she made when she feels motivated. Generally, it seemed that she made brighter and closer pictures (compared with less motivated ones) and said “yeah!” in her mind whenever she was motivated.

The client has just accessed a resource state, which I can now utilize.

In this case, I got her to think of the context in which she was not motivated, or in a place where she had to be more motivated. She said it was her work. As a result, all she had to do was to perceive the workplace as brighter and closer in her mind, and as she was about to get things done, say to herself “yeah!”. This created a very obvious change in her physiological state: face flushing, smiling, and posture shifted to become more upright.

Example: Submodality Process

Another client had a phobia of snakes. Taking the image of a snake, she freaks out and goes into a phobic state, tearing and screaming. After the image is taken from her, she regained her composure. We first shifted the representation of snakes by thinking of a way to represent the data in a more comfortable way. She changed the snake to feel smooth to the touch (instead of slimy) and her favorite color. We even got her to imagine that the snake was like a baby she could cuddle. We brought in a real snake and she embraced it like a baby with little effort, because now the perception of snakes (domesticated pythons) was much different than before.


There are many other ways to utilize submodalities, and even in this post, I’ve barely scratched the surface. To be able to become masterful at submodalities, the processes and strategies you learn to shift a person’s emotional state must be learnt. In NLP, many people have invented dozens of useful and powerful strategies that can be applied in different situations. I’d advise you to learn how to model.

NLP techniques: Propulsion Systems

A propulsion system is a subsystem that enables the larger system to reach where it needs to go. A rocket, for instance, is a combination of many subsystems that have one mission: to propel itself toward a specific destination. I’ve talked about that in my post about success and prosperity as well as made mention of propulsion systems in my other post about NLP and the Fear of Public Speaking.

Bisecting the Moonrise
Creative Commons License photo credit: jurvetson

In humans, propulsion systems exist in a few areas of our mental model including our beliefs, our emotions and our values. However, unlike mechanical propulsion systems, we don’t always know our subsystems very well because we spend lots of time studying things and not ourselves.

In any case, this means that we may install or model or learn counter productive subsystems. For instance, a person may be driven by success and the sense of achievement, but held back by a conflicting fear of rejection. This therefore prevents people from reaching the goals that they initially set for themselves. Likewise, a highly driven person would be able to align their values and capitalize on them. Someone who values achievement (towards value) and at the same time is fearful of being ridiculed for having little achievement (away-from value) will most likely have their values system aligned clearly toward what they want to achieve.

Some people need to discover more about their own values system in order to discover what they are naturally driven toward, and I’ve helped a number of people gain greater clarity in their life by simply coaching them through difficult moments, and helping them realize what place those difficult moments have in their lives.

There’s no such thing as a good or bad experience, only one that helps us understand ourselves and our direction in life better.

NLP Techniques: Negative Thinking Elimination Technique

Do you talk to yourself?

contemplandoCreative Commons License photo credit: A6U571N

Self-talk is a habitual process we all go through. Sometimes, we talk to ourselves nicely, sometimes we don’t. I’ll be willing to bet that everyone experiences some form of negative self-talk some of the time.

If this gets out of hand, you might actually experience lower levels of productivity and energy, and possibly depression.

So in order to kick start a new habit, you need a couple of things.

#1 – what is the source of negative thinking?

If you experience the negative thought as an imaginary voice in your mind telling you that you can’t do something (such as your father/mother/boss, etc), then you might have to go one step beyond just the verbalized message. What is the reason they might say that? Perhaps they are worried for you, or that you could get hurt. By exploring their highest positive intention, you will soon get to the root of the issue and begin to diffuse the negative thought. Once you discover this, repeat in your mind “They only want me to ____” and fill that blank with their positive intent.

#2 – What replacement habit do you want?

We all know that negative thinking is a cycle of habit. If you have negative thoughts, it could be because you’ve turned it into a habit. One of my students had been trained to think negative simply because he felt it was the requirement of his job. He started by believing that he had to always think of the worst case scenario in his job as a quality assurance manager. However, this habit started to eat away at lots of other things in his life including his family, and his family members sometimes just wanted comfort and understanding, not a troubleshooter.

So eventually he learned how to differentiate the need for building a contingency for things on the job versus really listening to people.

To do this, you can frame up your experience by focusing fully on the mental context. When does negative thinking come up when it’s not useful? Now, in that context, choose specifically what you would like to think instead. I’d suggest that you pick up an NLP Practitioner program to discover the various ways to do this (you can do this by registering on the list on the top left on the blog).

#3 – Does negative thinking stop you from taking action?

A lot of my clients and students tell me that they just can’t do anything once they get into a spiral of negative thought. Here’s a simple technique I found works.

For the longest time, I had been procrastinating exercising because I would effectively talk myself out of it. Whenever I am already dressed to go for a run, I could talk myself into eating or playing a computer game. Unfortunately, this caused a lot of problems for my exercise routine. So I realized that the best way to stop procrastinating was to stop that inner voice. When we need to make a decision, an effective strategy occurs when the thing to be done is acted upon, not “thought” about. Test it out – once you have a mental trigger about what to do, use that to get into action, not talk to yourself. You’ll then find there’s no need to even eliminate negative thinking because you won’t have the mental space for it in the first place!