NLP Definitions: TOTE

A TOTE is the smallest behavioral unit, as defined by Miller, Galanter and Pribram (1960) in their book, Plans and The Structure Of Behavior.

It is a way of identifying the sensory sequence of a modeled behavior. T (Trigger), O (Operation), T (Test) and E (Exit) are required in this feedback cycle (a test requires cycling back to the operation in order for stability of behavior to take place).

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: 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!

NLP Training – Dealing With Shame

In the pursuit of goals, I have always reminded people to ensure that they set clear goals. However, when things go awry, it is our resilience that will help to keep us going. The unfortunate thing is that some people do not have that resilience for moving forward any more than some people can’t run a marathon.

A marathon is actually an apt analogy. Anyone can run a marathon, and we don’t care if we can’t make it. But when it matters, a lot of people tend to become attached to the goal. It’s almost like the emotion of guilt is manufactured once that goal is set.

The approach to NLP is a very humanistic one. In order to achieve your goals, you must first ensure that you adapt, be flexible and create changes inside of yourself in order to achieve your goals. At the same time, there is no part of the formal NLP literature that talks abut emotional handling of shame.

Here’s what I would suggest.

Look at the things that generated guilt and shame for you, and acknowledge that part of you that has brought this attention to you.

Then, follow this feeling to the core.

Once you are able to follow this feeling to the core, you will discover interesting things about the origins.

In most of our lives, busy as we are, it is essential to take the time to stop for a moment and pay attention to ourselves. In NLP, this is commonly known as self-calibration. Ultimately, when you are blinded by the external world, take some time to regain “in”sight.

Guilt is a powerful emotion because it reveals lessons you have to learn in order to become stronger and more powerful. The only reason why guilt/shame stands in the way is because of limiting beliefs that prevent you from getting past the fact that you failed. In reality, you took action. Action merely begets feedback.

Take the core feeling and acknowledge what it is saying to you. Once you listen clearly and honestly you will be better able to understand the reason for it’s existence and use it to move forward toward your destiny.

NLP Training: Why Personal Development

Most people make the mistake of thinking that NLP is about influence, when it really is a personal development instrument. Because of its value in personal development, a serious student of NLP in training has to consider three things in their journey to be trained in NLP.

#1 – What New Skill Should I Learn?

This is a fundamental question. All NLP Practitioners should know about basic modeling and understand the implications of modeling on any aspect of personal development such as learning, communicating, leadership and the like.

#2 – What New Beliefs Should I Adopt?

I remember after learning about NLP, I focused a lot of energy on the subject of learning, so that I could learn faster. Then I discovered I had a deficiency in terms of the kind of beliefs I had about leadership and public speaking. I set out to do more of that by changing my old, limiting beliefs about leadership and public speaking, hence allowing me to use NLP to expand my skill and expertise in that area.

#3 – What Results Will I Achieve?

This really is a question about your outcome. If you so choose, you should actually achieve anything you want. However, most people are unaware that many goals that are set according the “SMART” goals formula does not work in accordance to empirical evidence. It is important to utilize NLP as a means to be clear about and to achieve goals. Results, after all, are more important as proof of performance than just feeling good about something.