© Julian Elvé 2000 All rights reserved
A taste of Neuro-Linguistic Programming
By Julian Elvé
Neuro – what?
A common reaction – and many people whodiscover how useful this way of looking athuman behaviour can be do so despite thename! So let’s break down that name and seewhat the bits stand for:
– for “brain”, or perhaps moreusefully for “neurology”, for the nervoussystem runs throughout the body, not just thebrain.
– for language, and the structureof language, and how that language affectsour minds and the minds of others
– the ways that we habituallyoperate our minds and bodies. I prefer to callit “Patterning” because patterns are just theways you habitually use your mind, use yourability to use language...What we learn from NLP is that by changingthese habitual ways of thinking, by changingthese ways of using language that havebecome almost second nature to us, then wecan change all sorts of things that may notyet be useful to us - the way we feel aboutourselves, the responses we get from otherpeople, even our health...
So where did it come from?
The first developers of NLP were RichardBandler, a computer scientist, and JohnGrinder, a professor of linguistics. Working inCalifornia in the early 1970s they started tobecome curious about the patterns of thoughtand language that lay under natural genius.Initially they studied some renownedtherapists, including Virginia Satir (originatorof Family Systems Therapy), Fritz Perls(originator of Gestalt Therapy) and MiltonErickson (creator of EricksonianHypnotherapy).Bandler and Grinder found that by mappingthe structure of how those geniuses “did whatthey did” it was possible to teach otherpeople to operate with similar effectiveness.
Modelling “the difference that makesa difference”
They went on to develop this idea of“modelling”: first understand the structurethat underlies excellence ( as GregoryBateson called it - “the difference that makesa difference”) and then use that structuralunderstanding to teach other people toperform with excellence. Everything else inNLP stems from this core concept.
One of the things Bandler and Grinderdiscovered when they modelled Satir, Perlsand Erickson was that these people acted outof a number of important beliefs about theworld.These beliefs have become well-known as“presuppositions of NLP” – no-one is sayingthat these beliefs
true, but many peoplehave found that if they act
they are truethen they become more effective in theirwork, their relationships, their daily life.Some of these are:
“The map is not the territory”“People respond to their map of reality, notto reality itself”“Every action has a positive intention”“The meaning of any communication is theresponse it elicits”“You cannot not communicate”“There is no failure, only feedback”“Mind and body are one integrated system”“People make the best choice available tothem at the time – but there may be moreuseful choices that they are not yet awareof”“Choice is better than no choice”“Everyone has all the internal resources theyneed”
Even now you might be wondering howdifferent your daily life would be if you acted“as if” some of those were true…