How to Use NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) as a Tool for Personal Development 

Before I dive into how to use NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) as a tool for Personal Development, I would like to operationally define what NLP is. Robert Dilts, one of the early influencers of NLP, states that NLP is “The study of the structure of subjective experience.” What in the world does that mean? In a nutshell, NLP uncovers how with make meaning of the world. It explores our internal landscape in the form of quantifying what we see, hear, feel, smell and taste. These five senses make up what is known in NLP as subjective experience. 

What’s fascinating about human nature is that what we mostly care about in our internal world, is how we feel. What we are often not aware of, is that internal images and sounds are often the facilitators of how we feel. For example, if you say to yourself: “You are such an idiot. Why do you keep screwing this up?” You are bound to feel bad. We often are aware of the bad feeling but not the internal dialog that goes with it. The function of NLP then becomes to create more useful internal dialog to generate different feelings. NLP is widely known for helping with phobias, fears, changing beliefs, improving self-esteem, enhancing communication, improving public speaking and building authentic self-confidence, just to name a few. 

The creators of NLP, Richard Bandler, and John Grinder, discovered NLP through modeling three distinct therapists, namely, Milton Erickson, Virginia Satir and Fritz Perls. They studied how they did therapy and uncovered the structure and style. What is known as the Milton Model or the language of trance came from Milton Erickson. What is known as the Meta Model or the language of specificity came from modeling the works of Virginia Satir. This is to give just a few examples. NLP started with modeling. 

So, how can you use NLP as a tool for personal development? 

Here are my top 3 ways:

1. Read a book on NLP:
One of the easiest ways to learn about NLP and use it as a tool for your own personal development is to read a book on NLP.

2. Attend an NLP Training:
By far the best way to get really good at using NLP for personal development is to attend a training. When I was in my NLP Practitioner, Master Practitioner and Health training, I created a list of personal outcomes that I had. When a technique was taught in the training, I would look through my list to see what outcome I had that matched the skill we were learning. Through attending NLP trainings, I have personally overcome a 40-year long needle phobia as well as released chronic back pain.

3. Work with an NLP Coach:
In most of the NLP trainings, we work on challenges that are a level 2-4 on a scale from 1-10 because it is, after all, a learning environment. A way to work on deeper issues that are subclinical but at higher levels of disturbance is to find an NLP Coach. About 90% of my clients come to me specifically because of my extensive NLP training and continued involvement in the NLP community. I stay up to speed on the latest resources in NLP, and that is why I have clients coming to me with specific requests for NLP. Some of my clients have been through NLP trainings themselves, or have read books, or a friend went through the training and told them it sounded like they had a challenge that NLP could help solve.

I have personally invested in NLP coaches, even though I am also an NLP Coach. There are some challenges that I just prefer to get an outside opinion from a person who can see my challenge with fresh eyes.

So if this article has sparked your interest and you are wanting to learn more about NLP, I encourage you to read a book, attend a training, or work with an NLP Coach who preferably has at least a Master Practitioner level of NLP training. You want to make sure that the focus of your one on one sessions is actually NLP and not just shooting the breeze. Make sure your coach is focused on your specific outcomes.

Here are some resources to get you started or continuing your NLP journey:

  1. Books: all can be found on Amazon
  • Richard Bandler: Get the Life You Want
  • Robert Dilts and Tim Hallbom: Beliefs: Pathways to Health and Well Being
  • Richard Bandler and Connirae Andreas: Using Your Brain for a Change
  • Robert Dilts: Changing Belief Systems with NLP
  • Connirae and Steve Andreas: Heart of the Mind

2. NLP Trainings:

I recommend the NLP Institute of California:

3. NLP One on One Coaching:

For those that prefer the one on one experience, my office is located in Sacramento. Video and distance sessions are also available for those not local to the area. Go to my contact page to fill out a coaching request form. Or you can call me directly at 530-231-5223. 

I hope you have found this quick article helpful in pointing you in the right direction so that you can learn more about NLP to use as a tool for your personal development.


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