Join us for this Podcast series of intimate encounters that illuminate what is hidden, and celebrate some remarkable lives lived on purpose, and some of the stories that shape them. We begin each conversation with a simple question, “Who Are You?”
I made a commitment to write a short piece to put up as a blog post and podcast once a week, and sometimes I’m so unclear about what I want to say that I spin my wheel for an entire day. Then sometimes, before I go to sleep, I whisper a request to my unconscious mind to come up with ideas. I feel like a captain calling down to the crew. The next day I often wake up with so many ideas that I don’t know where to begin.
Do you ever experience this? Either the sense of abundance, and resources beyond measure, or else a sense of total lack?
Then I was wondering, “What is the essence of the things we do at Five Changes?” What should I write? What do we do for our clients and students, and what should we do for ourselves to keep on learning and growing?
Michele and I have had many different kinds of people come through our lives; spiritual seekers and students of Buddhism looking for something more than the bland generic fare that is so often offered to them. We’ve had social and environmental activists looking for a spiritual dimension to their lives. We’ve had Cambodian and Laotian teenagers serving probation as novice monks, trying to figure out a way to fit into North American society. We’ve taught and given workshops in schools, juvenile halls, centers like Esalen and Findhorn, we’ve taught and spoken at universities throughout California; and we’ve conducted leadership trainings in Australia and the U.K.
Then much to the consternation of some of our friends, we stopped teaching formal meditation. We even stopped taking an official stance as progressive activists. We focused instead on more direct change-work, coaching individuals and teaching Hypnosis and NLP (Neurolinguistic Programing). The question remained, “What is the essence? What is it are we providing?”
No doubt, we were going through our own process of integration, and we continue to go through it. Still, the question remains, what is the essence? Of Zen? Of General Semantics? Of a truly integrated social-spiritual activism? Of NLP? What is the essence of an authentic spiritual transformation?
What is the one change, that if you made it, would change everything about – what you do, how effective you are in the world; and just as importantly, how happy you are in the core of your being?
There is no single answer, yet there may be a singular answer for each of us. In other words, the changes we must make to change everything that’s not fully working in our lives may be simpler than we think.
People often ask us what the Five Changes are. One answer is that there are no ‘Five’ changes. One change is enough. We have five .. just in case you’re as hard-headed as we used to be! And of course we do have a five-part system that we use to work with our clients.
Then yesterday I was looking for videos to put on a tribute page on our website for seven of the people who touched our lives most profoundly. Some we knew personally, others we know only through the legacy of their work. I came across a three-minute video of Alfred Korzybski from the 1940’s. He speaks about the distinction between ‘abstraction’ and ‘illusion’. And I thought, “That’s it! Now I’ve got it!” That’s the distinction we’ve been pointing out to people for more than twenty years, through everything we’ve ever done. Life is ‘real’, there’s nothing illusory about it. Yet we continue to make abstractions that distance ourselves from it. That’s what normal thinking does. It abstracts. It does it through beliefs, through notions that the ‘self’ is ‘something’ rather than a process, through emotions that we take at face value, and through stories we tell ourselves about our lives. You can see Korzybski’s, and other videos, by clicking here.
Meditation is a good tool for addressing this habit of abstraction, especially if you have a good teacher. If you don’t, it may either send you to sleep, or else reinforce your neuroses. NLP, Hypnosis, Family Constellation work etc., and all the available modalities and tools, are all potentially life-changing too. But deep change is more than that .. it’s to really ‘get’ how you’re creating your life, making it up, abstracting.
This is easily said, it may be harder to understand until you get used to this sort of thinking; and it’s harder still to embody. But that’s the essence of the ‘real work’. It’s something we can all work on while also working on the central thing we are called to do in our lives.
Understanding that everything in life is ‘real’, not illusory; and that our problems come from how we make abstractions and meanings, and how we draw conclusions and anticipate outcomes from our experience, is the essence what we do with our clients. Of course, how we work with them is much more specific, and practical than this might sound. We focus on getting immediate results by changing limiting belief, emotional patterns, and the residual stories you keep telling yourself. And we do it with surgical precision. What it amounts to is helping you stop sabotaging yourself so that you can get on with fulfilling truly your life’s ‘purpose’!
Unless you address this, your ‘purpose’ remains a dream. It’s like stumbling down the road with a sharp pebble in your shoe. Sure, you can get used to. But why would you want to? Only if you didn’t know how to remove the pebble, or had made up a story about how sharp pebbles are good for you .. but that’s what Korzybski means by abstracting.
Did you ever experience something that felt as if it had transformed you to the core of your being? Was there ever a time when you were certain that an old issue that had been nagging you for years was gone forever?
A powerful insight has shifted your understanding, and it’s as if you are stepping into a whole new way of being and living!
Then things gradually slip back to how they were before, as if nothing had really changed. Except that now you are even more frustrated, cynical, and disappointed than before.
People often come to NLP or Hypnotherapy as a last resort. They have had no success in dealing with issues like chronic pain, or emotional addiction, or the self-destructive mindset that results in continual personal and professional disappointment. They may have visited numerous healers and professionals and it all helped to a certain degree, but nothing has addressed the root of the problem. They have learned to cope, but they haven’t t learned to change.
Often something entirely different happens through hypnosis to tip the balance; and a year, or ten years later, they are still enjoying the fruits of that shift.
How is it possible that hypnosis and NLP Coaching work when other modalities fail? I remember a client who was suffering from chronic back-pain. She had gone through multiple surgeries, and years of visiting pain-clinics and psychiatrists. The pain had worn her down, and she felt completely powerless to change it. It was affecting her work, her health, and even her ability to sustain a romantic relationship. She was about to break up with her boyfriend of several years.
The hypnotic state gave her the ability to reclaim the part of herself that she had only known as ‘pain’. Think of this as a metaphor, because it may be the best way to describe how hypnotherapy works. We disown our ‘problem’, and try to fix it by getting rid of it. But it’s like cutting off a limb because we sprained a joint. We separate ourselves from the very thing that can make us whole. You might think that this wouldn’t apply to a physical symptom, like pain. But after the organic cause of the pain has gone, there is nothing there to support it except the habit, and the unconscious need, to recreate it. This is even more true when it comes to issues like your mindset, negative emotions, self-limiting beliefs, or addictive behaviors.
There’s no blame in this. You do the best you can at any given time. Hypnosis is simply a way to give you more options and choices.
After her first session my client’s pain disappeared, never to return (the last time we spoke was ten years after our work together). People call such things miraculous! But how it works is very simple. Hypnosis has the marvelous ability to help us address unconscious dynamics while we remain conscious. Hypnosis is not like sleep. It is simply a way of bypassing the filters that our conscious mind uses to process experience. Hypnosis is a natural state of mind that you experience several times a day – every time you go into a daydream, for example.
The Hypnotherapy process allowed my client to address the reasons why she had unconsciously perpetuated the pain. Of course, had there been physical reasons for the pain to persist, I would have referred her to a physician or a chiropractor. The fact that the pain disappeared so rapidly, and that she remained pain-free, told me that it was no longer a physical issue.
We continued to work together so that I could teach her how to use the hypnotic state to empower herself, and to apply it to every area of her life. I taught her different ways of self-hypnosis and gave her the tools to cultivate her creative unconscious, set a vision and develop the strategies and skills for attaining it, and to learn how to master her own psychology. After all, if she could overcome chronic pain that she had been told was incurable, what else could she do?
Three Approaches to Healing and Transformation
Personal transformation and healing depend on your expectations. They also depend on the expectations of the person who is mentoring you.
George Estabrooks noticed in the 1940’s that the client “tends to fulfill the expectations of their therapist.” In our Hypnosis and NLP Training we emphasis the importance of setting no limits on the results you can expect from a client, to expect miracles. When you do that you will constantly be astonished by the positive results you get with clients.
If a therapist sees you only through the filters of neurosis and pathology, they will be incapable of seeing anything beyond that. Teaching you to cope with your ‘pathology’ will be the best you can expect from them.
If you have a physical illness and your doctor sees your body as something separate from the rest of you, they may be able to treat your symptoms, but they never actually ‘heal’ you.The symptoms will probably return when the conditions for them occur again.
If a coach sees you through their own preconception of success or failure, they will be insensitive to your own unique gifts and the journey that you are on, and they will unconsciously set limits on what you can achieve, based on their own projections.
Three approaches to change
The Bottomless Pit Approach: The old-school approach to transformation is that life is long and arduous and filled with difficulties. You must spend half a lifetime as an apprentice, years in therapy, decades of arduous spiritual practice. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with dedication and ongoing training. But the idea that deep change musttake a long time is simply not true. Some of the unspoken assumptions that drive that idea are:
Life is always difficult and complex.
Learn to accept things as they are or you will be disappointed.
People don’t change, they just become more of who they are.
Your problem is so complex that no one can really fix it, but you can learn to manage it.
The Magic Bullet Approach: Fueled by wishful thinking and a desire not to have to take full responsibility for the miracle of your life, the magic bullet approach is characterized by attitudes like:
If only I could find the right person, technique, mentor, place, etc.I know it will fix everything.
Here’s a new bright shiny object. It will will give absolutely, positively give you everything you need.
I had an amazing experience doing such-and-such, or with so-and-so, and I want to have that experience again (and again, and again).
If you do more of what you are doing things will eventually work out. (I will be healthy, have the relationship I desire, have all the money and success I want)
It’s not that magic doesn’t happen, nor is it true that some things aren’t hard. It’s that having a strategy is essential, for everything important that we do.
The Five Changes Approach: Integrated Praxis and NLP Coaching
Praxis simply means putting what you know into action consistently and strategically. It doesn’t mean preparing for something. It means that what you are doing right now is already having an impact on your life.
It means using the appropriate tools and skills and continuing to use and refine them on an ongoing basis. Unlike the ‘bottomless pit’ approach, you’re the one with the power. You’re the one taking responsibility for your actions and for the results of your actions. Unlike the ‘magic bullet’ approach you’re not just hoping for a miracle to suddenly change everything without your having to commit to making the change happen.
In the Third approach big changes can happen quickly, but you are developing the insights you get from them to adapt what you do, to course-correct, and go deeper on an ongoing basis. When you find the support and mentorship that works for you, you know that it works as a collaboration, because you know that no one else can ‘fix’ your problems for you. They simply give you the support, the skills, and the perspectives that you need.
Anyone with enough time and patience can learn to give their car a tune-up or rebuild the engine; but unless you are a car mechanic you’d be better off getting someone else to do it. This applies even more when it comes to getting the perspective for your life and business that you simply can’t get on your own, simply because you’re too close to them.
The Third approach is not a compromise between the other two approaches. Energy and consistency are required, but not in order for you to bury yourself in the process.
When change happens it’s not because you stumbled on the right magic formula. The obstructions we put in our own way are not be as insurmountable as they seem, but we can’t fix them by driving blindly into the dark and thinking that if only we could go faster we’ll get where we need to be.We won’t fix them by giving our power away, or by hoping for a miracle. There is an art to it, and it really is possible to master that art. You just have to start taking the steps to do so. Want to take the time to talk?
I grew up in a middle-class family. At aged eight, to my dismay, I was sent to boarding school, feeling confused and abandoned. At the start of each school term, before putting me on the train, my well-meaning parents gave me pocket money for the months I would be away. It wasn’t long before I began to confuse money with love.
THE FORMATIVE YEARS: As a rebellious adolescent I saw myself as a vagabond, and a starving poet. Then, as an aspiring Buddhist, and later when I became a professional Buddhist Meditation teacher, I believed that self-denial was inherently virtuous. Add to that a lifelong commitment to social justice, driven by misplaced guilt and confusion about my place in the world. Then add to the mix the shame that I had carried for years as a closeted transsexual. Everything that I valued and believed in had become mixed up with feelings of worthlessness and confusion, especially when it came to money.
On the surface my life was fine. I had a great partner, interesting and creative friends; I traveled and led workshops in Europe and the US. It was only later, when I hit an invisible wall, that I could look back and see how much of a gnawing disquiet there had been. I hadn’t believed in the truth of what I was doing because what I was doing was not in alignment with who I was. I felt like a fraud.
My world-view was supported by beliefs like:
If you’re a good person you make do with what you have.
Money is bad.
Wealthy people are greedy and exploit others.
If someone has money, someone else goes without.
Making money means compromising your integrity.
What is truly valuable in life has nothing to do with money.
By the way, do any of these sound familiar to you?
By the time I finally grew tired of reaping the rewards of these beliefs i.e. frustration, disappointment, denial, and fear, I realized that they had completely blocked any positive impact I aspired to have in the world. As long as I still held onto those beliefs, even unconsciously, any action I took to circumvent them was just like beating my head against a wall.
Sure, it’s easy to understand that beliefs are self-constructed, and that the only power they hold over you is the power that you give to them. But it’s one thing to recognize limiting beliefs; it’s something else to transform them on a deep unconscious level!
AN AWKWARD GAP: It was painfully obvious that my own limiting beliefs were incompatible with my new work. I was no longer a Buddhist Meditation Teacher. I was now an Executive Life Coach using NLP Coaching and I had even started to teach NLP Certification Trainings. I aspired to work with clients and students of the highest caliber; people who truly recognized the value of investing in themselves, who were committed to transforming their lives and the lives of their own clients. But how could I start attracting such clients when I had not yet learned to value myself and my work, and hadn’t transformed the beliefs that still guided my unconscious life?
I had invested hugely in trainings and mentorship. But it just made me more aware of how blocked was. It wasn’t just about money, thought money is often a good barometer. Our new business model and our new aspirations were simply not working.
All the training, qualifications, skills and marketing gimmicks, even a lifetime of helping other people, means nothing until you fully embody beliefs, values, and actions that correspond to your potential and what you aspire to accomplish in the world. Unless you completely transform your old limiting beliefs on the deepest unconscious level they act as a deadweight, dragging you down.
Then I hired a mentor who said: “How many people are you screwing over by NOT being able to sell them on your services?”
Those words turned everything around. It was both a challenge and a relief. It was no longer about me. It was about what I could actually do for others (and help them do for themselves) if I could just get out of my own way. How can you serve other people by playing small, or by pretending that things are okay when they’re not, or feeling so unclear about what you do that ‘selling’ feels like a lie?
WHAT I LEARNED: It was like an instant download that bypassed all my old resistances. It declared, “Get over yourself. Do the work that reflects your full capacity! Do what the world is calling you to do! Embody who you ARE. Don’t rely on tricks, second-hand information, or marketing and sales gimmicks. Stand by who you ARE so that what you DO is obvious. Then sell that!” Actually, it’s not even ‘selling’ anymore in the way that people usually think of selling.
Everyone’s story is unique. I don’t think mine is particularly unusual. Okay, so I am a woman of transsexual experience. I faced a big challenge and had to make some big changes, but don’t most people have do that at some time or another, in one way or another?
We live in a society that gives us a lot of mixed messages about money. Most of us inherit ideas and beliefs about money and self-worth that do not serve us. I’m sure that I’m not alone in some of those old beliefs I adopted about money and value.
A GOOD QUESTION: Someone once asked, “If you are uncomfortable when someone is selling something to you, ask yourself, in what ways are you NOT selling yourself?”
When Things Change, They Change Very, Very Fast
Once at a training seminar, we were being guided through an NLP pattern designed to identify and change an old limiting belief. After identifying the old belief, you design a new one to replace it. I had identified one of those old beliefs from my childhood, that: “Money is hard to come by.” I chose to replace it with a new belief, that “I am a People and Money Magnet.”
At the moment the NLP exercise ended, someone who I had met at the seminar turned and told me how grateful she was for something I had said to her the day before. She had decided to train with that same seminar company and to designate me as the recipient of the commission that would be generated. In the two or three seconds that it took her to tell me, I had earned $2500!
How is it that when you change your mind, something changes in the world around you as if the world were fluid in ways we can’t usually recognize? I don’t like magical thinking. But when magic happens, it’s hard to deny it.
On another occasion, my partner Michele and I had made a thirty thousand dollar commitment for training and mentorship that we hoped would transform our business. We did not have the slightest idea where the money would come from. It was a leap of faith. Then within two weeks we received an unexpected gift of just over thirty thousand dollars.
Once we had made the decision and taken the leap; in other words, once we had made the decision that WE were worth investing in, the money found its way to us.
I don’t know how this sort of thing happens, but it does. And it seems to be in direct proportion to how you perceive and value yourself, and your work in the world.That’s the magic, right there!
My first Hypnotherapy teacher used to say, “It was a happy day for fools when modesty became a virtue!”
As a child I was very shy. I would blush to speak to more than two or three people at one time. If the phone rang I would walk away, rather than speak to some unknown friend of my parents.
Invisibility has merit only for those who have been brainwashed or coerced into submission, resignation, or perpetual fear, and who imagine it is safer to keep quiet than to speak. This has nothing to do with being introvert or extrovert. Some of the most visible and influential people in the world are, by nature, introverts. They have simply learned to balance their personal lives with their need to serve the world in the most effective way.
If someone’s sense of purpose makes you uncomfortable you say that they are driven. But they are no more driven than a well-tuned engine that is working at maximum efficiency.
So many people undervalue their gifts. The powerful catalyst they can be for others remains invisible. They live with false modesty, cheating themselves and others, ashamed to call out to the world and affirm their presence.
WHY PEOPLE UNDERVALUE THEMSELVES AND WHAT IT COSTS. NLP PERSPECTIVEs:
People continue to undervalue themselves because they have not found the means to identify and transform the beliefs that hold them captive; or the fire to do so.
What it costs is everything, the world! Because the world is cheated of seeing you stand in your power and beauty – brave and free at last, living at your peak, giving your best, living in sustainable joy, enjoying generating the value that you know you are worth. For more click here
In Greek mythology Sisyphus was condemned to roll a huge rock to the top of a steep hill. Before he ever reaches the top it rolls down and he must begin again. Sisyphus was sentenced to do this for all eternity for the sin of arrogance and pride. He believed that he was cleverer than Zeus himself, the father of all the Gods.
The classical myths are metaphors for life. You may recognize Sisyphus in the person who never reads instructions, or who doesn’t ask for help from others. He is the person who starts a business without a business plan; or the person who engages on an important project without addressing his own unconscious conflicts, and hidden agendas. Like Sisyphus, he, or she, is doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
Many of our own clients find us because they have something in common with Sisyphus. They may have recognized that there are unresolved mindset issues; unconscious habit patterns, gut reactions that are holding them back, limiting beliefs that are still playing out and getting in their way. They know that unless they get help addressing them, they are doomed to continue repeating them. Or they may be lacking clarity about their true capacity, the direction they want to take, and how to get there. They may be still tolerating intolerable situations, their own counter-productive habits and behaviors. They may have realized how much they themselves are getting in their own way.
People ask us whether our company mentors people for Business or for Personal Mindset issues. The truth is, life is business, and business islife. Regardless of the work you do, you are the boss of your own life, or you can be, or you shouldbe. And if you’re running your own business, then you definitely must be, as it will be disastrous if you’re not.
What we do for our clients, and what we teach our students to do for theirs, is to address these two key touchstones:
1. Congruity.Truth is not about subscribing to an external belief system, and then doing your best to fit your life into it. Truth is being in agreement with yourself, with your own mind and heart. Congruity is the expression of that inner truth. It’s having an open line of communication between your conscious and unconscious mind.
Truth is knowing what you want, and doing it, with your eyes wide open, with integrity, and by your own clear choices. You will still continue to learn, you must still address all the challenges that emerge; the fears, the beliefs that no longer serve you, the old habits, and whatever breaks your connection to your own intuitive intelligence .. in other words, you still have to deal with the untidy flow of life and all that it brings. The difference is that when you are fully congruent, you know you can’t fail. You can only learn. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
People sometimes call this “Living Your Life’s Purpose”. Only you can find that road. Only you can know what it is. It is uniquely your own. It is the expression of the congruity between inner and outer; conscious and unconscious; body, mind, heart, and spirit. It is the whole of you traveling together.
The alternative is to continue like Sisyphus, on the endless uphill struggle that repeats itself time after time. You can’t do it on your own. You need consistent support. Sisyphus never asked for help, so his task never ends. That was his his mistake. There are many things we can get on our own, but perspective is not one of them.
Consistency. Success is achieved by using strategies that work, and consistently following through. It’s not magic. It’s not an accident. There’s an old story about a person who had acquired a new farm, but who grew frustrated by the labor of clearing land for new fields. He sold the farm. The new owner continued the work of clearing the land, and found, just beyond the limit of where the first owner had stopped, untold quantities of diamonds. If the original owner had continued for just a little longer his efforts would have paid off a thousand fold. But he gave up just short of realizing success. How often do we lose sight of our goals because we’re overwhelmed, or because we don’t have a clear system or a clearly defined goal. So we stop just shy of realizing it. In the story the goal was to make a farm. If the original owner had just followed through, he would have exceeded all his expectation, beyond his wildest dreams.
There’s an order and a sequence to most things. You don’t go for a PhD before you have graduated; you don’t launch a business without a clear business plan. You don’t sign up for a marathon without making a training schedule. You don’t ask someone to marry you on a first date. And you don’t get busy just for the sake of doing something and to avoid the discomfort of the unresolved issues I was talking about in the previous section. You have to deal with them first.
Worse than not having a clear plan is thinking that you don’t need one; or thinking that things will work out, or that someone will come to your rescue.
Doing what you do consistently doesn’t mean following a monotonous routine. On the contrary, it means continually adapting and changing, but doing so in a consistent way. It means doing what works and making it work better. If it stops working, change it.
These two keys, Personal Congruency and Consistency, are essential for you to NOT be like Sisyphus. Sisyphus’s pride was such that he never asked for help, never admitted that he was anything other than infallible. He was self-centered, short sighted, and his own worst enemy. Don’t be like that!
To be personally congruent and to be consistent in the things you do for yourself, for your clients, and in the world, is living your purpose. Living your purpose is living at choice, living by your own best values and having the greatest possible positive impact.
Five Changes NLP Training and NLP Coaching and Mentoring are centered around teaching, and helping you implement, these two keys for your own, and your clients’ well-being.
NLP Training is a little like getting your hands on a user-manual for your imagination, or a handbook for your mind, or a practical guide to Neuroscience in action. What if old limitations that you had come to believe were who you are, turned out to be things you could easily change – quickly, decisively, and permanently? What if you could utilize the same powerful creativity, focus and energy that had marked the most decisive moments of your life? (You know the ones we mean) What if happiness and freedom became the very air you breathed?
Imagine hearing about a shortcut that halves your daily commute time. How long would you wait before using it? Would you have to give it some thought first? Would you argue that you weren’t the sort of person to take shortcuts? Perhaps your driving instructor had showed you a route when you first learned to drive, and out of loyalty to him you prefer the longer route? Perhaps the long route is familiar and you’d rather not bother with changing it. After all, you’d been using it for years, and it has served you perfectly well up until now.
Three Reasons for Taking the Five Changes NLP Training
1. For Yourself
The Map is Not the Territory – Alfred Korzybski
What we know, how we experience the world, what we take to be real, is more fluid than we were taught. We grew up learning rules to help us navigate our map of the world. We assumed that the map, and the rules that made it, were absolute. What began as necessary boundaries, like training wheels, turned into limitations. Add to that all the emotional and behavioral patterns we learned from those close to us, and we end up with a map of a reality that is far away from what is actually possible.
Unlimited happiness, creativity, and freedom are all within our reach. We are like the elephant, trained from infancy with a chain tied to his foot. He gave up trying to pull free long ago, and resigned to a life of captivity.
Freedom means becoming your own mapmaker. In other words, it means becoming master of your emotional state and your creativity, how you respond to experience – with choice – rather than reacting with long forgotten decisions, like the elephant, who still thinks the chain can hold him.
2. For Other People in Your Life
Always pass on what you have learned. – Yoda
To be at cause is to respond rather than to react. It is to live by your own choices rather than the choices of others. It is to be the Leader of your own life.
The Five Changes NLP training is specifically aimed at helping you be fully at cause in all the circumstances of your life, with specific tools to give you the resources to continually refine that ability. It is also geared towards you teaching others to do the same with specific tools and skills.
Everything we are and do has an impact on others. You owe it to them to become the best possible influence – no more complaining or blaming, no more bonding through mutual commiseration! From now on it becomes a celebration of accomplishment and possibility. Imagine!
Regardless of your work, you lead by example and you have specific lessons that you can give to others; your clients, patients, students, team member, associates, customers, friends, and family.
3. For a New Brilliant and Impactful Career
There is a solution to every problem! – Keys to Transformational Leadership
As a Certified Five Changes NLP Master Practitioner, you will have a template for working with clients in a therapeutic context as a Mindset and Life coach. The skills you will learn in NLP and Hypnosis will give you the ability to succeed where others with less developed training have failed. We will give you all you need to begin a $500 an hour (and up) an hour business, helping people transform their lives and work, helping people with their own user-manual for the mind. It is one of the most profoundly ‘spiritual’, holistic, and satisfying career choices you are likely to make.
A mentor we knew, who was well-known for speaking directly, often said that the only reason people didn’t change was that they were so attached to their excuses and self-imposed limitations that the imaginary, and blown out of proportion, fear of change stopped them in their tracks.
The reality of our lives is that it is constantly inviting us to change, learn, and grow. It’s what we do best. So why not learn a skill-set that will truly serve you well.
Were you ever in a situation where you felt powerless to change? a situation that had been going on for so long you had started to believe it might never change? Had you even started to wonder if maybe you were the problem?
Then you learned something about how you could make change happen. Perhaps you learned it though NLP coaching. It was as if someone handed you the key to a closed door that had been locked for so long that you had forgotten there was even a door there.
Up until that moment, you had certainly known you were stuck. You may have even understood something about why you were stuck. But your understanding didn’t help. Insights alone can sometimes dampen your motivation to change, because they make the prospect of actually changing look like one more insurmountable problem. Until you know how to change, any amount of understanding of why you should, or why you got stuck in the first place, doesn’t help much.
Until you learn the ‘how to’ of change, the ‘why’ can actually hold you back.
NLP is the ‘how to’ of change.
In spite its short forty-year history, NLP has roots that go back for as long as human beings have been looking for smart win-win solutions.
Like Hypnosis, NLP has fallen outside the mainstream; and like hypnosis, NLP has aroused suspicion and jealousy for helping people when all else has failed. We have lost track of how often clients have come to us as a last resort –for chronic pain that the doctors had pronounced to be incurable; for addictive behaviors that wouldn’t go away, or kept coming back; or for phobias and fears that nothing ever seemed to help. .. not to mention the entrepreneurs and artists whose success had seemed to elude them until they learned to get out of their own way and to work with themselves, instead of against themselves.
What is NLP?
NLP means Neurolinguistic Programming. The term was coined by Richard Bandler and John Grinder after they developed a therapeutic modality based largely on the work of family therapist Virginia Satir and hypnotherapist Milton Erickson. The underlying insight that drives NLP is that there is a gap between experience and perception; that your emotions, memories, beliefs, as well as everything you experience in life, is made up of patterns in your neurology. Because there is a gap between external reality and our experience of it, we live in an inner world of distortion and separation. In the words of Richard Bandler, “we make it up with words and pictures” hence, Neuro .. linguistic .. programing.
What the creators of NLP discovered is that there are practical skills you can use to bridge the gap between external reality and the words and pictures in our mind, and that those skills can be consistently used to transform self-defeating behaviors, negative emotions and attitudes that have a detrimental effect on our life at home or at work or anywhere else.
NLP is the art and science of providing alternatives to how we imagine the world, of changing internal representations, emotional states, external responses, and ultimately of actually and measurably changing our neurology. NLP is neuroscience in action.
NLP is more than a set of clever techniques. It is learning to be your own source of innovative skill and solution-based thinking.
1. Mindset is the sum of your beliefs, expectations, attitudes, values, and above all, your emotions. A consistently positive emotional state, will determine how well you learn, how effectively you communicate, how much you enjoy your life, and the results you achieve. NLP coaching is a direct way to learn how to master your emotions. Mastery does not require taking control, rigidness or repression. It simply means learning how to bring awareness to the inner patterns that determine old emotional habits, and then making appropriate choices to change them.
2. Reaction or Response? If your emotions are a choice, and your actions are determined by your emotions, including the emotions that support your beliefs about what you can achieve, then NLP is not just mastering your emotions. It also lets you navigate your own course in life. It’s not about taking control of everything that happens. Who would want that anyway? It’s that you can learn to utilize every situation to your own and everyone else’s best advantage. You can learn to respond, rather than react. You can choose, rather than just revert to old habits.
3. Awareness + choice. A well-known (and notoriously inhumane) experiment raised kittens with cardboard tubes on their heads so that they had no peripheral vision. After some months the cardboard tubes were removed and it was discovered that the kittens, now grown cats, were incapable of seeing anything that wasn’t directly in front of them. They had lost all peripheral vision.
Whenever there is unfinished emotional business it’s as if you have a cardboard tube on your head. You are locked in a narrow capsule of your old unresolved issues. It’s all you know. You end up resigning yourself to the life you see through the tube. The constrained perspective blocks all your creativity, joy, natural intelligence and any sense of the possibility of freedom – which you don’t even realize you don’t have.
Unless the unresolved negative emotions – fear, resentment, shame, anger, disappointment – are addressed, that narrow field of vision becomes who you are. When it’s removed, or transformed, your field of awareness open, and you can now choose your focus. It is no longer predetermined by your negative emotions.
4. Personal Congruity. Congruity means that you are in agreement with yourself, that your conscious and unconscious mind are working together. When part of you wants to change other people’s lives for the better, but another part of you feels that you are a fraud, there is a problem, there is an incongruity.
When you are moved to work hard on a project, but when you are immersed in the project something always seems to come up to distract you, that’s also incongruity. Something inside you is fighting yourself.
When you are continually fighting against the very thing, or person, you love most, that’s another example of an incongruity. NLP is very good at identifying and resolving incongruities and invisible inner conflicts you are not fully conscious of yet.
5. Intention and results. Everything mentioned so far:
Mastering your emotions and mindset
Taking control of your direction
Learning to respond rather than just reacting
Growing your freedom of awareness
Developing personal congruity
are all the domain of NLP coaching. They are things that NLP is good at helping you with. Put together, they provide you with a vision for the scope of your life. Anything you choose or imagine, or envision for yourself becomes possible. One of the key lessons of NLP is that when you are emotionally, physically, and psychologically healthy you have immense resources of creative energy available to formulate and realize possibilities for your life and for your work in the world.
These are five ways that NLP coaching works for you personally. Stay tuned for how NLP works in the domain of team and community building, and of leadership development.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” So asks the poet Mary Oliver.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how do in the best ways we can .. learn, play, love, work, or just get by?
If we’re lucky we get some good guidance, or else we tap into our own best instincts.
When we make an important change it is often because we are forced, driven, or inspired to, or perhaps it’s because of a happy accident.
You’ve heard that mindset is important. But mindset is too often spoken of as if it were an afterthought like icing on the cake. In fact, it’s the starting point, and it’s the middle, and it’s the end.
A positive mindset consists of a positive emotional state, appropriate creative energy, and high expectation for what is possible.
Mindset can play out in the negative, or it can be an expression of awareness,
joy and creativity, and the expectation that ANYTHING is possible.
There’s no formula, except that everything you experience in life, how you respond, and the results you get, are in direct relationship to your mindset.
None of us are perfect we all have a hidden shadow of unfinished business. The brighter the light, the darker the shadow. Mindset isn’t fixed, it’s always changing.
And Mindset isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, it’s more! Much more! It’s your navigation system, it’s how you illuminate the shadows so that you are working WITH, not AGAINST yourself.
Becoming master of your mindset determines everything you ‘do’.
One Minute Mindset Survey
Do you sometimes say no to certain situations, relationships, or opportunities because you’re afraid you’re not good enough?
Do you settle for less than you know you are worth?
Do you tolerate certain situations, or qualities in yourself, when you could, in fact, change them?
Do you say yes when you mean no, or no when you could say yes?
Have you ever experienced a radical shift in what you knew was possible but settled back into what was familiar and never made the changes you know you could?
Are you afraid of not following through when opportunities present themselves?
If you said yes to any of these questions go ahead and schedule a complimentary consultation here
PART FIVE – LOVE. There are seven words for love in classical Greek. And there’s another kind of love for which there is no word. It is a state of being more than a feeling for someone or something. It is the Great Joy that comes from unconditional love. You live it, simply and effortlessly, when you are in full agreement with your own life.
“the moon offers light without a hand
the sun is proof of the sun,
writing about love
my pen splinters” Jalal ad Din Rumi
NLP and Love
As soon as our basic needs are satisfied, and once we are in alignment with ourselves, we come home to love. Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs includes the need for freedom of expression, creativity, and mental congruity. When those needs are satisfied, and when unconscious conflicts are resolved, you move into great joy and unconditional love. It’s that simple.
Twenty years ago, when my Zen teacher was empowering several of us as teachers, I asked. “When do you know when someone is ready to be a teacher?” He replied, “When they’re happy.”
The next question is: how do you become happy? The answer, like the question, can only be lived. But there are a few clues.
Society is driven by the assumption that happiness comes from getting what you want. Commerce depends on it. It’s our collective fantasy. It doesn’t take much to realize that there’s no end to wanting. But that doesn’t mean that ‘wanting’ is the problem. The real problem lies in the illusion that when you get what you want you will be happy. There’s nothing wrong with wanting. Denying your desires in the name of ‘spiritual’ perfection is another version of wanting, a kind of spiritual materialism. Finding a belief system that lets you close down for fear of disappointment is capitulation, a kind of death, wanting to destroy your dreams and aspiration. There’s another way to happiness outside of wanting or not wanting.
NLP provides a great road map. NLP is driven by the understanding that when you have internal conflicts you can’t be genuinely happy. There is something hidden inside you that remains unsatisfied.
Part of you wants one thing, part of you wants another. There’s a lack of clarity that feeds uncertainty and fear. You probably have an unexamined belief or two about what you can or cannot want; or about what you should or should not have. You’d like to do good for the whole planet, but you are so conflicted it’s hard for you to do good even for yourself.
NLP has a knack of pulling those limiting beliefs to the surface and changing it, After all, all beliefs are figments. We imagine that they are rooted in external events. But the beliefs we hold about ourselves are fictions that we have concocted.
NLP recognizes that everything you experience in your life is informed by your emotional and mental state. Love is simply the highest and most beneficial emotional state. It’s a natural combination of joy, energy, mental clarity, creativity and whatever natural positive tendencies accompany your own personality once you have become free from emotional encumbrance.
Four Parts to love
Affection. Familiarity. Getting to know you. Feeling safe, known, seen, appreciated and owning those feeling as your own, as a natural way of being yourself. When we work with new clients we often begin by teaching them to like themselves. Perhaps it’s the single most powerful thing they can do. It is the beginning of love.
Friendship. There’s a saying that money can buy anything except old friends. There’s consistency and faithfulness in friendship. There are common aims, common values, and trust. There is contact, accountability, transparency, and the challenge of growth.
In the Greek conception of the world, Eros was the first element that took shape from primordial Chaos. We turned Eros into lust and pornography because we were ashamed of desire. Think of Eros instead as the embodiment of life, love revealed. It includes sexuality, because it includes everything we call life. Eros is celibate or fertile. It is the abundance of embodied living.
Imagine the unconditional love of a mother for her child. Remove the child and let the love remain, now direct that love towards everything and everyone that comes within its reach. Or imagine the exquisite pleasure of being in love for the first time. Remember how it transformed your world, Now remove the person who awakened your heart, but keep the transformation. Neuroscience has measured the healing and creative capacity of that state. NLP teaches you how to own and embody it.
It’s almost meaningless to speak of love. Love is simply life lived. The only certainty is life itself, the only law – ‘more life!’ Love is the experience of life, the embodiment of the truth of living, along with the little joys and sadness, the coming and going of things. It is clearing the way to the ongoing happiness my teacher was referring to.
How can NLP helps in this central spiritual quest? It is the nearest thing we’ve seen to a User’s Manual for how to experience the love and joy that is the natural fuel for this business of living life as a complete human-being.
NLP is short for Neurolinguistic Programing. Unfortunately that might still have you wondering! Five Changes sometimes defines NLP as Now Live on Purpose, which may explain a little more ..
NLP is a system that was co-created in the early 1970’s. A linguist and a computer programmer put their heads together to learn how certain individuals, in the fields of psychotherapy, hypnosis and cybernetics, achieved the extraordinary results they were getting with their clients. The guiding question was whether those results could be replicated.
NLP began as a science of modelling what worked best, and then applying or adapting it to different arenas. Is it possible to re purpose your best attitudes, performance, and skills from one area of your life, and use them to help you in other areas? Is it possible to take what really works well for one person and learn what it is they do so that you can learn the same skills yourself?
The answer is yes. NLP is a science allows you to take something that works rea
lly well in one area of your life, and bring elements of it across to another area of your life. For example, the shy athlete can learn to bring the confidence she might feel on the playing field into the boardroom or onto the stage. You could take the wonder, curiosity, and excitement that you feel in your most inspired moments and bring it to an area of your life where you are challenged. Most importantly it teaches you to do so precisely and reliably and for the greatest positive long-term effect. In addition it reinforces the understanding implicit in this work that change really is possible, and that often means change that goes way beyond what was previously anticipated. We’re talking about the achievement of excellence in any area you like: professionally, personally, romantically, creatively. Human beings, that means you and me, have the capacity to lead extraordinary lives!
For example, in the area of therapy, NLP can work to help someone overcome a phobia, by using some of the innate skills that already exist in their imagination. In the days of behavioral therapy it might take months to help someone overcome a phobia. With NLP it can be done in minutes.
Many of the current revelations of neuroscience simply confirm observations and skills that have been used in NLP for decades. Many things that are theoretically possible are made effective because an attitude, unconditioned by fixed assumptions about what is or isn’t possible, or what is or isn’t wrong with a person, is implicit in the work of NLP. That attitude .. that change really is possible bears fruit through the skillful use of NLP, Since NLP is hypnosis’ Cousin.
In addition, NLP lets you take the excellence embodied by others; the communication skills of Martin Luther King, the creative imagination of Stephen Hawking, or the creative daring of Lady Gaga, the determination and dedication of Mother Theresa, or the fearless curiosity of Emelia Earhart, and adapt them so that you can use elements of their brilliance yourself.
NLP is based on a foundation which recognizes that each person is made up of a unique set of perceptions, strategies, attitudes, beliefs, assumptions, and behaviors .. as unique as your fingerprint .. and that much of it can be changed.
It assumes that how we respond to the circumstances of our life, though based on what we learned in the past, is entirely up for change .. if we choose to see it that way, and it then goes on to provide the tools for us to embody that change.
A definition that I like of NLP is “[an]attitude followed by a trail of techniques”. The attitude is one that is determined to live ‘at choice’, and ‘on purpose’, rather than as the victim of circumstances.
We say that the future is fixed. You can’t change it, you can only change the past. Unless you change the past the future will be the same. It sounds counter-intuitive, but unless you change your perceptions and reactions that you have accumulated from your past experience, you’ll keep on making the same assumptions, holding the same beliefs, and repeating the same strategies and mistakes, to get the same results. Some of that ‘trail of techniques’ consists of specific ways to change the past, using the imagination, trance, and age regression in very specific ways, to allow you to access resources that have been blocked.
What’s love got to do with it?
If the above sounds a little dry and clinical it’s because the work of NLP is very specific. NLP is geared towards adapting and discovering the very best way to work with any individual regardless of where they’re at. It starts with where you are, and it proceeds from there with the idea that anything is possible.
Just as in the past, NLP is applied in the realm of therapy, education, leadership and business, and public speaking. It is guided by what’s possible: What might work better than you ever imagined? What works well here that we can apply there? How can we let go of what doesn’t work well anymore, simply and rapidly? It is guided by limitless empathy and a limitless desire to do the greatest possible good. In other words, it is guided by the most practical sort of love.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that practical love is a watered down version of love. It’s the most sustainable and powerful kind there is.
What is NLP? Simply put, NLP is based on the understanding that our reality, and our experience of the world, is made up of the words and pictures through which we perceive, remember, hold, and revision it. The work of NLP is the science of changing those words and pictures, as well as the emotions that are rooted in them.
This is a natural manifestation of love because it works towards greatest possible good for the individual, and ultimately for the planet.
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NLP Certification and Coaching Credential Training with Five Changes
We often meet people who say, “Oh yes, I do NLP,” or “I’ve taken some NLP” or “I’m a certified NLP practitioner.” Those people may have trained with a reputable teacher. They may have lots of ‘techniques’ at their disposal. But what is often ignored or misunderstood is that NLP is more than a skill-set and the Neuro-Linguistic Programming Training Techniques cannot be simply learned. It is a revolutionary approach to learning and change. Techniques and skills are important, but they’re useless without the inner shift that makes using them really effective. And that’s not something that’s usually taught. NLP skills are astoundingly impressive and effective. Naturally, they work exceptionally well in an environment where personal change is expected, like in a training. But what about when you have to face a difficult client who requires that you draw from your own creativity to create a new version those skills? What about instilling in yourself the mindset that allows you to approach any client free from expectations of what is possible for them, so that you no longer limit the situation by your own past experience?
You might say that that are two kinds of NLP. It’s the same with any art. Neuro linguistic programming techniques and skills are essential. Whether you’re playing music, painting, practicing medicine or any healing art, flying planes, leading a team. The right kinds of skill are essential, but to really transform, or heal, or have a positive impact on the life of others, something else is required.
1. MEANING. Joseph Campbell once remarked that it’s not the meaning of life that people are seeking so much as it is the experience of being connected. Connected to what? To the inner feeling that lets you to know you are living in integrity with yourself, your values and ethics, your passions and desires? That you are connected to the world around you in a way that fits who you are, and who you are in process of becoming? That you feel safe, loved, creative, useful; that life is inherently pleasurable, joyful, ecstatic, and fun.
2. MINDSET. That you are not looking outside yourself for reasons why you’re having trouble with #1. That you trust your experience without resigning yourself to any idea that it might hold lasting reality. That you live ‘at choice’ with all that happens, and trust that everything, and every experience, could be a gift in the making.
3. PERSPECTIVE. Have you ever been in an argument? Have you ever watched other people in an argument and realized that everyone wanted the same thing in the long run but were caught up in details (.. and resentment, pride, belief systems etc.)? One of the keys of leadership, aka of being an effective human being, and of practicing NLP well, hinges on holding the big picture while remaining aware of the details. Some of us tend to be better at one than the other. Some of us are big picture oriented while others are detail oriented. The key is to be both, and to know when to focus on details and when to focus on the big picture. This is just as true for working with clients , NLP or otherwise, as it for running a business, or mediating a disagreement. It’s like having a zoom lens attached to your perception of everything.
4. PASSION. Knowing that everything is interconnected and that everything therefore matters means that you understand that you work impacts humanity and the world. Sometimes you might slip into resignation, feeling that problems you or your clients face are so enormous and say, “What’s the point?” Passion for what you do, and your passion to continue learning and challenging yourself, are contagious. You passion will have a positive impact on everything you do, on your family, friends, and colleagues, and most certainly on your clients.
Let’s just say that there are two kinds to NLP. One is holistic and recognizes that there is a quantum dimension to the work. In other words, it recognizes that your work, your life, and the life of your client are interconnected (think of the term entanglement as it applies to sub-atomic particles).
The other is piecemeal, hit-or-miss, learn a technique or two and hope that it works.
As you might guess, we recommend and emphasize the first approach in our NLP training.
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Here are a few stories about the practicality of Big Picture thinking
Many years ago, a cargo ship with a consignment of toilet seats was washed ashore on the Pacific nation of Tonga. Western toilets were unknown on the island at that time. But these were put to good use. For many years, through the eighteen hundreds and into the early part of the twentieth century, photographs of the Tongan king could be found in houses across the islands, neatly mounted in an oval wooden frames. If you’re resourceful enough you can make good use for just about anything.
The Japanese poet Nanao Sakaki came to stay with friends in California. While Nanao was sitting in a corner of the room translating his poems into English his friends were busy planning a local action to protest the proliferation of nuclear arms. Nanao looked up and said, “Hey guys, you know we don’t haveto survive!” He wasn’t questioning the value of what they were doing. He was suggesting that big picture thinking could empower any plan, and usually allows for more choices and more options.
Once at a retreat at Manzanita Village, someone working in the kitchen threw out a bag of avocados. She explained by saying that there were no lemons for her to make guacamole. It was a breathtakingly clear example of how easy it is get stuck in self-imposed limitations. How many ways can you use avocados? She was so focused on guacamole that she forgot to ask?
A traveler walking through the Amazon forest realized that he was being stalked by a large panther. The huge cat was about to leap. The traveler began meowing like a kitten. The panther turned and darted back into the forest, as though chased by an invisible force. Was it the surprise of hearing a meowing primate? Was it the absence of fear in the eyes of its intended prey? Was the panther wondering how enormous the mother cat must be if the kitten was six feet tall?
If we get into trouble in life it’s often because we lose perspective. We can often get out of trouble best by changing how we think, changing what we think we know. Asking “Why?” and “How?” finding new answers, and removing some of the imagined limitations and beliefs that had been holding us back.
Just look at any political discussion on Sunday television in the U.S. and it soon becomes clear that most of the arguments are based on unexamined assumptions. It’s like three people arguing about the shape of an elephant, one looking at it head-on, one from the side, and one from the rear. They are all looking at the same animal, but they assume that theirs is the only possible position on which to stand.
I was speaking to someone today about Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), and saying how people get confused by the many brilliant techniques it is known for, and think that’s what NLP is. All those amazing techniques are simply the products of NLP. They come out of NLP. The essence of NLP is much simpler. Part of it has to do with looking for the big picture, looking at what works, howit works, and then finding ways to change your own actions based on that, in order to get more effective results for yourself. For example, a person standing in front of a charging elephant needs to know how to get out of the way. NLP is concerned first with how to move from A to B, how to get out of the way of that charging elephant, and how to stay out of the way. Knowing why the elephant is charging may be useful information, even though it’s not the first question to ask.
One of the key principles of NLP is flexibility, knowing what question to ask and when, being willing and able to change your perspective and acting accordingly. Like using a zoom lens, to zoom in or out. It’s essential to be able to do both and it’s essential to know when to do so. Seeing the big picture is important, and so is filling in the details. The key is to know when to apply what. Confronted with a charging elephant the issue is one of survival. At another time you can ask a question other than the one your body answers automatically when confronted with that charging elephant,
Once you’ve saved yourself from being trampled by the elephant, a good question to ask in order to see a bigger big picture is “For what purpose?”
For what purpose ..
.. do I unconsciously put myself in the path of charging elephants?
.. am I getting into a dysfunctional situation just like others I’ve been in?
.. is that person spending time doing something they detest?
When we take a less than perfect course of action, in any situation, it’s often because we have not yet uncovered some of our hidden motivations and agendas. “For what purpose am I doing what I’m doing?”
We tell our clients that they are doing the best they can according to what they know, or according to what they think is possible. And that our work with them is to help them to know more .. not just knowing intellectually, but tapping into a deeper knowing and trusting. It means learning to look at a bigger picture so that they have more options and choices. Asking the question, “For what purpose?” is a great place to start.
For more information about learning the tools of Neurolinguistics (NLP) follow this link.
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