Small Change – Big Change

Many people I meet are looking for a way to improve their lives – they want to be happier or more successful in some way. They usually expect this to happen in a single, momentous, life-changing event – or in a single dramatic therapeutic change.

While this is possible – and often achievable – it isn’t necessarily the best way to change anything. It’s a symptom of the ‘quick fix’ mentality embedded in our current culture and narrows the range of options most people will consider.

The quick fix is therefore a highly suspect urge – you only have to look at the sheer quantity of ‘get rich quick’ schemes on the internet and the rise in gambling to glimpse the downside. We expect that the promise of easy money is a lie, but hope that it is not. In this way, our hopes can be used to make us vulnerable to exploitation.

What might we do instead that is more authentic and lasting than the current fads would allow? Something simple and effective is needed.

Think about this:

Suppose the sky is blue – is that good or bad?

The answer most people give is “it depends”. What it usually depends on is you – your circumstances, your needs, your plans and your customary perspective. You have to do something on the inside which biases that decision.

The sky itself is always blue, even behind the clouds, just as the sun is always shining somewhere – even at night. Our perspectives – our conditioned mental reflexes – do the rest.

So do you let your current conditioning decide whether something is good or bad – or do you ask yourself a better question instead – like “Is this useful?”

If your current perspective is not useful, it may be wise to change it. In doing this, you have an opportunity to improve your life in a simple, meaningful way. This is likely to be a small change. However, if you keep this principle in mind throughout your day, the opportunities will multiply – as will the benefits. Small changes do add up quickly to create a bigger positive effect – this is one of the axioms of complexity theory.

This is the type of ‘resourceful change’ that is the foundation for my company – and for everything else I do.

And you can do it too, if it is useful for you.

Just remember that whether you take these opportunities or whether you let them pass you by, the sky will always be blue and it’s still waiting for you to make that first simple change for the better.

Real World NLP

When I started out with NLP, my first experiences were motivated by an interest in communication, so I focused most on those aspects of my development. From a scientific perspective, I was thoroughly intrigued by the NLP methodology.

I had some skills and very few specific techniques, so I got very good at asking questions and exploring through feedback. In many cases this is the best way to learn something, as the distinctions formed through experience are the most persistent and personal type of learning. In this way, NLP becomes part of experience and part of life.

Experiencing NLP

Since NLP is a way of working and a way of looking at the world, a good way to begin is to start to notice many of the things that NLP training aims to make us more aware of.

Above all, approach this in a playful way. Have fun exploring the new world this opens out.

One thing about memory is that we tend to recall things when we’re in the same state in which we learned them.

So if you’re putting yourself under a bit of pressure, then stop…

Take a deep breath.

Take your mind back to the ‘where and when’ of that learning

and re-connect with it.

Playfulness and fun are two of the states we use a lot in the process of teaching NLP. This is one of the many reasons we do that.

NLP Awareness

Notice when people you know go in and out of states. Anchor the useful ones and test your work. Have everyone around you become more resourceful and motivated this way.

Be aware of the language used by people you meet every day, their tonality, rhythm and inflection. Practice matching those distinct unconscious elements in your communication to achieve better rapport.

Listen for metaprograms and filters and tailor your communication to bypass them.

Prepare, practice, calibrate and improve.

As for the many techniques, work on yourself, help out friends and family, coach colleagues. Above all, remain open to accepting sensory feedback throughout and draw useful distinctions.

NLP Development

Keep yourself open to learning and you will continue to develop. People tend to plateau because they’ve stopped learning. Their internal model of that area has crystallised and extraneous pieces are streamlined away.

While that is a healthy and natural process, you should bear in mind that if there’s still room for improvement, you may have crystallised your learning too soon. Fortunately, our unique teaching methods can reopen the learning process and build positively on this solid foundation.

The key distinction is that a model is not reality and rules can be made to flex, bend and even break constructively, forming new distinctions. Learning through experience is essential at this point, provided these experiences occur within a specific set of boundary conditions. And all in a playful way.

Practicing NLP

Look at the world. Pay attention to the people around you. Find excellent people and ask if you can model their skills. Be curious and enjoy asking thought-provoking questions and you’ll find that everyone does something really well.

If you ask yourself, ‘how can I use these skills to great effect in work/at home/in my pastimes,’ you will benefit greatly from understanding more about the people in the world around you.

I began my journey in a search for better means of communicating. I found a lot more than that. If you make the awareness and methods part of your life, you’ll never have to practice NLP.

Just enjoy your life.

The Problem with Polarity Thinking – Part 2

In the first part of this piece, I described how thinking in polarities can limit your thinking. It’s actually a hypnotic structure in language based on the word or. Choices are artificially limited: “should we do X or Y?” limits you to just two choices instead of the entire field of possibility.

Polarity combines with this structure to force a choice between absolutes: “should we do it: yes or no?” There are many more of these binary choices presented to us every day, forcing black and white decisions in a world with many more colourful choices.

Good/Bad

Good/Evil

Right/Wrong

Guilty/Innocent

For us/Against us

Enemy/Friend

and on it goes.

To de-hypnotise yourself from these polarities, you first need to be aware of them as they occur. Then move beyond those limited choices. After all, if it’s not right and it’s not wrong – then what is it?

If you don’t see any other choices, then that’s a good indicator you have a mental ‘blind spot’ or a gap in information on your mental map.

A good way to fill in such gaps and remove blind spots of this sort is to collide the polarities using an NLP technique called the visual squash. Here’s how it works:

Exercise: Closing gaps with the visual squash.

  1. Identify the two ideas or polarities you want to integrate.
  2. Hold your arms out in front of you, hands apart, palms facing up.
  3. Imagine one of the ideas in your left hand. Does it have a colour, shape, sound, texture, temperature or weight? Make it as real as possible.
  4. Imagine the other idea in your right hand. Does it have a colour, shape, sound, texture, temperature or weight?
  5. Understanding that at a higher level everything is one, allow your hands to move closer to each other only as quickly as your unconscious can bring those concepts together.
  6. Imagine a line of communication between the two, connecting them as they continue to move closer.
  7. When the two concepts meet/combine, you might have a flash of inspiration, opening up new possibilities, or the two ideas might just seem to work better together. Or you may not be conscious of the specifics of the change and the connection will become apparent later.

After doing this exercise, often you will find a spectrum of options instead of just two poles, opening up a world of greater choice.

Sometimes the process will ‘collapse’ the duality – especially if the two elements are true opposites. This is also a beneficial result because it allows you to see choices elsewhere, rather than just between the two extremes you started with. The only way to know what this can add to your choices is to do the process and find out for yourself.

Is polarity thinking good or bad? Now you know a better question to ask yourself.