Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is often used to improve interpersonal dynamics. It also has applications in personal growth and development. Several NLP techniques can help you live a more enjoyable and meaningful life.
Indeed, NLP underscores the importance of mastering higher self-awareness methods to spot patterns, thoughts, and assumptions that can be preventing you from finding happiness in your life. Here are four valuable NLP techniques that you can use and the science behind them.
Anchoring is one of the most common NLP techniques. The goal is to elicit positive responses at will by associating a particular mental and emotional state to an anchor, which can be an image, a word, or a gesture. Anchoring improves our ability to control emotions and to take an active role in self-management, making us less prone to feeling powerless and overwhelmed.
Use these four NLP techniques to boost happiness levels
Anchoring is based on the psychological concept of conditioning, whereby a stimulus triggers certain responses. Anchoring helps you elicit the response you want through repetition. It benefits you by putting you in charge of your emotions. Moreover, some studies suggest that when coupled with other techniques and interventions, anchoring can help overcome phobias and irrational fears.
“Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is often used to improve interpersonal dynamics. Several NLP techniques can help you live a more enjoyable and meaningful life.”
Next on the list of NLP techniques is 'reframing', or viewing adverse events from a different 'frame'. This allows you to open up your mind to opportunities that may be lying ahead instead of dwelling on the negatives. In short, reframing changes the focus from negative and overpowering to positive and empowered.
Reframing is used as a therapeutic technique for its ability to modify perceptions. Different parts of the brain trigger memories and emotions: memories are stored in the hippocampus, whereas the amygdala mainly controls emotions.
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When recalling past events, the amygdala responds by triggering an emotion that replicates the original one, but reframing reminds us that the nature of that emotion isn't fixed and that we can break automatic patterns and prioritise rational responses over knee-jerk reactions. Reframing is a NLP technique that proves it's possible to break free from the so-called amygdala hijack.
Meta-modelling is one of the most powerful NLP techniques given its ability to help identify self-imposed constraints that may be preventing you from finding happiness. The easiest way to meta-model is by looking at the language you use in everyday life, paying attention to these three types of patterns:
Identify which category your thoughts belong to, then start the exploratory process of questioning the maladaptive thought pattern. For example, if you catch yourself in a deletion like “people don't find me attractive”, meta-modelling questions to ask would be “which people specifically?” and “how do you know that?”.
The chances are that your answers will include a generalised statement with the words “always” or “never”. Then it's time to ask yourself whether you are realistic by claiming that things are always this way and never that way. When meta-modelling, it's also useful to ask about alternative courses of action. For example, in the statement “if I don't lose weight, I'll feel like a failure”, ask yourself whether feeling like a failure is your only option.
“Meta-modelling is one of the most powerful NLP techniques given its ability to help identify self-imposed constraints that may be preventing you from finding happiness.”
Meta-modelling works because it forces you to challenge ingrained response patterns that can evolve into what experts in psychological science call excessive avoidance behaviour, which limits your ability to learn from new experiences. The effectiveness of this technique is also linked to pattern separation. When faced with a new situation, we tend to compare with previous ones, but if pattern separation is active, you will understand that different scenarios require different responses.
Meta-modelling can prompt you to develop habits like listening to yourself and challenging limiting thoughts. This can help you become more resilient to cognitive distortions, and more skilled at challenging deep fears, lessening anxiety and tension.
This is one of the NLP techniques that emphasise the severely limiting effect of negative thoughts. The goal of the Swish method is to identify mental and emotional triggers of negativity and replace them with an ideal response. When using the Swish technique, you don't have to take any action, but become aware of the alternatives available and train your brain to set off a “happier mode” whenever negative thoughts and emotions begin to overpower you.
Use these NLP techniques to change negative thoughts into positive ones
As it happens with other NLP techniques for happiness, you need to practice the Swish Method a few times to ensure the replacement thought becomes the default response. Do it at least five times and speed up the visualisation with each round. To check for effectiveness, evoke the trigger thought/feeling and its context, and see how you feel about it.
The Swish Method is a visualization technique driven by the principle that seeing is believing. Research studies have shown that the brain does not differentiate between real and visualized events, as they both activate the same parts of the brain.
Other studies have shown that the type of mental rehearsal involved in visualization has a direct effect on fundamental cognitive skills, including memory, attention, and perception. The benefits of mastering this technique include improved emotional performance and a calm and confident approach knowing that you don't need to let negative thoughts dominate your life.
Neuro-linguistic programming can help you tap into the resources and skills needed to you train your brain and take control of thoughts and beliefs, facilitating the achievement of a fulfilling life. Anchoring, reframing, meta-modelling and the Swish Method are four key NLP techniques for happiness and personal empowerment that are worth putting in practice. ●
Main image: Colourbox.com
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A social sciences graduate with a keen interest in languages, communication, and personal development strategies. Dee loves exercising, being out in nature, and discovering warm and sunny places where she can escape the winter.
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