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 of this method is to elicit positive responses at will by associating a particular mental and emotional state to an anchor. This anchor is set by you and 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. It enables us to be less prone to feeling powerless and overwhelmed.
NLP techniques reframe negative thoughts into positive ones shutterstock/Odua Images
You can then use the anchoring method whenever you need an emotional pick-me-up, either on its own or alongside the other neuro-linguistic programming techniques outlined below.
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 even work to help overcome phobias and irrational fears.
Next on the list of NLP techniques is 'reframing', or viewing adverse events from a different 'frame'. This NLP method 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 overpowered 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.
“Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) improves interpersonal dynamics. NLP techniques can help you to live a more enjoyable and meaningful life.”
When recalling past events, the amygdala responds by triggering an emotion that replicates the original one. However, 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. Indeed, reframing is a NLP technique that proves it's possible to break free from the so-called amygdala hijack.
RELATED: Changing perspective
Meta-modelling is one of the most powerful NLP techniques. It gives you the ability to help identify self-imposed constraints that may be preventing you from finding happiness and questioning them. 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 negative 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 exactly 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.
Use these NLP techniques to change negative thoughts into positive ones
Meta-modelling works because it forces you to challenge ingrained response patterns that can evolve into what psychologists call excessive avoidance behaviour. This is unhelpful because it 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 healthy habits such as 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 emphasize 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. You thereby train your brain to set off a “happier mode” whenever negative thoughts and emotions begin to overpower you.
Regular practise is essential for NLP techniques shutterstock/Shift Drive
As it happens with all the other NLP techniques for happiness, you need to practise the Swish Method a few times to ensure the replacement thought becomes the default response. So, do it at least five times and speed up the visualization with each round. To check for effectiveness, evoke the trigger thought/feeling and its context, and see how you feel about it.
This NLP method is a visualization technique driven by the principle that seeing is believing. In fact, 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.
“Meta-modelling is a powerful NLP technique that can help you to identify self-imposed constraints that may be preventing you from finding happiness.”
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: shutterstock/Roman Samborskyi
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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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