How NLP Can Change Your Life

NLP For Mental Health And More

Understanding Neuro-Linguistic Programming: A Pathway to a Better Life

Alright, Chris. NLP this, NLP that, what the heck have you been talking about and what is this mysterious acronym? Before you ask - no this isn’t an article about natural language processing, lol. Here’s the story:

After spending all of my savings and traveling around looking for answers to cure my misophonia, panic attacks, anxiety, depression… all the fun stuff, I was finally introduced to NLP by someone on the internet (yes - there are positive sides to technology!) who had overcome their misophonia, depression, anxiety, and more. This person (who I’ll be writing more about soon) also introduced me to another wonderful human from Denmark who had overcome misophonia.

As you can imagine after years of searching, when I initially heard these stories of triumph I was bouncing off-the-walls ecstatic. “It’s possible to restore your mind? Really? THANK GOODNESS.”

I will give you both my personal view of NLP and a summary of what’s out there on the internet.

My View of Neuro-Linguistic Programming:

NLP is a set of tools collected from successful therapists that allow you to rewrite your fundamental beliefs and views of yourself and the world around you, so you can sleep well at night and live a happy, healthy, fulfilling life.

When I say successful therapists, I mean successful in that these therapists’ patients overcame the issues they walked into sessions with, and didn’t have to talk about them for years on end with no real resolution.

The tools under the umbrella of Neuro Linguistic Programming allow you to “clean up” traumatic memories from your past and build healthy, concrete, and lasting levels of self-worth, esteem, and confidence.

In one sentence: NLP is a set of mental techniques and exercises that allow you to rewrite the mental operating system you’ve been ingrained with since childhood.

What Is Neuro-Linguistic Programming? The Internet’s View

NLP was developed in the 1970s by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, who believed it was possible to identify the patterns of thoughts and behaviors of successful individuals and to teach them to others. The title, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, includes three essential components:

  • Neuro: This component is related to our neurology, our mind, and how we think.

  • Linguistic: This aspect deals with how we use language and how it influences us and those around us.

  • Programming: This element is about our behaviors and how we organize our ideas and actions to achieve our goals.

In essence, NLP is about personal development, effective communication, and psychotherapy. It relates thoughts, language, and patterns of behavior learned through experience to specific outcomes. NLP is often used as a personal development tool or in psychotherapy.

Is NLP backed by science?

It's important to note that while people have reported positive results with NLP, the scientific community has raised concerns about its empirical validity and the lack of robust scientific evidence supporting its claims.

As such, individuals interested in using NLP should approach it with an open mind and consider seeking guidance from qualified and reputable practitioners if they choose to explore its techniques.

There are some bad actors in the NLP space that, in my opinion, are the reason its reputation has been tarnished and cast aside as ineffective. And when I say bad actors, I mean full-on snake oil salesman. People that are way more interested in taking people’s money than helping them improve their lives.

This is sad because there are some incredibly powerful mental exercises from NLP that radically changed my life - from being bed-bound with ear plugs in and headphones on - to out and about living a “normal” life again. These are techniques I’d never been taught in conventional talk therapy and other forms of therapy (e.g. CBT).

Given how powerful and transformative NLP has been for my life and many others I know personally, my hope and goal is to advance the knowledge of NLP so it will be more widely studied and used as a common form of therapy. I’ve already completed master-level NLP training and have started coaching people back to more balanced states of mind.

Okay - back to the NLP basics.

The Presuppositions of NLP

NLP operates under several assumptions, which serve as valuable principles or beliefs that contribute to the process's effectiveness. These include:

  1. The map is not the territory: Our perception of reality is not reality itself but our own subjective understanding of it. This means reality is what we conceptualize it as in our mind. “Chris, this is confusing what’s a map and what does this mean?” Great question…

    A “map” in NLP is our subjective lens/view of the world based on our past experiences and personalities. In layman’s terms “the map is not the territory” means two people can experience the same event and have different views, memories/feelings about, and opinions of what actually occurred in this event.

  1. There is no failure, only feedback: Mistakes should be viewed as opportunities to learn and grow.

  2. People work perfectly: Everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have available. The person that flipped you off in traffic the other day? They’re doing the best they can with the mental programs they’ve been ingrained with.

  3. The meaning of the communication is the response you get: If your communication is misunderstood, it’s your responsibility to express it in a different way.

  4. If one person can do something, anyone can learn to do it: If someone can achieve something, it’s possible to model it and teach it to others.

  5. The body and mind are part of the same system: Our thoughts and emotions affect our physical bodies and vice versa.

Techniques of NLP

There are a LOT of NLP techniques. Since NLP’s inception in the 70s, the original creators have iterated on the original methods and developed new techniques. Additionally, outsiders have crafted their own NLP techniques for specific problems.

It’s important to note that because we all have different primary processing styles, specific techniques work better for some processing styles than others. When I say processing styles I’m referring to visual, auditory, feelings, Myers-Briggs type traits.

Here are a few of my favorite NLP Techniques:

Time Line Therapy

We all conceptualize time in different ways. For example, if I asked you to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and then point to where your future is, and then to where your past is, these locations might be in different areas than one of your peers. Common timeline representations are: one’s future is out in front of them, and the past behind them. For some people the past is to their left and the future is to their right, you get the gist.

A common problem for people is their inability to let go of past memories. These memories can cause issues on a daily basis such as overthinking, anxiety, etc…

Once we understand how someone represents time in their mind, we can use Time Line Therapy techniques to revisit past memories, reframe them, eliminate negative emotions around them, and positively distort them so that they are no longer causing negative issues in one’s life.

One of my favorite Time Line Therapy uses is for limiting beliefs. “I’m not smart enough, good enough, worthy, attractive” anything along those lines. Time Line Therapy can be very effective for taking people back to the original event that caused a limiting belief, giving them a new perspective on this event, and shattering the limiting belief that was created.

Working With Submodalities

Submodalities are how we encode and give meaning to our memories via internal representations and the five senses - sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.

For example, close your eyes, and imagine a blue car in your mind. When you imagine this car, where does it appear in your perception? Is it right in front of you? To your left/right/above/below you? Is it a big or small image? Is the image bright or dull? Is the image close to you or far away? Is the image focused or blurry? Is the image moving or still? These characteristics of the representation of the blue car are submodalities.

Now - here’s the cool part of working with submodalities. Submodality exercises can be used to forgive others, overcome phobias, break unhealthy eating habits, and a whole lot more.

In the context of forgiveness, there were a few people in my life I was having a hard time forgiving. Right - someone really wronged you and you know you need to let it go but you just can’t figure out how.

What I would do was:

  1. Elicit the submodalities of someone in my life I genuinely loved and admired. Usually, the submodalities of the person I loved would be bright, colorful, close to my face, etc.

  2. Elicit the submodalities of the person I needed to forgive - and these typically weren’t as positive. These submodalities were generally a dark picture, blurry, further off in the distance, small, etc.

  3. Perform a process known as mapping across - where we take the submodalities of the value we want to change - in this case - the person I wanted to forgive - and shift them to match the submodalities of the person I loved.

  4. I’d start off with location - I’d move the image of the person I wanted to forgive to the location of the person I loved in my mind. I’d then make the image of the person I wanted to forgive bright, colorful, closer to my face, and so on. I would continue to shift the submodalities until I genuinely felt love and compassion for this person I had harbored a deep anger for only minutes beforehand.

I remember one time after performing this forgiveness exercise I actually missed the person I had wanted to forgive so much that I called them up afterward to check in on them.

This forgiveness exercise is just one of many ways submodalities can be used to shift our thoughts and feelings around people, places, events, memories, and more.


You may have gathered this already - there were a lot of negatively charged memories taking up precious real estate in my head for quite some time. What was I thinking letting them cause me so much unnecessary agony for so long after the events had occurred? This is one of the best things about the past. It’s in the past. However, given our reptilian evolution, sometimes the lizard section of our brain fails to realize that these events are over.

Okay Chris, focus, dissociation. A lot of times when I would previously recall negative memories from my past, I would be associated in these memories, meaning I would experience them in first-person in my head almost as if they were happening all over again.

What I learned from NLP was the technique of dissociation - viewing memories from a third-person perspective. When I would start to recall a memory I didn’t particularly like, instead of viewing the memory through my own eyes as usual, I would mentally step out of this memory, so I was seeing myself in the memory like a third-party observer.

Sometimes, I would play around with switching back and forth from associated to dissociated with a specific memory, and note the difference. Every time - I found the dissociated state offered a significantly decreased emotional burden compared to the associated state.

What I really loved about this exercise, was it allowed me to realize I had the power to control and play around with these painful memories that were floating around in the back of my mind on a daily basis. Once I became comfortable dissociating from memories, I started playing around with making the memories smaller, moving them further away in my mind, and a few other techniques I’ll touch on later.

How Else Can NLP Improve Your Life?

Beyond the shortlist of techniques I described above, there are many other ways one can use NLP to benefit their life.

  1. Personal Development: NLP provides tools for personal growth and self-improvement. It can help you increase self-awareness, set and achieve goals, and develop a more positive mindset.

  2. Overcoming Phobias and Fears: NLP techniques can be used to address and overcome phobias, fears, and anxieties. By changing the way you perceive and respond to these triggers, you can reduce their impact on your life.

  3. Breaking Habits and Addiction: NLP can assist in identifying and modifying unwanted habits or addictive behaviors. It helps individuals understand the underlying patterns and triggers behind these behaviors, making it easier to break them.

  4. Stress Reduction: NLP offers strategies for managing stress and handling challenging situations with greater ease. Techniques like anchoring and visualization can be used to promote relaxation and emotional balance.

  5. Goal Setting and Achievement: NLP provides methods for setting clear and achievable goals. It helps individuals develop effective strategies and motivation to reach their objectives.

  6. Enhancing Relationships: NLP emphasizes building rapport and understanding the perspectives of others. It can improve your ability to connect with people, resolve conflicts, and communicate more effectively within personal and professional relationships.

  7. Leadership and Influence: NLP techniques can be valuable for individuals in leadership roles. They can help leaders inspire and motivate their teams, make better decisions, and become more persuasive communicators.

  8. Performance Improvement: Athletes, artists, and professionals in various fields have used NLP to enhance their performance. Visualization, mental rehearsal, and confidence-building techniques can boost performance levels.

  9. Coaching and Therapy: Some practitioners use NLP in coaching and therapeutic settings to help clients overcome personal challenges, improve self-esteem, and address emotional issues.

  10. Creativity and Innovation: NLP can stimulate creativity and problem-solving by encouraging individuals to think differently and break free from mental blocks.

  11. Learning and Education: NLP techniques can be applied in education to enhance learning experiences. They can help students develop effective study habits, overcome learning difficulties, and improve memory and concentration.

  12. Communication Skills: NLP helps individuals improve their communication abilities, both in terms of verbal and non-verbal communication. This can be beneficial for better relationships, negotiation, public speaking, and effective persuasion.

Want me to write about a specific topic? Have comments, questions, or concerns? Shoot me an email - [email protected] I would love to hear your story and how you’re doing.


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