What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming?

November 22, 2019


Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) explains how we process the information that we take in from the world around us.


NLP is the process which begins with an external event that we experience through our sensory networks.

These are;
• Visual which includes what we see as well as the way someone looks at us;
 Auditory, includes sounds, the words we hear and the way (the tone) that people say those words to us;
• Kinaesthetic or external feelings, include the touch of someone or something, the pressure (intensity of touch) and the texture of the felt object.
• Olfactory which is smell; and
• Gustatory which is taste.

After the external event/stimulus comes in through our sensory channels, and before we make an Internal Representation (IR) of the event, we filter the event. We run that event through our internal processing filters. Our internal processing filters are how we deletedistort and generalise the information that comes in through our five senses.

Deletion occurs when we selectively pay attention to certain aspects of our experience and not others. Deletion means we overlook or omit certain sensory information. Without deletion, we would be faced with far too much information to handle in our conscious minds.

Distortion occurs when we make shifts in our experience of sensory data, by making misrepresentations of reality. There's a well-known story of distortion in Eastern philosophy. It is called the story of the rope and the snake. A man walking along a road saw what he believed to be a snake and yelled, "SNAKE". However, upon closer inspection he is relieved to discover that it really was only a piece of rope.
Distortion is also helpful as it is useful when we construct imaginary futures such as goals and ambitions.

Generalisation is a process where we draw global conclusions based on one, two or more experiences.

At its worst, generalisation is how we take a single negative event and make it into a lifetime belief and practice. For example, if a dog bites us, we are afraid of all dogs and avoid them.


At its best generalisation is helpful for taking in new information and for learning. It is also essential for communication. For example, the word “ball” is automatically understood as something round or oval, that bounces and one can play games with. This is necessary for communication, as the majority of people understand what a ball is. This can apply to many other generalisations, such as colours, numbers, shapes, fruits and animals, to name but a few.

So the question is, "When two people receive the same stimulus, why don't they have the same response?" The answer is: because we delete, distort, and generalise. We filter the information from the outside in different ways.

We are individuals, with different experiences. The way we see things, has a profound effect on how we feel and react. (These feelings are chemically based. Happy emotions release endorphins, serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine to name a few. Whilst negative emotions release stress chemicals; such as produced by the adrenal glands “fight or flight” response, cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine). These feelings and our reactions to these feelings come from all our beliefs and underlying assumptions that we hold in our minds, from our education, spiritual or religious training; the community we were raised in, our social status in that community, our education and teachers, our economic prosperity or poverty, our family and friends, fashions and other opinions, TV and advertising, and even from the world events in our time in history.

In addition, our behaviour is guided by decisions that we have made in the past; whether conscious or unconscious. These decisions affect our behaviour in the present and are stored in what NLP calls a Time Line, and it is through our Time Line that we gain access to these emotions which are sometimes suppressed until something triggers these negative emotions (we are not concerned by positive emotions, because we want more of these).

That is why the use of Time Based Techniques (TBT) produces profound results and can alleviate/remove phobias, eliminate false, limiting or negative perceptions, such as fear, anger, hurt, sadness, guilt, or “I am not good enough …” and change them into positive, life affirming beliefs. This allows one to be more flexible, both in one’s conscious and unconscious mind. It is a matter of becoming aware of one’s own thoughts and actions. I find this particular NLP (TBT) technique amazing. 

Often, physical pain which is emotionally driven can also be reduced once one is helped to change the way one represents ones inner world of feelings.

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