“Thoughts Become Things”- These words have become a common sight in offices, gym floors, meditation workshops, even finding a place in Facebook posts and WhatsApp status messages. It is seen and experienced in every aspect of our life that the nature and quality of our thoughts have the power to influence what we accomplish.
NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming is an approach to psychotherapy developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970s. “Neuro” means related to the brain and nervous system, “Linguistic” is related to language and “Programming” is basically instructing, so in simple words NLP teaches you the language of your brain and how you can think and talk yourself into performing well at an important job interview or breaking a Deadlift PR at the gym or finally getting rid of stage fright. All of us at some point have failed, some have failed to stick to their diet while some have failed to remain calm before a speech and this may have happened in spite of being talented and having put in a lot of preparation time. Could it be that the root of the problem lies deeper than just talent or practice, could we simply program ourselves to succeed? Below mentioned are some basic NLP techniques to help you achieve what you may consider “Impossible.”
Memory Manipulation is a way to get over memories and mental images pertaining to the previous failure. Try and picture some people who have always intimidated you or bothered you in some way. Think of their physical structure-how tall, how broad, their facial expression, the way they are dressed. Next, make a few changes to this image- shrink them to half your size, put a big smile on their face and dress them up in Kindergarten uniform. Do they still seem as intimidating? I bet not. The way this works is that the brain replaces one image with another and as a result creates a different emotional response. This is visual manipulation and the same can also be done with other sensory aspects like sound, taste etc. The next time you picture your boss shouting at you, imagine his voice to be that of a five-year-old girl’s and take note of how you feel as a response.
Visualization is commonly practiced by athletes and in almost all genres of performance. Here’s a fun example- Close your eyes and relax. Imagine a bright yellow lemon on your palm. Notice how it looks when you place it on the chopping board. Imagine cutting it in half with a knife and gently bite down on a piece. Allow the sour juices to circulate inside your mouth and around your tongue and jaws. Do you feel your mouth secreting saliva? The way this works is, to a certain extent, the brain does not differentiate between real and imagined situations and as a result treats them as if they were real events. Arnold Schwarzenegger used this trick visualizing his legs as huge tree trunks just before his lower body workouts.
So, this time combine this with the previous technique and imagine yourself to be double your opponents’ size. Watch them shrink as you place your hands on your hips and tower over them. On your next workout visualize yourself turning into The Hulk and the weights might just feel a bit lighter.
Modeling is a setup technique to prepare for the kind of person you want to become. You can use it to “model” the qualities of individuals you admire. After choosing the person you wish to emulate, study, in detail, every aspect of this person- how they speak, how they dress, their body language, how they approach challenges, how they would react to a situation. Once this has sunk in, find a quiet place, get comfortable and mentally put yourself in their shoes. Picture yourself speaking the way they speak, moving the way they move, with minute detail feel yourself becoming that person. If it’s a dancer, notice how your muscles feel as you hold a certain pose your model is famous for, if it’s a business leader imagine you practicing his ethics and business decisions.
This is a subjective process and you should be as detailed as possible with your thoughts. To take this technique to the next level, try and speak to your model as to how he/she thinks, approaches situations and apply the information to your modeling practice. Perform this exercise for a few weeks and you’d be surprised at the changes in the way you look at yourself.
Lastly, Anchoring is a mental conditioning technique where a certain word or gesture is used as an “anchor” for an emotion and can later be used to recall the same emotion. Try and recall a particular moment when you were very happy and felt confident. It could be your first win at a competition, your wedding, anything that was a very happy moment. Mentally go back to that time and think about how you felt, describe it in detail and recall that feeling. Next, press the index finger of your right hand against the thumb. As you do this, go back to the memory and start to recall the joyful moment. Press the finger once again and this time enlarge the picture in your mind’s eye, clearly exploring the feeling and imagine the happiness double. Perform this exercise a few times until you feel flooded by this happiness.
This is called “Laying the anchor” and you can later re-induce this feeling by pressing your index finger against your thumb twice. What you are essentially doing is conditioning your brain to associate “happy” with “Pressing your index finger against your thumb twice”
Try a few of these before as you lie in bed tonight. Do remember though that controlling the mind is a skill acquired over time with lots and lots of practice.
Article Credits – Rupesh Choudhury