The Amazing Benefits of NLP: Why it is not a pseudoscience for me.
I recently had the opportunity to attend an intensive four-day training in Neuro-Linguistic Programming from The Empowerment Partnership. It had a big impact on me and made me a believer. If you read certain publications such as Wikipedia, they will state that it is pseudoscience and it has no scientific evidence to support it. I am not sure the basis of their claims but I witnessed it firsthand within myself, and then I watched a woman who has suffered from an odd phobia for decades be released from this panic-inducing ailment within minutes.
What is NLP?
NLP is a model for behavior change at a subconscious level using language. I like to refer to it as learning to speak the language of the unconscious or subconscious mind. NLP was started by two psychologists Richard Bandler and John Grinder back in the ’70s. They incorporated other methods and modalities from Milton H Erickson, Virginia Satir, Fritz Perls, among others. If you have studied the history of Psychology at any time, all of these names will be familiar to you. Although it has as with any modality changed and evolved over time, the basics of NLP, have remained intact to this day.
Having attained a B.S. in Psychology from Colorado State Universtiy, I had been exposed to NLP and the names listed above, and I knew that Tony Robbins started his self-help career using NLP, but I hadn't thought about it until six weeks ago. I was working late at night in my office, and I saw someone down the hall which I thought was another person who likes to work late in the evening. The lights were turned down low, and I yelled out “Hey how are you doing tonight.” It turns out I scared the hell out of the wrong guy. Fortunately, he then introduced himself as Alex B. Aanderud who is a Transformation Coach, Consultant, and trainer for his company Legacy Of Results. He has studied and used the NLP methods for the past ten years, and then he began telling me about the upcoming training in Tempe, AZ, in a couple of weeks. I was intrigued and said sure why not and signed up. I didn’t know much about NLP, and I decided not to do much research so as not to cloud my judgment. However, as what has most likely come with age and perhaps a little wisdom, I have learned to become skeptical of just about everything, including my own perceptions and interpretations. But needless to say, I looked forward to the four twelve hour days of intensive training.
Experience Triumphs Over Skepticism
Several paradigm-shifting events took place during the four days. For example, in the first part of day one, the instructors covered the history and foundational aspects of NLP. What was interesting was while this was being covered I would think of the things I had learned from my first Buddhism teacher and realized the numerous similarities.
Now in honesty, not all of the techniques that we were taught had an impact. It's not that they might not work, but I think it had more to do with that I was practicing the techniques with fellow participants who were as equally inexperienced in the methods as I was.
However, there we two exercises that had a major impact on me. The first was a method known as parts integration. The idea of parts interaction is to reconcile conflicting or non-congruent parts within your unconscious mind that may be holding you back in some way. The example that I used for my exercise is the conflict I have about not attending my mothers funeral and the reasons behind it. As we were going through the exercise and looking for a sign that the parts were becoming integrated I felt a major shift. I saw it as my hands unconsciously began to move together and felt it within my body. I realized what I must do, and that is to go to her gravesite and seek forgiveness from my siblings. I am still carrying this piece of my unaddressed past with me, and I need to let it go finally.
The last exercise was one that I did not participate in but observed. The lead instructor Dr. John Ryan asked us if there was anyone who had a long-standing intense phobia that they would like to rid themselves of finally. After a few people shared their phobias, Dr. Ryan finally chose a woman who had a rather unusual phobia. Her Phobia was earthworms. The event that solidified the phobia happened when she was thirteen. She saw another girl pull apart an earthworm and she watched both pieces squirm around. Ever since that time she has had an intense fear of seeing or even thinking about earthworms. As she was telling her story, you could see her change. She appeared as if she might have a panic attack from just thinking about it. In fact, when it rained, she wouldn’t go outside for fear of seeing an earthworm. The funny thing about that is we live in Phoenix, AZ where it doesn't rain much, and I don’t think I have seen an earthworm on the ground in the twenty-two years that I lived here.
As she went up on the stage and sat next to Dr. Ryan, you could see the stress in her face and body reappear as he asked here again to remember the triggering incident. He then began a process that is used in NLP to rid people of phobias. The last part of it was he asked her to imagine herself in a movie theatre projection booth watching the incident in color on the screen. Then to remove herself from the booth and put herself in the movie while running it backward in black and white. He repeated this process for several minutes. What was amazing is as Dr. Ryan continued repeating this process you could see her face and body change. She was ridding herself of this decade's long phobia right before our eyes. I was blown away, it was then I realized the power in these methods, and I became a believer.
After this experience, I have decided to go ahead and become a Certified NLP Practitioner. I look forward to becoming proficient in these techniques and using them to not only help others but to uncover and unlock my unconscious mind.