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Can neuro-linguistic programming help you retrain your brain with language?

NLP begins with the premise that "every word has an energy to it. It has the power to create focus."

NLP explores the relationships between how we think (neuro), how we communicate (linguistic) and our patterns of behaviour and emotions (programs).

Martin Probst, an NLP master practitioner, uses NLP to help people overcome phobias. “The brain blows certain things out of proportion — a trigger is involved and the brain takes over from there. We need to disrupt that by reprogramming the unconscious.”

In everyday language, how we respond to questions is an example Mr Probst gives that can shape our day.

Dating and relationships coach Debbie Rivers uses NLP to help single people find partners.

“Our thoughts create our reality,” she says. “It’s all framing. Fear and excitement are the same emotion — you have control on how you process it.”

How does this work linguistically? “I’ve worked with men who say ‘I’m useless at this’, because they put so much pressure on the perfect pick up line,” she says. “I advise them to simply start with: ‘Hi, I’m…'”

Rivers claims this unblocks people from internal scripts creating negative patterns.

“Women who say ‘there are no good men out there’ tend to remain single,” she says. “Women who say ‘I see good men everywhere’ end up on dates with those good men.”

But for Nick Enfield, professor of linguistics at the University of Sydney, the jury is still very much out. For him, NLP is “a big, financially successful self-help pop psychological program”.

He suggests it’s pseudo-science: “It’s not part of the scientific field of linguistics or neuro-science — it’s not practised by professional researchers, and students in those academic disciplines don’t learn it.”

He sympathises with the claim the NLP practitioners want to make.

“Your choice of words directing people’s behaviours is an intriguing idea — so the insight is correct.” But the question mark, he says, is over the scientific evidence — beyond anecdotes.

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Posted on: December 3 2018

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