The word Neuro linguistic programming can be broken down to three distinct words:
Neuro refers to the brain and neural network that feeds into the brain. Neurons or nerve cells are the working units used by the nervous system to send, receive, and store signals that add up to information.
Linguistics refer to the content, both verbal and non-verbal, that moves across and through these pathways.
Programming is the way the content or signal is manipulated to convert it into useful information. The brain may direct the signal, sequence it, change it based on our prior experience, or connect it to some other experience we have stored in our brain to convert it into thinking patterns and behaviors that are the essence of our experience of life.
Our experiences and feelings affect the way we react to external stimuli. Let me illustrate. I am afraid of snakes. The impulse I get if I see a snake or even hear a sound close to resembling that of a snake is a feeling of total fright. This is because, I was born in an area infested with several deadly snakes. One day a boy from my neighborhood came to our house. He knocked on the door. I opened the door. He had a snake in his hand. He wanted to show me the prize catch he had. He was holding it like we hold a pet cat. For him it was a pet. So, it gave him lot of joy to hold one. To me, it gave a migraine headache!
Both myself and my neighbor boy saw the same thing. The same signal was passed to our brain. It was the picture of a snake. However, our brains interpreted the implications of the snake entirely differently. In processing the information, our brains used our experiences (good and bad), our biases, our opinions, our value systems, etc. to convert it into useful information that we can use.
Neuro linguistic programming (NLP for short) was developed in the early 1970s by an information scientist and a linguist at the University of California at Santa Cruz. They had observed that people with similar education, training, background, and years of experience were achieving widely varying results ranging from wonderful to mediocre. They wanted to know the secrets of effective people. What makes them perform and accomplish things. They were especially interested in the possibility of being able to duplicate the behavior, and therefore the competence, of these highly effective individuals. It was the golden era of modeling and simulation. They decided to model human excellence. They looked at factors such as education, business and therapy. They have then zeroed in on the communication aspect. They started studying how the successful people communicated (verbal language, body language, eye movements, and others). By modeling their behavior, John Grinder and Richard Bandler were able to make out patterns of thinking that assisted in the subject's success. The two theorized that the brain can learn the healthy patterns and behaviors and that this would bring about positive physical and emotional effects. What emerged from their work came to be known as Neuro-Linguistic Programming.
The basic premise of NLP is that the words we use reflect an inner, subconscious perception of our problems. If these words and perceptions are inaccurate, they will create an underlying problem as long as we continue to use and to think them. Our attitudes are, in a sense, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The neuro linguistic therapist will analyze every word and phrase you use in describing your symptoms or concerns about your health. He or she will examine your facial expressions and body movements. After determining problems in your perception, the therapist will help you understand the root cause. The therapist will help you remodel your thoughts and mental associations in order to fix your preconceived notions. These preconceived notions may be keeping you from achieving the success you deserve.
NLP will help you get out of these unhealthy traits and replace them with positive thoughts, and patterns that promote wellness.
NLP uses self image and attitude towards illness to effect change and to promote healing. Hope is our greatest asset. It is one of the main reason why placebos (sugar pills used in clinical studies) work. We also know how effective prayer can be when it is combined with faith and hope. When a person loses hope and feels helpless in the face of a chronic disease such as AIDS or cancer, it is very easy to lose the hope; the body may just "quit trying." If the patient is made aware of his or her unique abilities and possibilities, he or she may see things differently. Now, the body's natural healing power can be harnessed to do the job.
NLP is based on several useful presuppositions. NLP places great emphasis on concepts that work as opposed to concepts that should work. NLP therapists will tell you that if what you're doing isn't working, you should try something else that will work for you. Every person is different. Flexibility is the key element in a given system. The person who is most likely to do well responds to changing (or unchanging) circumstances appropriately. This is one reason why NLP has made so much progress. NLP is much more interested in getting results.
Other tools that are available to NLP therapists are meta model, sensory acuity, Milton model, system representation and submodalities.