NLP Pre-suppositions and Changing Reality!

This week I am continuing to explore the NLP pre-suppositions and today I am focusing on one of the more wordy examples.

“The ability to change the process by which we experience reality is more often valuable than changing the content of our experience of reality.”

So let us take a moment to unpack this NLP pre-supposition. “The process by which we
experience reality” relates to our internal processes while “the content of our experience of reality” has two levels to it.

The first level could be described as the external experience, what is actually going on in our lives. The second level could be summarised as how we perceive that experience. It is possible that many (if not all) of our perceptions are distortions based on our individual and unique filters and programmes.

The second level is really part of our processes and I will discuss that further in a moment.

To describe this NLP pre-supposition in a nutshell, we can change how we think and feel about something more easily than we can change the world around us.

This is one of the major advantages that NLP has over so many other approaches and intervention styles. In the majority of NLP interventions the goal is to change how a memory is being stored in the brain.

Changing this storage is how we change the process. For example, Rick Gray in the USA is doing some ground breaking work with war veterans suffering from PTSD. The NLP
interventions he uses have been demonstrated (using MRIs) to change the brain structure at a protein level.

As a result the veterans experience a vast reduction in negative affect, accessing of the
trauma memories is reduced so that the emotion is no longer overwhelming and in some cases completely removed.

The research on how NLP interventions work is still relatively slim however it appears that by facilitating changes in the way the patient thinks changes the storage of memories in a positive and helpful way.

To clarify, our memories drive how we think, feel and behave. We create generalised memories based on our experience and “fantasies” about the various contexts in our lives.

The “fantasies” are the imagined experiences that we run in our mind when anticipating an event. These imagined scenarios will range from very helpful to very unhelpful.

For example, someone lacking in confidence may develop a number of unhelpful generalisations about how to interact with others. This will include images they hold of themselves and others, the way that they talk to themselves and how they feel. These in turn will become beliefs about self and the world at large.

In the example given here a belief will be formed such as “I lack confidence in social
situations.” Often a set of related beliefs will develop such as “I am not very interesting so people don’t like me.”

Some of this will be drawn from experience (e.g.the first belief) while others are imagined outcomes (e.g. the second belief). Both of these set up self fulfilling prophecies where the only evidence accepted is that which supports the belief.

An NLP intervention such as “Change Belief” provides a good model to demonstrate what is meant by changing the process rather than the content.

It involves identifying how the belief is stored and then changing how it is stored, in the
case of this intervention the most important aspect to change is location (e.g. Where is the belief kept?).

NB: We don’t really know if a belief is stored in a specific place, the idea of location is a
metaphor. The unconscious mind appears to respond well to the metaphorical processes of NLP. Almost all NLP interventions are based on some kind of metaphor.

With NLP interventions there is no need to endlessly explore how the person feels and why they have low confidence. The patient is able to experience an improvement in their  confidence very quickly and provided this improvement is re-enforced appropriately this change will stick.

So returning to the NLP pre-supposition:

“The ability to change the process by which we experience reality is more often valuable than changing the content of our experience of reality.”

By changing the location of the belief the patient or client gets to see a shift in reality. The outside world has not changed but the way it is perceived is likely to have.

On a personal note, I noticed that as I became more self-confident and my self-esteem improved that the outer world appeared to change. Two major changes I noticed were very

Firstly I discovered there were lots of lovely people in the world who were friendly, warm and trustworthy. My old perception was that most people were “not very nice”! I used to experience a lot of conflict  and now this is a rare experience for me.

Perhaps most startling of all my parents changed! They had not attended any personal
development courses, certainly not any NLP ones but somehow they changed! They
were less critical and more likely to comment positively about my life. I actually received compliments from them!

I wonder what amazing things you have noticed as you have changed your perception and how you process your world experience?

More next week on NLP pre-suppositions.

About Melody @ GWizlearning

Melody spent fourteen years gathering experience of the business world working in banking, telecommunications and the public sector before co-founding The GWiz Learning Partnership in 1993. Melody has a Masters Degree in Applied Positive Psychology, a degree in Psychology and a diploma in Psychotherapy. She is an NLP Master Trainer which allows her to run NLP Practitioner, NLP Master Practitioner and NLP Trainer Training courses certified by the Positive School of Intrinsic Neuro-Linguistc Psychology. She is also a qualified Myers Briggs practitioner and EI practitioner and added to all this is five years Transactional Analysis training, meaning she is able to help organisations access the hidden potential in their staff. She is also in demand for her work in transforming average or even troubled teams into high performers. Melody is a visiting lecturer at University of East London, teaching "Wellbeing and Positive Psychology" to undergraduates. Additionally, she is a member of the CIPD and is ILM accredited. Melody's interests are many and varied. She has a keen interest in personal development, canine and wolf psychology, conservation, movies and running. She also enjoys western horse riding, walking the GWiz dogs, nature watching and stage combat (particularly sword fighting).
This entry was posted in Emotional Awareness, Life in General, Metaphor, NLP, NLP Practitioner, Perception, Personal Development, Reality, Self Esteem and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to NLP Pre-suppositions and Changing Reality!

  1. Great Post! It is useful to realize how much of the reality we think we live in is actually a consensual agreement between people who have grown up in the same or similar cultures. These “agreed” rules are useful because we can divide labor and get more done more efficiently. These abilities to create abstract rules and negotiate agreement about them is what sets us apart from other animals. But it becomes a distraction and bother when we form rules that hurt one another or ourselves. Understanding how to change the structure underlying the content of those rules is what makes NLP so much fun, so pragmatic, and so effective.

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