Sometimes I talk to people who are hoping I will wave a magic wand and transform their lives instantly. Usually the issues are complex and generalised in the form of low self esteem.
Unfortunately some people in NLP have implied that whole life change is instant. This creates false expectations and misleading. So what is true?
True, it is possible to shift very specific things in one session. The most dramatic and effective is where phobias are concerned. Many people do give up their phobia completely in one session.
Why does it take time to transform self esteem issues?
Self esteem is made up of multiple layers of complex beliefs, feelings and values. Low self esteem will have been heavily conditioned into the system during childhood and then reinforced by adult experiences.
Personal development and self awareness is the route to healthy self esteem and it is a bit like getting fit, you need to pay attention on a regular basis. No one would go the gym once and expect to be fit and healthy for the rest of their lives. Getting fit involves regular and sustained exercise, regaining a sense of our own worth takes a similar level of commitment and persistence.
Another important ingredient revolves around ownership. Until you recognise that you have the ability to control your experience change may be challenging. No one else can “fix” you, you are not broken! You need to take responsibility for your own destiny. No matter how bad things have been you can take your life back one step at a time.
If you feel stuck and unable to change take a moment to step back from yourself. Look at your situation from the outside, what do you see? Whatever is happening in your life you can decide right now that enough is enough!
The first step is to change your perspective and give up your victim story. What do I mean when I talk about your “victim story”?
Our victim story is the history we keep going over both on our own and in conversation with others. Every time we revisit this story we reinforce it and strengthen the negative emotions associated with it. This helps to keep us stuck.
Often we talk about things that are unfair, unjust or not right. We may feel we have no control over our own life and what happens to us. This is results in what is known as an external locus of control. We hold a perception that there is little we can control and fail to realise how much of this is a perception not a reality.
Start by challenging this perception, consider this …. While you may not have control over external events you do have control over the meaning you take from that event. The way you process your experience impacts on how you feel about it.
Too hard? I recommend you read Viktor Frankl‘s book “Man’s search for meaning“. In this book you will read how he chose to stay free in his own mind while in a Nazi prisoner of war camp. If he can do it under those circumstances surely so can we when faced with our issues no matter how challenging!
Make a choice right now to be the author of your own life, write a new script and create your new “hero’s story. In this story you are stepping up to the plate. You are identifying the lessons learnt from the past, you are letting go of old patterns and choosing new ways to move forward.
No one said it would be easy! I get that this can be challenging, congratulate yourself for the first step of wanting to make changes in your life. Now start putting the resources in place so you can sustain this new decision.
What are the resources you need?
The most important is support from others, we all need other people on this journey and we need to pick those people carefully. If we try to work in isolation there is a risk that we will tell ourselves lies and continue to hold onto limiting beliefs. Here are some thoughts on how to find the right people.
Family & friends – for some of you family and friends will be great resource however sometimes well meaning family and friends can hinder your progress. Share the steps you’re taking with family and friends if they understand how self esteem is formed and how we change it.
If someone close to you is also interested in personal development they are likely to be a great resource. Conversely if our close friends have no or limited understanding of the process they may unwittingly sabotage our progress or reinforce old patterns.
Like minded people – it always amazes me how the right people appear when we need them. Stay alert and make connections, notice other people in your network who respond to discussions about personal development. If you can identify a small group of people with similar goals you can form your own personal development group, buy some self-esteem work books and do the exercises together.
Organised self help groups – check out the objectives of the group and where possible get a recommendation. Usually it is possible to attend a session to find out if it is a fit for you. Websites such as “meetup.com” can be a good source of information about local groups.
Professional Practitioner – you might want to find a professional to work with you individually. This could be called counselling, coaching, personal support etc. The name is less important than the quality of the practitioner themselves. Always check the credentials of anyone you approach and where possible get a recommendation. Most reputable practitioners will meet you at no charge so you can ask questions and make sure you feel comfortable to go ahead.
Personal Development Courses – there are many options out there, as you know if you have been reading this blog of a while I run workshops based on NLP approaches. Whatever approach you are drawn to make sure you have checked to ensure the trainers are properly trained and accredited.
In the UK for instance most reputable NLP trainers have double accreditation. The first will be from the school of NLP they trained with themselves. The second will be with the ANLP, an independent membership and accreditation organisation. The accreditation provided by the ANLP is based on an independent peer review of materials, ethics and approach.
You will notice I have mentioned several times to seek out a recommendation, this is true of workshops too. Many training providers run regular practice groups or introduction sessions that will give you an opportunity to speak with previous students and find out more about the trainer’s style.