This week, we have a brilliant guest blog from Judith Lowe of PPD Learning! In this blog, Judith talks about how to learn and practise NLP.

Beginner’s Luck

Learning NLP is easy because you already know so much.

Learning NLP is challenging because it takes a lot of knowledge and experience to become a truly skilful, ethical NLP practitioner.

Learning NLP is a natural and easy process as, roughly speaking, it is a multi-dimensional form of applied psychology, built on what we already know, and what we already know how to do. Learning NLP is intuitive and fun.

We already know that the way we feel – our mood, or state – has a huge influence on how well we’ll perform on any given task. Every athlete and artist knows this, every teacher, parent and coach knows this.

We already know that the way we speak to ourselves and to others, the specific words we use plus the tone, tempo, volume etc., all of it together has an impact. The words we select, both shape and give meaning to experience. Our questions, comments, labels and framing, all construct our everyday worlds and reality.

We already sense that our bodies, our rhythms, our voices, the non-verbal aspects of our communication can somehow synchronise or mismatch with those of other human beings as an aspect of signalling our meanings. We can experience feeling more or less connected at unconscious levels, like we’re in some kind of a dance together.  We know we can either strengthen or diminish this felt sense of connection.

We already have both the academic and the ‘common sense’ research that demonstrates that some of our mental, cognitive patterns, concepts, beliefs and habits are more creative, meaningful and effective than others.

So we know a lot about basic NLP, right from the start, in a natural way. We have unconscious, latent competence in the core skills, simply because we are human and we live in relationship and language, and pictures and sounds, and movement and feelings.

We are alive in a living ‘field’ of communication and influence with others, and together we create culture and meanings, emotions and actions. And sometimes we bring out the best in ourselves, and sometimes not so much.

‘More room to breathe’

In the first fresh phase of encountering and experimenting with NLP principles and approaches for ourselves it can feel like the world has suddenly got bigger, more spacious, more exciting. Suddenly we can see, hear and sense what seemed previously outside of our perceptual range.

There is more room to breathe. Our ideas are not so fixed. We feel more sympathetic to our human situation. Life is more colourful and dynamic. We are more nuanced and skilful in our interactions. We appreciate our loved ones more. We appreciate ourselves more. We learn how to change some of our old habits that no longer serve us. We start to think more systemically.

NLP tools and skills help to provide structure and conscious access to these natural, unconscious mind-body-linguistic patterns of ours. And it does so in a profound and revelatory way.  It does so in a way that begins to allow us to make effective changes in how we think, how we speak, how we relate to ourselves and to other people.

Beginners’ Mind

So then comes perhaps the more challenging phases of learning NLP. We want to learn NLP so that its ‘in the muscle’, like an athlete and an artist.  We want our learning for the longer term.  We want to be more flexible, spontaneous, present and aware as we use our words, our bodies and our minds in these subtle, generative, new ways.

For this longer-term commitment, a more deliberate focus and practice is required for most people. We realise there is no end to how skilful and knowledgeable we can become.  There are always next levels of mastery and artistry in NLP to aspire to.

Learning to communicate elegantly takes focused practice.

Learning to know what to do when takes focused practice.

Learning to model takes focused and committed practice.

Playing jazz requires knowing the basics deeply and thoroughly.

Being spontaneous, witty, warm, light-touch, ethical and skilful in helping people achieve their goals and transform their difficulties generally takes dedicated practice.

Top athletes, musicians, gardeners, cooks, coders, speakers, coaches all practice in order to be present, fresh, skilful and at their best on the day.

Why not join an NLP Practice Group or start one? Try everything, test everything, find the edges of the patterns, find the real-world evidences that stack up. Challenge and innovate, add to the life-changing NLP research and development. Create fabulous new applications in NLP that work for our rapidly changing and challenging times.

Make all the difference in the world.

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