I met up with an old friend yesterday who I had not seen for a year or so, and we caught up on each other’s news. It turned out both of us were in the midst of learning a new language – my friend (let’s call him Harry) is learning Greek so he can speak it during his extended stays in the country, and I am on the journey of NLP – learning how to help myself and others communicate with themselves in a way that creates greater success.
Harry told me that he was “struggling to learn the Greek language and finding it very hard.” He also cited age as a barrier to learning new things. This is a normal response in 99% of the population and I listened to his beliefs and experiences without question.
That was until Harry asked me what NLP was. I started explaining that it was short for Neuro Linguistic Programming which contained a set of beliefs and behaviours learned from the study of people in the world who had been successful in their field. This seemed a bit vague so I searched around for an example and remembered our conversation just a few moments ago.
“For example” I said “we can program our mind to be successful or unsuccessful – a bit like a computer. You’ve just told me “I’m struggling to learn Greek” and so you are telling yourself that it is a struggle to learn. What would it be like if you told yourself it was easy to learn the language and you were absorbing more and more of it every day?”
“Wow” said Harry. “So by saying that I am struggling, I am programming myself to fail? How stupid is that!” I reassured him that this was perfectly normal thinking and behaviour until we understand the affect that it has on us and choose to change. We then went through a coaching process that helped him understand what it would be like to be comfortable speaking Greek with a local person. I really enjoy supporting others and sometimes my coaching slips into conversation without me noticing…
So this morning I began to wonder, how many of us do unconsciously “program ourselves to fail” by our thoughts and what we say to others? What happens as you become more aware of your thoughts and words and notice where your words may be unhelpful? What change do you notice in yourself, your feelings about life and your behaviour as you choose to state in the present tense, how you want things to be?
Do give it a try and share your experiences in the comments below.