You'd think having done my practitioner's training nearly a year ago, I'd have got the hang of a pithy definition by now. You'd be wrong. It's got so many aspects to it: trance, the meta-model, time-lines, modelling excellence...and I've been taught to move seamlessly through them, that I've been struggling with that definition; the aspects shift in importance. And the other thing of course, is that as I've used NLP more and more, it's become an unconscious and evolving skill.
Last week, things shifted around for me quite considerably. I got into an argument, on an internet forum with a troll about NLP. The thing is, I quite like a good intellectual argument. I really like the construction of a well-formulated, considered and articulate delivery of a good old ding dong. I was soon reminded, that trolls don't do any of that. They are there to either a) stir the shit with a controversial perspective or b) they really believe the shit they're spouting forth. What can I say? After they beat me to boredom with their ignorance, I realised what a useful exercise it had been (everything is, after all, a learning experience).
I realised that for me, NLP is two things:
1. Choices. It gives people wider choices about their lives; new skills and strategies by which they can make better decisions, which leads to freedom. It gives people proper choices: to be healthy, productive, successful, happy. On the face of it, everyone wants these things to a certain extent. My definition of healthy is not going to be the same as a doctor's or an Olympic athlete. Success for me is totally different to Richard Branson. But what gets in the way of me having those things (procrastination, lack of ownership etc) I can use NLP to remove those blocks so I can work towards these things in a cheerful and willing journey.
2. Communication. It's about enabling people to communicate better both with the people around them and actually, with themselves. If you stop to think about your own internal dialogue, the crap you tell yourself every day 'idiot, why did you say that? you can't do that, you're not good enough' etc, it's not really surprising that some of that bleeds out to the people around them. Frankly, if peoples' internal dialogues were audible, society would go into chaos because people would hide away in mortification at their own cruelty to themselves.
It's not surprising that NLP is not the only field that stridently states: kindness starts with you. Be kind to yourself and you'll be kind to other people. Kindness is a vastly underrated virtue. It's not sexy, extrovert, it's not something you can boast to other people about 'ah yes you know, I was so kind then.' But actually a little bit of kindness goes a long way, both for the person who receives it and for the person who gives. Showing yourself kindness when things are tough, when Life is grinding you into dust, gives you strength. Kindness requires an awareness of what's going on in and around you. There is no cost to kindness and the more you do, the more you have...it is a virtuous circle.
I leave you with this little challenge for the weekend: how are you going to be kind to yourself now? If you're feeling brave, come back and tell me.