Neuro Linguistic programming, or NLP, practitioners use language to break down our mental barriers. Recall the adult who is prevented from trying because he inwardly hears the voice of his parents telling him he can’t do it? NLP is a method to change the way we process information to avoid such a scenario. It was developed in the 1970’s and is used in many business environments, however is largely based on anecdotal rather than scientific evidence.
Visualisation is a key NLP tool used to manage potentially difficult situations as well as to encourage positive goal setting. The idea behind this thought process is that it helps you see how people or events affect you and understand the way you feel about them. By manipulating your mental images using NLP techniques you are able to process your negative thoughts without becoming overwhelmed. This will help teach you to magnify good feelings and make bad feelings weaker.
Here’s how it’s done: Imagine an image of someone partaking in a poor health activity. We’ll use the smoker as an example. The smoker enjoys an initial burst of relief from the cigarette, moving from a feeling of stress to one of relaxation. This is why she maintains that she enjoys smoking despite the obvious negative consequences.
Describe this image to yourself in bright colour and lots of detail. Then consider the mental image it portrays and allow it to become smaller. Now, put it in black and white and imagine it moving away from you or becoming more grainy. Notice how this makes you feel. Allow yourself to leave this image behind.
Next, imagine having stopped smoking and being able to relax at work, spending break times joking and laughing with colleagues inside. Make this picture bigger and brighter, and move it closer to you. Notice how this makes you feel. Allow yourself to focus and clarify this image every day. This will fill your thoughts with the benefits of the new habit (not smoking) over the old one (smoking) and make it easier for you to move towards the new habit.
Spending time every day picturing the positive visualisation allows it to become a more familiar idea which, as we learned previously, is a key factor in behaviour change. It will increase the awareness that smoking is an unattractive activity for most people and allow the visualiser to pay less attention to the perceived benefits of smoking. This technique also assists people to believe that a change is manageable for them by minimising the imagery of the smoking itself.
Try it today, mute the colours of a habit you don't like and brighten up the image of your preferred change.