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What were you thinking?

All meaning is constructed. Or in other words, we live in a world of make believe! Our experience is completely subjective and is constructed based on what we pay attention to and what we filter for. A simple proof of this is to try and notice your nose in your field of view. Try looking far left and far right whilst looking down... and there it is. The fact is that it is always there, but in constructing your visual field your brain filters it out, fills in the gaps, and deletes it automatically.

Let’s say you are asked by your manager to make a speech to a large audience.  Your instant reaction is one of fear and anxiety as you run a movie in your head where you see the audience looking bored, you feel your hands shaking, your mouth is dry and you hear the sound of your trembling voice stuttering to get the words out.  Apart from the sleepless nights and stomach ulcer you’ve now created, how successful do you think your speech will be on the day?

By understanding how the words we use and the internal movies we play create our experience of the world, we can change our experience and ultimately, our results.  NLP helps us do this. NLP is all about behavioural flexibility.  It’s a model of communication, of how we communicate with ourselves and others.   It’s also the study of excellence.  Through a process called modelling we can figure out how successful people are getting outstanding results and how we can duplicate their process to enhance our own performance. For example, finding out what successful people do when asked to publically speak.

Rewind.  This time when you are asked to give a speech hear yourself saying, “Awesome, this is exciting, I can’t wait!”  In the movie you run in your mind you see smiling faces in the audience. You hear the sounds of enthusiastic clapping and you feel relaxed and confident, the words are flowing. You’re nailing it.  Now how do you perform? Just by changing your internal dialogue, pictures, sounds, and feelings, you can change your response and your results.

Try this short exercise…Think of a situation to which you have a negative response. Go right into that experience and notice what picture you see inside your mind as you do. Now let’s do two basic things, step out of yourself so you see yourself in the picture, then zoom the picture out so that it’s small and distant. How do you feel about it now?  Has the emotional charge on it changed?

We all have habitual ways of thinking and reacting that limit us. Once you have awareness and can observe your own patterns of thinking, they can lose their grip on you and you can move to more resourceful ways of being.

If you’ve managed to forget about your nose by now… Our minds automatically create meaning of our world through the filter of our beliefs. If you believe something to be true, you will distort and generalise all sorts of information to confirm that belief. If you don’t believe something or have never considered it, the mind can delete it from our experience like so many noses.

One powerful way of challenging your thinking and conditioning is to shift perspective by being curious and asking yourself:

1)      What do I believe?

2)      And how could I be wrong?

As you train your mind to pay attention to different sensory data your experience changes and you might find that your belief changes too.

So next time you want a different outcome, try changing your internal movie and shift your perspective. You’ll be amazed at the result.

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