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Neuro-Linguistic Programming: How Your Internal Dialogue Shapes Your Life

How Neuro-Linguistic Programming Can Shape Your Internal Dialogue

Neuro-Linguistic Programming

The concept of Neuro-Linguistic Programming helps you to gain control of your mind and emotions so you can have a better handle on your life.

Author Peggy O’Mara is quoted as saying “be careful how you speak to your children, one day it will become their inner voice.” This notion goes beyond childhood and continues into adolescence and adulthood.

The words you speak about yourself and the words others speak about you eventually become your inner voice or your internal dialogue.

The power of positivity in your internal dialogue is vital to sustaining positive thoughts and living an emotionally healthy life.

What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming?

Neuro-Linguistic Programming, also known as NLP is a psychological therapy developed in the 1970s at the University of California, Santa Cruz by John Grinder and Richard Bandler. NLP.com describes it as learning the language of your mind.

Neuro stands for neurology.

Linguistic means language.

Programming means how neural language functions.

Along with the Neuro-Linguistic Programming, the concept of internal dialogue is essential to understand. Internal dialogue is the constant voice in your head. According to psychologist Lev Vygotsky, your internal dialogue begins around 3 years old as you learn to differentiate between thought and speech.

Your internal voice and the words you vocalize can affect everything in your life from your mood to your self-confidence and self-esteem.

Common Negative Thoughts

You could also describe the negative thoughts you have as cognitive distortions. These are ways in which your mind convinces you that something is real when it isn’t. Cognitive distortions reinforce negative thoughts by making you believe the negativity is true. There are many forms of cognitive distortion. Below you will find 5 common types according to PsychCentral.com.

Global Labeling

This takes place when you consider a failure in one area or on one task to summarize who you are as a person.

Example: If you lose your temper while in an argument you might call yourself foolish in that situation. However, when global labeling, you now consider yourself to be foolish in all situations Continuing to repeatedly label yourself as foolish leads you to believe that you are indeed a foolish person all because of one incident.

Personalization

You exhibit personalization when you believe the actions of others are a directly related to you.

Example: A co-worker doesn’t greet you as she usually would when you walk into the building. Instead of understanding that she might have had a bad morning or she might not be feeling well, you internalize her behavior believing that she’s reacting to you in this way because of something you did.

Filtering

When filtering, you remove all positive components of a situation and focus solely on the negative.

Example: During your annual job performance meeting, your manager provides 5 areas in which you’re doing fantastic. He then tells you one area in which you can show improvement. After the conversation, all you can focus on is the one area in which you need improvement. You mind responds as though your manager only had negative things to say about your job performance.

Overgeneralization

When overgeneralizing, you allow a single incident to be the basis of our conclusion.

Example: When making a presentation at a meeting you trip over your words during the introduction. Now you believe your entire presentation is terrible because of that one mistake.

Catastrophizing

When catastrophizing, you continuously expect negative things to happen. This can be done by asking “what if” questions.

Example: Your friend who works in another department is laid off. Now, all you can think about is what if you lose your job. What if you lose your home because you lost your job. What if you have to move in with your parents because you lost your home because you lost your job.

There are numerous examples of negative thought patterns that many people experience, and learning to recognize those occurrences is the first step to making a change.

Improve Negative Thoughts with Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Neuro-Linguistic Programming offers a wide variety of techniques you can implement to change your internal dialogue. Below you will find 3 simple strategies, which you might have used in your life before, without understanding the impact it’s having on your NLP and inner dialogue (source)

Affirmations

Many people frequently use affirmations in their lives. NLP-techniques.org describes an affirmation as a mix between a mission statement, a belief statement, and a commitment statement.

The purpose of an affirmation is to help you manifest a specific goal in your life be it tangible or intangible.

They are beneficial in improving negative thoughts because when you continuously make a positive statement such as “I am beautiful and wonderful things are coming to my life,” you are changing your internal dialogue. The more you make positive statements aloud and in your head, the more you believe them. Then your life becomes a reflection of those positive beliefs.

Meditation

Meditation is a technique that allows your mind to relax while improving your physical, mental, and emotional well being.

The primary benefit of meditation is that it quiets the mind and allows it to be still. It also trains your brain to let go of the thoughts that enter your mind, whether good or bad. So, the next time you think “I’m incompetent” you can see that as just a thought and let it go instead of internalizing it.

Self Compassion

Utilizing self-compassion is beneficial when you are feeling stressed or anxious due to your thoughts. It is an 8 step process, but to summarize it, think of 5 people you love. Verbally express the anxiety you’re feeling and picture the thousands of people around the world who are likely feeling the same thing. Wish them well and imagine those 5 people you love affirming your greatness. Repeat their statements, and when you’re done acknowledge how your emotions have changed.

Moving Forward

We all have negative thoughts and hear negative things said about us by others. It’s apart of human life, however, what you choose to do with those thoughts and those words are what can make the difference in your confidence level, your happiness, and the choices you make in your life.

When you know your negative thoughts and the unfavorable words of others are negatively impacting you, be sure to take the time to acknowledge your feelings and make a decision regarding what you will do to improve your state of mind. Whether you utilize Neuro-Linguistic Programming or another strategy, be sure to maintain a positive internal dialogue with yourself because the power of positive thinking is life changing. 

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