Category: Narrative NLP life-coaching

Secrets of the NLP Masters by Judy Bartkowiak

 50 techniques to be exceptional

Metal door in stone wall with NLP CREW graffittiPrompted by my own curiosity and enthusiasm for exploration – described by Judy Bartkowiak as ‘key drivers of NLP’ – I opened this book enthusiastically, and I wasn’t disappointed.

 I like what I think of as ‘Pick and Mix’ books; books that can be read with both an open mind and, simultaneously, a mind ready to gather information relevant to my life and work; books that can teach me something fascinating. This book fits the bill perfectly.

 It is a book for everyone with an interest in change, overcoming obstacles or achieving goals. For the NLP practitioner the book is full of prompts and reminders alongside new perspectives on techniques you will already be using. For newcomers it is a comprehensive and readable explanation of NLP’s powerful insights into how NLP can make a real and lasting difference to your life. If you have children, or work with children, you will find much here to throw light on strategies and techniques that work well with young people.

Of course you can read ‘Secrets’ from beginning to end, it is interesting, informative and well written, but you can also flick through and find the part most relevant to your current experience.

Its style, organisation and layout make it stand out from many of the NLP technique books I have encountered. I particularly like the chapter numbers down the right hand edge meaning that you can open the book at any page and know immediately where you are.

Each chapter begins with a selection of well-chosen quotations from people generally acknowledged to be the ‘NLP masters’ such as Gregory Bateson, Sue Knight, Virginia Satir, Tony Robbins, and others from different contexts like Albert Einstein, Carl Jung and Helen Keller.

 ‘A few well-chosen words at just the right time can transform a person’s life’ Joseph O’Connor 

Repetition – so often the missing ingredient in books which set out to help us learn – is used with a light touch so that you don’t need to flick back through the book to find that neat ‘how to’ of a technique. At the end of each chapter you will find ‘Putting it all together’ and I suggest that if you read these first in the light of the chapter heading you will know how directly a particular chapter will speak to you.

If there was a single addition that would improve Secrets of the NLP Masters for me it would be an index. Children, beliefs, and goals, for instance, appear throughout the book and sometimes it would be helpful to be able to find them all.

The book ends with an Appendix perfectly placed to sum things up and be a readily accessible, and very visual, reminder of these two keys to being exceptional: The filters through which we make our own peculiar sense of external events and the logical levels which model the context in which it all takes place.

Knowing your purpose facilitates exceptional behaviour and if your behaviour disappoints you in any way then re-examine it in the light of your purpose. You could do well to take this book with you on the journey.

front cover of the book

What is e-coaching and How Could it Help Me?

outline sketch of 2 people face to faceCoaching doesn’t have to be by the hour, face to face or a long drive away.

You may have been thinking ‘NLP sounds interesting’; ‘I wonder whether talking to a life coach might help’ or ‘Could a conversation about my story make any difference to my life?.

But… I can’t spare the time; don’t want to sit in an unfamiliar room with someone I’ve never met before, or don’t have the luxury of a car, train fare or live near a convenient bus route.

Increasingly I have been working with clients by email and telephone and via an Android App, and find that this way of working suits people for many different reasons and can have unexpected benefits. 

Both ‘phone (in which I include Skype) and email coaching can be a quicker alternative to face-to-face work.

Three 20 minute (or six 10 minute) emails can cover the same ground as an hour’s conversation, and more if your attention span is short or available time is limited.someone is typing a message

Email and Apps have a feeling of immediacy; you can refer to them whenever and wherever you choose.  It’s demand led coaching in the sense that you can email me instantly a thought occurs, view my reply at a time and place that suits you, take the time you need to consider and reconsider an exercise, and reply when you are ready.

This way of working can suit adults because it can easily be designed to fit around work, family and child-care arrangements. It is also particularly convenient for young adults whose anxiety might include unease about appointments, travel or meeting new people.  

Mobile phone Apps and text messages are a possibilityMeanwhile younger people are so comfortable and at-ease with their smart phones that they are already using the device for personal  development and self-help, so an App or coaching call is nothing out of the ordinary.

In a way e-coaching gives you more power and authority in the coaching process. You have more control over how much to say and when to say it. You can take all the time you need to think and rethink before responding to me. You can choose to include friends and family and extend the coaching through important conversations with the people who matter most in your life.

Some people report feeling safer because online they can cry in privacy or laugh without feeling embarrassed. This can be a significant factor in helping you feel greater equality in the conversation. You are the expert in your own life. 

So, if traveling to East Devon isn’t feasible, or one to one work doesn’t appeal, email or ‘phone me today and we will arrange coaching that really suits you and your lifestyle.

Don’t Let Positive Thinking Get You Down

Photo of young woman thinking‘I’ve lost my job’, ‘My partner has left me’, ‘My child is failing at school’.

How can we, as coaches, expect our clients to ‘think positive’ in the face of the realities of daily life?

While scientists have found that we can create positive feelings just by smiling, and on social networks one person’s happiness can spread to countless others at a click of the mouse, it can sometimes seem as if we constantly are exhorted to ‘think positive’ as if this is the answer to all the challenges we face on a daily basis.

Rereading an article by Barbara Ehrenreich in a 2010 issue of Therapy Today I have been interested in the notion that nations aspiring to happiness turn out to be ‘not very happy at all’. Why might this be?

Could it be that we think we ‘ought’ to be happy and that it therefore becomes something to strive for rather than a way to ‘be’?

Another contributing factor could be that, having expended energy on trying to be happy and discovering that there is still some residualdisappointed young man sadness, disappointment or discomfort in our lives, we begin to feel that we have somehow failed.

After all, doesn’t the phrase ‘I’m trying’ suggest that I’m not achieving the happiness I set out to achieve? Maybe the effort to think positive can, itself, be a self-defeating strategy.

Furthermore, if you believe that, in order to achieve positive thinking, you have to practise some kind of self-hypnosis, then your positivity will probably be undermined by your feelings about a strategy that seems to require a level of self-deception.  

It doesn’t sound good for positive thinking does it?

There is no doubting that our mood affects our thinking and behaviour, and I have experienced – both for myself and with clients – how a positive outlook that embraces possibility can lead to the seizing of opportunities that might otherwise have been overlooked. I have also seen how the apparently inescapable grip of old habits of thought; old patterns of behaviour, can be loosened through an unexpected glimpse of positivity, where none was visible before.

Maybe the answer lies in a paradoxical embracing of life’s difficulties… I know I am me because this, this and this, have brought me to this point. Without the experiences and the ensuing sadness, disappointment or discomfort, I would not know what I now know and I would not be looking to change.

This sounds suspiciously like positive thinking doesn’t it?
So why not give this a try?

  1. Acknowledge that life is not always easy, comfortable or happy.
  2. Identify what you have learned from negative experiences in the past.
  3. Trust that armed with this knowledge you need not make the same mistakes again.
  4. Now set out with the positive intention of seeing opportunities and letting go of old habits or thought patterns that weren’t serving you well.

This is the kind of positive thinking that make the present different from the past so that you can look forward to a future of new possibilities.

a rainbow lightens a stormy sky

One, Two, Three – NLP!

Feeling negative?

going down?

 

 

   Wish you could break out of that state of  mind?

 

 

 

Try this…

  1. Change your posture – stand taller or lean in a different direction.look up, spread your arms and breathe

 

  1. Move unexpectedly – star jumps can work wonders

 

  1. Look up – count chimneys or create a picture in a crack on the ceiling!

 

Now all you have to do is breathe the change in.

 

Sometimes all we need is to interrupt a pattern of thought or behaviour and something entirely new becomes possible.

When will it get Better?

it's a puzzleWhen will it get better?

When you want something to get better, there are things you can do to help.

Whether it’s health, wealth or happiness, the chances are there you haven’t been asking the right questions…

      Health… Have you seen the right health practitioner and identified what ‘health’ means for you?
      Wealth… Have you thought about why you want it? What it will get for you?
      Happiness… Do you know what ‘happiness’ really is for you?

What does health / wealth / happiness look like?

What will you hear that lets you know you are happy / healthy / wealthy?

Is there a smell or a taste associated with it?

How does it feel to be this way?

The Golden KeyThese questions may hold the key to your answer.

Give them some thought right now. Knowing what you really want, and what it will get for you, is often the key to where you need to look, and what you need to do, to begin making a difference. 

You know what don’t want, now it’s time to ask yourself ‘What do I want instead?’ and ‘How will I know when I get it?’

The right questions will help you know which way to turn so that you can be sure you are moving in a direction that will help things get better.

This is why NLP so often begins with the right question… ‘What do you want instead?’

 

 

How’s your timeline?

How do you see past, present and future?

How do you see past, present and future?

Under Pressure

The Pressure That Creates a Diamond

Consider the pressures exerted on you

Consider the pressures exerted on you

If you are feeling under pressure, step back a little and consider your position.

What can you change easily?

Stepping back a little allows you to see further

Stepping back a little allows you to see further

And when you step back you can see that some things would be harder to change
and it might be possible.
What difference would it make?

And when you step right back you will see that, while there are somethings you can change – and it will make a difference – some things can never be changed.

Now that you know what can never be changed, what can be changed with some difficulty, and what can be changed easily, you can consider your options.

See the big picture

See the big picture

I Always Knew it Wasn’t Me

docs in folderIt’s time to reconsider.

Reconsider the information that makes up your story.

Reconsider your notion of ‘truth’ and how things could be so different.

Reconsider the future.

Like the butterfly’s wing, each of these aspects of life as you have been living it will be linked and interlinked so that when you change one thing, you change everything.

Consider the story of the man who grew up believing he had had polio as a child. He stood with a slight stoop and walked with a limp.

Imagine the shock of discovering that it wasn’t you, but a complete stranger who had polio and somehow your records had become confused.

It wasn’t the relief and sense of release that he experienced first.

To begin with he was confused. Then he became angry but quite quickly he began to realise something about himself.

“Deep down I think I always knew it wasn’t really me” he says, “I knew I was stronger than they said. I knew I could do things they said I couldn’t do.”

Suddenly everything seemed to change for him. He grew an inch taller. He took more exercise, joined a drama group and made new friends.  butterfly

The limp took longer to disappear but as he recognised the relief, and embraced the sense of release from living someone else’s story, everything fell into place so that one day he realised that he no longer limps.

He is not sure when it finally disappeared but there’s one thing he is sure of; he doesn’t want his old records back.

The Power of Music

Do you have a favourite piece of music? Have you noticed how music can change your mood?

Jane Hanson recently investigated the ability of music to improve the wellbeing of people, discovering the exact science behind the physical and psychological effect of sounds and music. Here’s a link to the programme.

country and western

I know that I don’t like most Country and Western music, it makes me feel slightly impatient and yet if it’s Johnny Cash, I love it and I can find myself smiling unexpectedly whenever I hear his voice. Meanwhile jazz-rock fusion seems to scramble my brain rendering me unable to think coherently.

Play me some Led Zeppelin and my mood will lift. If I want to write a contemplative piece I might listen to Mahler’s incredibly moving Adagietto from his 5th symphony. When I am creating characters I often realise that I have unconsciously attributed certain pieces of music to each one.

You know what music works for you: what energises you; which pieces are calming and which are inspiring; But have you thought of using this self-knowledge to make a difference?

Here’s an excerpt from my Coaching App ‘Beyond Expectations’ to show you what I mean:

 

Music is not just the food of love.  Music can feed all our emotions. Woman Enjoying Her MP3 Player

Play, or remember, a favourite piece of music, tune or song now.  Different music has different effects.  Whenever you have the chance, select music according to how you would like to feel.  Music can lift your spirits, energise or relax you.  Find out which pieces work best for you.

Try creating 3 mood collections. 

What will you include in your relaxing collection?  And what title will you give it?

What will you include in your energising collection?  And what title will you give this one?

And what about the collection for lifting your spirits?

Now think back over your experience of choosing the music and deciding on the titles.  What can you learn about yourself from the way you went about it, the choices you made and your thoughts and feelings as you worked through the exercise?

How does this inform the future for you?

For more self-coaching exercises the App is available here and the book is coming soon.  

 

Looking at what it isn’t

outcrop

 

 

 

 

 

 

though your sorrows not…

“and rejoicing in
language universal
you gave to me
the sour taste of grief
though it is not mine”
I call to the mountain

shouting disillusioned
“you have left me more
in fear than ever found another,
though it is not mine”
at that flawed and fading
massif built in hurt

“one earth-bound life from
many lifetimes, you might
take from me” loudly
calls my (though it claims it as its
own) echo
and “it is not mine”

after
though your sorrows not

E. E. CUMMINGS

 

Looking at what it isn’t

spiral 2

Sometimes the best way to understand something is to explore what it isn’t.

When you want to know what you want, most people find it easier to say ‘What I don’t want is…’

When I ask you what something is like, you are quite likely to answer, ‘Well it isn’t like…’

If I invite you to envisage the future of your choice, you might reply, ‘All I can see is how it is now!’

This list of what you don’t want, what it isn’t like, or all you can see now, is the perfect place to start because it is literally where you are now. How could you possibly start anywhere else?

Once you have described where you are now in terms of what you see, hear and feel, maybe even how it tastes and smells, you can begin to ask the next question.

If not this… then what?

 

 national poetry writing month 2013

 spiral 1Today’s prompt for the last National Poetry Writing day poem is an old favourite; 

Find a shortish poem that you like, and rewrite each line, replacing each word (or as many words as you can) with words that mean the opposite.

It is a favourite for me because it works equally well with both poetry and coaching. 

By looking at every word and finding its opposite, you discover far more about the meaning encompassed in a word. Your every word can tell you something about yourself when you learn how to listen effectively. And it’s not just the words themselves; in the way you phrase your language, in your pauses, your emphasis, your laughter or tears, there is meaning.

Like the layers of an onion, you can keep peeling away your language and discovering more about yourself.  This is where the Linguistic appears in Neuro-Linguistic Programming [NLP] and it is also where we find the stories so important in Narrative Practice.

And, of course, in poetry, take a short poem and rewrite it replacing each word with a word that means the opposite and, like those old magic painting books, something that was once invisible will reveal itself.

 

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