Whether you are talking about the way you talk to possible boyfriends/girlfriends (you know the feeling when you think you’d said something that has screwed up your chance of success, AGAIN!), you’ve yet again stuffed yourself full of food you think you shouldn’t have (but didn’t it taste great?!) or got yourself into a right state on Sunday night again in anticipation of the week ahead (which some say is fear that breeds the feeling of stress and negativity – you know when you get snappy with those you love just because you’re anxious or worried?!) – there are a host of reasons why you might find yourself saying ‘oh no, no again!’
Habits and our patterns of thinking have a lot of answer for!
We have strategies for everything that run in our head unconsciously (from how we eat, brush our teeth, fall in love – you name it, there’s a strategy for it – and it always leads to the same outcome). We have to have strategies – our minds could not cope with approaching every scenario as if it was the first time we’d done it – it has to optimise itself otherwise it would not function! Strategies in most cases fulfil a need or desire – your mind may be getting you to overeat for example because it’s the best way it knows how to help you feel comfort or familiarity (which is what used to happen to me – although it wasn’t very helpful!).
Strategies are made of a specific sequence of thoughts or actions that are triggered and that leads to the same outcome each time. They run automatically without us being consciously aware – the most conscious of the strategies are habits (and even then we only become aware of them towards the end of the sequence running in our mind – take nail biting – we are only aware the strategy is running when we have our hands in our mouth!). Regardless of if habits are helpful or unhelpful, they are well trodden paths or patterns of thinking (in most cases they’ll have been running for years without us knowing). They are repeated time and time again (hence the comment – ‘why do I keep doing this?!”).
… how do I change a strategy using NLP?
Once we accept that the strategies or patterns of thinking are there, we can use NLP strategy techniques to understand the unhelpful strategies and change them! – cool eh?
Strategies are always triggered off (we call it a ‘trigger’) – it’s the very first thing that needs to happen to kick start the chain of thoughts/steps in the process (check out my Sunday Blues post for an example of how this used to happen to me – my trigger was seeing the clock at a certain time on Sunday afternoon/evening). Then the strategy will have a number of steps that each need to be fulfilled in order for the outcome to be reached – in NLP we define strategies as ‘a sequence of internal and external representations that always lead to a specific outcome’.
Take sport – let’s use golf – let’s say there is a club that whenever you use it the ball always end up in the bunker or off the fairway – you will have a strategy for that club that runs in your head that is different to the strategy that runs when you use the other clubs (where you are successful with your shots). With NLP we can understand each step of each strategy, spot the differences and then change the strategy so that it works and gives the desired outcome (we teach all our NLP Practitioner how to elicit strategies and how to install new strategies through a process called eye pattern rehearsal – within the Master NLP Practitioner course we go even further and develop ours strategy skills at an advanced level).
Let me tell you a true story about how I helped change a friend’s strategy ……. I had a friend of mind who LOVED buying shoes. In fact she loved buying anything. She had a buying strategy that meant that she bought shoes she didn’t need and that she couldn’t really afford. When I worked with her to look at her strategy (for a bit of fun!) we elicited her buying strategy (using the NLP Elicitation process) and discovered that it did not include any steps around whether she needed the shoes or if could afford them – so we changed the strategy to include both these factors (needless to say she rarely buys shoes now – unless she needs them and can afford them – BINGO!).
Using strategies to change negativity and stress
We run strategies for these too (we run strategies for pretty much everything we do). If the outcome is negativity or stress, we simply need to track it back to find the trigger of the particular strategy (which may operate in a specific context, or it may not), elicit the steps within the strategy, understand where it needs to be changed (because it’s not work effectively for us or giving us an undesired outcome) and then install a new one that works for the client! You may be reading this and think that sounds really quite straight forward -and in most cases you’d be right!
Want to learn more about strategies?
Check out our website for the next NLP Practitioner course that we are running, where we introduce you to strategies and help you understand some of yours and how you can change them if they’re not working well for you!
You can check our our full schedule of courses by checking out our course schedule page.