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More and more people are using techniques such as NLP and hypnosis to get over their lack of confidence and fear of presenting. With what we know about the human mind nowadays, there really is no reason at all why anybody should have a phobia about speaking in front of others. Most people have at least a vague idea about what hypnosis entails, but what about NLP?

Neuro Lingusitic Programming (a bit of a mouthful, which is why it is universally referred to as 'NLP') has been around since the 1970s, when several psychologists began to study the behaviour and thinking styles of particularly successful people in order to identify what exactly it was that they did differently from the rest of us.

Basically, it is the study of the various 'ingredients' of excellent performance so that the non-geniuses amongst us can learn in hours what outstanding performers have learned over a lifetime!

In explaining NLP, I like to use the analogy of a computer. Sometimes your computer doesn't work as efficiently as it could. Occasionally you give it commands and it doesn't do what you wanted it to. For example, sometimes it crashes and loses whatever it is you are working on, or maybe it just operates very slowly.

Now if you suspect it has a virus, what do you do? You install anti-virus software, run a system scan and soon the virus is identified and deleted and your computer works better than ever. And in future, now that you have the software installed, it even warns you when a virus is trying to get into your system.

We can think of your brain as a computer and your unconscious as the "operating system" (e.g. Microsoft Windows) that runs your body and governs your actions and reactions to the world around you. Sometimes our brains have the equivalent of a 'mind virus'; which changes how we act or react to certain situations. Our conscious mind wants us to do one thing, but the 'virus' in our subconscious makes us do another.

For example, your conscious mind knows that you are an articulate and intelligent person and therefore instructs your body to stand up and deliver a confident, knock-out presentation. Unfortunately the "mind virus" kicks in instead and you turn into a quivering, nervous wreck.

NLP is like anti-virus software for the mind. It identifies the virus, deletes it and restores your operating system to full functionality.

Space here precludes me from going into a lot of detail, but I'd like to introduce you to two basic elements of the subject. The first is that people respond to experience and beliefs, rather than reality itself. Now we all have a series of beliefs; they are the rules we live by, our 'best guess' at reality. But they are not facts, although we often get confused and think they are.

For example, at one point in your life you probably believed 100% in the existence of Father Christmas - that didn't make it true though, did it?

Three things about beliefs.

Firstly, most people do not make a conscious decision about what they are going to believe. Secondly, our beliefs are often based on our interpretation of what has happened to us in the past. Thirdly, once we form a belief, we tend to forget that it is an interpretation, and begin to treat it as reality. Some of these beliefs will be positive and empowering, e.g. 'I am intelligent,' or 'I am sexy' or 'I am a good parent.' Some will be negative, such as 'I am terrible at public speaking.'

The second basic element is that at any particular time we are in what NLP calls a ' state,' and our beliefs about what we are or are not capable of are sometimes a result of whatever state we find ourselves in. When you are in a positive or resourceful state, you might feel like you could take on the world and win.

Think about the days you've had when everything went right, when you felt invincible or were 'on a roll.' When you are in a negative or non-resourceful state, nothing goes right; you are apathetic, you just 'can't get into' whatever it is you are trying to do. When you feel negative about your capabilities (e.g. to speak confidently in public) you are in a negative state, with accompanying negative beliefs (remember: beliefs are NOT reality).

There are many resourceful emotional states: happiness, motivation, love, fascination, curiosity and confidence to name a few. There are also many unresourceful ones, such as depression, nervousness, boredom, hate, envy, sadness, hostility and anxiety.

Most people assume that our emotional states are the result of the things that happen in the world around us. In fact, we create them ourselves, but most happen without any conscious direction on our part.

There are two main things that determine our emotional state at any given time - Physiology and Internal Representations.

And three things in turn determine those representations - beliefs, anchors and submodalities. The good news is that not only is it completely within your power to change your emotional state, it is not even that difficult to do so! Follow the links below to further your understanding, then do the exercises.

Click this link to learn about Internal Representations.

Click this link to learn about Anchors.

Click this link to learn about Submodalities.

Confidence Exercises:

Physiology exercise

Changing States exercise

Positive Visualisation exercise

Scrambling exercise

Swishing exercise

Confidence Circle exercise

If you feel you need more, we can arrange private, one-to-one sessions where we can improve your confidence using NLP and basic hypnosis during an executive coaching session.

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