Why Should I Believe You?

This week, I read a couple of interesting articles, one from Prof. Brian Cox that was clearing up some confusion that had been generated by his fantastic programme at Christmas called A Night With The Stars, and another general article about the discrediting of Chiropractic care.

Brian Cox had alluded to all parts of the universe being connected as one, and that a change in one place would be reciprocated and echoed in various other places at the same time. He wanted to make sure that this did not open the door for any charlatans or scammers to jump on the New Age bandwagon and start claiming that they can affect reality by their thoughts alone. This is obviously indisputable and very clear for most normal thinking people. The Chiropractic article related to a famous libel case from a couple of years ago, where unfounded claims were being made in British Chiropractic Association literature about the benefits of Chiropractic. The result of which has meant that the industry has now cleaned itself up, and has a new sense of identity, in which they will now progress more together and complete than they have ever been before.

Both of these then prompted me to go back to some of the sceptical stories of NLP that are out there, and after having a fresh look at some of these it has made me even more convinced that NLP is a serious, and dare I say it, scientific approach. Problems seem to always develop when you have misguided claims made by nutters, often for commercial gain, that push the boundaries of solid theory in to that slightly dubious territory. Once the claim is out there, it is very easy to then shoot it down and bring the whole discipline down with it. It’s that easy because most of the alternative approaches to psychology are not regulated thoroughly enough, so instead of there being someone in control of communication, any loose canyon can tell you, say, that they’ll be able to cure AIDS, and people will listen.

Religion has made some pretty ‘out there’ claims in the past, but that seems well established now. Some of the crazies still believe those ‘out there’ claims, and if that works for them then fine, but seriously, to most normal, logical people they make choices on what they use and what they believe in by the information that they gain. Everybody is different, and different things work for different people, and most mainstream approaches/techniques/religions/therapies work for most people. It is about the individual client and what they feel comfortable using.

As I know more about NLP, it would not feel right if I did not say a bit about the common sense approach to most of it. A large part of NLP relates to better communication and negotiation by getting into rapport with someone, mirroring and matching body language and voice, and ultimately using this position to influence. That’s obvious. I knew that before I became trained in NLP, since my training I am now better at it, but still most people that lead others are naturally good at these things.

NLP states that it is possible to change a person’s behaviours by first getting them to access that behaviour, understanding what triggers it, and then replacing it with something better. OK, well it’s fairly well known that habits and behaviours are run automatically in the unconscious mind, people can communicate directly with this and suggest changes, but it is a lot easier if someone else bypasses your stubborn conscious mind. This has been effective for me, it may not be effective for others, and that’s ok. In NLP there are claims that the responsibility for change is always with the client, but when would this not be true in anything else.

With regards to achieving goals and desired outcomes, it once again is common sense that you will never achieve anything if you do not know where you’re going. NLP focuses a person on firstly identifying what it is that they want, and then secondly, identifying the milestones that will lead them there. People have the necessary resources within but they sometimes need to be shown where they are. Everyone can identify with a situation where the answer was obvious but talking to a friend perhaps unlocked it, well this is just a scaled up version.

Positive belief is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe that you can do something then you will usually achieve it, if you don’t then you probably won’t.

Emotions can affect your behaviours, (ooh, the mind-body connection enters the debate) and we can’t argue with the fact that they do.

Claims that you can change your future, can work for some people because they want it to work, but when they look back in hindsight it will be because they achieved every goal on the way there. Dreams don’t just appear when you wake up in the morning, you have to put energy in. Mind Body claims are often shaky because of the scientific territory that it is trying to invade, it may well prove to be more substantial in the future but for the time being these claims are often anecdotal at best.

So, being cynical is good, as it helps us question what we are doing and makes us challenge the validity of it, but comparisons, and therefore winners and losers, I personally don’t think offers any value- unless, of course, someone is an expert in everything.


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