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Living the Life You Dream: Part I: An NLP Perspective on Choosing Your Thoughts to Change Your Life

by Gina Pickersgill(more info)

listed in nlp, originally published in issue 198 - September 2012

When thinking about your circumstances, the life you are living has been created by you. You have created your life due to the thoughts you have chosen to believe, while filtering out those that you do not. So what happens when you choose to believe thoughts that enhance your life and give you ideas that relate to living a life of your dreams? Dreams, after all, are what life is about. We strive to reach them whether it be starting a family, having a successful career, or somewhere to sit and think about what you want and how to set a plan and go for it.

Changing Your Thoughts to Change Your Life

The ability to know your own mind is an important skill to learn in order to assess your own ability to change your thoughts into something more helpful. NLP is a process that enables you to understand how your thinking patterns work to help or hinder your life aspirations. On the beach, as I write this article the wind is blowing through my hair and the sound of the waves crashing against the shore is behind me. The sun is warming my back and the smell of the ocean is in the air. I feel sublime in the life I have chosen in order to get to the point where my back yard is the ocean and the seafront is my garden. But what it took to get here took courage, belief and sheer determination. The struggle with my emotions was painful and scary, but I just knew that I wanted to be where I am now. Let me tell you that it was worth the two year journey.

My Journey - the Short Version

In 2010 I realized that my 25 year relationship was at an end. I sold the house, changed employer and was dealing with a health issue all at the same time. The stress at times was all but unbearable. I don't know how I coped, but NLP had certainly given me the tools to change how I felt. During this time, I was seemingly alone physically. But Facebook and Second Life provided the online support and company I needed. Having to cope single handedly with the transition on a practical level meant dealing with estate agents, organizing household items into boxes and storage, all pretty exhausting stuff. But the belief that I would succeed was always at the forefront of my mind. I had to live in the moment; that wonderful place called -Now! It is only in this moment that one can choose thoughts that ultimately can change your life for good. It is only in this moment that decisions about life can be made that can affect your future. It is only in this moment that when you decide to choose a thought, that it will have power over your destiny. So what thoughts are worth choosing and how can we bring them to mind at will? The following paragraphs in this article will explain the dynamics of such structures in order to help understand the processes that manifest change through choosing our thoughts deliberately.

Sailing Ship

“You can't change the direction of the wind, but you can adjust the sails to reach your destination”

When thinking about your thoughts, do you think in language, feelings or images? Do you tend to prefer one method over another? If you could change your thoughts to reflect how you want to feel, what would they be? These questions are the cornerstone to how NLP operates to help people understand their thinking structures and how to change them. The first idea that springs to mind is that of being able to notice your thoughts as they happen, thus making them more achievable to change. The second is that once you have noticed them, to learn to change them using the technology of NLP.

A Model for Excellence

NLP or Neuro-linguistic programming is a model of excellence that takes the best of what people do to get results, inside their heads, and teaches it to people who wish to get similar or better results. In this way, people learn to strategize their thinking patterns to model the effectiveness of those that have shown to be successful according to their own criteria. Once they have managed to finalize the sequencing of their thoughts, they are then able to use the strategy to build a new response to effect outcomes they desire to achieve. In this way, their behaviours change exponentially, allowing them to generalize a response to new areas of outcome criteria. For example, overcoming a phobia of one thing may lead to a reduction in anxiety towards something else. The plan, therefore, is to help them think differently before they work themselves up into a frenzy about what it is they feared. Thus, the self-trust that you gain from knowing how to control your mind is especially comforting in times when you need to be sure that you are in control of your own emotions and can change them to your own advantage. Why is this important?

Overcoming Obstacles

In the context of changing your life to something you desire, there will be challenges that prevent you from proceeding, such as practical considerations like job, money family and health. All of these things can be frustrating obstacles that leave you exhausted tired and stressed, with little energy left for anything but sleep or watching TV. In order to plan the outcomes of your life, you need a clear head, and energized mind and space to think. For the process of life planning to begin usefully, you will need to understand the structures of your thoughts in order to change them. This is best done by beginning to notice 'how' you think, whether in pictures, sounds or feelings and whether thy appear in one context more than another. An NLP practitioner can help you map out a range of contexts and elicit the strategies you use to think and respond to situation generally. Common areas might be how you choose relationships, occupations, hobbies and interests, the main idea  being to help you plan a life that matches your expectations.

Great Expectations

The circumstances in which you find yourself living have been generated by the beliefs you choose to hold. Therefore, changing your beliefs will necessarily change the circumstances in which you live, be that from an external or internal perspective. That change will come from the inside to effect change on the world outside, is a common idea in the world of personal development. Therefore, it is our responsibility to choose beliefs that will move us in directions that match our expectations. That said, it is often the case that people do the opposite by changing the outside world in order to maintain their inner status-quo; 'life', as it were, needs to fit around them, rather than having to change themselves. In this scenario, the person develops an ability to stagnate and fails to enjoy the process of changing their beliefs so that freedom from the past can be actualized. The struggle is made so much easier when you can relinquish thoughts about the past and change them to reflect the ideals that will form a part of your new belief system.

Developing New Beliefs

The criteria for developing new beliefs is simple. All you have to do is ask 'does this belief support my new expectation of living the life I want?' If the answer is 'no' then it's not going to be part of your new life program. If the answer is 'yes', then it's going to have an impact on the planning and structuring of your new belief system. The most important consideration though is “does it have the longevity in order to sustain my lifestyle once it has begun to be realized?” The importance of this is that once you have realised your dreams, do you know how that having a belief that is robust and stable will see you through the tough times when change seems like the last thing you wanted.

The process of believing you can change will lead you to the conclusion that 'having hope' is a message that needs to be analyzed in a way that helps you understand the ideas that come within it. What this means is that when deciding to change your beliefs you have a reason do so, or there won't be any driving force that punctuates the process with its power. When phobia clients come to me for overcoming fears and anxieties about situations that limit their lives in some way, they all have a reason why it's important to for them to do so. Naturally they want to change a belief that they are limited to one of having the option to be free of limitations. Even though they are not stating it in this particular way this is, in actual fact what they are wanting to achieve.

The few that know what they want are willing to go through the process in a way that helps them feel comfortable and at ease. For others who are not so willing to change their beliefs, the process becomes one of more trial and error and protracted progress, than if they had just gone with the process in the first place. So healing your fears to change a belief is one way to go about it, but using your mind to change your life deliberately is another method that can be used to create changes that impact the quality, direction and mood of your life for the better.

Creating Change Deliberately

Once it was useful to understand the workings of your mind as to how you got upset, stressed or disgruntled. But now-a-days, it is much better to know how to use your mind to become happier and more at peace with yourself and others. The usefulness of this is that once you have completed the cycle of knowing how to be happy, you will realize it's all just a game of compassion that allows you to seek answers to questions that fuels the imagination of how to unlock the genius within. Your inner genius will show up when you least expect it, showing you the way forward and pointing in the direction you need to achieve happiness. On following this path, you find clues as to what you need to do next, such as synchronistic meetings with people you are destined to work or 'play' with. Other signs include lyrics of songs on the radio that just blurt out into your awareness. These are the signs that we should pay attention to in order to investigate their meaning and subsequent action towards being clearer about your life's path. Now, I am not saying that we should all change our lives based on a song we heard playing on the radio - as that would be ridiculous. But what I am saying is that we develop an acute awareness about the direction our lives should take. Generally, when we are dissatisfied we seek solutions to better ways of getting results. It's the same with choosing a new life. Dissatisfaction with our 'lot' will have us looking for clues about what solutions are available to us in order to help us transition more freely towards our goal.

Making the Transition

Once we have decided on the changes we want to make, it is then time to ensure that every thing is in place to make it happen. “Have you checked the oven?” and “did you lock the windows?” are typical questions we ask when going on holiday, so that our minds are at peace and we can enjoy it when we get there. It's the same when starting a new life. “Did you ensure that all loose ends are tied up” and “are old relationships amicably ended and happy to move on?” etc. etc. and so forth. After that, the best focus is one of knowing how to move forward. It's not that your past has been a waste of time, it's that it's helped you become the person you are today. So using it to help you move forward makes a lot of sense don't you think?

The Way Forward

The way forward is an approach that, if timed right, will have an impact on your destiny in ways that are commensurate with your higher purpose. Being prompted to take action in a moment’s notice is all that it takes to turn the story of your life around when the time comes to make that decision. The first idea is that you will be in a place that requires a focus of attention that pertains to knowing what to do. The second is that it will necessarily be what you need to pay attention to. For example, if you were to go on holiday you would focus your thoughts on how to get there safely and thereafter make sure that you had in place a plan to make it happen. Such activities would take the form of booking with a reputable travel agent, making sure you had the right insurance to cover the type of holiday you are going on and so forth. Therefore, the beginnings of your mind's thoughts are 'turned towards' your holiday. In the same way our thoughts can be turned towards the future and therefore we can start to plan how to get there safely too. What does this mean? It means that you will have sufficiently planned to have experiences that give you joy, happiness and peace. In the breaking down of how that will happen you will need to focus on the elements that ensure it will happen. By this I mean the areas of your life that you have not been paying attention to that bring you joy, happiness and peace. Therefore, taking the time to think about these areas is time well spent indeed.

In the next article we will be looking at ways in which you can plan for a bright future and to develop the skills of awareness that help you finalize your goals and make them a reality. For now though, happy life planning; let us know what you come up with.

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About Gina Pickersgill

Gina is a transpersonal coach who brings multimedia to her practice.  She created an authoritative eMagazine on NLP and Healing, based on The Healing Pool, a virtual sanctuary she owns in Second Life as her avatar 'Nina Lancaster'.

An NLP Master Practitioner and Certified Society of NLP Trainer, Gina assisted co-creator of NLP Richard Bandler on their London NLP, seminars from 2001-5.  Originally training as a fitness instructor specializing in fitness for the fuller figure, she gained a degree in Sports and Exercise Studies in 1999 and introduced the concept of Lifestyle Coaching to Virgin Active Health Clubs. She is a published holistic article writer and regular contributor to NLPLife Training Newsletter. Gina is now focused on working towards a new paradigm of delivering NLP training to a virtual world audience via various forms of multimedia platforms in partnership with sponsors and organizations.

Gina is passionate about raising awareness of virtual worlds, their potential for training change and personal development, where they will have the best benefit to a global audience, as well as to those who need more traditional methods of learning such as books, CDs, audio and one to one coaching.

Gina may be contacted via Tel: 07932 958 262; gina.pickersgill@hotmail.co.uk   www.virtualnlpcoach.com

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