I often get people who ask me the question, "What do I do when NLP doesn't work?"
This seems to me like a trick question, because I have never found a time when NLP doesn't work, as long as the client wants the result and doesn't give up on the process.
But there are often times when an NLP technique (or two or four) doesn't work. Sometimes, it even seems as if your entire NLP strategy doesn't work.
So what do you do? Unfortunately, many Practitioners just give up. Here are four strategies that will help you always get the result with NLP.
When a technique doesn't work, unfortunately, some people jump to the conclusion that "NLP doesn't work." That's like saying baking doesn't work because you chose ingredients that don't go together. Or a puzzle doesn't work because you're trying to make the wrong pieces to fit together. Or communication doesn't work because you chose the wrong words to get your point across.
The beauty of all those things is that there are many different ways to make baking, puzzles, and communication work, as long as you are flexible enough to try different approaches, to stay in a peak, up-time state, and to stay focused on the outcome with resiliency. The same is true with NLP.
In NLP, there are usually at least two or more approaches to achieving any result.
Swish pattern not working? Perhaps your client would be better doing it kinesthetically with anchoring.
TIME Techniques Limiting Belief script didn't work? Maybe it would be better to shift that belief with a four-step submodality belief change.
Hypnosis didn't work to eliminate a fear? Try EFT (something we teach as part of our NLP Practitioner Training).
Generally, the only time NLP "doesn't work" is when either the Practitioner or subject gives up on the process. So stick with it and be flexible.
Very often, even when a client is paying, they will subconsciously not want the end result. There may be many reasons for this, but the most common is "secondary gain." Secondary gain is when the subject receives a benefit from their problem, which is greater than their desire to release the problem.
I once worked with a client for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (on referral from a Medical Doctor). By the end of our Personal Breakthrough Session, the symptoms were all gone. She remained symptom-free for a month until her sister, who had moved in from out of state to take care of her while she was ill, decided it was time to move back. After all, the sister had "gotten better" and didn't need her help anymore. Within days, the Chronic Fatigue symptoms returned.
As much as the client wanted to release the illness, there was a benefit she was receiving that – subconsciously – was more important than letting the illness go: love. It was because of her illness that she was reunited with her sister, rekindled the relationship, and felt a deep sense of connection and love from her. Getting better threatened that love because it meant her sister moving away.
Now, I'm not saying these are choices made by the conscious mind. As a matter of fact, often, when I bring up the idea of a client's secondary gain, they initially scoff and deny it. Nobody wants to believe that they are sabotaging themselves, but that is, in fact, what is happening on a deep subconscious level.
Explore secondary gain with your client. Ask them, "is there some positive benefit this problem is giving you that feel you may not get when you let it go?" Once you find out what the secondary gain is, work with the client to help them get that benefit in a healthy way, and the presenting problem will easily disappear with NLP.
When someone comes to me exasperated, insisting, "No matter how much NLP I do, I just can't can't get any shift," I immediately know the most likely answer: a Part.
A "Part" in NLP is a functional separation inside the subconscious mind. Think of it as part of the subconscious mind splitting and isolating itself from the whole. A minor Part often presents as a simple conflict: two opposing thoughts, which the conscious mind often feels are eternally mutually exclusive options. A major or highly-developed Part can present as a slightly different, or even entirely different, personality. Depending on how developed the Part is, it can have its own behaviors, beliefs, values, timelines, and even identity (the latter is diagnosed as a Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as multiple personalities).
We all have Parts to some degree, and for most of us, they are minor Parts. But if they problem you're working on is a problem inside the Part, then doing NLP with the whole of the subconscious mind will likely not work.
When you get stuck and NLP just doesn't seem to be working, probe for Parts, or ask to speak to the Part that doesn't want the result. Then do a Parts Integration technique to resolve the Parts conflict. Once that is complete, you can proceed with your NLP intervention.
The final tactic is a rare one, but a solution to pull out when nothing else seems to be working.
Humans, like metaphorical electronics, run on an energy system that flows through the body. Energy methods, like Emotional Freedom Techniques, are designed to work on these energy systems. According to EFT, we experience "problems" (negative emotions, bad habits, health issues, etc.) when our energy system is disrupted by a blockage. As far as EFT teaches, the cause of the blockage is of little concern. The solution is to unblock the energy and return it back to flowing freely.
One particularly destructive issue goes beyond just blockage, though: a reversal of the polarity of the energy. You could almost think of it as "having your batteries in backward."
Often, when a problem simply won't respond to conventional tools and tactics, and particularly when the problem is quite self-destructive or goes against the self-preservation prime directive of the subconscious mind, you're dealing with a polarity reversal.
So how do we fix it? It's actually pretty simple.
The first step of an EFT intervention is a step that corrects polarity reversal. Simply tap the "karate chop" part of either hand firmly and repeatedly while repeating this short mantra, "Even though I have this (name the problem), I deeply and completely accept myself." Tap a minimum of seven times while repeating the phrase three times, and you will correct polarity reversal.
If you want to learn more about how you can become an NLP Practitioner, trained in NLP, EFT, TIME Techniques, Hypnotherapy, and Success and Life Coaching, visit our NLP Practitioner Certification page. You can get certified either at our live trainings around the US, or from the comfort of your own home, at your own pace.
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