Welcome to the second in the series of NLP Bites. In this series we are discussing how NLP works and why it is so effective.
In this series we are talking neuroscience, we are talking behavioural science, neuro-psychology and you may not realise it because we’re going to combine it with NLP and NLP is simple to understand.
These articles and videos are simple to understand and hopefully I’ll be putting things in a way that you can relate to and that makes sense to you.
In this particular article we are going to be talking about why habits form, and why NLP is so effective for eliminating and changing bad habits so that you get what you want.
NLP – get what you want
NLP is all about enabling you to get what you want.
If excellence is what you want then NLP will help you get excellent at what you do.
If just stopping bad habits is what you want, for example a bad habit that you have might be smoking or overeating then NLP can help you with that too.
if you want to help other people or you want to help yourself stop smoking or stop overeating then NLP can certainly help.
In this article I’m going to explain a little bit about how that actually takes place. How stopping smoking can happen for you and how you can work with other people to help them stop smoking, help them lose weight and that’s useful, isn’t it?
NLP is useful, very useful.
NLP Helps tap into the your brain’s Pleasure Centre
In the last article in this series I talked about how NLP techniques help tap in to the brain’s natural Pleasure Centres.
The basic pattern of behaviour is: We decide to do something, on a whim maybe, because not all behaviour is consciously thought through, is it? If we enjoy doing the behaviour or if it gives us a benefit then we repeat the behaviour in the future.
A key aspect of NLP is recognising that lots of what we do, lots of our thinking is unconscious. Lots of our behaviour is unconscious. We have a part of our brain that looks after unconscious processes, things that are out of our awareness like breathing, like some of the talking that we do.
Although as I write I am thinking a lot of this through consciously I have also allowed my unconscious mind to just set off and form sentences for me. I am not consciously thinking through every word I am thinking through parts of what I want to say.
The unconscious and conscious processes work together.
Now, think about a habit you have now or have had in the past. It might be smoking or it might be overeating, or something else.
Think about that habit that you don’t want. Did you decide consciously that you were going to go ahead and do that the first time that you did it?
You may or may not have done. The thing about behaviour is that when we repeat it, it becomes unconscious and then it becomes tricky to stop.
You can stop straightaway and you can decide to stop but what happens when you repeat behaviour is that you make a decision unconsciously to go ahead. You make a decision to carry on doing that behaviour.
Nail-biting – Stop that habit!
We could be talking about nail-biting, couldn’t we?
Let’s say you bite your nail. You look down on it and you notice that the nail has been removed pretty well at the end.
You then think unconsciously perhaps. “Oh that was effective. That got rid of that nail quite quickly. It looks okay. It looks quite neat I’m going to continue to do that nail-biting thing.”
You may think that consciously or you may just think unconsciously “No problem there. I’ll just carry on with my life” and then next minute you catch yourself biting your nails. That is how habits form.
Habit Formation – the dopamine shower
One of the reasons habits form is because when you carry out a behaviour and you get what you want it sets off a dopamine reaction in the brain and the brain says
“Oh well done. You did it!” and dopamine is released in the brain. It releases right through the brain.
Dopamine is an addictive substance. It’s a chemical and a shower-like mechanism in the brain releases it and it flows throughout the body..
It flows down and throughout the body and it makes us feel good.
Your Reward Centre
Actually what’s happening is that this is part of the function of the Reward Center in the brain, the Pleasure Center.
Dopamine is a reward that is being released. You are rewarded for your behaviour by feeling good.
Smoking cigarettes, consuming other substances and overeating involve a natural intake and generation of chemicals in addition to the dopamine reward that consuming them will bring.
Behaviour in general doesn’t necessarily have to have that consumption of chemicals to generate the feeling of reward.
With nail biting for example, you complete the behaviour of biting your nail. You complete it successfully and it triggers the release of dopamine in the Reward Centre in your brain and it makes you feel good.
Whether you notice it consciously or not, whether you make the connection between the action and the reward or not, it doesn’t matter. The unconscious brain has noticed it!
Your body says “Oh, that was something was different there and I quite liked it.”
What actually happens and this is important, is that a habit is formed because you’ve received either a conscious or an unconscious reward for your actions.
When we get rewarded for our actions we go after the reward again and again. It could be that the reward that we get is dopamine and dopamine is an addictive substance, so therefore we go after the reward again.
Our body will decide either consciously or unconsciously, our body and our brain will decide “I’m going to do that again”. I think in most cases this becomes an unconscious process for us.
We don’t always deliberately decide to do something. We just do it. We do it successfully and it makes us feel slightly better and then we do it again because it made us feel slightly better the last time.
Goals and Objectives
Think about you know goals and objectives. When you decide on a goal or objective, you plan it and you go ahead and you do it. When you achieve it then it makes you feel great!
One of the reasons for that is because you’ve got the dopamine reward flooding your body and you feel great, don’t you?!
NLP helps people to design goals for different areas of their life and design objectives for things that they want.
NLP helps replace unwanted behaviours with behaviours that we want. It takes people through thought patterns of change.
NLP helps people replace unwanted and unconscious thought patterns with conscious and thought-through objectives.
When we achieve these conscious and thought-through objectives or goals (it may even just be a simple pattern of thought) and it replaces an unwanted behaviour then that makes us feel good.
One of the reasons it makes us feel good is because it releases this dopamine in the brain and therefore we’re more likely in the future.
If the dopamine release is strong enough and if we classify the objective as important enough, then in the future we are more likely to reproduce that behaviour than we are to produce the unwanted behaviour (as the reward is greater).
Scientifically, we have used reward in terms of objectives, we have used reward gained from the patterns of thoughts that we create, to produce behaviour that we want and replace unwanted behaviour
In terms of the nail-biting example:
We might decide to substitute or replace the thought of “I want to bite my nails” (which triggers the behaviour) that we may get unconsciously and instead we may decide to notice “Oh, I’m thinking about biting my nails” and replace that thought with something else.
NLP techniques have very subtle ways of replacing what we don’t want, with what we do want. This means that we get more of what we do want. This in turn makes us feel good and it sets off the reward system as I describe above in the way that we want it
By becoming conscious of what’s happening in our brain then we can do something about unwanted behaviours and unwanted thoughts and unwanted results and replace them with what we want.
That is just a little insight into a part of how NLP can work for you.
There are lots of techniques in NLP for helping people. Help people stop smoking, stop nail biting, for breaking simple habits that we want to stop now.
If you would like to learn NLP then join us at the NLP Academy. We have got professional NLP training courses, certification courses here to train you in NLP and accredit you as an NLP professional, NLP Practitioner, NLP Master Practitioner and NLP Trainer.
We will help you develop a career in NLP, working with and helping other people.
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