NLP Techniques to Achieve Positive Lasting Behavioural Change

Recently I attended a workshop in Brussels on how to incorporate New Code Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques into daily life as a means of achieving positive and lasting behavioural change. It’s difficult to condense the content of that inspiring three hour session (hosted by fabulous trainers Lidija and Thomas from Momentum Strategies Coaching, who offer courses in London as well as Brussels and other locations worldwide) for the purpose of this blog post, but I’m going to have a go.

During the session, Lidija and Thomas explained that behaviour change is instigated by our unconscious mind rather than our conscious mind. When we want to change a behaviour we must therefore tap into our unconscious mind. This cannot be done, however, unless we are in the right state of mind to engage. For example, if we are feeling stressed, angry or sad, we are less likely to be able to communicate our wants and desires to our unconscious in a meaningful way.

The word ‘wants’ is key here, because the unconscious mind doesn’t recognise or process negatives e.g. I don’t want to keep behaving like this. Rather, it recognises positive affirmations e.g. I want to change this behaviour.

During the workshop we did a number of exercises to promote relaxation and to help us connect with our unconscious mind. One such exercise involved asking our unconscious to support us in making the positive behaviour change we most wanted. According to NLP theory, in making this connection between conscious and unconscious mind, the unconscious mind will begin to adapt our behaviour in ways that promote the desired behavioural change, without the conscious mind even being aware of it.

One example given to demonstrate this was that of a writer who wanted to finish a novel (bit close to home, this one). If the writer were to ask their subconscious every night to support them in achieving this goal, they might find that one day, on waking, they reach for their smartphone (as is their habit) and it drops onto the floor and underneath the bed. Whilst not necessarily the case, this could be an indication of the unconscious mind forcing a change in behaviour to break the negative behavioural cycle (i.e. checking smartphone before doing anything else, and getting sucked into social media etc.), and the writer might take this as a sign, leave the phone under the bed and get their laptop out instead, and begin to write.

I admit I was initially a little sceptical about this example, but then I tried it myself, and a couple of days later as I walked to work along the normal route I suddenly veered off and took a different route, with no input whatsoever from my conscious mind. And then, also unbidden by my conscious mind, my new novel idea popped into my head, and I spent the rest of the walk to work thinking about it. Granted, this could be coincidence, but I’m interested enough to find out more about this fascinating technique and learn how to use it to make positive lasting change in my life.

As a starting point of NLP it is important to clearly state our Intentions i.e. the things our conscious minds most desire. The following is my list:


What’s yours?



Today the carefully arranged mask of Zen which I discovered in my course last week and had actually started to believe could be my true and serene self spectacularly slipped aside to reveal a considerably less calm interior. Unsurprisingly this has led to an upsurge of those familiar feelings of failure and frustration I’d hitherto been doing an impressive job of burying somewhere in the back of my unconscious (along with jealousy, bitterness, anger, rage and all the other unwanted emotions that reside there – although those ones I have at least managed to batten down the hatches on again).

The most frustrating thing is that I know the way I’m feeling is in almost entirely self-inflicted. I spent the weekend over indulging, entirely neglecting my body and mind’s requirements for healthy food, sleep and nurturing (and, let’s face it, this body and mind aren’t getting any younger). As a result both body and mind became unbalanced, and it’s only now as I begin to recognise this and pay some recompense to both that the situation can begin to be resolved. It’s hardly rocket science – disrespect your body and it will disrespect you back (or something to that effect) – though it seems I’m failing in this most rudimentary of comprehensions.

But you know what? It may be how the day began but wallowing is most certainly not how I want this day to end. The plethora of ‘problems’ I perceive when I’m tired and emotional are First World problems; none have serious repercussions. Instead of letting my brain dwell on negative thoughts I shall, for the remainder of this day, embrace the positive ones – of which there are so many – and be glad. So what if I’m tired and a bit out of sorts? I had a great weekend with my friends – and it was worth every minute. Now if somebody could just pass the Berocca…

Essentials Psychosynthesis – Day Three

After the difficult afternoon and evening I had on my Psychosynthesis course yesterday I found it impossible to switch my brain off until 3am this morning. I was worried (there goes my inner worrier) that this would mean today would be a struggle, but whilst I have felt tired I’ve also felt incredibly uplifted.

In part this was because the course material touched less of a nerve today, focusing on the concepts of “I” and “Will” rather than the lower unconscious which deals with the past. But it was also due to the rapport I feel we’ve developed as a group, which has been so overwhelmingly supportive.  We’ve all – without exception – touched on enormously sensitive issues in our individual therapy sessions (all of which were “observed” by other members of the group) and it’s surprised me how comfortable and comforted we’ve all felt by one another’s presence.

Observing this evening’s therapy sessions was a particularly uplifting experience. It’s such an incredible privilege having the opportunity to bear witness to the inner workings of someone else’s mind and gain an insight into who they really are – warts and all. I have to admit today has really got me wondering if being a psychotherapist is something I might be good at – I have such great respect for the therapists I’ve observed and I’m keen to find out more about this life as an alternative (or even complementary to my career) life path.

The past few days have been a rollercoaster and whilst I can’t say I’ve enjoyed every minute, exactly, I can say it’s been fascinating, absorbing and emotionally enriching in the extreme.