Beliefs and Conversational NLP

Kalliope Barlis 

Beliefs have the ability to create anything imaginable, so that what is perceived as impossible becomes possible. Inventions are created first by imagining them and then by having the belief that what is imagined can be done. With this in mind, belief is a powerful tool that can have influence on what is true and what isn’t true.

As NLP practitioners, we sense the structure of thought in our clients. We are given cues by their eye movements, enabling us to sense which part of their brain they are accessing to speak about their experience: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. To recognize what’s important, we pay attention to the direction in which they are motioning their eyes, up, down, across and diagonally.  Some people are nonspecific in how they access information relative to their eye movements. Either way, the eye-accessing cues developed by Dr. Richard Bandler give us insight into the client’s subjective experience. We first determine the baseline of experience for each client, and from there, we form a strategy elicitation based on their subjective experience, in this case, of their beliefs.

I have found throughout the years that to properly instill long-lasting change in clients, clients need to believe that long-lasting, quick change is possible. For what reason? Because NLP works fast—as fast as the brain. And the rapidness of the change is sometimes unbelievable to clients, so much so that they reverse the change that has taken place. Following a fifteen-minute session, I had a patient say, “I can’t believe my pain is gone. I don’t understand. Where is my pain?” And some time later with this repeated auto-reinforcement, the pain reemerges. For this reason, theSwish Pattern for change comes invaluable. 

NLP is truly magical in creating change quickly, and because of this, oftentimes, it is first important to establish a belief in the client that change can happen quickly. Then, the NLP skills can be used to make the change they want to happen. Dr. Richard Bandler created and repeatedly uses the Swish Pattern as an excellent tool for changing the structure of beliefs toward change. I found that when the client believes that rapid change is possible, the client is able to maintain the change that takes place. This is one way to instill long-lasting change as part of the foundation of who the client is. And for the person who says that NLP doesn’t create long-lasting change, this is a key element among others that are missing in the way they practice NLP to make the change last. 

Recently, I had a client who said, “I have no future.” I jumped on that belief and said, “What’s happening? You’re dying now? I better call an ambulance.” And he replied, “No.” Then I said, “You mean you are dying now so that your next future moment doesn’t exist, but because this moment has already passed, and this moment does exist for you, then why aren’t you already dead? Well, I guess you must have a future, since you’ve already lived the next moment from the moment you said you had no future.” And he said, “Okay, I get it. I do have a future.”  It was then that he learned to make a plan for him to think better and make lifestyle changes to have a brighter future for himself and his family.

In this case, I challenged the client’s belief from a different angle for him to better understand how his language and structure of his thought were influencing how he felt. This way, he went from feeling bad to feeling hope for a better future along with more proper planning for more practical doing. It was simply a change of thought that inspired his behavior to change, which changed his prognosis and ultimately his life. 

When someone believes in something, they are accepting it as true. However, just because someone accepts something as true does not mean that it is. People believed the world was flat before they discovered it is round. When we guide our clients to learn from how they think, we can guide them to operate their thoughts in a more useful way so that their beliefs are in sync with what they want and it benefits all areas of their lives, while creating true wealth and discovering their own truth to do so.