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Neuro-Linguistic Programming for Fitness?

Neuro-Linguistic Programming is all the rage in self-help circles. Here's a simple overview of what it is and some ways it is used.

Last week, an old friend of mine (who I have known for almost 30 years), was telling me about how he feels about the current state of his life. He used the term "empty contentment".

"Empty contentment". Wow, how do those words make you feel?To me, the phrase is very emotionally provocative. So many feelings: sadness, wonder, sympathy… But here's a thought: the term evokes my emotions based on my own frame of reference and not my friend's. In other words, maybe for him feeling "empty contentment" with his life is good. For me, feeling "empty contentment" seems bad.

In the last year or so, there has been a lot of talk in self help and wellness media about Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Have you heard of it? My reaction to my friend's comment led me to do some more reading on this topic. It's pretty interesting stuff.

A definition of NLP I came across is: "the common processes we experience to experience reality". In other words, reality is processed by our 5 senses and nervous system into experience. Our experience is then given meaning by language and non-verbal communication.

Basically, some researchers in the 1970s developed the idea based on earlier work by a family therapist, a gestalt therapist, and anthropologist and a hypnotist (interesting combination). The original study was to answer the question, "why do different people with the same education and opportunities achieve different levels of success?"The researchers developed models of behaviors of successful people based on the interconnection between neurology, linguistics and patterns of behavior. Then, they used the models to see if a person's communication and behavior patterns can be re-programmed for success.

I first heard the term NLP when it started being used on athletes – which seems to be a pretty successful use for this sort of thing. Now, more and more, NLP is used to help previously unfit people develop a fitness mindset.

Going back the above premises behind NLP, that language and non-verbal communication gives meaning to our experience, it does make sense that if one is made aware of his or her own negative communication patterns, experience can be revised into more positive frames of reference. I would call it a "change of attitude".

For example, remember John Anyman? He's the guy in a previous article that I wrote who left his family and moved to Morocco. Let's say that he wants to run a marathon but something stops him. His self talk is along the lines of "the training is too much and boring", "I might get hurt", "what if I don't do well on the day" etc. He wants to do it, but talks himself out of it. Perhaps NLP would help him go forward and succeed.

NLP is an interesting concept. As NLP has been used for a long time, there are tons of NLP practitioners and life coaches who can help you achieve your goals. If you are interested in finding out morePsychology Articles, a web search or a bookstore is a good place to start.


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About the Author:Ainsley Laing, MSc. has been a Fitness Trainer for 25 years and writes exclusively Body for Mind eZine. She holds certifications in Group Exercise, Sports Nutrition and Personal Fitness Training. To see more articles by Ainsley visit

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