Believe It or Not

Behavior Engineering and programming psychology

Behavior Engineering and programming psychology (Photo credit:

I’m constantly amazed at how I’m really not that good at this life lark, despite 41 years of having a go. It’s not that I think I’m particularly worse at it than other people, I just think most of us don’t really know what we’re doing (well, I don’t think it’s just me).

So when something does click and make sense, I get, well, a little bit over excited. I’m like, woooooohay! I get something! And I’m having one of these moments with beliefs.

About ten years ago I did an NLP training course at work. It was an intensive Practitioner’s course, and I found myself falling in love with NLP: I loved the opportunity to understand myself more, and I loved the opportunity to understand other people more. At the time I managed an internal communications team, and this course was to help me – the team – be better at meeting the needs of the business. But, what I didn’t know at the time, was how big a part NLP would play in my future life outside of work, in my recovery, in just living.

NLP – neuro-linguistic programming – is an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy. It was initially designed to discover how certain individuals had become excellent communicators, and to create models of this behaviour, which would then enable them to teach others how to be as good. Since then a whole host of techniques have been created under the banner of NLP, and NLP training courses are widely available.

The title of NLP refers to the connection between the neurological processes (neuro), language (linguistic) and behavioural patterns that have been learned through experience (programming). The idea is that with better awareness of these relationships, we can improve how we think, feel and behave.

And the other day, I sat back with my current package of worries (there’s never just one is there?) and realised I was, once again, going to be calling on my good friend NLP.

You see, here’s the thing: I seem to be spending way too much time with my not so good friend, self-limiting beliefs. I know why – but I also know they have to go. Do One. Foxtrot Oscar.

About six weeks ago, I woke up one day and suddenly felt well. Not the I’m-not-a-hundred-percent-well-but-feel-pretty-good-as-long-as-I-take-care-of-myself-well (which is how I was before Japan, how I have been for the last couple of years – until the recent crash a few months ago, which has seen me reunited with fatigue, frustration, and the sofa) but a bloody hell, I-think-I-feel-normal-well (well, apart from the endometriosis, and a sickness bug my mum rudely gave me, but that is a whole other saga!).


Of course this is great; fantastic; amazing; brilliant; wonderful; fabulous (okay, I think you get it…).

But (oh yes, there’s always a but isn’t there), it quite simply freaked me out; it was so sudden. And out they all came, the self-limiting beliefs, joining forces, ganging up on me, attempting to spoil my happy party:

Will the energy last?
Is this it?
Am I now well?
Should I be being careful, not ‘spending’ all my energy at once?
Should I…? Should I….? Should I…?

And so I found myself in the craziest of situations: physically I felt fine, more than fine – but mentally, oh dear.

But I recognised it all for what it was, and so came my WOOOOOOHAY moment! ‘I know what’s going on,’ I smugly said to myself, to Husband, to Best Friend. ‘AND I know what to do about it,’ I added, with an extra helping of smugness.

It’s perfectly understandable, that after such a challenging relationship with my body, sometimes I quite simply don’t trust it. And even though, it seems to be fixed, to be strong, to be healthy, it’s going to take a little time for my mind to believe this. My mind is filled with memories of broken body moments, and it is filled of memories of when I thought everything was going to be okay but it wasn’t.

But I know I can retrain my mind to filter for different memories. I remember doing an interesting exercise on my NLP course when we looked at how we filter information. And we all do it (we have to or we would be in permanent overload): when you break up with a boyfriend, for example, the world suddenly seems to be full of couples. But, of course, there are the same number of couples as yesterday, it’s just that with your new focus, this is what your brain searches for. And guess what it finds: couples, everywhere.

But I know that this is what is happening (woooooohay!) and I’m not having it. So every time my memory throws up something about when my body has let me down, I challenge it with a memory when this didn’t happen. And to make this more powerful, I sometimes anchor a memory – really visualise the memory, bringing it to life: what did it feel like? What could I see? Where was I? What could I hear?

Or I am coaching myself (I know, I’m getting carried away) acting as a mentor, maybe someone I admire, or maybe just me on a good day. Because when I coach myself, I force myself to look at the whole picture, not just the self-limiting belief, which is doing its best to take me down at that moment.

I am also modelling my behaviour on people who have recovered. If we want to be good at something, NLP says learn from the best. So I am looking at fellow recoverers and seeing what they did to take themselves from nearly well to just well. For a start, they don’t live in fear that their body will let them down.

So, as I join forces with NLP, the enemy that is self-limiting beliefs will soon be on its knees. Woooooohay!

To find out more about NLP and NLP training courses, click here.

This post is sponsored by Inspire 360.

11 thoughts on “Believe It or Not

  1. HI there, I wrote to you last summer when I found your sofa in the city. It really helped me to read your words. It seems like the blog was taken down and I really hope people can find it somewhere because your journey and your sence of humor really helps. Anyway, I recently read a book called “Heal your back pain” and all I can say is that the pain I was suffering in my back has lifted dramatically and with it I have regained much more energy. I had spent the bulk of this year at around 15-25% and I would say I am now at 50% pretty consistantly. It is amazing that as soon as we get to feeling the slightest bit normal the mind says, “Okay, now it’s time to get to work. You’ve been laying here WAY to long” My husband said, why don’t you focus on trying to keep coffee dates for a month or two and see how you do with that, before you go thinking you should get a job.” Anyway. thanks for writing. I like checking in and seeing how your doing. You inspire me.

    • Hi Margaret, yes I remember you!

      I’m so pleased to hear your pain has improved so much – it must be wonderful to be able to enjoy your life again. I agree with your husband, get meeting friends for coffee nailed and then think about work. I always go with the baby steps, I think it helps confidence to build consistency in stages.

      Yes, Sofa and the City was taken down last week. It felt time for me to say goodbye – but you can always find me here.

      I wish you all the best with your continued recovery… Xx

  2. Pingback: NLP and demonic possession by a diagnosis of depression « power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci

  3. First of all, I love the way you write. Really, you are a hero of mine.
    Secondly, the self limiting beliefs are a fact of life, I think. Just as we cannot messure “cold” or “darkness” since they are only the absence of warmth and light (which we can meassure), I really believe in the lazy way: Meassuring all the good stuff, leaving the bad stuff alone as much as possible, and see what happends.
    Focusing on all the good stuff becomes more and more work, since only a little training gives the experience you wrote about: Divorce, and you see nothing but couples. Buy a red car, and suddenly they’re all over town. Focusing, in a respectless and joyful manner, on happy things, and they seem to be everywhere. More and more, it’s rather time consuming.
    So, at the end of the day, I’m ready to look at all the bad stuff. I have to promise myself that bad stuff also has a chance, otherwise my mind start all sorts of evasive nonsense. So I stick to my deal with the bad stuff, but alas: Time’s up. Better luck tomorrow, bad stuff. You didn’t make the cut today. Meant to, didn’t make it. Tomorrow, I promise, I’ll be miserable, happy now?
    And of course, I cheat. Fighting my inner and outer distractions only gets time alotted when I’m finished being irresponsably happy, with no glances on neither rhyme or reason.
    And now for the best news. Ready? It work more often than not, and it grows.
    I’m looking forward to your comments on this one. I dare you.

    • Hi Erik

      Ooh this girl loves a compliment about her writing – thank you!

      Oh yes, I agree (of course) that self-limiting beliefs are a fact of life, but I guess sometimes they are more damaging than others. And I do think, for me right now, I need to watch out for the bastards!

      But I do like your take on looking the bad stuff right in the eye and manning up.

      I dare – of course.


  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on NLP, which has been part and parcel to my recovery as well as to enjoying every step of the path toward full recovery.
    You say you model from those who have successfully made the leap from nearly well to “bloody hell, I-think-I-feel-normal-well.” Who do you model from in particular, do they have blogs that you read, or do you know them privately?

    • Hi Johannes

      Over the last few years I have made a conscious effort to read recovery stories as part of nurturing my faith and belief in recovery. I also know some people in ‘real life’ who have recovered.

      I had a quick look round your site (which looks very new? How exciting) and it sounds like we have a very similar ethos (Gupta and LP have been part of my recovery package).

      My favourite places for recovery stories are:

      The Chrysalis Effect Recovery Programme (I wrote about my experience on this programme, you can find the links to these posts under the category Chrysalis Effect Recovery Programme).

      The Optimum Health Clinic (Alex Howard).

      I also follow a blog called I follow BG because I love her writing, but she also happens to have recovered from CFS.

      Let me know if I can help in any other way.

      Good luck with your new venture – if it is new!


Leave a Reply to Margaret Owens Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s