See, hear & feel

Posted on October 20, 2012


I’m currently in the midst of a course in NLP. Fascinating, not least because I’m fast realising that a number of my personal little quirks are really not very personal at all.  I’m simply a classic visual person. All these years and I often hear people say that mid conversation, I suddenly seem so withdrawn, staring into space and disengaged. My close friends just assumed this a Tori-ism … they say they can almost feel and sense me processing our discussion. Turns out that this is a common characteristic for all those who need to visualise everything to understand anything.

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is an approach to communication, personal development and psychotherapy created in the 1970s. The guys who founded it, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, stated their aim was in ‘finding ways to help people have better, fuller and richer lives.’ As I’ve been working through the course, I’ve been wondering how NLP can be applied to our lives as sports people, athletes, competitors and participants … for sure, its techniques are used by many of the top sports performance coaches. So how can you and I use it to our advantage?

Turns out that the three core building blocks of NLP are of significant use in our chosen sports, whatever they may be. We can use them to improve our motivation, persistence and performance.  Worth reading on? Hell yes!

1)    VAK Strategies

One of the main concepts underlying NLP is that all human behaviour such as motivation, desire, decision-making, concentration and creativity are a result of sequences of ‘thoughts’. All our thoughts are represented in terms of one of the five senses, although three of these dominate:  Visual (V), Auditory (A), and Kinaesthetic (K) … each of us is essentially either a Visual, an Auditory or a Kinaesthetic person and once identified which type we are, we can alter our motivation strategies accordingly.

For me, as a visual person for example, a very strong tool for me is to visualise a race in the days leading up to it.  The course, the terrain, the incline, the views, the skies, the people around me, the scenery … I use this to excite me in the lead up and then to power me during the race.

Takeaway … identify your own type and then adopt learning, decision-making and motivation strategies that support them. Result? Be more motivated, focus better, be more influential over others and be more successful in all that you do.

2)    Preferred Learning Style

Most educators are familiar with the concept of visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learners but are the learners themselves?

  • Visual people learn best if they can see the information, if they can map it out in their mind and have a clear image of what is to be learned
  • Auditory people prefer to learn through listening to talks and lectures, by discussing salient point and debating different opinions
  • Kinaesthetic people learn best through doing, by jumping in and having a go and working through things a step at a time until they have a handle on it

Takeaway: identify your category then make your decision on courses and coaches based on how you best learn. Result? Learn quicker, faster and more easily. Likewise, if just talking to others and trying to put across your point of view, identify their type and alter your communication accordingly. Know the feeling of meeting someone and feeling like you just don’t connect?  We’ve all been there.  It’s normally down to nothing more than you communicating with them according to your type and not theirs.

3)    Anchoring Techniques

Anchors are basically stimuli that bring us states of mind, emotions and thoughts.  Throughout are lives we are affected by anchors that affect our mood, motivation and spirit.   Think of the power of hearing an old song or smelling a perfume that reminds you of a past love. These memories can make you smile or feel overwhelmed by regret or sadness. They’re classic examples of involuntary anchors.

Voluntary anchors are those that we induce to summon a particular emotion. Want to feel calm for example?  Lie down, close your eyes and think back to a time when you’ve felt very relaxed and at peace. Snoozing in a hammock on a chilled our beach holiday for example, skies are blue, the breeze is light, soft tunes are playing and you can hear the waves gently lapping. Once you feel completely relaxed, attach an anchor such as rubbing your thumb and index fingers together.   After you’ve practiced this anchoring technique a few times you’ll be able to use your anchor, in this case the fingers rubbing together, to induce that same feeling of relaxation.

Takeaway: think about the sorts of emotional states you want to be able to induce and then practise over time anchoring techniques so you can induce those states when you wish. You might want to use them pre race to control jitters or to lift your mindset during a race when the going gets tough.  

It’s a pretty detailed subject but my point is this. We are really all very text book and can use the research, finding and concepts of others to improve everything in our lives. Learn quicker, communicate better, run faster and so on. Using these techniques bring us confidence and courage too because they give us the power to influence our outcomes, to run our brains as we do our bodies.

Simple yet fiendishly clever!

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