Can People Change?

Can People Change?

How is it possible for people to change?

This question has driven a large part of my work and thought over the years. It is certainly a central theme of human potential inquiry. Perhaps you know someone who suddenly started to live a very different kind of life than they had before; someone who had experienced a “profound life change.” These people experience profound personal change that is fast, effective, relatively painless and permanent.

As NLP pioneer and developer Wyatt Woodsmall points out, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) developed from a technology called Behavioral Modeling. Children learn from ‘modeling” the behaviors of others, especially parents and other primary caregivers. The co-founders of NLP, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, sought out the most successful people from various fields to model their behavior. They wanted to discover the structure of “expertise;” how people do what they do well.

Richard Bandler was a computer information student. John Grinder was a professor of Linguistics. Since they were both interested in Gestalt Therapy, the first experts they modeled were therapists. Richard and John started to systematically elicit and then “model” or “copy” the behavior of these experts. Although there are some exceptions, it was said that if anyone can create any achievement in life, and if you can get enough “quality information” about how they do it, you can reproduce the same results.

Modeling People Who Have Experienced Profound Personal Change

So, what are the common elements among people who have experienced “profound personal change?” It seems that profound personal change is typically preceded by some traumatic event. Sometimes it is a near death experience, like an auto accident, or a doctor telling you, “Get your affairs in order; you have 3-6 months to live.” It may be that someone you know went to church on a Sunday and, while in a deep emotional state, decided to re-dedicate his or her life. From that moment on, that person lived differently.

Everyone knows someone who has had a “profound life change” experience? But how can we “model” or reproduce profound change in our own lives? And, can it be done without the trauma? It is thought that by age 4 or 5, most people have almost all their deep-level, core programming in place. The decisions that make up this programming are a Core Decisional Network. This deep programming operates at an other-than-conscious level and it drives a person’s behavior for the rest of his or her life.

When we ask experts how they do what they do, they most often say, “I don’t know how I do it, I just do it.” However, when information is elicited effectively by a practitioner of NLP, we find that the person does know at some level. People who have had a profound life change experience report they were in a state of “deep emotion” at the time of the change. Deep emotion is one of the key ingredients of how new core decisions get in place. Core level decisions are expressed with specific language, in specific ways, including body language and gestures. People are expressing their core programming all the time in everything that they do and say.

by Bill Thomason
NLP Success Coach
Certified NLP Trainer