NLP: What it is and 9 Techniques That will Change your Life

Neuro-Linguistic Programming, better known as NLP is the science or art that boasts a unique approach to the enhancement of your communications skills, personal development, as well as psychotherapy.

The term NLP was first coined in 1970 by Dr. Richard Bandler.

NLP is a powerful tool/ method that influences the behavior of the brain (hence neuro) using language (hence linguistic), among other forms of communication to allow one person to ‘re-code’ the brain’s response to stimuli (or its programming).

These processes allow the manifestation of new, and often better behaviors (and habits). 

Most of the time, NLP incorporates hypnosis as well as self-hypnosis to help you achieve the desired change.

When recently asked, Mr. Bandler defined NLP as an interpersonal communication model that deals with the relationships between successful behavioral patterns and the underlying subjective experience.

He also regards NLP as the system of alternative therapy seeking to educate people on self-awareness, as well as effective communication in a bid to change patterns associated with their emotional and mental behaviors.

In essence, therefore, NLP is primarily about the combinations and understanding of human behaviors in language and how it all influences one’s effectiveness in communication.

Think of NLP as your brain’s user manual. With more people diving into the NLP world, trying to understand the mind – conscious and unconscious minds, there have developed a number of NLP techniques.

These techniques hold immense power that could change how you experience the world altogether.

These techniques are based on our feelings and thoughts, bearing the capacity to shape our realities.In a nutshell, the NLP techniques discussed in this article could transform your life completely.

But it’s important to note that these techniques mean and communicate different things to different people. And there are caveats to the understanding and the definitions of NLP Techniques.

If you’re a purist, NLP has no technique to offer.

Instead, NLP gives you a code and a modeling methodology. Therefore, the patterns distilled by practitioners from their modeling activities are only native to the practitioner’s field and not the NLP field.

The other thing you should know about these NLP techniques is that the techniques are more of change protocols and not techniques per se. These protocols of change represent the stepwise instructions followed by an individual with the intention of creating or impacting change in their lives. 

The last caveat worth mentioning has to do with the fact that the so-called ‘NLP Techniques’ are not techniques in the direct sense of the word, but they’re more of skills.

For example, calibration, anchoring, or analog marking represent competencies that one has to practice, and they are not techniques that you can follow and apply.

And now, a look at some of

The Best NLP Techniques.

1. Anchoring

Anchoring is one of the most important NLP techniques, and it holds power to induce a specific state or frame of mind, such as relaxation or happiness.

Anchoring involves the use of touch, a specific word, or even a gesture as a bookmark to elicit a specific, desired action. Using that anchor, you can recall that emotion or desired state later or.

image of woman holding umbrella

Using Anchoring:

For this technique, first, recall the time you were super happy.

Then allow yourself to know and accept that you can recreate the feeling of happiness. To recreate that emotion play a mental image or describe how that feeling came about and how you felt. 

Now, hold your left index finger and your middle finger in your right hand then give those two fingers quick squeezes.

In the second squeeze, enlarge your mental picture of that happy moment, bring that moment closer to you and imagine feeling all that joy tenfold.

Repeat these steps until you can fill the intense happy feeling at least five consecutive times.

By laying your anchor and recalling the anchor, you get to recall and feel that happiness you felt in the past.

Anchoring works as an NLP technique thanks to a process called conditioning – the more times you anchor yourself, the greater the clarity of the desired feeling. 

Anchoring and conditioning are best explained by the infamous Pavlov’s experiments on dogs and how the dogs developed a psychological relationship between food and the sound of the bell.    

2. Pattern Interruption

pattern of stained glass

If you’re looking for an NLP exercise that will help you leave an unconscious message in your brain, you should consider Pattern Interruption.

This technique involves the storage of keywords in your unconscious mind. Used alongside Anchoring, this technique will allow you to receive a message which, for reasons unknown to you, bear a great significance. 

In pattern Interruption, your pure conscious thoughts or your inner monologue is lured into a sequence or pattern, and as soon as that pattern gets established, you are jolted out of the pattern, just before the pattern is completed.

As a result, your unconscious mind is left waiting for the next thing in the sequence, and your conscious mind distracted.

3. Loop Break

Loop Break represents another experimental NLP technique that forces you to stop or consciously change a process in the unconscious mind.

This technique involves breaking the looping process used by the body (naturally) for you to enter into higher brain states like stress, anger, fear, anxiety, or rage.

Wondering why anyone would use the NLP Loop Break?

image of pocket watch

Loop Break, unknown to many, is one of the most effective techniques for effecting more control into your behavior.

It’s simple, yet the most effective of NLP techniques.


Say you’re about to get engaged, what’s the trigger that sets you off?

Someone ramming into you at the traffic lights stop?

While anyone would be set off by this, yelling at the other driver might only escalate things, and you will not think of asking them for their insurance information in those moments of anger.

The reason for this natural reaction comes from a loop between your amygdala, your memory, and the body.

This loop bypasses the frontal lobe (the region of the brain that normally moderates behavior).

So, it means that the only way for you not to overreact involves breaking that loop. You need to kick start your frontal cortex for the moderation of your behavior. 

To do this, force-start a different bodily response or emotion consciously.

You can do this by counting to ten or going to a pre-prepared thought, a comfort though to remind you not to overreact. The loop break could be as easy as laughing at the situation – doing this will make you even more powerful.

4. Swishold camera and photos

If you’re looking for an NLP technique to help you change or replace specific feelings that you associate with a specific condition (often sad and unfavorable), you might want to try Swish.

Swish calls for a bit of creativity, but once you master it, your life will be better.  You could think of this NLP technique as the brain’s version of the computer’s copy-paste function.

Using NLP Swish, you can take a memory, a part of a memory, or even a neurological tag and then paste it over another memory. 

How does Swish Work?

In NLP Swish, you need to understand that each of your memories has an emotion attached to it. The attached emotions can be good or bad, but NLP Swish allows you to swap out or alter the memory’s emotional tags. 

So, if you associate anxiety with an interview, you might want to change the interview’s emotional tag to the excitement. NLP Swish makes this possible.

The idea behind Swish is for you to think about the excitement you felt at a certain time and how you can hold on to it in a scary/ different environment. You need to do this without losing that positive emotion, then swish back and forth between the two pictures quickly.

5. Framing

In NLP, Framing is the one technique that augments well with the other NLP methods and techniques. 

Framing refers to an emotional amplifier or even a deamplifier working through the correction or rebuilding of the links in the limbic system, between the amygdala and the hippocampus.

Framing is simple and also effective.

The idea behind this technique is that we learn life lessons from our good and bad memories.

Consequently, we hold good and bad memories.

But even with the tags, we give our memories; these memories are these emotionless reels of the events of the past. 

image of photo album

Confused? Don’t be. While the notion that your memories are emotionless might enrage you, it is true.

Emotions and memories are stored in two different areas of the brain. And though these areas are right next to each other, they remain to be separate from each other.

The amygdala is responsible for your emotions, and the hippocampus stores and the produces memories. Therefore, your memories are motionless. 

Here’s an idea of how framing works – think of a memory that comes with negative emotions but nothing traumatic. 

When you retrieve this emotion, your frontal lobe or the prefrontal cortex and your thalamus interact with the hippocampus, as well as the rest of your limbic system.

These interactions with other parts of your brain lead to the discovery of the negative memory.

The hippocampus stores your memories, and when you recall the memory, its hippocampus that works.

Next, there’s the emotional amygdala which judges your memories in the hippocampus giving you a quick reminder of the negative emotions.

Thanks to framing, you can edit the negative emotions associated with memories.

In NLP, specifically NLP Framing, there’s something called negative framing. This technique is applicable to negative memories since it negates the negative emotions associated with memories. 

 If you had a bad interview in the past, recall this interview but in a 3rd person perspective. See yourself as you were in the interview, but don’t let that memory stick. Now, make your image in the memory blurry or black/white by stepping away from the memory’s setting.

Now that you have that blurry image of the memory frame it and hang it on a wall in a gallery of a choosing.  Doing this to your memory and even picturing a framed image of the blurry image dampens your feelings about the memory.

Repeating this process reduces the effects of the memory further because you force your mind to treat that memory as a picture.

Framing, as the name suggests, forces you to detach emotions from memories as it dampened the associated emotions.

6. Modeling

picture of an child angel

When it comes to NLP and your desire to achieve more, Modeling is an advanced NLP technique, and it features three elements: the attitude, methodology, and your annotation.

And it notes that for every result you conceptualize but haven’t produced ever in your life, there’s someone else in the world out there who’s done it and achieved their desired results.

Therefore, this other person understands the strategies needed for one to attain the desired outcome.

If you choose to accept this way of life, your mission involves finding that other person then modeling them.  

The good news is that if you choose to use this NLP modeling methodology, you will absorb the other person’s behavioral patterns with ease. You will also find it easy for you to codify their patterns, keeping them in a registry that you can access and use later.

You could also use coded patterns and behaviors to teach others.

Thanks to the effectiveness of NLP Modeling, practitioners in the NLP world have been working on the distillation of several core modeling competencies.

These competencies include investors, expert marksmen, mountain climbers, basketball players, and business leaders, among others.

It is because of the power of modeling that the NLP exists. Modeling is the core of NLP. 

Unknown to one of NLP’s early creators Richard Bandler, he used modeling even without knowing and even before his collaboration with John Grinder.

7. Outcome Frame

Most, if not all, of the self-help books you’ve read or podcasts you’ve listened to will, in one way or the other mention the importance of goal setting for your success. And if you listen to an NLP expert speak, you will realize that there’s mention of Outcomes in many sessions and texts rather than Goals.

In other cases, you will find that the use of the term Desired state or desired situation. Of course, these mean one thing, and they all represent the need to achieve something.

sign written results and excuses

The Outcome Frame is one of the most important NLP attraction techniques as it allows you to shift your perspective to become better.

Overall, the Outcome Frame will shift your perspective from trying to get rid of and avoid problems to attaining and even creating your desired results.

When it comes to the Outcome Frame, your either focus on your outcomes or your problems. 

When paying attention to your problems, you end up focusing more attention on the wrong and unwanted things rather than the things you actually desire.

The result of focusing on your problems is that you end up looking for the symptoms and the causes of your problems. This causes regressions, and you might never attain your desires.

Using the Outcome Frame, you’ll be focused more on your gains and solutions.

For the Outcome Frame to work, you need to start asking yourself questions like: What do I want? Why do I want it? How can I produce these results? Which resources do you need to produce the results you desire?

Wondering what the questions on the other side of the fence sound like? 

If you’re in the problem Frame of things, you will find yourself with endless questions like What’s wrong with me? What’s my biggest problem?

Who should I blame for this? How did I let this happen? What caused this?

Once you understand your current frame and line of thoughts, you will have a better chance of carving out the successful future you desire.

The Outcome and the Problem Frames are a lot like What I need to do to get X vs. why did that happen to me when all I wanted was X?

Unfortunately for many of us, attaining the Outcome Frame of mind is hard, and we’re unable to apply this positive frame to our situations. But, changing your frame of mind is not completely impossible or lost.

There are two things you could do to shift your perspective to the Outcome frame: turn those problem descriptions to outcome statements and transform your negatively-worded statement into positive statements.

Keep in mind that trying to shift your mind’s perspective will not happen overnight.

So, if you wish to get hold of your finances, you should consider telling yourself that you want to ‘Create Financial Freedom in your life’ instead of telling yourself that you’re broke. 

The important part of reframing your thoughts and shifting your mindset lies in your thinking.

The outcome frame involves thinking about what you’d be experiencing if you were not in that problem situation.

8. Formatting Outcome

dart and bullseye illustration on goal

The other effective NLP technique is the Formatting Outcomes frame. In this context, you need criteria for the evaluation of your goals and whether you’ve formatted your goals properly. 

In goal-setting, the acronym you use is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) but in NLP, you have PSYKE for Positive Sensory Yours, Keep, Ecology.

PSYKE is an important element for formatting outcomes and its elements if implemented properly, will guide you towards your desires.

Positive– For this technique to work, you first need to phrase your desired outcome in the positive light.

Sensory – you need actual sensory evidence to use when you achieve your goals. Your sensory guide should answer the question – How will I know that I did it?

Yours – the only way that this technique is going to work is if you’re in total control of your desired outcome/ goal. In this case, you should know the specific actions that you need to take to accomplish your goal.

Keep – This technique further requires you to keep all the benefits you’re experiencing in your life currently when you meet your objectives. Think of the good things/ benefits coming your way currently and how you could keep them coming.

Ecology – by now, you know that NLP is a complex, but practical and effective process.

So, when using the formatting outcome, you should ensure that your achievement of that desired goal will fit into your life’s context and ecology while allowing you to keep important parts of your life well-integrated.

What this means is that you should think about the influence of your decision to achieve your goals on the people in your life. Also, think about the circumstances in which you wouldn’t want what will happen if you go after your goals. 

PSYKE offers a different evaluation framework in comparison to SMART. In this formatting outcome, what you need to do is to determine whether that thing you desire and the subsequent process is useful or not.

9. The Straight Line

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

While this is obvious geometrically, this principle can be applied to different (all) areas of your life. You can apply the Straight Line technique to anything and everything you desire in life.

Think of it this way: there’s this place you are at and then there’s the place you’d like to be.

The distance between these two points is a straight line. And when it comes to achieving your goals, the difference between where you are and where you are going is one thing – Action.

In life, action is one of the greatest equalizers among people with individuals who take the most actions correctly getting exactly what they want.

NLP’s Straight Line Technique which is also called the Straight Line Results System, teaches a lot, but the biggest lessons from the system include:

  • How you can apply the 80/20 rule to guide your life
  • Why your plans suck and how you could eliminate those roadblocks
  • The importance of consistency
  • The difference between shadow and concrete results (this translate into the difference between achieving your goals and constant self-sabotage)
  • Leveraging the power of Parkinson’s Law
  • Steps for designing skills 
picture of an open highway

Basically, the Straight Line System teaches you everything you need to achieve that one goal on top of your mind. 

The best part about this system is that you don’t need a lifetime to learn it.

For the most part, you can learn this strategy in under 20 minutes.  Keep in mind that other than the knowledge gained from this NLP technique, the crucial ingredient in your path to success is Action.

The other NLP persuasion techniques you could try are Presuppositions (for making unconscious suggestions) and Mirroring (for building trust and rapport)