Rule 1: Say what you want (not what you don’t want)
This is probably the most important rule of NLP. It is very important to remember that EVERYTHING that we say, think or do has an impact on our unconscious mind. It is our goal as NLP practitioners to continually programme our minds with what we want rather than what we don’t want. Here is a prime example of this.
A good friend of mine, Pete, continually says to himself and his colleagues “I have a terrible memory – I’m always forgetting things”. What Pete doesn’t realise (he does now since a little coaching from me helped him to become more aware of his unresourceful linguistic pattern) is that every time he uses this expression, either out loud or quietly to himself, he is further reprogramming himself to forget things. This in itself sets up a cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies where Pete is continually presented with evidence that he has a poor memory, he then further embeds the instruction to his unconscious mind to “always forget things”. The unconscious is nothing more than a compliant machine that will do you bidding so we must be very careful about what we feed it.
So when speaking we must be mindful of what we are saying, continually. We must use our conscious mind for what it does best, screening for any inappropriate data then deleting it. So in the example of Pete, what would be the best course of action to improve his memory? Well, one place to start is by identifying how often does he tell himself that he is forgetful? When he finds himself saying that he is forgetful he can catch himself at that point and can ask himself if more forgetfulness is what he wants. Usually the answer to this is no, but Pete’s forgetfulness might also be another strategy that helps him to achieve other benefits, this is something that we call secondary gain in NLP terms. So helping Pete improve his memory might take more than changing his words, but this is a good place to start.
So when programming yourself for success you should use the formula of POSITIVE, PRESENT and BELIEVABLE:

Express everything in the positive i.e. what you want.
Make what you want “live” in the present tense. The past is gone and is now only for your learnings and the future never happens so make all of what you want to have happen to you be stated in the present tense.
Be real with yourself and ask yourself if you believe what you are saying. If not: change the expression or statement to something which you do believe.
Using Pete’s memory as an example he would be better saying something like:
“I don’t remember that right now. It is coming back to me”
This is a direct instruction to the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind doesn’t understand how to NOT do something (it can only do something or do something else) so saying “NOT remember” is cute way of saying “remember” in effect the unconscious mind (UCM) will delete the NOT. The “right now” is also an instruction to the UCM and such will help it to process or service that command quicker. “It is coming back to me” is also present state and hopefully believable for Pete.
An exercise to deepen your learning
In your daily life begin to notice what you say to yourself and how you say it. Are you expressing your desires positively or are you telling yourself more about what you don’t want? It is a good idea to keep a daily journal of those thoughts and feelings so that you can chart your progress over time so why not start now and begin to notice more and more of the changes and impacts that take place in your life as a result of this small change.

Author's Bio: 

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Mark Buchan, one of the UKs top performance coaches who specialises in leadership coaching. His clients have included Rolls Royce, British Telecom, Bombardier Transportation, Nokia, Credit Suisse and many others. To have a free introductory executive coaching session with Mark just click on these links to visit his site and just send him an email requesting your free introductory session.