If you’ve read amount of self-help material, you’ll be familiar with the idea that the way you think creates your experience of life. It was Viktor Frankl, the famous psychiatrist and survivor of the holocaust who wrote that, 'between stimulus and response there is a gap, and in that gap lies all our freedom.' Usually, people are on ‘autopilot,’ responding to external stimuli in an automatic way, driven by subconscious impulses which have been learned and practiced, often over many years. But it is possible to take back control.

The idea that we are free, able to construct our own reality by being in control of our thoughts, has great appeal. It is empowering and energizing. If we are truly masters of our destiny, then we have little to fear. But something is missing here. The reality of trying to improve ourselves often doesn’t live up to its promise. After years of trying, we might still be struggling. Shouldn’t things be getting alot better alot faster?

The problem is that, although we are told (correctly) that we need to change our thinking, we are usually not told precisely what to do in order to achieve this. We need a cook book to tell us what the ingredients are and how much of each to use. The good news is that such cookbooks do exist. Neurolinguistic programming – NLP – is one of them. Originally developed in the 1970s, is a set of techniques based on the idea that our feelings and behavior are a result of the way we see things inside our head – the pictures we paint of reality.

NLP provides exactly the tools we need to change our mental images and hence our experience of reality. NLP gives you a precise set of instructions, a tried and tested way of taking control – getting into the driving seat and putting your hands back on the steering wheel instead of being a passenger.

NLP is so practical, is so easy to use and gets such good results, that it has been used in a host of contexts – business, education, the military and, most importantly for us, can be very successfully applied to our personal life. It can be used to increase confidence, greatly reduce – or eliminate – anxiety, and cure phobia, among many other applications.

The technique is based on a number of key ideas or ‘presuppositions,’ and it is worthwhile to explore these. If you can see where NLP is coming from, it is more likely to be beneficial, although using the techniques without any background at all will almost certainly help a great deal.

The map is not the territory. Different maps show things in different ways – the emphasis of particular features depends on the map maker’s perspective; the size and appearance of the map are functions of its purpose. Two maps may be utterly different and even incomprehensible to some people. But they have one thing in common – neither of them is the reality.

Your mind’s representation of the real word is not the real world, and it can be changed.

Things do not have inherent qualities. Some people fear public speaking so much that just the thought of it makes them feel sick; others love it and seek out every opportunity to speak in front of large groups of people. Some individuals are afraid of spiders, while others (admittedly a minority!) keep them as pets and show them great affection. There is nothing intrinsically frightening about spiders, public speaking, or anything else for that matter. It is all in your mind. If one person loves it, so can you.

You are not your behavior. Your behavior comes from your mental map, and this can be changed. Other people read meaning into your behavior based on their own mental maps, and these are also changeable: different people see you differently.

You need to look beyond behavior. Successful communication, for example, seeks to understand other people’s perspectives, to try to find out what kind of maps they have in their minds. When people feel they are understood and their perspective taken seriously, they will be more genuine and open.

You have everything you need to do whatever you want. It’s all in your head – that’s all you need. You don’t have to wait for that lucky break; you don’t have to rely on something happening or not happening, or someone coming into your life, or leaving. There are plenty of people who have become extremely successful from the most disadvantaged beginnings. They did it because of the way they thought, and you can too.

I often write about life being easy and effortless. This is so far from many people’s experience that it can sound ridiculous – insulting, even. But I am convinced that it is possible to change your experience of life from struggle, anxiety and unhappiness to joy and success; to become healthier, wealthier, have better relationships and a more successful career through the proper application of the techniques of NLP.

The techniques are easy to find and easy to learn – a quick Internet search or a look around YouTube will provide you with more resources than you could need.

Real change does not require effort. It is not a struggle. Real change is in the mind – it is a new way of thinking, a new way of seeing the world. When we change our mind, everything is different – in the blink of an eye.

Author's Bio: 

Mark Harrison is a freelance writer and educator. He writes for a number of self-improvement websites and is the author of several books. His writing covers a wide range of self-improvement topics, but especially focuses on increasing productivity while reducing workload, and managing change. Find out more at join his FREE 30 day eCourse at http://LawOfAttractionGifts.com. Or visit his site at http://effortlessabundance.com