What is NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming)?

Written by Angela Atkinson

If you’re struggling to recover from narcissistic abuse, you might be interested in learning about Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLP. 

It’s a surprisingly simple yet highly effective treatment for symptoms of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) related to narcissistic abuse.

Even better, you can implement the strategies at home, on your own – and it’ll help your healing in ways you might not expect. 

On a very basic level, NLP is just a way to manage your head – it helps with communication, processes, and procedures to help improve your life. Here’s what it is and how it works.

What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)?

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a practical and effective way to create change by modeling successful people’s language structure and behavior. NLP can help you change your behavior, way of thinking, and communication with yourself and others. NLP has also been used to treat various problems—from phobias to schizophrenia.

And, of course, survivors of narcissistic abuse can use it to recalibrate after abuse and change their lives for the better.

Basic NLP Principles

The two biggest principles of NLP are that the map is not the territory and that life and mind are systemic processes. Any technique you learn in NLP is built on these principles, which allow us to understand better how the brain works—and thus change undesirable behaviors into more desirable ones.

1. The map is not the territory.

  • The map-territory metaphor illustrates how our mental constructs differ from the reality they attempt to describe.
  • For a map to be useful, it must contain enough detail that we can use it even when traveling through unfamiliar territory.
  • This means that, as people, we have no way to understand reality. Instead, we understand our perceptions of that reality, and those perceptions may be flawed.
  • We use our senses to map what we believe is there.
  • These maps are what determine our behavior, not reality itself.
  • So, if your map is skewed, you’ll behave in kind.

2. Life and mind are systemic processes.

  • This means that the things going on inside your mind and body, and between you and your environment, are connected and can’t be isolated. Trying to do so won’t result in success.
  • In other words, your mind and life are interconnected, so you can’t separate the mental from the physical, social, or emotional aspects. How people treat you and your environment influences your feelings about a situation.

How does NLP work for a survivor of narcissistic abuse?

  • As a survivor of narcissistic abuse, NLP can help you change your life and offers highly effective personal development and growth tools.
  • It’s also highly effective for survivors of narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships during their healing and beyond.
  • NLP techniques focus on feelings and emotions, which are core aspects of narcissistic abuse. This is why NLP works so well for survivors of such relationships—its emphasis on these concepts makes dealing with trauma possible.
  • NLP applies to all aspects of life, from representing information and making decisions to interacting with others.

Why should you try NLP in narcissistic abuse recovery?

Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s best for us when we can’t see a way out. It may seem impossible to get away from the toxic person, but you can use NLP to change your life. (And then plan your escape!)

NLP offers healing for the trauma of narcissistic abuse in a way that can help you move forward with your life with confidence and clarity.

It can give you insight into your unconscious mind and tap into your deep-seated emotions, which can help you develop the power, confidence, and self-esteem narcissists often damage in their partners.

So, by using an anchoring technique to set off powerful feelings in yourself when you think about past experiences with your abuser, you can learn to control your reactions—and stop yourself from feeling bad about what happened.

Basic NLP Technique for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery: Anchoring

By applying an anchoring technique, you can learn to set off positive feelings in yourself and others at will—and eliminate negative emotions associated with past experiences.

Anchoring allows you to associate a feeling with a device, an object, a certain color, or even a specific type of music. When you experience the object again, it triggers the same feelings.

This can be helpful for survivors of narcissistic abuse because it allows them to create positive associations in their minds around the things they love and eliminate negative feelings associated with past experiences.

How to Quickly Create an NLP Anchor in 4 Easy Steps

1. Choose a goal.

  • Decide what problem you want to solve. For example, maybe you want to feel more confident to set better boundaries with the toxic people in your life.
  • Imagine how it will feel to achieve the goal you have set for yourself. (So, maybe you’ll feel stronger, happier, more sure of yourself, and more confident overall.)
  • Remember when you felt close to how you want to feel when you achieve that goal. It might just be an ordinary moment when you felt good about yourself or a more significant moment in your life.

3. Choose and configure your anchor device.

  • For instance, you can touch your thumb and forefinger together or make a fist to help keep yourself in the present.
  • Put yourself back in that moment. Take all the time you need to remember all the details of what you saw, heard, smelled, and felt when it happened.
  • Allow yourself to relive the experience as if you were there—don’t think about it objectively. You won’t feel better if you ignore your feelings.
  • Repeat the memory until you can vividly recall it.

4. Activate your anchor.

  • In this step, you link your anchor from Step 3 with the feeling created here to make a new association as strong and vivid as possible.
  • For example, touch your thumb and forefinger together as the confident feeling increases.
  • Release your thumb and forefinger when the feeling begins to subside.
  • If you’ve done this well, the anchor has been activated, and you’re ready for the next step.

5. Test your anchor.

  • For example, touch your thumb and forefinger together as you did while activating your anchor.
  • This time, pay attention to how you feel.
  • You should notice a change in your feeling.
  • If you don’t, repeat the process until you do.
  • If you’ve been successful, it should feel like the anchor has been activated and is ready to use whenever necessary.

And, if you used the example I gave, you can now trigger your confidence by touching your thumb and forefinger together anytime you like.

Need help with narcissistic abuse recovery? 

 

Author

  • Angela Atkinson

    Angela Atkinson is a certified trauma counselor and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery, and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships since 2006, she has a popular narcissistic abuse recovery YouTube channel. Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own. Atkinson offers trauma-informed narcissistic abuse recovery coaching and has certifications in trauma counseling, life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation, and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves. Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse here at QueenBeeing.com and at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online.

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