In the 1970’s Richard Bandler and John Grindler co-created Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP),
a methodology to understand and change human behavior patterns. Various therapeutic techniques arose
out of their work.
Their theory was that as we get input from the world, we create our internal processes for assimilating that
information, which are colored by our beliefs and values. All information coming in is filtered through
these systems. Through this programming, human beings each develop their own Model of the World and
we uniquely distort, delete and generalize any information out there in order to be aligned with it.
To illustrate what this means, a simple example of a fictional character follows:
When Mary was growing up, she had an abusive alcoholic father. Mary’s mother left her father
and, subsequently, had a string of similarly abusive boyfriends. Mary concluded as a child that
“all relationships are filled with pain and never work out.”
This is a generalization, of course. Although Mary’s aunt was in a healthy, happy relationship, as were
her neighbor, cousin, etc, this woman’s belief was unaffected by this information. Why? Because, in
keeping with the NLP theory of human behavior, she had automatically distorted the picture and deleted
the facts that contradicted her strong belief system.
As an intelligent and rational person, why can’t the adult Mary now see that the belief she created in
childhood was misguided? How could she NOT see the truth?
The answer is… Mary, like all people, had developed her own personal truth… and it wasn’t deliberate.
It was automatic and so beneath the surface that she probably has no idea it was there and running her
adult life. It was an innate survival mechanism that human beings are wired to construct. Studies show
that our belief systems and Model of the World are being created from the time of birth and are very well
formed by the time we are 8 years old.
Children simply must make sense of the world to survive and use whatever information is available to
them. They process it with their pure and innocent minds to create a “truth” about life, which can shield
them from future hurt and pain.
That basic belief will remain throughout life and will be compounded through other events encountered as
years go on, all shaped by the initial belief. All of this will “protect” the child in life until, one day, he or
she (consciously) desires a loving and healthy relationship with a significant other, but cannot seem to let
down the (subconscious) guard enough to allow that person to get close. That belief that once protected
the child is now in the way of personal happiness.
So, is this person doomed to never find happiness in a relationship, or is there a way to undo the
disempowering belief system and create one that enables the ability to love and trust another?
In 1986, Tad James, the 2 nd Master NLP Trainer under Richard Bandler, developed the Time Line
Therapy® technique, which is just one NLP technique that can bring about extraordinary personal
transformation. This is, arguably, one of the most powerful techniques in use today.
How, exactly, can someone undo the subconscious negative programming that has been there for
Time Line Therapy® employs active imagination to have clients experience “floating above” the
memories of their lives. During this therapeutic process, the client is “above” the memory and not “in” it,
therefore, dissociating from the event where a negative emotion first arose. In this manner, the event can
be viewed from an entirely different perspective; almost as though it happened to someone else.
Through this vantage point of floating above the memory, the adult client, with all of the additional
information of the world now present, is able to create a new and empowering interpretation of past
events. Negative emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, hurt and guilt, along with limiting beliefs that
arose out of these emotions, disappear when new empowering interpretations come to light because they
replace the old.
In keeping with the original example of the woman who had developed an interpretation that all
relationships are filled with pain, Mary might now see that because her mother had low self-esteem, she
picked a series of men who were aligned with her own feelings of low self-worth. She might further see
that she is not her mother and, therefore, is not tied to the same fate. The trained Master NLP Coach might
then have Mary identify some relationships that are healthy and happy to drive home the fact that the old,
disempowering belief was a gross distortion.
Since Time Line Therapy® involves being hyper-focused on floating above the memories, the client gets
lost in his or her own thoughts and a trance-like state results. While in a trance, the client communicates
from the subconscious realm to the subconscious realm. Hence, a permanent perspective shift occurs and
new positive programming can replace the old disempowering beliefs. At this point, the client is
instructed to take action to keep moving in the direction of empowerment in order to strengthen the new
positive beliefs. All of this may be reinforced in deep hypnosis, to deeply embed the positive suggestions
into the subconscious mind.
The ultimate goal of NLP Coaching is to get back to the authentic self, full of love without any negative
emotions disguising it. The client is not changing; rather, transformation occurs by releasing the
“baggage” or “garbage” of a lifetime, thereby lifting emotional burdens created in the past. The past is in
the past where it belongs, and all that remains is peace, tranquility and a future filled with endless
By Jayne Goldman, MBA, C.Ht.