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Problems…we can get so stuck in them can’t we?

I remember, there was a time where I would get stuck in my problems regularly and to be honest, on occasion I still do. It’s more likely to happen when I’m overtired and underfed. Combine that with tech not working, stories about repeated injustice on the news, or by drivers overtaking too close or pulling out on me when I’m riding my bicycle and then acting as if it’s my fault. That happened to me not once but twice the other day!  

I digress.

Do you have problems or irritations that you get stuck in and can’t think how to sort out? Would it be useful to have a quick way of moving your thinking to a place where it can change?

You’ve likely heard about flipping the script or distracting your mind from a problem by thinking about something else and for sure, both these approaches can work. Perhaps you’ve tried them but that sticky problem holds you stuck.

The power of language

This way of unsticking yourself from a problem involves using language in a purposeful way, which is something that’s integral to NLP. Language includes the words we speak, how we say them (the tone, pitch and speed), our facial expressions and the physiology of our body too.

For now we’ll focus just on words. A lot of the time when we talk, to others and ourselves, we’re on autopilot and we’re actually in a light trance. We say things without thinking and this can lead to problems! However the good thing is that we can also use words really consciously to have an effect on the response we get both from others and ourselves too.

Getting out of the problem box

We can use words to cause problems. How? Well a problem isn’t a problem until you put words on it. You gauge situations with lan-guage. You make a measure of your experiences with words.

The language you use describes your reality. You frame (box) your experience with language; you label it; you give it a measurement.

The more you repeat the same language to describe the problem, the deeper it gets wired into your nervous system. So essentially, the walls of the problem box get higher and inside it you sit with your problem! It’s well known that you can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it*. What to do? Well you need to find a way to get outside the box by using different thinking, which will enable you to see your problem from another perspective.


This can be done by using language in a specific way to cause a problem to change. It might even disappear altogether! Pooof!! Use this question set on a sticky problem you have. Start by thinking about the problem, then ask yourself each question below.

1. What is it?
2. What is it not?
3. How do you know what it’s not?
4. What is it that you need to not know to know this?

Really give each question some thought. When you do, the way you think of your problem will change. It could take on a different context, a new meaning or result in a changed relationship etc. As you go through the questions, also pay attention to what happens inside. What feelings do you notice and how do they change? Notice what you notice.

Language is an incredibly powerful tool and can be used in a multitude of ways. That’s why NLP can bring about such rapid change and positive results.

*This saying is attributed to Einstein, but he didn’t exactly say this. What he did say was, “a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.” He wrote this in the context of discussing the dangers of atomic weapons. Somewhat different!

If you’like to learn a little more about the power of using language consciously to connect, elegantly communicate and increase your influence, then the next Introduction to NLP is coming up very soon. More information is here.

If you’re ready to dive in to become an NLP Practitioner then jump to this page.

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