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Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a psychological approach that involves analyzing strategies used by successful individuals and applying them to reach a personal goal. It relates thoughts, language, and patterns of behaviour learned through experience to specific outcomes.

Today, all of us live in a constantly changing world where there is never a certainty of what will happen tomorrow. This feeling of uncertainly gives shape to apprehensions, anxiety and depression. How do we then make our inner self-control stronger and tame this monkey mind? It is indeed a challenge that demands the attention of each one of us.

My 37 years of experience in the Indian Army has been a journey of understanding human resource as we as leaders are expected to motivate our men to follow us in the battle where there is no certainty of any one of us coming back alive. What is the feeling which makes us do that even when odds are stacked against us? The Kargil operations are a testimony to this fact that young officers led their men into the fire of death. The ever ringing words of Capt Manoj Kumar Pandey, “If death strikes before I prove my blood, I swear I will kill death” as well as Capt Vikram Batra saying, “Yeh Dil Maange More”.

In Army life, every day is a challenge. As per statistics, we have lost 390 men due to suicides in the past three years. What can be the compelling cause for a soldier to take his life? The answer lies in our mental condition and therefore each one of us has to control our mind, body and spirit. Having been exposed to Neuro-Linguistic Programming now, I feel we have the necessary tools and techniques with us now to perceive our life in a different way. NLP creates order out of chaos and makes us see things from the other point of view. What I have seen from my interactions gives me a deduction that that “effective people are those who often break existing patterns and do something different.”

Therefore, how do we go about improving our life? I will discuss a few tools of NLP which can help all of us in the process. The first and foremost tool which comes to my mind is rapport building and anchoring. It is fascinating how well it works. The Pavlov experiment on dogs tells it all. Just a mere emphasis on a word, touch could induce a resourceful state within us. Taking an example of when we give a presentation. How would you like it when we use an anchor such as slapping our hands or hitting our chest to induce a very positive state within us? This also helps when we want to persuade someone during a sales or a marketing pitch. If we get used to anchoring we could even get charged up by the way a person smiles at us.

Anchoring is done in a big way in the Indian Army. Before going on an important mission, the war cry of the regiment spurs everyone on. Even when a Commanding Officer gives a “Bara Khana” after every successful visit of a senior officer its gets anchored in such a way, that troops look forward to this after every visit. Similarly, many times when we taste a particular food it may remind us of our grandmother’s cooking.

The next important tool we all could use is this swishing pattern. It makes us give up unwanted habits. If you have a habit of smoking it can replace the urge of smoking with say going for a jog. This technique can be beautifully applied in cases of post-war trauma in the armed forces as well as when dealing with stress when we fall short of my proclaimed goals. The image which causes us this trauma or stress gets replaced with another image that induces positivity or a happier moment.

We also come across a language pattern in NLP also known as the Metamodel. It is a code on how we tend to think. Human beings do not interact with reality directly but through the five senses. Once we receive information we tend to make a sense of it. Our language emerges after we have deleted, distorted and generalised information. Once you understand how this happens within your filters and your values/beliefs, you would be in a better position to convert your responses closer to reality.

The last and most import aspect of making your life better relates to your goal orientation and values elicitation. If you set your goals using the SMART process coupled with your neurological levels like Purpose, Beliefs/values, Competence, Behaviour, and Environment and so on you would be able to ensure greater success to achieve them. On the other hand, value elicitation makes you realise your true self and gives you the motivation to move from your present to the desired state. For example, if your goal is to marry a beautiful girl or have a seven-figure package, the value elicitation makes you access it better. Once you detach this object of salary with the values associated with it, such as peace, happiness, joys i.e. if you feel the moment that you have achieved this goal, does it give you a feeling of happiness or peace? Can you access this feeling of happiness even otherwise; you will then understand what motivates you. Once you fulfil your highest values, then real contentment comes.

I have seen a lot of people who withhold their pleasures and happiness before they reach their goals. Value elicitation makes you enjoy this process.

Neuro-linguistic programming

Neuro-Linguistic Programming is also a very important tool for performing the role of a mentor or a coach. It helps you move from a present state to the desired state by creating choices and options and then deciding on your future pace to kick start the process of self-improvement as well as become a facilitator to improve others. After all, life must be lived forwards but it can only be understood backwards. Always remember when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Let’s embrace this moment and bring NLP into our lives.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of the Government of India and Defence Research and Studies

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By Maj Gen Rajan Kochhar (Retd)

Maj Gen Rajan Kochhar, VSM, retired from the Indian Army, as Major General Army Ordnance Corps, Central Command, after 37 years of meritorious service to the Nation. Alumni of Defence Services Staff College and College of Defence Management, he holds a doctorate in Emotional Intelligence and is a reputed expert on logistics and supply chain management. Gen Kochhar, a prolific writer and defence analyst, has authored four books and invited as an expert commentator by various news TV channels. He is a Senior Adviser with Defence Research and Studies and Member, Manoj Parikkar Institute of Defence and Strategic Analyses, and Centre for Joint Warfare Studies, New Delhi. He is a former Dean NIET and now is a faculty with them. He is now a NLP Coach practitioner.