Neurolinguistic Programming is a series of strategies that focus on identifying and using thought patterns that influence a person’s behaviour as a way of improving quality and solving problems.

The objectives of NLP are, among others, to correct cognitive representations, making them more useful, and to provide a series of effective strategies and skills for the best adaptation of those situations that arise in everyday life.

To know more about what is NLP and the criticism it has received, you can read our interesting article: “Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP): what is it and how does it work”.

It is important to mention that this practice is not based on any theory, but is a compilation of studies, research and techniques. Therefore, it is necessary to check how it works, through its fundamental pillars, that is, the principles of NLP.

  • Recommended article: “20 books on NLP highly recommended”

The principles of NLP

After exposing the objectives of Neurolinguistic Programming, here are the 10 principles of NLP:

1. The interior map is unique

One of the principles of NLP refers to the orientation that people have in the world around them. The way a person orients himself has to do with his inner map. In the early stages of life the inner map is simple. However, as we grow, the map becomes more complex and new paths are opened up.

The more complete the map is, the more successful alternatives the person will have. The world map is individual, it is built through our own experiences so each person has his or her own map and no two maps are the same.

2. The best map is the one that offers more than one path

As discussed in the previous point, the more complete map is also more accurate and will offer more opportunities to reach a goal or solve the problem. This has to do with flexibility and the possibility of reacting in various ways to a life event. The map is not the territory it represents, but if it is correct it will have a structure similar to the territory and will be more useful.

3. Each behavior has a positive intention

This may be one of the most discussed principles of NLP. This point refers to the fact that every person and every behaviour has intrinsically a positive intention . It may be, for example, that someone doubts that a smoker has a positive intention to smoke. But according to this principle, the smoker could smoke in order to relax or to be accepted socially. NLP tries to redirect that positive intention towards a more adaptive and suitable pattern of behaviour for the person.

4. The structure of the experience

This principle shows how each experience is composed of a certain structure. Every thought, feeling, memory or experience is made up of a series of elements . This means that if each experience has a structure, thanks to a change in its composition its effect can be changed.

5. All problems have solutions

This principle refers to the fact that all problems have a solution. Although it may seem utopian, as sometimes certain solutions cannot be carried out. At other times, there will be problems for which there is no clear solution. This has to do with the map that the person has, since the less roads or alternatives he/she has, the less solutions he/she can give to the concrete situation. In addition, the interpretation of the problem has to do with the content of the map. A richer map that offers more resources will perceive certain situations as less problematic.

6. Everyone has the strength they need

This is one of the principles of NLP that has to do with the personal development of the person, since it refers to the fact that each person possesses the necessary strength to achieve what he or she sets out to do. The problem arises when self-confidence is affected by the person’s limiting beliefs.

7. Body and mind are part of the same system

This principle refers to the fact that the human being is body and mind . In other words, every feeling and emotion affects the body. This is also true in reverse. For example, an illness that affects the body will have repercussions on a psychological level. Therefore, for NLP, changes in thinking that modify body problems are important. By the way, have you heard of embodied cognition ?

8. The meaning of communication depends on the outcome

It is necessary to establish clear communication guidelines , that do not give rise to misunderstandings, nor option to personal biased interpretations by the receiver of the message.

9. There are not failures but opportunities

When a person is continually on the move he has different paths to reach the goal. Failures should be seen as opportunities, that is, as measures that allow to overcome and move in the desired direction.

10. If something doesn’t work, try something else

Sometimes people insist on doing something that doesn’t work, and they don’t change their ways. At this point the famous phrase “don’t expect different results if you do the same thing all the time” makes sense. NLP practitioners aim to help recognise and modify those behaviours that are not effective and that trip up, again and again, the same stone.