This article was based on an interview with comedian Jimmy Carr as he explores the application of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) in his life and work.
Before Jimmy Carr became a well-known comedian, he was working in the marketing department at a national oil company. Even though he was doing well at work objectively, he wasn’t happy. He didn’t like what he was doing and found himself searching for something more when he happened upon a course in NLP.
NLP is an approach to self-development that is based on the connection between neurological processes, language, and behavioral patterns learned through experience. Practitioners of NLP seek to understand how we process external information internally. This gives us valuable insight into the differences in personal interpretations of the world and how those interpretations are serving our reality. The point of NLP is to allow you to free yourself from the conditioning of society that facilitates and creates personal suffering.
What Carr learned about NLP resonated with him. With NLP, you focus on trying to visualise things in such a way that you can actualise effectively. Carr realised how his mind was working to hold him back and found himself thinking, "Well now why couldn't I go and become a comedian? I could go and give that a go." Within a month, Carr had taken a leave from his work at the oil company and began performing as a stand-up comic.
How You See the World
As Carr explains it, the fundamental basis of NLP is that ‘the map is not the territory,’ meaning that how you see the world isn't necessarily how the world is. We all see it in our own way, but no one view is right. What matters is how it is for you, and with that, to make great changes in your life, the easiest thing to change is how you view the world, not to change the world. If you want to make changes in your life, you need to look at how you are thinking. Changing how you frame things in your mind can change your entire outlook on life.
NLP works best for people who place a great deal of importance on words because it's about changing your language to make a difference. This leads to changes in what you see and hear, effecting a difference in how you act in the world. If you want to change your mindset in the moment, start by changing the questions you ask yourself from ones of negativity to ones of empowerment.
Moving Past Preconceptions
For Carr, NLP allowed him to change the preconceptions he had about becoming a comedian. He no longer thought it was just something other people did, or he needed the right connections to be successful. He described what he calls, a ‘sliding doors’ experience where he felt life could have gone a different way. NLP opened him up to the possibility that he didn’t need to continue being miserable at work and he really could pursue a career as a comedian. Now when he talks to people at his shows, he wants to be that ‘sliding door’ for them by encouraging others to start small and give their dreams a chance.
Carr believes so strongly in how NLP changed his life, and doesn’t waste any opportunity to share what he has learned with others. When he meets fans who talk about their dreams of working in comedy, he challenges them about their thinking, asking them, “Why not?” The process of moving past social conditioning begins by understanding how the beliefs and ideas instilled by society affect you. Only once you are able to identify different value systems, belief systems, and identity systems can you begin to free yourself from their potential negativity.
Even today, Carr still finds applications for NLP in his daily life. There is an unconscious competence when you're learning a new skill where you don't know what you can't do. The next stage is conscious incompetence where you know that you can't do something. NLP helps you get to conscious competence where you can do it, but you really have to think about it.
What Do You Want?
Whenever you are facing a challenge, whether its emotional, intellectual, or otherwise, the first step in changing your frame of mind is changing the questions and answers that are part of your internal dialogue. One of the fundamental questions in life is what do you want? The Coaching Room offers NLP courses and coaching that can help you answer that question through personal development. One of the most amazing things that NLP and coaching can do for you is to wake you up to the fact that what happens in your mind is not fact or truth; it is just a story. Many people find The Coaching Room to be the ‘sliding door’ that significantly shifts their life. When you learn how to rewrite your story, you’ll find the same freedom Carr found to pursue his dreams and live the life he always wanted. Come find out for yourself!