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Review: Heart of the Mind

Title: Heart of the Mind
Authors: Connirae Andreas and Steve Andreas
Published: 1989
For me, this is one of the classic NLP books, a beautifully written and very accessible book that explains so many of the key processes in NLP. It is full of real-life examples, and probably most importantly it has many transcripts of actual client sessions and the kind of change language that is assumed but not actually used in many NLP books.
If you were to recommend one NLP book to someone unfamiliar with the field, this could certainly be a good choice as it is written in easy-to-understand language and a common-sense style that most people will enjoy.
I read this previously on Kindle and then returned to the paper version recently and I definitely got much more from leafing back and forth through the real pages.
Below, I’ve given some quotes from throughout the book that stood out for me, but if you haven’t read the book, just go out and get yourself a copy.


Neurolinguistic programming has grown out of this study of the mental processes of those who can do something exceptionally well, or who have completely recovered from some difficulty. Most of us were taught to think of exceptional skills as a result of inborn abilities, traits, or talents. NLP demonstrates that by thinking about our abilities as learned skills, we open the door to understanding them more easily and teaching them to others.


The field of NLP is based on the realisation that we create much of our experience by the specific ways we see, hear, and feel things in our mind/body–, what is usually lumped together and called  “thinking.” This is why it is possible for one person to feel terrorised by a simple task like public speaking or asking someone for a date, while someone else would feel energised or excited by it.


What’s really new in NLP is that now we know how to explore a person’s thinking in a precise way that actually allows us to take on the person’s skills and abilities. When we really learn how to think about things the way someone else does, we automatically have similar feelings and responses. In problem areas in our lives, this ability to explore our thinking and feelings offers the keys to finding solutions.


As soon as you understand how this person creates his problem, his response always makes perfect sense. Our responses aren’t random; they are simply the consequences of how our minds work. It doesn’t really matter exactly what each of us does to create a problem. As soon as you know what you do, you can begin to experiment with changing it to something more useful.


This brief interaction with Betty, which took about 10 minutes, gave a new way to think about giving presentations. It’s important to recognise that this interaction was not a matter of my convincing or advising her that she was wrong and should think about things differently. I was able to enter Betty’s own world and point out the way in which her own logic and beliefs provided her with a solution.


The field of NLP offers many ways to find out how our thinking creates limitations, and many ways to move toward solutions. If the first attempt at attempted solution doesn’t work, we notice and move on to another possible solution.


“Words don’t have any energy unless they spark or trigger an image. The word in and of itself has nothing, nothing. One of the things I keep in touch with is,”what are the words that trigger images for people?”

– Virginia Satir


I explained to Ben that his spelling problem had nothing to do with being slow or stupid. There are many skills school still don’t know how to teach well; many so-called ‘learning disabilities’ are actually ‘teaching disabilities’.


The decision destroyer was recently developed by Richard Bandler, one of the co-developers of NLP. It utilizes a major assumption that most of us have about our life: that the past influences the present and future. If traumatic past experiences can cause problems later, it also makes sense that positive learning experiences can serve as resources later.


NLP allows us to tap into how our brains code experiences, and this is what enables us to make such surprisingly rapid changes.


After resolving a loss, we think of the lost person in mind almost the same way that we think about others who are still a part of our lives. They are “alive for us” in a sense, even though we know the person is actually gone. What better way could there be to honour those who have been important to us in the past, than to carry on the value they’ve given us, with us, …and go on to share it with others?


I would like us to live as fully as we can. The only time I really feel awful is when people have not lived a life that expressed themselves. They lived with all their “shoulds” and “oughts” and their blaming and placating and all the rest of it, and I think, “How sad.”
Virginia Satir


Probably no other brain program has more impact on our lives than decision-making, because it’s involved in almost everything we do. Whenever someone has difficulty, one of the first things we ask ourselves is,”what kind of decision-making can have created the situation?” Then we find out how the person makes decisions. If the problem results from poor decision-making, offering a better way to make decisions will solve the persons complaint and also many other problems in his life. This is what we call a generative use of NLP, ways to get much more than people know how to ask for.


Problems will always be with us. The problem is not the problem; the problem is is in the way people cope. This is what destroys people, not the problem. Then when we learn to cope differently, we deal with the problems differently, and they become different.

– Virginia Satir


If your timeline is unique, ask yourself, “what are the benefits of this timeline arrangement?” If everyone had exactly the same timeline arrangement, we would tend to have similar strengths and weaknesses. The infinite variety in coding time provides a basis for diversity of talent and personal uniqueness.


Many people advocate repeating positive statements in order to improve health. However, making simple statements like”things are getting better and better” will usually not do much good, because it is only an overlay that doesn’t transform the underlying experience. Like “whistling in the dark,” it doesn’t get to the foundations of experience. Covering over an unpleasant experience with a positive experience can bury the unpleasant experience deeper.

Instead, with NLP, we directly transform the negative experience into something positive. Sometimes finding the positive purposes in the negative experience makes this easier. When we make this transformation to something positive, it sticks. There is no longer any need to constantly repeat positive affirmations to ourselves.

In addition, most “affirmations” are much too general. In order for suggestions to be helpful, they need to be specifically connected to your experience.


People frequently confuse cause with cure. Some people think that if we can heal ourselves by changing our thinking, that means our thinking caused the illness. Not so. If a child falls out of the tree and gets a broken leg, we don’t fix the broken leg by putting the child back up in the tree. That would obviously be futile. The doctor may decide to use a cast to correct the problem, something completely unrelated to the cause. Being able to heal something with our minds doesn’t mean we caused it with our minds, any more than the child’s cast caused the broken leg.


There are occasionally times when everything we try doesn’t work. This is true of every field of knowledge, including those with a much longer history than NLP. When existing methods don’t work, this marks the growing edge of the field, but we need to create new understandings and new interventions. We have used these occasions to stimulate us to develop new methods. There is so much we can do now that we couldn’t do a year ago.


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