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NLP and personal responsibility

In NLP we look at what goes on beneath the surface of life.

What’s behind the words?

What’s driving or motivating that behaviour?

What does doing this enable someone to achieve or avoid.

And what are the down-the-road effects of what a person does.

Take, for example, the surge in over-cautious regulations imposed by many local authorities and some organisations in recent years – which they justify as being in the interests of health and safety.

The ‘Health and Safety’ drive

I recently came across the news story that, because children were ‘over enthusiastic’ in playing with paper aeroplanes, staff at a Tunbridge Wells school have banned the throwing of paper planes in case of injury. Now the children must only throw their paper planes out of doors, in a special area of the playground, at designated targets, and while supervised by staff members.

Then there was the story, a few years ago, where children in a London primary school were banned from making daisy chains in case they would pick up germs from the flowers. (No, really, this is true).

Oh, yes, and the school in Cumbria where children must wear safety goggles in order to play conkers.

Not to mention the South Shields’ local council decision to remove a row of mature chestnut trees in case children might injure themselves trying to get the conkers.

Banning adventure

Most of these quite daft regulations are driven by fear – the fear of getting sued if children are injured. Gone are the days where cuts and bumps and grazes and even broken limbs were an acceptable part an exploring, adventurous childhood.

Instead of learning, based on the results which they get, to take responsibility for their own actions children are being shown that they are just helpless and passive victims of other peoples carelessness and lack of consideration!

‘elfin safety!

Health and Safety and the lawyers have moved in. And it sometimes appears as if we’re heading for a not-too-distant future where children are only allowed out of doors if they are dressed in huge foam rubber suits rather like the Michelin Man.

Or, safer still, they are permanently locked in their rooms so they can only interact with one another and with teachers through their computers – that way they will be secure, safe, and free from the risk of travelling to school, of falling over, germs, strangers, bullying and, of course, allergens.

Meanwhile, one result of this trend is that, more and more, children are being so ‘protected’ that their ability to learn from their experience is being denied them, as is their ability to enjoy adventure and fun.  Because an important part of childhood learning is to discover through trial and error. Even when these errors can produce cuts, bruises and broken bones.

  • If very young children are overprotective from ‘germs’ they do not develop and educate their immune system.
  • If children are so protected from the discomfort of having to think that all the learning is given to them in a pre-digested format by their teachers how do they develop their thinking skills?
  • If children are protected from having accidents or making mistakes, and from accepting and learning from the consequences of these, how can they develop the skills for dealing with the vagaries and uncertainties of adult life?

A generation raised to fear and blame?

One serious consequence of this ‘health and safety’ consciousness is that overprotective parents and fearful teachers and local authorities are training children to be over-cautious, risk-averse blamers.

The messages coming at them from all directions can be summed up ‘the world is a dangerous place’. They are being conditioned to assess everything in terms of how dangerous it might be and, should anything go wrong, that to seek somebody else to blame.

Victim Thinking

In our society there has always been a tendency to attribute our feelings to the behaviour of others. In NLP we call this the Cause & Effect belief and we explore its quite serious implications in the second part of our in-depth NLP Practitioner Programme. In Cause & Effect people believe that their  emotions are inevitably caused by the actions of others. Which is why it’s also, in Pegasus NLP, called Victim Thinking.

It’s inculcated into us from a very early age as, for example, when our parents scold us for ‘making’ our friends or siblings feel bad – or even for upsetting them (our adult parents, that is!) I

Victim Thinking is widely encouraged by the media and, especially, by popular music.  So, for example, common themes in pop songs include how we ‘can’t live if living is without you’ or ‘you make me feel so good’.

The belief that ‘they’ cause our feelings begins at a young age, is confirmed throughout our teenage years, and becomes our unquestioned reality. So the weather it gets me down, she irritates me, he upsets me, my job stresses me, the government doesn’t look after me, and you’re ruining our relationship!

And with the highly litigious society which we in the UK we appear have imported from the US this belief is given legal credence and support by the courts. So if I have an accident, experience trauma, are too busy at work, feel stressed, etc then I only need to look around for a culprit, hire a psychologist as my expert witness and I can begin planning your world cruise!

Bus driving!

In NLP we consider that our emotions are the result of how we react or respond to events – and that we can choose how we respond.  This even applies to those wired in emotional responses called Anchors.  Anchors do result in instant gut responses but can, nevertheless, be diffused.

Our aim is to become aware of how we respond to outside circumstances and to exercise more choice in our responses.  So if somebody typically ‘makes’ us feel good we choose to accept and thoroughly enjoy this.  And if somebody typically ‘makes’ us feel upset or irritable we choose to cease cooperating in this.  In essence, our aim is to develop our ability to ‘drive our own bus’ instead of being passive passengers.

But, until such time as NLP living skills become a standard part of the school curriculum, the sad reality appears to be that today’s young people will continue to be conditioned into being passive passengers on their journey into and through adult life.

Action points

1.  Whenever you find yourself blaming others for how you feel stop and question if you truly had no choice but to respond in this way.

2. If you do share your life with young people then, take the advice of the Crosby Stills Nash and Young song and ‘teach your children well’. Give them ‘bus driving’ lessons by making them aware of the Cause & Effect belief pattern!

3. Raise the question wherever and whenever you can; how is it that schools can teach young people about history, geography, science, mathematics but rarely teach them how to use their brains to live happier lives and have great relationships?



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