Can You Shut Down Internal Dialogue?

(Article revised and updated from a previously posted article on [nlpskills] eGroup on Yahoo Groups)

This is an interesting question.  Can you shut down your internal dialogue?  The answer to this question goes back in time to the early days in development of NLP as it was passed down from the original co-founders from one trainer or another since about the early 1980’s. 

Somewhere I read (in the book Turtles All The Way Down: Prerequisites To Personal Genius, 1995, I think), that NLP co-founders, both John Grinder and Richard Bandler, over some time, had learned to suspend their internal dialogue

In the writing of the ‘Turtles’ book, John Grinder, and co-author Judith DeLozier, were in the process of updating the ‘original coding’ of NLP into what they called, ‘New Code NLP.’  They thought there were basic concepts and practices of NLP that could be taught more efficiently to the next generations of NLP practitioners and trainers. 

Grinder and DeLozier had a number of suggestions they thought would useful to these future practitioners.  They specifically wanted to simplify some of the jargon and they believed that NLP training should incorporate a more metaphorical and Anthropological approach to passing on skills that would be taught. 

As the story goes, the authors had been discussing the Carlos Castaneda book, The Teachings of Don Juan: The Yaqui Man of Knowledge, 1968, and it’s central character Don Juan Don Juan claimed he had developed the ability to ‘suspend internal dialogue’ and he wanted his apprentice, Carlos, to learn how to master the skill in his own quest to gain ‘impeccability’ and become a ‘Sorcerer’ or ‘Man of Knowledge.’ 

As I understand the connection to NLP, ‘suspension of internal dialogue’ is what happens when people experience ‘flow states.’ 

What is a flow state?
Positive Psychologist, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (1975), describes a state of ‘flow,’ as a kind of ‘hyperstate’; an experience of “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake.”  In High Performance activities, athletes, business people, and others often describe experience of the state as ‘being in the zone.‘ 

‘Flow’ is also described as being in a moment that is fully immersed with an energized focus, full involvement, and usually a sense of enjoyment in the process of the activity. 

In these flow states, time may seem to expand or be suspended in moments of flow.  Ego and other mental processes, including Mind Talk, tend to fall away. 

NLP Patterns Cause People to Just Feel Differently

People who regularly practice NLP patterns or receive NLP Coaching, report that the processes help them make profound changes in behavior.  Universally, they find that they just ‘feel differently’ as they now take action where unresourceful behaviors or sabotage used to be the norm. 

Circumstances still occur that look just like those that happened in the past, but the new behavior pattern operates so automatically now, that they often don’t even notice they acted in a more resourceful way until looking back on the event.  People report feeling generally more calm, confident, and competent.

It follows then, that the NLP co-founders may have practiced NLP patterns over and over again until they developed the ability to suspend Mind Talk and enter into resourceful ‘flow states’ at will. 

NLP Practitioners often talk about ‘going into state’ when in a coaching situation where they don’t have to consciously think through what is going to happen.  They just do it.  And it occurs easily; almost effortlessly.  The state drives the resourceful behavior.


Bill Thomason

Your NLP Executive Coach, Certified NLP Master Trainer


Contact Bill to schedule NLP Coaching sessions 602 321-7192.

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