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Understanding NLP Presuppositions for Life Coaches

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how do coaches use presuppositions to help clients?The following guidelines for thinking are useful assumptions and filters that may or may not be “truth.”  However, having incorporated these ideas into your perceptual filters – life gets better!  We encourage you to find ways to familiarize yourself with these pre-suppositions and experiment with thinking and communicating through these basic guidelines.

These concepts are just one of important concepts within the Spencer Institute Life Strategies Coaching Certification Course.


Useful NLP Presuppositions For Life Coaching and Personal Growth

Adapted from concepts of NLP

  1. Behind every behavior there is a positive intention.
  •  For the person doing the behavior at a deep structure level.
  • When we are changing unwanted behaviors or habits and moving toward healing, it is necessary to find the deep structure or original intention behind the behavior. We then create new and better choices to preserve the positive intention.


2. The map is not the territory.

  •  People respond to their map or interpretation of reality, not to reality itself.
  • Knowing that each person has a unique perception of reality opens up the possibility of understanding what might cause a person to behave or believe the way they do. It is then possible to explore the commonalities we share, rather than alienating one another simply because we are different.


  1. Anything can be accomplished when the task is broken down into small enough chunks.
  • All tasks contain various levels of detail. A task is completed when all the necessary details are put together. An outcome that may seem overwhelming can be accomplished when approached one step at a time.
  • How do you eat an elephant? – One bite at a time.


  1. There is no such thing as failure, only feedback.
  • Every situation is a learning opportunity to find out what works and what doesn’t.
  • It’s important to separate behavior from identity at a performance level.
  • It’s important to recognize when the behavioral choices a person makes is a validation of their identity.


  1. People already have all the resources they need.
  •  Conscious access to these resources at appropriate times and places will enable a person to move from present state to desired state.
  • Chunking and practice may be necessary for the full benefit of the resource.


  1. Every behavior is useful in some context.
  • Even anger or rage can be useful when protecting oneself or a loved one.


  1. If one person can do something, anyone can.
  • It’s possible to discover the components and strategies needed to achieve a particular result and teach it to anyone else.
  • Based on circumstances, modeling excellence will increase the amount of success a person is likely to achieve in a given context.
  • NOTE: It’s obvious that a variety of physical and social conditions will have a significant influence on the level of success that is possible. At the same time, presupposing that the highest level of success can be achieved will increases the likelihood that a person will reach his or her full potential.  If we didn’t reach for the stars, we may have never reached the moon.


  1. The messenger never rests until the message is delivered.
  • When there is a symptom or communication, it’s important to pay attention to both the surface structure of the topic and the deep structure of thinking.
  1. The meaning of your communication is the response you get.
  • Effective communication creates an experience for the listener or reader. The quality of our communication is based on the response we elicit, and may not necessarily match what we intended to communicate.
  1. Communication is redundant.
  • We are always sending messages in the three major sensory modalities, visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (feeling & movement). Sometimes a message can be scent through smell.
  • The congruence of a message can be validated when the message is the same in all modalities.
  1. Choice is better than no choice.
  •    The element in a system with the most flexibility has the most control.
  • Having only one way to do something is being stuck, and having only two options create a dilemma.  Choice begins with three or more options.

    12. People always make the best choice available to them at the time.

  • Often there may be much better choices. The goal is to discover more effective choices in each context.


  1. If what you are doing isn’t working, do anything else.
  • A definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.


  1. The element in a system with the most flexibility will control the system.

These aspects of NLP pre-suppositions are critical to understand to be an effective Life Strategies Coach.

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