It was confusing; here was this bright, strong young woman who clearly had goals she passionately wanted, but somehow something held her back from going after them.

As I worked with her through the roots of her beliefs, I thought we were almost on the way to breaking her limiting patterns and on to action, when her face fell and she said she couldn’t continue.


The problem, is one of NLP’s best principles when practiced, and one of its worst when neglected.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming says that:

Life is a Series of Systems

more often known in the wordier version:

Life & Mind Are Systematic Processes

Your body and mind is an interlinked system, what one does affects the other. You and the people around you also form a system, the people around you and the outer world at large also form a system, humanity and the natural enviroment also form a system, the solar system is a system, and so on.

From the smallest bit to the largest participant, we’re part of a whole where a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can cause a hurricane in another.

And because life is a series of systems, the changes we seek to make have to be ecological.

All Parts Of You Have To Be On Board The Change

Often, a change we make doesn’t stick because it’s not ecological: it doesn’t benefit or work with all systems.

On a personal level, it might be because a person who doesn’t recognize that the positive intention behind him smoking is that it helps him relax, and quits cold turkey without finding a more effective way to do so. The part of him that wants to be healthier is happy while the part of him that needs to relax freaks out; and he finds it a struggle to keep the change.

Or like the woman I was working with, it was on the level of her family system: while she desperately wanted to live her own life, she was being stifled by her parents and at the same time, had a conflicting belief that striving for her own goals would be selfish.

That’s why no matter what she did, she always refused to change in the end, either consciously or unconsciously. The change she wanted she felt was unecological, it involved a either her or her family decision; and only one side could win.

Seek Win-Win Solutions

Instead of bashing her limiting belief, I took the stance that she was only doing the best she could with the map she had, and that the belief also served a positive purpose even though it produced negative results: she wanted to have a harmonious family.

She had no shortage of alternate empowering actions she could take for herself, but none of them had been ecological. Together, we talked about ways how both she and her family could accomplish their intended outcomes and both win.

It wasn’t easy, and I was sweating (even though I didn’t show it). But after sticking to my guns, and finding a moving resolution in the end, I can tell you from a coach’s experience, there wasn’t not a win-win situation, only that her old beliefs kept her from seeing it. And asking new questions and allowing herself to see new alternatives shifted her beliefs quite naturally, even if powerfully.

If Life Was A Series Of Systems, What Would Be Different For You?

One way to check for ecology is to imagine a far enough future in which the change you want has already happened; look back and ask yourself ‘what else has changed? who and what else has benefited? has anything or anyone not benefited from this change?’ and consider if all parts of you have been served.

Change doesn’t happen in a vaccum, neither yours or someone else’s. Whether it’s a change in beliefs, attitude, behaviour or environment, your change is going to have an effect on the larger systems around you.

Therefore, it’s best for your success to reduce obstacles and increase resources.

If life was a series of systems, what would be different for you?

NLP 101 Series:

NLP 101: What is NLP? Part 1
NLP 101: What is NLP Special for The Super NLP Hardcore
NLP 101: What is NLP? Part 2
NLP 101: So Dark The Con Of NLP
NLP 101: How NLP Changed My Life
NLP 101: The Map Is Not The Territory
NLP 101: There Is No Failure Only Learning Experience
NLP 101: Every Behaviour Has A Positive Intention
NLP 101: The Meaning of Your Communication is The Response You Get
NLP 101: You Cannot Not Communicate
NLP 101 Thoughts: You Cannot Not Change The World
NLP 101: People Are Always Making The Best Choices They Have
NLP 101: People Are Not Broken
NLP 101: You Cannot Not Communicate: The Pygmalion Effect
NLP 101: Everyone Already Has All The Resources They Need
NLP 101: There Are No Resistant Listeners, Only Inflexible Speakers
NLP 101: Life Is A Series of Systems