People are not broken

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), we believe that people are not broken, and they work perfectly.

For example, a phobia is normally considered a ‘bad’ thing, someone who has an irrational phobia of envelopes is considered ‘broken’.

But the phobia works perfectly, there is never an instance when the phobia doesn’t work. If you have a phobia, it doesn’t break down one day and come back the next. The person above wouldn’t hold an envelope for 5 minutes normally, and then suddenly remember to scream!

NLP considers the processes for the phobia, and for any pattern of behaviour, to work perfectly, whether the behaviour is useful or not is another entirely different matter. If you can get a result, the process you used to get that result works, especially if you can get it consistently, regardless of whether it’s making a million dollars or making yourself ten pounds overweight.

People are Always Making The Best Choices They Have

None of the NLP presuppositions work in a vaccum, and when woven together they work wonderfully. When you couple together that people are not broken, that they are always making the best choices they have and that underlying every behaviour is a positive intention, you realize that it’s not about them being broken, wrong, or stupid, it’s about them having an improvished map of the territory where there aren’t enough good choices to make.

The Single Worst Disease Inflicting Coaching

Conversely, the opposite of this belief, where people are broken, is the single worse influence I’ve seen on coaches and coachees. If there’s any major cause of problems for the coaching relationship and for personal development at large, I’d point to this belief as the Darth Vader of them all.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched in horror as coaches I’ve seen, with the best of intentions, diagnosed problems after problems, and pondered cause after cause for the coachee. Hello! We need to focus on solutions here people!

Believing that people are broken not only instills a problem focused mindset, it also sets up the coachee for a sucky time. Imagine this scene:

Coachee: “I don’t know why, but I just can’t get myself to care much about anything, you know?”

Coach: “You’re broken.”

Coachee: “I mean, I can remember when I used to have so much passion and drive, but now it’s like I’m running on empty.”

Coach: “You’re broken.”

Coachee: “I wish I could get myself back on track, you know? Go out there and finally get things done.”

Coach: “You’re broken.”

If you were the coachee, wouldn’t you be pissed off already? I know I would! Now the real life scenario wouldn’t be as obvious, but that only makes it more henious, because implied meaning carries more weight than outright meaning. And if you believe a belief, you cannot not communicate it.

(Grrr! Can you tell this is one of my major pet peeves?)

The Single Worst Belief You Can Have

Is to believe you’re broken. This is the single belief that I always go for to break, disavow, disable, karate chop, lightsabre sweep, in my coaching participants. When people believe that they are broken, they focus on finding causes to problems instead of solutions. They look for proof to support the belief that they’re broken, never on finding proof that they’re alright.

Instead of the belief that they are a whole, capable and worthwhile human being, they struggle with the belief that there must be something inherently wrong with them, and that feeling of being less than makes them do less.

You are not broken. You are a whole, capable and worthwhile human being!

If People Were Not Broken, What Would Be Different For You?

Regardless of whether or not you liked the results you got in your life, you were capable of getting those results to happen. Even being overweight needs ability, you need to be quite persistent and committed to make it happen. Those same resources you have can be shifted to achieve other outcomes in your own life.

And even if there are results in your life you’d rather not have, there are that you do. To believe you are broken is a disabling lie that causes much of the low self-esteem and unhappiness in our culture. To acknowledge that you are not is a powerful affirmation of the talents and potentials within you.

If people were not broken, what would be different for you?

Update: Grammar mistake from ‘worse’ to ‘worst’ has been changed. Thanks for pointing it out, Gleb!

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