top of page
  • Writer's pictureTom Robinson

Why people can’t say ‘mental illness’ & a recap of NLP lecture 2!

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

Last week, I started explaining the importance of something called ‘radical acceptance’ which is one of the main principles behind DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy).

DBT seems to be the latest fad for treating so many of these mental disorders but I’ve been thinking that perhaps ‘radical acceptance’ (or the lack of it) could be to blame for triggering many of these horrifying conditions, because society is still so unaccepting of mental illness in general.

Very often it’s vicious reactions to a person’s core sense of who they are that causes the first fracture in their mind, so radical acceptance from society, I think, would make a tonne of difference; it’s definitely something to think about anyway.

I haven’t forgotten about this radical acceptance post and will be adding it later in the week, but first I need to do a recap on NLP before today’s lesson and add a shout-out note to anyone suffering with mental illness.

Saying ‘I have bipolar’ isn’t ‘brave’ – it’s essential!

I keep getting ‘congratulatory’ messages from people through this blog who tell me that I am:

‘Very brave to be discussing my battle with bipolar disorder so publicly.’

Although I’m obviously very grateful for the support (and understand that these people mean well with their comments), I really don’t want people to call me ‘brave’ for speaking out about a legitimate health condition!

The fact is that as long as people think that they have to be ‘brave’ to talk openly about mental illness, they won’t ever do it.

In truth, you don’t have to be brave at all (maybe courageous is a better word for now) you just have to say it as it is, be honest about it, not attach any guilt and/or embarrassment or be in any way ashamed.

This is an illness like any other and you deserve to be treated with respect and compassion - just as you would be if you had any other disease, disorder, ailment, sickness or general malady; so don’t whisper it to people in corners and ‘swear them to silence’ because you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of – you don’t have leprosy and bipolar isn’t contagious so if they don’t accept or understand this, then they aren’t worth your time anyway!

See this as a chance to find out who your true friends are; an opportunity to cull your friend list to a more compassionate, empathetic and understanding one – those are the people who will get you through life with a mental illness - and as for the others (try to educate them of course) but accept that they may not ‘get it’ and then either keep them in the background or drop them entirely!

I realise that everyone’s circumstances are different but my advice would be to always stay true to yourself and be honest and open about your condition.

Apart from anything else, you are paving the way for future generations so that (in time) having a mental illness becomes as normal as having a verruca. Ok, well perhaps not a verruca but definitely diabetes.

Be open, be honest, be courageous & (try to) educate people – it’s the only way that we’ll demolish the stigma!

NLP lesson 2

I am really enjoying my course in NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) which started a few weeks ago now, and am benefitting enormously from studying again (which, by the way, is a great way to improve your mental health through ‘bibliography’ & education, though this is currently not appreciated by the psychiatrists)!

The subject of NLP is far more interesting to me than psychology was because it’s ‘on point’ with effecting change in the mind without the general waffle and verbosity of some of the other ‘mindful’ subjects (philosophy, psychology, cognitive & behavioural neuroscience, neurophysiology, etc, etc) - yawn!

Does NLP have a spiritual dimension?

With the inclusion of concepts such as: expanded awareness, big-picture thinking, anchoring & emotional intelligence, it seems to me that NLP has a spiritual dimension to it.

I asked our coach and trainer Dr Tracey Cole about this last week and she said that one of the founding fathers of NLP called Tad James was in fact, quite into spirituality and its connection to the mind (he is also the creator of Time Line Therapy or 'TLT' and is a hypnotherapist) so this seems to explain why I keep noticing it.

There are sections of NLP that are very ‘The Secret’ (a spiritual self-help book); such as the focusing on what you want as opposed to what you don’t want, and essentially taking into account language and how it’s use can impact our thinking and behaviour.

Profound change and spirituality

Anyone who reads this blog knows that more recently I’ve been discussing the profound change that deep and prolonged suffering has effectuated. This has all prompted me to start thinking about how spirituality and NLP could be related, and I’ve come to the conclusion that:

Any transformational change is inherently ‘spiritual’.

It doesn’t matter how you choose to term it, but ‘spirituality’ therefore, has be part of the process of effecting permanent change in the unconscious mind.

This is what they don’t state in NLP, but which is so obvious to me now; I think they’re skirting around it because they’re afraid of people’s scepticism when it comes to the word ‘spiritual’ – another reason for RADICAL ACCEPTANCE in society!!

Recap of lesson 2

With so much other editing and writing going on recently, I completely forgot to add the NLP post from last week’s lesson, so today I’m just adding a quick recap to refresh my own understanding and for the interest of anyone else who might be considering taking this course.

Here’s an overview of what we learnt last week:

Outline of more terms and techniques

The unconscious mind

I mentioned this previously, but NLP works from the premise that everything you are thinking right now is operating in the conscious mind, and everything else is being stored in the unconscious.

The conscious mind accounts for 3-5% of your thinking and the unconscious holds everything else (95-97%).

Prime directives of unconscious mind:

  • Stores memories

  • Organises all of your memories

  • Represses memories with unresolved negative emotion

  • Presents repressed memories for resolution

  • Runs the body

  • Preserves the body

Recollections are ‘stacked’ in the unconscious mind as ‘temporal’ memories (e.g associated with time and chronology) and atemporal memories (e.g associated with a theme, for example - happy ones).

This reminds me of ‘schemas’ in psychology – (all these subjects are basically saying the same thing but in a different way)!

  • For longevity and permanence of behaviour and learning, change has to happen in the unconscious mind.

  • Emotional people are in the unconscious mind a lot of the time.

Pattern Interrupt

This is a mild technique used by the practitioner (by mothers to their children I would imagine a lot also) to break the pattern in an unwanted thought or behaviour.

This can come in the form of a ‘distraction’ by engaging in something else, or by using powerful words that register in the unconscious such as ‘STOP!’ or ‘ENOUGH!’

Learning state

This concept is a classic example of why I’m constantly noticing the spiritual link with NLP because it includes something called Hakalau which is basically a relaxed/ calm state of mind to adopt for optimal learning.

“NLP has borrowed a technique from Hawaii, called the Hakalau which comes from ancient Huna. In NLP we call it The Learning State.”

I rest my case on Tad James and spirituality!

Foveal and peripheral vision

The part of Hakalau which Tad James ‘stole’ for NLP involves using your vision to aid your state of mind.

According to NLP:

‘You can’t be negative and in peripheral vision at the same time.’

I would say that a true depressive would disprove this theory in a heartbeat however! (Ok this isn’t a psychiatric theory I get it, but…)

Peripheral vision means taking in the corners of your vision as you look at something (I’m trying it while writing this sentence, and I am feeling quite relaxed! Maybe he’s right…)

Foveal vison means concentrating your vision on a specific point - it takes a bit of practice but it’s an interesting technique.

For further info on 'calm Hakalau' see here.

‘Milton Model’ - Presuppositions of NLP:

(Have) Respect: for the other person’s model of the world. We are all individual and therefore don’t all think the same.

Ecology: take into account that people’s behaviour (and any change that may be inacted) may be influenced by their relationship to others, and/or by the environment around them (environmental factors).

Resistance: is a sign that the there is a lack of rapport between the client and teacher.

“There are no resistant clients, only inflexible communicators.”

People: are not their behaviours. Most people have good intentions and are trying their best in the circumstances they are presented with. Accept the person (and try to) change the behaviour! Note: there are toxic people, narcissists, and psychopaths – accept that they won’t change or see why they should! Stay away from them!

Calibrate: on behaviour because the most important information about that person will be learnt from how they act (as it is the only thing as communicators that we can observe). We cannot enter the other person’s mind, so it is therefore important to calibrate on their behaviour.

Territory: “The map is not the territory”: everyone sees the world differently – we all have our own ‘map’ because everything we see and hear is adjusted to fit the experiences we have. The words we use are not the event or item that they represent.

Taking charge: every person is in charge of his/her/their mind and therefore their results. This gives the person the permission and the authority to know that they can do something about changing their own mindset whatever the situation.

Wholeness: all procedures and interventions should increase wholeness. Taking into account the whole person in a holistic way to instigate a development of the person’s potential and growth.

Feedback: “There is ONLY feedback”( i.e there is no failure or good or bad decisions only feedback). Similar to Susan Jeffers’ (Feel the Fear and do it Anyway) “There are no good or bad decisions only learning experiences”. This immediately helps the client to begin to reconcile with any fall-out or past traumas.

Choice: all procedures should be designed to increase choice. The more choices you have, the freer you are and the more influence you have.


An example of ecology and its use in NLP would be that there is no point trying to increase someone’s attention and productivity late at night when they should be sleeping.

In other words - any attempt to instigate positive change needs to be a ‘win-win’.

  • Everyone is doing the best they can in their given circumstances – really? I’m not sure about that one but I like the principle of not ‘judging’ others.

  • Calibrate on behaviour (the person’s behaviour is the only outward sign that you can go on to know how any ‘mindful’ change is being carried out.


Rapport is the relationship built up between two people, especially important in client / teacher / professional relationship.

I would always say that it is important to note that the teacher can often learn from the client and that the client is the ‘expert of him/herself’. Same applies to psychiatrist/ mental patient relationship!!

People tend to gravitate towards those that they feel they are similar to. If you as the teacher can mirror or match the client in subtle ways then this is likely to increase the rapport and bond of trust between the two.

Communication in NLP is 7% words, 38% tonality and 55% physiology so their tone of voice and any body posture, gesture or movement is very important when it comes to building rapport.

NLP suggests that the teacher try to subtly mirror or match the clients idiosyncrasies to build the rapport/ relationship / bond of trust.

Five things to match when achieving rapport:

1. Posture

2. Gesture

3. Facial expression and blinking

4. Breathing

5. Voice tempo

Representational systems

Types of Processing

There are five basic ways to process sensory information. (Links for info added if you click the blue).

According to the test we did in the lesson, I fall into the ‘Auditory digital’ category.

Apparently, this means that:

“This person will spend a fair amount of time talking to themselves. They will want to know if your service ‘makes sense’. The auditory digital person can exhibit characteristics of the other major representational systems."

Sounds to me like they had to make an ‘all the people that don’t fit the mould’ category and I would say that that probably sounds about right!


The third lesson in NLP is this afternoon and according to Tracey:

“We’re beginning the language part of the training – so useful to use with clients, but also in your own writing, be it a blog, an article, website copy, or an advert.”

So, this should be right up my street!

Thanks for reading,

Speak to you soon,


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page