Dr Matt James http://www.drmatt.com NLP Training & Huna Training Blog Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:45:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.4 Feeling Stuck? How to Tell if NLP is Really Working http://www.drmatt.com/2014/09/19/does-nlp-work/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=does-nlp-work http://www.drmatt.com/2014/09/19/does-nlp-work/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:45:36 +0000 http://www.drmatt.com/?p=2758 Closeup picture of Sistine Chapel“It is paradoxical, yet true, to say, that the more we know, the more ignorant we become in the absolute sense, for it is only through enlightenment that we become conscious of our limitations.” – Nikola Tesla

Every once in a while, one of my students (sometimes even an advanced student) will approach me and say, “Matt, I feel like I’m back at square one. I don’t know what’s happened. Stuff that I’d released over a year ago has suddenly popped up again. Am I doing something wrong? Does this Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) really work? Or am I just the kind of person that NLP doesn’t work for?”

And usually my answer is, “Maybe, absolutely, and nope.”

There are a number of reasons why you could feel that your growth has plateaued or that negative emotions and limiting beliefs have reared their ugly heads again. First, let’s tackle potential issues concerning “operator error” with NLP itself.

Many of the techniques in NLP can be used on yourself by yourself. However, often it’s more powerful to have a well-trained practitioner run you through the processes. Why?

When someone else is guiding you, you’re more able to just concentrate on what you’re experiencing without being distracted by trying to remember what you’re supposed to do next. A good NLP Practitioner can also help you ferret out the real issues behind your presenting issue—something that’s tricky to do by yourself. To get the best results, it’s that real, core issue you want to work with, not its offshoots.

It’s interesting that even an inexperienced practitioner can guide you through the techniques and get results. But a good one, especially if they’ve advanced to the NLP Master Practitioner level, has a better sense of which techniques would be most beneficial for what you’re working on. And they have a larger “tool kit” to work from, which includes processes like Mental Emotional Release®, hypnosis, and more. Also, an experienced practitioner with good sensory acuity can pick up clues and make sure that the shift that is supposed to occur has indeed happened.

But honestly, the most common reason people feel like they’ve plateaued or “ended up at square one” is that personal/spiritual growth is a spiral, not a straight line.

Imagine a spiral, like a circular staircase that goes upward. When you begin, you’re on the bottom “rung” of the staircase. You see your issues from that vantage point and deal with them at that level. You move upward and onward, and at a certain point as you make the turn—Yikes!–you find yourself staring at the very same issues!

But if you look closely, you’ll realize you are seeing them from a different vantage point—and you’ll be dealing with them at a different level.

Or imagine making a small hole in one side of an onion and dripping blue dye into it. You peel back the first layer of onion and will get rid of its blue dye. But the next layer has some blue dye as well so you peel that off. Then the next layer has blue dye too! Maybe the color is more faded, maybe it covers a smaller area of that third layer. But it’s still present and you still need to peel it off.

When you run into the same old issues (that you thought you’d overcome) again, odds are that you’re viewing them from a different position on the spiral. You’re facing them at a different level of depth within your “onion.”

“Wait! But how many layers of onion do I have to peel? How many times will I end up viewing and dealing with those same issues on that spiral? How long is this all going to take before I’m done?!?

Do you remember that old movie, The Agony and the Ecstasy? Michelangelo is painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. And every month or so, the Pope comes in and yells at him, “When will you make an end?!?” Michelangelo looks down and yells, “When I am finished!”

And that is exactly how long it will take. It will take you as long as you need to finish.

The truth is that we’re never finished. When you’re feeling frustrated and like you aren’t “progressing,” I know last thing you want to hear is that “life is a journey.”

But it is.

So double check for operator error. Then trust the process—and keep truckin’ up that staircase!

Until next time…

Dr. Matt


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The Worst Advice We’ve Ever Heard About Forgiveness http://www.drmatt.com/2014/09/16/worst-advice-forgiveness/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=worst-advice-forgiveness http://www.drmatt.com/2014/09/16/worst-advice-forgiveness/#respond Tue, 16 Sep 2014 13:45:20 +0000 http://www.drmatt.com/?p=2747 Picture of Psychology Today magazine cover showcasing couple sitting on couch with elephant sitting between them.Aloha,

I’ve spent a good deal of my career working with and teaching forgiveness, specifically ho’oponopono, the ancient forgiveness practice of the Hawaiian Islands.

In fact, I wrote my PhD dissertation on it.

So I’ve got some expertise in this area, and I’ve noticed that there’s some pretty rotten advice out there on forgiveness.

Check out my new Psychology Today blog to read 7 “tips” that I think miss the mark:


Dr. Matt

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Dispelling Myths About NLP http://www.drmatt.com/2014/09/04/nlp-myths/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nlp-myths http://www.drmatt.com/2014/09/04/nlp-myths/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 13:45:07 +0000 http://www.drmatt.com/?p=2740 Drawing of hand over another person's brain

Photo: John E.

“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.” – John F. Kennedy

All through my career, I’ve had to respond to a variety of myths and misconceptions about Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). NLP has been called a pseudo-science, a cult, even a “quasi-religion.”

Most of us who are active practitioners and trainers are usually too busy helping clients to respond to everything that’s said about NLP. But let me take a moment to respond to a couple of common misconceptions:

1)    NLP is just a form of manipulation.

Let’s use the analogy of a hammer. Could a hammer be a tool of destruction? Absolutely. It could be used to smash a precious statue or demolish a window. But most people use hammers to build things, like houses and bridges. Destruction is possible but not as common. In the same way, NLP is a tool that is typically used for positive purposes. But it depends on the motivation of the person who wields that tool.

It depends on whether the intention is to manipulate or influence people.

When I think of manipulation, I think of someone who cares only about his own needs, a person who puts his self-interest above that of others. But an influencer can be very positive. As parents, we want to influence our kids to be healthy and safe. As friends, we want to influence our friends to happy and fulfilled. As business owners, we want to influence our clients to be successful and prosperous.

We want what is best for those in our “sphere of influence.”

Let’s revisit the hammer. If you want to build a house, don’t you want the best hammer you can get? Would you ever think, “Yeah, I want to build a house but I’m not going to use tools.” Would you worry that “If I use tools to build the house and learn how to use them properly, would that be an unfair advantage?” Of course not! If you want to be an effective influencer, NLP is one of the best tools you can learn.

Could someone wield a hammer and destroy things? Yes. Could someone learn NLP and try to manipulate others? Yep. But in our training courses, we emphasize the ethical use of all techniques. And people who want to use NLP for manipulation are often disappointed because “mind control” (with the exception of extreme brainwashing techniques) is a myth. You can’t make another person do something that is unacceptable to their personal beliefs or values.

2)    NLP doesn’t work.

After many years of teaching and using NLP, I actually went back to get my PhD in Psychology to see if I could find anything that worked better.

I didn’t.

Those who say NLP doesn’t work are often like Professor Aldert Vrij and Shara Lochun,  who wrote an article in 1997. In that article, Professor Vrij describes witnessing two police officers using NLP-related matching & mirroring techniques to interview a suspect. Professor Vrij wrote:

“Recently I … was asked to assess videotapes of a police interview.  My first impression was that both detectives were behaving ‘strangely.’  I then discovered that they were both imitating the suspect’s movements. The whole situation looked bizarre and the approach was not effective.  The suspect was silent at the beginning of the interview and remained silent throughout the interview.”

Professor Vrij uses that incident to conclude that NLP does not work.

Alrighty then!

Of course, we’re missing some critical information. Was the suspect a hardened and experienced criminal who had just been told to put a sock in it by his attorney? Were the two officers at all skilled or experienced at using the NLP technique of matching & mirroring? Had the suspect dealt with these officers previously? And given the situation (which we don’t know much about), was that even an appropriate technique to be using?

It’s kind of like saying a hammer doesn’t work when it’s being wielded by a two-year old who is trying to screw a light bulb into a toaster. Yep, that hammer definitely doesn’t work!

I agree that we could use more research on the efficacy of NLP (and we’re beginning to get more). But until then, I feel pretty good about the organizations who consider NLP to be a viable therapeutic and communication tool, like The British Psychological Society, the UK Council of Psychotherapy, Washington State Psychological Society, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police to name a few.

And I feel really good about the results we’re getting.

Until next time. . .

Dr. Matt

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Depression is a Disease of Civilization: Stephen Ilardi at TEDxEmory http://www.drmatt.com/2014/09/02/depression-tedx-talk/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=depression-tedx-talk http://www.drmatt.com/2014/09/02/depression-tedx-talk/#respond Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:45:19 +0000 http://www.drmatt.com/?p=2725 Picture of happy woman running on beach.Aloha,

Did you know that nearly 1/4 of Americans will experience depression by the age of 75?

Research shows that depression is on the rise. In fact, within the past 20 years, the use of antidepressants have gone up by over 300%.


If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I don’t like to focus on the problems. Let’s take a look at the solution.

Check out this TEDx Talk I recently watched. It features Dr. Stephen Ilardi, author of “The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression Without Drugs.” He talks about what causes depression, and how to combat it through exercise, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, friendship and more:

Dr. Matt


Does this video bring up your “stuff”? Click here and let it go with MER. This process is helping my students release their depression and live happy lives. Mahalo!

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The Brains of Successful vs. Unsuccessful People Actually Look Very Different http://www.drmatt.com/2014/08/28/brain-successful-vs-unsuccessful/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=brain-successful-vs-unsuccessful http://www.drmatt.com/2014/08/28/brain-successful-vs-unsuccessful/#respond Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:45:41 +0000 http://www.drmatt.com/?p=2718 The Brains of Successful vs. Unsuccessful People Actually Look Very DifferentAloha,

Do you know the difference in habits, beliefs and strategies between successful vs. unsuccessful people?

(I’ve written about this concept previously when I talked about eliminating the word ‘excuse’ out of your vocabulary.)

According to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, there are two basic categories that peoples’ behavioral traits tend to fall into: fixed and growth mindsets.

Read more by clicking on the link below:


Dr. Matt



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Emotional Openness VS. Rationality and Logic: – A CEO’s Perspective http://www.drmatt.com/2014/08/26/coaching-ceo-success/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=coaching-ceo-success http://www.drmatt.com/2014/08/26/coaching-ceo-success/#respond Tue, 26 Aug 2014 13:45:22 +0000 http://www.drmatt.com/?p=2714 Emotional Openness vs. Rationality and Logic: – A CEO’s PerspectiveAloha,

Do you know what the best advice is to new CEO’s?

According to Eric Schmidt, the Chairman and CEO of Google, his best advice to new CEO’s is to “have a coach.”

Check out this blog I just read on Psychology Today. It’s a well-research article that details why CEO’s need coaching. Whether you’re an entrepreneur looking to take your business to the next level, or a coach who wants to work with high profile clients, this article will help:


Dr. Matt

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Boost Confidence with Hypnosis and NLP http://www.drmatt.com/2014/08/21/boost-self-confidence/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=boost-self-confidence http://www.drmatt.com/2014/08/21/boost-self-confidence/#respond Thu, 21 Aug 2014 13:45:01 +0000 http://www.drmatt.com/?p=2707 Picture of woman being hypnotized with pocket watchAloha,

Most of us pop out of the womb with a fairly high degree of self-confidence. We haven’t yet started to judge ourselves as smart or dumb, handsome or homely. We haven’t yet built up notions of possible versus impossible, safe versus risky.

And most importantly, we haven’t had time to absorb the judgments, fears, and limitations of the people and culture surrounding us.

Those were the real good ol’ days!

But for most of us, that natural, innocent self-confidence starts to erode pretty quickly. And by the time we hit grade school, the majority of us have bought into a new notion: you can only feel self-confident by earning it.

Ack! I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds like a limiting belief.

Click the link below to read my new Psychology Today blog post on how to achieve self-confidence:


Dr. Matt


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The Science of Persuasion: How to Get People to Agree With What You Say http://www.drmatt.com/2014/08/19/nlp-science-persuasion/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nlp-science-persuasion http://www.drmatt.com/2014/08/19/nlp-science-persuasion/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 13:45:22 +0000 http://www.drmatt.com/?p=2702 Picture of notebook paper with the word "no" written many times on left, and the word "yes" written once on right.

Photo: Abhi Ryan


I just finished reading this thought-provoking article on persuasion. It talks about how metaphors, similes and analogies are key in bringing others into your model of the world.

Before reading it, I recommend checking out the video below.

For those of you who have attended our NLP Trainings, you might recognize the Selective Attention Test. If you have NOT attended our iNLP Practitioner Training yet, watch this 80-second video on my blog BEFORE reading the article! It will make sense later. ;-)

Now that you’ve watched the video, here is the link to the article:



Dr. Matt

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My Wife Hates Facebook and So What! http://www.drmatt.com/2014/08/15/my-wife-facebook/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=my-wife-facebook http://www.drmatt.com/2014/08/15/my-wife-facebook/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 13:45:57 +0000 http://www.drmatt.com/?p=2682 My Wife Hates Facebook and So What!Let’s avoid the temptation to make everything about NLP. In other words… Speak English, please!

We were at a recent training and I announced from stage that my wife Sumi does not like Facebook. In fact, she can’t stand it. After making a couple of jokes, a student responded from the audience that she has a “limiting belief.”

I found this response to be curious.

You see, a limiting belief (by definition) prevents you from doing something you want to do. For example, if I didn’t believe I could teach but I really wanted to, that would be a limiting belief. If I thought I was a bad father, that would be a limiting belief.

However, if it does not limit you, it is just a belief.

The reason why this is important to understand is that we tend to make mistakes with our communication that end up getting our feet inserted into our mouths.

Now, if I don’t like nato (a Japanese dish that deserves further research on your part) that is not a limiting belief. I just can’t stand nato because it is disgusting to me. (On a side not, my wife loves it!)

You see, I don’t like nato, and my wife doesn’t like Facebook. I don’t want to like nato, and she really doesn’t want to like Facebook. She has no need to be on Facebook, she has no desire to be on Facebook. I feel the same way about nato.

Yet we still love each other!

You might be sitting there, reading this and saying, “Yes Dr. Matt, but all businesses need to be on Facebook. It has become a necessity.” I agree… That is why I am on Facebook. I spend enough time on the web to handle business and keep connected with my students. Sumi doesn’t have to.


In life, when you learn something like NLP, The Law of Attraction, Psychology, Huna, etc., you have a reflex to apply it everywhere. That is great! That means you want to learn and incorporate it into your life. Keep it up, because that is a great strategy.

At the same time, avoid becoming a fanatic by finding some balance.

When I went to school for my PhD and learned about Freud, I didn’t go around asking everyone to tell me about his or her mother. Nor did I wonder if some students were still in the oral phase (or any other phase). I found a balance.

An even deeper lesson is to realize that the speaker – not the listener – should define negative beliefs and limitations. When I communicate, I do my best to communicate as if I am speaking to a non-NLP trained person. Even when I am teaching NLP!

When you learn NLP or any skill that improves your communication, you will begin to hear how other people communicate in a very clear way. You will begin to wonder what they mean. The moment you assign meaning to the words of another, that is a mind read, and that will get you in trouble eventually.

Avoid mind reads, and enjoy communication.

Dr. Matt


Do you love Facebook? Take a moment to like our page!

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Can NLP Help Prevent Degenerative Diseases? http://www.drmatt.com/2014/08/12/nlp-prevent-disease/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nlp-prevent-disease http://www.drmatt.com/2014/08/12/nlp-prevent-disease/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 13:45:57 +0000 http://www.drmatt.com/?p=2674 “The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.” – William Osler

In my seminars, I’m often asked about various degenerative diseases like arthritis, osteoporosis or diabetes. After getting a taste of what Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) can do, they start to wonder if NLP techniques could have a powerful effect on physical healing as well as mental and emotional issues.

They’re right, of course.

Our bodies aren’t simply vehicles designed to take our brains where they want to go. Our conscious and unconscious minds don’t sit like passive passengers in the backseat while our physical bodies tool around town and through life.

It’s all connected. More than connected: it’s all one unit. It’s only our Western thinking that separates mind, body and spirit.

It’s like saying that a ballet is made up of dancers, choreography, musicians and music. You can pull those different components out. You can separate out the elements. But what makes it a ballet is the entirety. The “parts” are intricately linked, symbiotic.

Because of this relationship, some symptoms and diseases do not respond to physical interventions alone. In those cases, underlying negative emotions or limiting beliefs in the unconscious holds the illness in place and prevents physical healing.

In our NLP Master Practitioner Training, we delve into how to work with degenerative disease in some detail. There is a lot involved and different diseases are handled slightly differently. I can’t cover it all here, but I can give you an overview of the process.

We always recommend addressing the problem on its own level first. In other words, if you have a physical ailment, the first place to look for healing is on the physical plane. This might mean going to your doctor or complementary health care provider to get a diagnosis and treatment. It might mean a change in diet or lifestyle (for example, depression is often related to hypoglycemia).

Next, we investigate what negative beliefs or emotions might be contributing to the illness. Though we are each different, certain illnesses have common threads. For example, psoriasis often relates to low self-image or people “rubbing you the wrong way.” Arthritis is often a rigidity or lack of flexibility in approaching life or on a certain issue.

When the specific limiting beliefs or emotions are identified, we release them using the techniques of Mental Emotional Release® Therapy (MER®). Finally, we would use the kinesiology techniques to elicit cooperation from the unconscious for the healing process.

Here’s an example. Let’s say a client has been diagnosed with atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries). On the physical level under the guidance of their physician or complementary health care provider, they should modify their diet to lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation, usually by minimizing “unhealthy fats,” refined sugars, and processed foods in general (there are several good books written on this subject). The client also may be counseled to increase their aerobic exercise.

Next, an NLP Master Practitioner can help the client release the major negative emotions (anger, sadness, fear, and guilt) as well as any other negative emotions or limiting beliefs using MER®. Specifically, the client would be asked which negative emotion or limiting belief seems to be connected to the atherosclerosis. Often with this particular disease, it is some form of resistance or tension, perhaps a narrow-mindedness related to specific issues. These additional negative emotions or limiting decisions are also released using MER®.

Finally, using kinesiology techniques, the practitioner would guide the client in recruiting the unconscious mind to dissolve the plaque material safely and within a time frame that the unconscious feels is appropriate. The longer the disease has been present, the longer it might take to fully heal and release it.

The steps to working with degenerative disease are relatively simple. Yet it takes a skilled practitioner to make sure that process is effective, and it’s important that the client takes the necessary steps on the physical level to ensure success.

Dr. Matt


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