“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