Steve Andreas’ NLP Blog

NLP Articles, News, and Tidbits about Psychotherapy and Personal Development

Linda Ronstadt Video Interview

Linda Ronstadt Video Interview on YouTube

I think this interview is remarkable in many ways. It is a rich and refreshing demonstration of what it is like to be free of ego and full of immense appreciation for all the people who have been and still are, a part of her life. I recommend that you find a quiet evening when you are to tired to accomplish anything, and would like some inspiration, to enjoy listening to someone who was fully committed to her singing, without getting caught up in self-importance — a much-needed antidote to Hollywood, Kim Kardashian, and all the enlightenment gurus who talk about egolessness, but don’t demonstrate it. If you think you don’t have time to watch the video, below are a few short transcripts that I hope might entice you to change your mind. Use the time to sample that segment of the video.

Linda begins by discussing her recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, which makes it impossible for her to sing anymore. Rather than complaining about this, the Tucson farm girl is deeply grateful for what she had for so long:

0:52 “I had a long turn at the trough.”

4:15 “I had a good ride.”

6:40 “I had a long time at the trough.”


Her work was important; fame only useful in getting paid better:

26:15 When asked about being on the cover of Rolling Stone, she replies, “It didn’t matter; I mean the music is what counted. As long as I had a good band, a rehearsal, enough rehearsal, that’s all I cared about. If we were successful, that was good because that meant I could hire better musicians. The more money we made, the more we could pay the players.”

26:50 When asked about being on the cover of Time Magazine, she replies, “Who cares? . . . I don’t read it; do you? . . . I mean what does it matter? The work is what counts. The work is what counts. I would know whether I was doing very well or not — that’s what would count. Most of the time I wasn’t doing very well as far as I was concerned — I’d work a little harder. I was always trying to get it a little better — “I’ve got to sing this a little better.”

30:46 When the interviewer says, “Your Spanish album is the highest-selling foreign language album of all time, Linda responds, “I think so. I don’t know. You’d know better than I. I’d have to look it up.” Q: “Did that surprise you?” Linda: “I just didn’t think about it; you know that wasn’t what I was thinking about when I recorded it. I just wanted to record it because the songs are so beautiful.”

34:20 When the interviewer says, “You were at the zenith of your career, and (her good friend) Jerry Brown was governor of California,” Linda says, “Who cares?”


The impact of her experiences on her singing:

46:30 “Everything that ever happened to you is like a clear colored gel; you get an experience, you put it down — like putting it over that light there — it changes the whole slant of things; the color of your light changes the color of your sound. So every event that ever happens to you, every book you ever read, every song you ever listened to — it all becomes part of what you put back out.”

47:00 “So everything you ever read, everything you ever saw, every dance you ever saw, every dance you ever did, that all becomes a part of it, becomes a part of your voice. It changes the sound and makes it richer and better.


When she is asked to compare herself to other singers:

58:38 “I don’t put myself in that exalted category. I’m a pretty good singer; I do pretty well. I don’t think I’m a great singer; I think I’m a competent singer, a highly competent singer.” Then she extends her right arm over her head and mentions several other singers, and then lowers her hand to eye level and says, “Linda’s somewhere about here. Fine.”


Linda’s voice may be silenced by Parkinson’s, but her simple presence continues to sing of the human spirit at it’s uncomplicated best. I’m sure she would agree with the famous songwriter who was asked, “Of all the songs that you have written, what is your favorite?”

The songwriter replied, “The next one.”

Helping Organizations Change

The following is a guest post from Will Murray.

Think of someone you like, and notice your image of that person. . . .

Now think of someone you’re indifferent toward, and notice that image. . . .

Now think of those people simultaneously, and notice where those images are located in relation to you. Particularly notice which one is closer to you, and also if you see them left or right, front or behind, higher or lower than you are. . . .

The person you like was probably much closer to you than the other, and may be higher. Probably that image was larger, or more noticeable to you in some other way. The image of the person you are indifferent toward was probably much farther away, smaller, perhaps behind you, or lower. You many notice other differences that I didn’t mention.

That is a tiny taste of how your internal representations express how you relate to others in the external world. Many common expressions appear to be only metaphorical, but are actually quite literal descriptions of this internal world of relationship. We feel close to some people, and more distant from others. We stand behind our friends, but confront or oppose our enemies. We look up to those we admire, and look down on others. We work shoulder to shoulder with some people, while others are often underfoot. We look forward to meeting new friends, and put old relationships behind us. Some people are in our face, and we turn our back on others.

Most people are only dimly aware of this internal world, if at all, but with gentle questioning, everyone can become aware of it. In Lucas Derks’ wonderful book, Social Panoramas: changing the unconscious landscape with NLP and psychotherapy, he explores in detail not only how we see our images of people in our internal world, but how we can make changes in this internal landscape in order to alter how we spontaneously respond to them in the real one.

In my work with non-profit organizations, I use Derks’ approach routinely to reveal difficult relationships between people. A non-profit organization has two parts: the staff that does the actual work, and the governing board that is responsible for overseeing the work of the staff. Interpersonal difficulties often occur between staff members, and can also occur between board members. One frequent issue is when subordinates need to talk with their supervisors but don’t feel comfortable doing that.

A grants manager, Ellen, described feeling “micromanaged” by her supervisor, who makes frequent tiny edits to her writing and insists on several drafts before she accepts a final one. When I asked her why she doesn’t explain to her boss that she doesn’t need that kind of close supervision, she replied that she just doesn’t feel she should talk with her about it. Then I asked Ellen where in her visual field she sees her boss when she thinks about having that conversation. Ellen looked up to her right, and then said she saw her supervisor “quite a bit above me, about two feet above my eyes, about four feet in front of me, and to my right.” When I asked her to lower the image of her supervisor to her own eye level, she reported that she felt better able to talk with her. In a follow-up call about a week later, Ellen said that she felt much more at ease talking with her supervisor.

A graphic designer, Jane, in another organization similarly held her supervisor’s image quite a bit above her own eye level, and she felt intimidated and unable to converse with him without feeling nervous and apprehensive. I asked Jane to think of a different person, someone whom she liked and admired, and then asked her to locate that image. She saw the picture of her sister about three feet away, about two inches above her own eye level and about four inches to the left of straight ahead. When I asked her to move the image of her boss into the exact spot where she saw her sister, Jane said that now she felt she could talk with him with ease, without the apprehension she felt before. In a follow up call, Jane said, “Oh, now I can talk with him any time.”

Another kind of difficulty can occur between the board as a group and the staff as a group. To find out how the board and the staff relate to each other, I ask members of the board, “If you make an image in your mind’s eye of the staff, where do you see them relative to the board?” Independently I ask the same question of staff, “Where do you see the board in your mind’s eye in relation to staff?” At first they may not understand the question because they’ve never thought this way and never noticed it. They often first respond with roles (“the board has legal authority”) or functions (“the staff carries out programs”) or structures (“the staff reports to the board.”)

So I ask again, “If the board is at the center in 3-dimensional space (up, down, left, right, in front, in back), where in space do you see the staff?” That usually gets the kind of answer that I need. I elicit the information from the board and the staff separately, so that they don’t know each other’s responses. And since it is unlikely that anyone has ever asked them this kind of question before, their responses are fresh and unrehearsed.

In doing this I’m looking primarily for two different kinds of problem:

  1. A misalignment between staff and board, that expresses different views of the relationship that results in conflict, or
  2. An alignment of imagery between staff and board that both find unsatisfactory.

Misalignment: The board says, “We are out in front. The staff follows our lead.” The staff of the same organization says, “We are out in front. The board kind of follows us.” You can probably predict that there will be a struggle for leadership within this organization.

When I find a misalignment, I know that there will be problems with agreed-upon roles, difficulties with internal communication and nightmares in decision-making. The information I get helps me predict the kind of issues the organization is experiencing. And it also provides me with a way to engage them in making changes in how they interact that is independent of the content of the issues they are discussing.

Troublesome alignment that both find unsatisfactory: The board says, “We sit over the staff.” The staff says, “The board hovers over us.” In this case, the board does not trust the staff to do the work; staff feel stifled and stultified.

In another example the board says, “Our executive director is way out there.” The executive director says, “The board doesn’t have my back.” The board feels left behind, clueless and out of the loop, unable to help because they aren’t up to speed. The executive director feels that the board doesn’t support her. When this is the case, I need to find a different alignment that both board and staff find more satisfactory.

When I point out this kind of misalignment or alignment to the whole organization (staff and board) very often they experience an epiphany along the lines of, “Well that explains everything!”

In one organization, the executive director, Amy, wanted to have more of an equal relationship, and feel less overshadowed by the board chair. I asked Amy, “Right now, when you imagine the board chair, get a good look at his face, close your eyes, and extend your arm and point your finger right at his nose.” As you can guess, her extended arm and finger were pointed toward a place well above her head. I asked her to close her eyes again, and lower the image of her board chair to eye level. She reported feeling more able to stand up to him, rather than just go along with whatever he said. Then we rehearsed having her lower the image of her board chair to her own level when she would next see him, so that she could automatically experience him at the same level. Since this board chair would soon be termed out and would be leaving the board, Amy then practiced placing her incoming board chair in a more level, equal position, so she could begin the relationship with the new board chair on a more even plane.

Remember the executive director who complained that the board “doesn’t have my back?” I thought I heard a spatial relationship in this statement, so I asked where she saw her board in her mind’s eye: “They are very far behind,” she replied. When I asked the board where they saw the executive director, they unanimously responded, “We don’t know what she’s doing. She’s way out there, doing who knows what.” It would be hard for a board to have the executive director’s back if she is so far ahead that they cannot even see her back. To address this situation, we simply inserted in every board meeting agenda an item called “Crazy Ideas.” Crazy Ideas was a five-minute slot for the executive director to inform the board of new things she was thinking about. This item was not for discussion or comment, just an information piece designed to close the spatial gap between the executive director and the board, so that she was not so way far out in front of them. In a follow-up conversation with a board member, he reported that the board felt more in touch with emerging issues and appreciates the initiative that the executive director has. The executive director says that “for some reason now the board seems less out of it.”

I can also use Social Panorama with groups that are functioning very smoothly to see how their panorama expresses more useful models to offer other groups. For instance, one organization’s board said that they “surround the staff. We are above them in our oversight role, and we back them up, and we support them from below. We are like a cloud, and the staff is in the center.” The staff says, “We have such a supportive board. They are everywhere. It’s as if they are all around us.” You can imagine how much fun it must be to work in this organization, with their shared experience of each other’s role and position and the harmony that produces.

When the board president and the chief executive director have social panoramas that align with their respective roles, their relationships are productive, respectful and enjoyable. But when their social panoramas reveal problems, life can become difficult indeed—no matter what the issues.

Social panorama can help predict behaviors and relationships, and it can also be used to repair and enhance relationships and generate desired behaviors. It’s an indispensable technique to help organizations and individuals enhance their performance.

Will Murray



Derks, L. (2005). Social panoramas; changing the unconscious landscape with NLP and psychotherapy. London: Crown House Publishing.



Transforming Your Self Workshop

Damon Cart will be teaching a weekend workshop (based on my book with the same title) in Santa Cruz, CA May 14-15. Damon is a young trainer who has an unusually good grasp of the core principles of NLP, and who has special interest in, and ability to use, the self-concept methodology I developed. I have been mentoring Damon over the past year or so, and it is a pleasure to recommend his training.


Book Chapter

Adjusting personal boundaries is a ridiculously easy way to adjust our unconscious responses in challenging situations, and it doesn’t require any fancy theory or special skill. It only involves paying attention, and experimenting with changes to find out which ones serve you well. I have just put chapter 13, Adjusting Your Protective Boundaries from Transforming Your Self on my web site, for all to read free.


Older articles

I have also been sorting through some old files, and found several articles that never (yet) found their way onto my web site. Here they are (free):

1982 Neuro-Linguistic Programming: A New Technology for Training

1992 Where is NLP Going?

1999 What Makes a Good NLPer?

1999 Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP): Changing Points of View

(Much of this article is an excerpt from Using Your Brain—for a change.)

2000 Congruence

Shelle Rose Charvet is by far one of the best presenters of NLP methods for business/organization/sales applications that I know. Her trainings are well organized and sequenced, illustrated with specific examples, leavened with humor, and nicely punctuated with nonverbal gestures and movements — all of which support easy learning. Click here for a short video clip of her teaching about options vs. procedures, or here for a clip on external vs. internal reference. These — and many other samples of her training on YouTube — give you specific experiences of the richness of what and how she teaches. As long as I have been active in NLP, I find myself repeatedly saying to myself, “Oh yes, of course!”

A lot of trainings promise to take your work “to a whole new level,” but this one really does offer specific practical skills to help your clients improve sales, marketing, teamwork and customer service by knowing how to identify and work with the key psychological triggers that drive human behavior. And of course you can use the same skills to increase sales and effectiveness of your own training, coaching or consulting.

Shelle’s online LAB Profile® Practitioner program is thorough and excellent. It costs less than a live training, and you also save the cost of travel, accommodations and lost earnings — and there is a no risk, money-back guarantee. Since Shelle is so clear and organized, her online training is almost as good as being there in person. And even if you had no interest in the content, this program is a superlative example of how to be an effective trainer and presenter, both verbally and nonverbally.


Live LAB Profile® Training in Paris

Would you like to go to Paris for two weeks, and deduct it all from your taxes? If you work in training, consulting, coaching, etc., you can. Shelle’s LAB Profile® Consultant/Trainer Certification Training Program is August 1-12, in Paris. The online Practitioner program is a prerequisite for this program, but nearly 75% of the cost of the Practitioner can be applied to the Trainer Certification Training as a discount. Click here for complete information about this terrific training.

“What do you do when a method doesn’t work?”

When a session is successful, that is a nice confirmation of what I already know. But what do you do when a method doesn’t work? Often I hear therapists say, “I tried X method with a client, but it didn’t work.” Perhaps they made a mistake, or the method was inappropriate, or the client may have found a creative way to alter the process. And then the therapist basically gave up.

It’s a lot more useful to realize that when something doesn’t work, it’s an opportunity to learn. Many years ago, Connirae and I developed the grief process, and taught it successfully for a year or two. Then a workshop demonstration failed utterly, so we had to figure out why. It turned out that the client had a major resentment toward her dead husband, and we had to use the forgiveness process before the grief process would work. Minor resentments don’t interfere with the grief process, but a major one will. So we learned something new and useful.

The simplest answer to, “What do you do when a method doesn’t appear to work?” is that you try to figure out what else is going on, using specific information-gathering questions, trying out something different, and paying close attention to feedback from the client—particularly the nonverbal. However, that answer is so general that it doesn’t help much. I thought it might be useful to offer a couple of specific examples of how to do this.



Quite a few years ago I worked with a woman who had a fear of being trapped, with no way out. Everything went very smoothly using the NLP phobia process, and she immediately tested by going into a small closet and closing the door. She was completely calm, but a little doubtful, saying, “But I know I can open the door, so I’m not really trapped.” When I kept the door shut with the weight of my body, holding onto the doorknob so she couldn’t unlatch it, she still felt calm, and she became convinced.

However, when I checked with her about a week later, she said that the change hadn’t stayed with her, so I offered her a follow-up session. After some exploration about what it meant to her to be “trapped,” we discovered that she had two somewhat different meanings for the same word. One was being trapped physically in a small space; the other was feeling trapped emotionally in a relationship. The first session actually had worked; she still had a new and more resourceful response to being physically trapped. But that change hadn’t generalized to relationships, because to her that was a different category of experience. After I used the phobia cure on her most intense memory of feeling trapped in a relationship, she was fine in both physical and emotional contexts.


Airplane Anxiety

Recently a father in northern California asked me to work with both him and his grown daughter, Sara, on their anxiety about flying. They were making a trip to the East Coast soon, and were motivated to find a way to be more comfortable. On separate Skype calls I used the same two wonderful methods that I learned from Nick Kemp; spinning feelings and slowing the tempo of the frantic internal voice that usually triggers the feelings.

After they returned from their trip to the east coast I got an email from the father, “grading” the results. “For me it was an A-, but for Sara it was an F.”

I scheduled a follow-up session with Sara to find out what was going on. She said that during the outgoing flight across the country she was completely fine. However, the trip back was horrible, a “full on panic,” and that was what earned the F grade. When I asked her what was different about the two trips, she said she thought perhaps it was because she had rehearsed the slowed tempo of the anxious internal voice and reversing the spin of her feelings many times before the outgoing trip, but hadn’t rehearsed before the return trip. She also said that when she visualized being on an airplane during our session, it was always on the outgoing flight, not the return flight. This explanation didn’t quite make sense to me, because after that much rehearsal, and a successful trip east, I would expect that her new response would have generalized and become automatic.

When I checked with her about what we had done in the previous session, it was actually intact. She’d had a voice saying, “Here we go!” in a shrill and rapid tone, which had led to feeling anxiety. When I asked her to hear this voice now, it didn’t elicit anxiety, so I concluded that she must have additional ways to scare herself. I asked her, “What can you do to get the anxiety back now?” Initially she said something like, “When the airplane suddenly sinks, I get a ‘butterflies’ feeling in my stomach.” As she said this, she looked down at about a 30-degree angle, With this little bit of information, pause to think about what you might do next if you were working with her. . . .

First I asked her to try looking up about 30 degrees above the horizon as she imagined the plane sinking under her, just to see what would happen. Sara reported that immediately made “a huge difference” in how she felt.

Next I spent some time explaining to Sara that the “butterflies” feeling was a normal physical sensation that everyone feels when they suddenly feel unsupported. It’s the body’s physical response to sudden weightlessness, not an anxiety response. Anxiety is also felt in the body, but in a different area, and it’s a response to imagining what might happen in the future, not to what’s happening in the present. I also pointed out that some people even pay money to go on carnival rides so that they can enjoy the thrill of that sinking feeling.

Then I tested by asking her to imagine being in an airplane again and feel it suddenly sink, and just notice that butterflies feeling. She said she felt fine with that now. She was still looking 30 degrees above the horizon, instead of reverting to the downward look she had before.

Then I asked her to imagine being on a plane again, and find out if there was any other way that she could get the anxiety back. She said that if the plane was headed steeply down she felt anxious. She added, “I wonder if this has to do with a time about 10 years ago when I had a seizure on an airplane, and became unconscious for a while. They speeded up the plane and descended rapidly to a nearby airport to get medical help as fast as possible. I had an oxygen mask on my face, and I was kind of groggy and disoriented, so I didn’t really understand what was going on, but I remember feeling that steep descent.”

Sara said that she’d had two seizures prior to the one on the airplane, which she attributed to being under stress in high school, when she was not sleeping or eating well. She was put on medication, which she took for five years, but then stopped taking it because she hadn’t had any seizures since the one on the airplane, and she hadn’t had any seizures since then.

Sara’s “rapid descent” airplane experience certainly sounded like the kind of memory that could have elicited a phobic response, especially since her groggy state after the seizure would have made her very suggestible. A phobic response of fear can easily be confused with anxiety, and most people who say that they have an “airplane phobia” actually have anxiety. It’s important to differentiate the two, because they have a different underlying structure. Phobias happen by stepping back into a past intense experience, while anxiety is a result of anticipating a future disaster.

I hadn’t thought to ask if she had had a terrifying past experience of being on a plane. Apparently Sara had originally had a phobic response in addition to anxiety. I immediately used the phobia method with this memory, and after that she could imagine a steep descent with comfort and ease.

Again I asked Sara to imagine being on an airplane to find out if there was any other way she could get the anxiety back, even if the plane bounced around or did something else. At this point she could no longer find a way to get the anxiety back. I asked her if she had any questions or concerns about what we had done, or about her upcoming trip over the Christmas holidays. When she smiled and calmly said she didn’t, I ended the session by asking her to send me an email after she landed, to give me a report. When I didn’t receive an email from her before Christmas, I thought maybe there was still more to do. But on January 6, after she had returned, Sara emailed me:

“I’m writing to let you know that my travels back east went very well! I was still a bit nervous on the flight at times, but significantly less anxious and nothing near the level of panic of my previous trip. Thanks so much for your help. I’m really relieved and feel like I’m suddenly free to move/fly about as I’ve always wanted.”

A couple of weeks later I decided it might be interesting to write this article, so I emailed Sara, asking if we could Skype so that she could help me recall the details of what we had done in our second session. In our call she said that she thought that changing the memory of her seizure and swift descent had made the most difference, saying, “That was a big deal; I was unhooked from all of that.”

Then she said something very interesting, “The seizure happened on a westward flight; I wonder if that is why I was OK going east, but panicked going west on the way home? I’m usually very oriented in space.” When I said, “I wonder what it would be like to fly north or south,” she smiled and said, “Even back then I remember joking to a friend that if I thought about a little quick trip down to LA, or up to Seattle or something, it didn’t bother me very much at all.” Notice that she used the words “quick little” to describe these, whereas before she had used the words “huge,” and “big deal,” indicating the importance of size to her. I found this fascinating. Apparently going west—something that most people wouldn’t have noticed—had become one of the triggers that elicited her phobic response.

At the moment when someone has a terrifying experience, whatever they are focused on at the time can become a trigger that elicits the fear later. Often it’s something directly related to the cause of the terror, such as a snarling dog, or being immersed in water, or a steep descent in an airplane. But at other times they may be focused on something that is irrelevant to the cause of the fear, yet becomes associated with it. Several of my favorite examples are a woman who was afraid of stuffed olives, a woman who freaked out if she couldn’t see her feet, and in this case traveling west.

Since these triggers are often random, it can be difficult to determine what they are. However they often emerge if you ask about contrasts. When I initially asked Sara about the difference between her flight out and the return after our first session, she gave me some very important information that only made sense to me later when I asked for more. It became even clearer when I asked if it would be different if she flew north or south, another contrast. Understanding events like this often looks simple and obvious in retrospect, but they can be very puzzling at the time.

For an example of working with a more complicated set of anxieties, you can read a verbatim transcript of me working with a man who couldn’t bring himself to deal with his financial situation. I have included many explanatory comments about what I did, including pointing out a number of mistakes that I made—and corrected in response to client feedback.

Fears and anxieties are usually relatively simple and easy to resolve, using what I like to call “off the shelf software,” standard processes that have been developed and tested over a period of time. There are also processes for a variety of other common problem states, such as shame, guilt, anger, and grief. The basic principle is the same: elicit the underlying unconscious structure that elicits the problem state, and then alter that structure to elicit a more useful state. There are still problems that we don’t yet understand sufficiently well to resolve rapidly, but that is true in any field. Year by year we understand more and more, allowing us to work more and more rapidly and elegantly with a wider and wider range of presenting problems.

Real People Press

Andreas NLP Trainings banner


This blog contains NLP articles and news from Steve Andreas, NLP author, trainer, and developer.

If you enjoy these articles, please visit the Real People Press NLP bookstore for great books, CDs, and DVDs on personal change, therapy, and communication.