NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is an incredible tool to use in all areas of your life, including filmmaking.

But what areas of filmmaking can NLP be used in? Ever heard of failure? What about negativity? Getting caught in a rut and feeling like you’re just not getting anywhere?

So you want to re-frame failure and negativity?

Joseph O’Connor and John Seymour’s book Introducing NLP offers a great Six Step Reframing Process. Here is the blueprint of the process from the book, with my notes about how it can be used to reframe failure, negativity and other unproductive states:

1. First identity The Behavior Or Response To Be Changed

You want to banish negative thoughts and feelings (especially concerning your filmmaking goals), but you don’t know where to begin.

From the reframing process itself: “It is usually in the form: ‘I want to…but something stops me.’ Or, ‘I don’t want to do this, but I seem to end up doing it just the same.’

Take a moment to express appreciation for what this part has done for you and make it clear that you are not going to get rid of it. This may be difficult if the behavior (let’s call it X) is very unpalatable, but you can appreciate the intention, if not the way it was accomplished.”

2. Establish Communication With The Part Responsible For The Behavior

Perhaps you feel actual physical pain when you attempt your filmmaking/writing goals. Maybe there’s a pain in your stomach, tightness in your shoulders, a dry mouth, etc.

Is there a sound that goes off in your head before you sit down to write, for example. Maybe an alarm bell going off in your own head.

Maybe there’s an image that runs through your mind before you get on set.

Find out what that feeling is; what it looks like, sounds like, feels like.

I was initially confused about this stage. The reframing process in the book describes this step as, “Go inside and ask, ‘Will the part responsible for X to communicate with me in consciousness, now?’ Notice what response you get. Keep all your senses open for internal sights, sounds, feelings. Do not guess. Have a definite signal, it is often a slight body feeling. Can you reproduce that exact signal consciously? If you can, ask the question again until you get a signal that you cannot control at will.”

3. Separate The Positive Intention From The Behavior

Realize that your anxiety and negativity is there for a reason.

The positive intention of your negativity about writing/filmmaking could simply be the fact that it is saving you from potential rejections or embarrassments.

Whatever it is, get in tune with it. Understand it’s reasoning and thank it.

The reframing process describes this as: “Thank the part for co-operating. Ask, “Will the part that is responsible for this behavior let me know what it is trying to do?’ If the answer is the ‘yes’ signal, you will get the intention, and it may be a surprise to your conscious mind. Thank the part for the information, and for doing this for you. Think about whether you actually want a part to do this.

Go inside and ask the part, ‘If you were given ways that enabled you to accomplish is the intention, at least as well, if not better than what you are doing now, would you be willing to try them out?’”

4. Ask Your Creative Part To Generate New Ways That Will Accomplish The Same Purpose

If your negative intention is to save you from potential rejections or embarrassments (as in the example above), find other ways to protect yourself against that.

Realize that rejections aren’t rejections of you as a person. Separate yourself from the outcome.

If the negativity’s purpose is to protect you from rejection or embarrassment, let your creative side come up with new ways to achieve this that doesn’t involve having the negativity. For example, get into character being you walk on set, or even sit down to write!

Your negativity was there for a reason. But that reason has now become obsolete. You have new, more empowering ways of dealing with potential rejection and embarrassment.

The reframing process states: “There will have been times in your life when you were creative and resourceful. Ask the part you are working with to communicate its positive intention to your creative, resourceful part. The creative part will then be able to make up other ways of accomplishing the same intention.”

5. Ask The X Part If It Will Agree To Use The New Choices Rather Than The Old Behavior Over The Next Few Weeks

The book says: “This is future pacing, mentally rehearsing a new behavior in a future situation.

If all is well up to now, there is no reason why you will not get a ‘yes’ signal. If you get a ‘no,’ assure the part it can still use the old behavior, but you would like it to use the new choices first. If you still get a no, you can reframe the part that objects by taking it through the whole six step reframing process.”

6. Ecological Check

Make sure this new behavior is in tune with the rest of your life.

The reframing process describes this as: “You need to know if there are any other parts that would object to your new choices. Ask, ‘Does any other part of me object to any of my new choices?’ Be sensitive to any signals. Be thorough here. If there is a signal, ask the part to intensify the signal if it really is an objection. Make sure the new choices meet with the approval of all interested parts, or one will sabotage your work.

If there is an objection you can do one of two things. Either go back to Step 2 and reframe the part that objects, or ask the creative part, in consultation with the objecting part, to come up with more choices. Make sure these new choices are also checked for any new objections.”


From the book:

“Six step reframing deals with several psychological issues.

One is secondary gain: the idea that however bizarre or destructive a behavior appears, it always serves a useful purpose at some level, and this purpose is likely to be unconscious. It does not make sense to do something that is totally contrary to our interests. There is always some benefit, our mixture of motives and emotions is rarely a harmonious one.

Another is trance. Anyone doing six-step reframing will be in a mild trance, with his focus of attention inwards.

Thirdly, six-step reframing also uses skills between parts of one person.”