NLP and The Four Agreements

NeuroLinguistic Programming and The Four Agreements

by Jan Prince

As a life transitions coach I am always on the outlook for resources to share with my clients.  Most recently I became reacquainted with a book I had read years ago:  The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz.  The book is an easy read (actually I found myself wanting to edit it down) and very approachable.

It’s  tenant is simple:  we live in a dream world created by the rules our society uses to “domesticate” us.  We are indoctrinated first by our parents, then educators, then our particular society.  That “societal dream world” creates beliefs about ourselves and others that often cause us to feel powerless and unhappy.

Ruiz, a surgeon and Toltec shaman, suggests we can free ourselves of these limitations by adhering to four “agreements”:

Be impeccable with your word:  Say only what you mean; avoid using the word to speak negatively to yourself or about others; use the power of the word for good.

Don’t take anything personally: Be aware that what others do and say is a projection of their own reality, their own belief systems.  Even your own thoughts are a result of your conditioning and they must be examined objectively and challenged when they are harmful.

Don’t make assumptions:  Avoid misunderstandings and problems by asking questions and by expressing what you really want.  Don’t assume you know what motivates others.

Always do your best:  Avoid self-judgment and regret by doing your best and understand that “your best” will change from moment to moment and improve as you evolve.

These agreements have been invaluable to my personal growth and to the lives of my clients.

They are simple yet challenging to live.

NeuroLinguistic Programming has made it easier for me to comprehend and manifest these principles.  While the Four Agreements explains what to do, NLP offers the knowledge about  how to do it.

The NLP practitioner training I took in Colorado almost 35 years ago, taught me how to identify and change limiting belief systems, how to challenge assumptions (my own and others’) using specific questioning techniques, how to manage emotions, and how to create new habits more easily.

These skills not only improved my life, but gave me powerful tools I use to help others as they encounter the obstacles that life presents.

I highly recommend both the book and the NLP training.

Jan Prince

Come learn more about NLP and how to implement principles like those found in The Four Agreements at our NLP Practitioner and Master Practitioner trainings taking place this summer in Winter Park, Colorado.

July 24 – August 5, 2017.

You are also invited to participate in Connirae Andreas’ Wholeness Process taking placing August 6 – 8, 2017 right after our NLP Practitioner trainings. This training does not require any previous NLP training.

To learn more about our NLP training and the Wholeness Process visit our  events page.

Focus on the Trainers: Ricardo Ocampo

Ricardo:babs:luziaI am looking forward to this summer’s training where all of us will get to share learnings and life experiences. I am curious to know you and how NLP will make a difference in your life.

For me, the impact that NLP had on the quality of my life was and continues to be significant. NLP opened doors I didn’t know existed. I’ve learned many things since my initial training in 2004 and I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many beautiful countries, practice shamanism and mysticism, learn about other cultures, and speak other languages.

Most important however, is the path of self-awareness, growth, and personal evolution that I have been on.  On this path, I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about myself and some of the reasons life was more challenging to navigate prior to acquiring NLP skills. This knowledge has informed and motivated my relationship coaching work. This work has special meaning for me as I have witnessed and lived the destructive power that poor relationships can generate. My mission is to help individuals learn about themselves, their partners, and the skills that can help them create loving and caring relationships. I love to learn and this field has plenty of teachings to offer.

I look forward to meeting you in Winter Park and exploring new territory!

Using NLP to “rewrite” your life!

eraserA Grandfather’s Gift by Ricardo Ocampo.

On his first grandchild’s birthday John Richard presented his son and daughter-law with an elaborate leather-bound journal so they could begin recording the events in their son’s life.

Over the years, the parents and other family members wrote in the journal—noting his trials, tribulations, accomplishments, and limitations in the boy’s life, as well as their own hopes and dreams for his future.

When he became of an age where he could read and write, a ceremony was held. The grandfather presented the book to the child and explained much had been written in it by his ancestors and that he could read their perceptions and beliefs about him.

But even better, he could now begin to write his own journal entries – his experiences, his own hopes and dreams, his fears and his own thoughts.

As the years went by and he turned into a young adult, the grandson began to suspect that what he was writing in the journal was being influenced by the stories that preceded each entry – way back to the first ones, and that these were directing his life.

He felt he had lost control of the direction the journal was taking and was unable to write the stories he wanted. He tried to make adjustments to the older stories but without much success.

He visited his grandfather and asked what he could do about the stories that had created a life of their own. “I was hoping you would notice that and come to me,” said the wise old man. He smiled and pulled from his pocket a small, soft rectangular item. Holding it between his index finger and his thumb for his grandson to see he said: “This is a magic eraser, just waiting for your request. It has the power to change the stories and allow you to write new ones that reflect the direction you want your life to take.”

As the young man grew older, adding new entries and adjusting old ones with the eraser, he noticed he could align the old stories so they supported the direction he wanted. He felt he had more control of his life and could manifest the powerful vision he had for his purpose.

We are all born with our own “book of life.” Early events and the opinions of our forefathers and mothers create the beliefs and behaviors that begin to form our lives. But we need only discover that we each have our own “magic eraser” with which to alter any direction that is not in our best and highest path.

NeuroLinguistic Programming allows us to discover and use our own eraser – to identify and change the beliefs and behaviors that get in our way to having the best life possible.

Experience that magic and come find your own eraser at the 2017 Real World NLP Practitioner Training in Winter Park, Colorado July 24-August 5.

For more information: or call Ricardo Ocampo 303-550-8553

Focus on the trainers: Babs Kirmis, Germany

Mamas Bilder 309 (2) copy (1)When the time has come for me to leave this world I would like to be able to say: “Yes, this was good. I learned to live with people—all kinds of people. Those I loved dearly, those I could not avoid, those I chose to meet.”

Learning has been the theme of my 50 years on this planet. My most powerful learning came from children, my own and those who were my students. My work with the mentally handicapped taught me to practice patience and flexibility – which I learned from my NeuroLinguistic Programming training. “If one path doesn’t work try at least two others!”

Traveling, meeting, and learning from people of other cultures has given my life a colorful richness.

Lately I have had to deal with the path of transition—many loved ones passing away – both young and old. Situations in which I have felt I had no choice – except how to find acceptance and internal peace. Still learning!

Hope to be able to meet you and share even more learning experiences this summer!

Barbara Kirmis (Babs)

Focus on the Trainers: Mark Andreas


As a Personal Change Coach and NLP trainer since 2009, I have always been fascinated with community, cooperation, and how conflicts can be resolved in creative ways without the use of force. After graduating from Earlham College with a degree in Peace and Global Studies, I began to collect stories of how people found creative and surprising non-violent solutions to conflicts. The result lead to my first published book, “Sweet Fruit fro the Bitter Tree: 61 stories of creative and compassionate ways out of conflict;”which to my delight was endorsed by Dan Millman and William Ury.

I am also an outdoor enthusiast, and worked two years as a counselor/trip leader for a Wilderness Therapy company, facilitating groups of “troubled” youth on a round-the-clock basis for three-week shifts. My second book, “Waltzing with Wolverines: finding connection and cooperation with troubled teens,” is a collection of stories and principles for working with youth based on the wild experiences that resulted from each new group and expedition!

If I started a new culture it would be based on the principles of NLP and improvisational theater. I have performed in several improv groups in the Boulder/Denver area and found that the principles of good improvisation can serve us for life in general, and much of my own personal growth has come through my improv work.

Currently I train NLP around the country, am instructor of NLP for Red Rocks Community College, and of course I’m delighted to be part of the trainer team at NLP of the Rockies. To find out more about my NLP private practice where I meet with clients from around the world both in-person and over Skype, you can visit my website I look forward to meeting you, whether at the NLP Starter Training, the Practitioner or Master Practitioner Training in Winter Park, or any other training offering through NLP of the Rockies!

Mark Andreas

Mark Andreas

Getting Comfortable with Conflict

Meeting-facilitation-300x198We all have to deal with heated situations and conflict and we need strategies for making things better, not worse.

Whether it is officiating a contentious negotiation, calming your angry teenagers, mediating between resentful couples, or handling your own upset spouse, we all need the ability to act confidently and effectively to restore emotional balance. Understanding that hiding within every intense emotion is a positive intention and knowing how to trigger your own curiosity and strength are very powerful tools that can help you manage these types of situations with confidence.

Meetings can get out of control in a heartbeat, especially when the participants are opinionated hot heads. During my 30 years as a meeting facilitator I have witnessed people lose their tempers, throw tantrums, yell, make threats, weep, or —what can be even more challenging— shut down and refuse to participate at all.

Fortunately, I have learned to maintain my equilibrium in the midst of such emotional chaos, thanks to knowing one powerful NLP presupposition and employing the very useful NLP techniques of anchoring and reframing.

The presupposition: Behind every behavior is a positive intention.

The processes — reframing “negative” behavior as a “positive” possibility, and introducing an anchoring technique called the “circle of excellence.”

One of the most challenging facilitations I had the privilege of leading was a six-month long negotiation process between a group of teachers, school administrators, union representatives and parents whose task was to design a Pay-for-Performance Plan for a large school district. The 20 participants had been meeting in the evening once a week for several months without much progress and had already fired a prominent mediator who had been recommended by the governor.

An attorney who was familiar with our work and track record recommended me and a fellow NLP trained facilitator as replacements. I admit we were feeling a bit intimidated by the situation but it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. We knew our NLP training would support us through the challenge.

The task force included, among others, a forceful and intimidating union representative who would stand in the back of the room with his arms crossed waiting to pounce on any idea he didn’t agree with, a timid teacher who would either clam up or cry if she was challenged, a math teacher/soccer coach who liked making his point at the top of his lungs, and a parent who was great at using sarcasm to sidetrack the discussion.

After our first meeting with them, Margaret and I knew that navigating the long evening negotiation sessions and coaxing the task force members into agreement would require careful preparation. We determined that an anchoring technique called the “circle of excellence” would prepare the two of us to be resourceful and comfortable with the explosive nature of the participants.

We also knew that curiosity and strength would be helpful, and that using the NLP presupposition, “Behind Every Behavior Is a Positive Intention”, would be effective in diffusing heated emotions. So before each meeting, we set up a “circle of excellence” by imagining the space at the front of the conference room where we would lead the discussions as a platform that contained curiosity, strength and wisdom. We imagined stepping into that space and feeling those qualities flow into our bodies as we stood in front of the group.

That location in the room became an anchor for those qualities during each meeting. Whenever one of the “trouble makers” would try to use anger or sarcasm to intimidate another participant, we could feel our curiosity kick in. What was the positive intention behind it? How could we access and honor it? For example when the math teacher would get mad and yell at the administrator, one of us would say, “It’s clear you are passionate about this issue (reframing anger into passion) and we want to be sure to get to the underlying wisdom there. Can you help us understand what about that is important to you?” He would look at us with surprise, pause and, sure enough, get to his real concern quickly without any of his former vitriol.

Despite the intensity and controversy we got through the long process successfully. The task force was able to hammer out the first Pay-for-Performance Plan to be implemented in the state.

Triggering emotions

ConnectionHumans have a natural tendency to associate feelings and memories with music, colors, images, smells and touches. Years ago, NLP pioneers coined the term “anchors” to describe the strength and importance of these associations. What they also discovered is that we can manage these anchors in order to access desired feelings and states of being (such as confidence, relaxation, or curiosity).

Babs Kirmis, one of our trainers, just experienced the death of her father and wrote about it in terms of anchors:

Very recently I lost my dear father. He had been ready to go for quite some time, and yet I knew I would grieve. When I heard the news – at 3:15 in the morning, I was in a state of being half-awake and half-asleep. Thankfully my mind chose to find happy moments from our 50 years of mutual experiences…and this night turned into quite a journey!

My mind traveled back to my childhood when our dad got ready for work and I stood next to him watching curiously how he did up his necktie. I smiled! Then I “remembered” how his aftershave smelled as he joined us for breakfast. I never stopped loving that smell!

On Sunday mornings when the radio played a particular song he would pull back mom’s chair and ask for a dance – I remember how loving he was!

During the night after the phone call from my sister saying he had died, I was cold and then warm, I felt happy and then sad, I was shaky and very calm and I was aware my mind was using sensory memories to work through 50 years of our times together. These memories and many more anchors will always be with me, and they are delightful.

However, there are moments and anchors in probably everybody’s life which we do not enjoy. Here is the good news: we can learn to choose not to keep them. We can choose what anchors we would like to have instead…

HOW? Well, it’s an easy path, once you know how to do it.

Join us and find out during our NLP of the Rockies – Summer Practitioner Training starting on July 27, 2015.

I look forward to seeing you then, waiting to give you a warm hug, our anchor for mutual learning and appreciation.

As I read Babs’ notes I remembered watching a commercial for Farxiga (a diabetes drug). For background music, they chose to play “The Walk of Life”, a popular song from the 1980’s by Dire Straits—a song most people now dealing with that kind of health issue would recall with great fondness as a reminder of youthfulness and fun, as I do. Fortunately I don’t have health issues that Farxiga would address, but let me tell you, if I did, I’d remember that drug’s name and probably have it in mind.
A very clever use of an auditory anchor!

Transforming Anxiety with Eye Moves

by Jan Prince, NLP Practitioner & Trainer

One of the most powerful tools I have used in the last 30 years of my private practice has been what I call the “Eye Xercise” or Eye Movement Integration. It greatly reduces anxiety and PTSD symptoms for individual clients, lowers stress responses in meetings, and makes dealing with hectic days much more manageable.  It takes only a few minutes and the ability to move your eyes in an X pattern.

Stress and Anxiety Reduction

When an individual is experiencing stress symptoms or anxiety I find that what they are usually doing internally is running an auditory/visual tape loop of their worst fear, over and over, causing a strong negative kinesthetic response. Using the Eye Movement Integration pattern shakes up this dysfunctional loop and allows all of the mind’s resources to attend to the problem.

For example, Joe was referred to me by an associate in a nearby city. When we talked on the phone he was in bad shape. He had been with a hi-tech firm for many years which was going through a traumatic reorganization. He did not get along with his new boss and his job was being phased out. At 55 he felt unprepared to search for new employment, yet the existing “no win” situation was very stressful for him.

Since I couldn’t fit him into my schedule for over a week, I led him through the EMI process while we were on the phone. He noticed that his field of vision seemed to expand and that he felt more hopeful.
Then we began meeting to strategize his job search, looking at and transforming his limiting beliefs and behaviors. We continued to use EMI in the session whenever he became fearful and again at the end of the session to organize and integrate his learnings.

It became a process he used daily during his successful transition to a new position within the large company.

Breaking tense situations and integrating information in groups

When facilitating meetings or conducting trainings I find that EMI is an effective “break”. When emotions start to flare during negotiations or group discussions I use it to help the participants expand their perspectives and calm emotions.

Personal uses

Whenever I am going through a particularly stressful time in my life, or I am preparing to take on a new endeavor that might cause some anxiety, I use EMI twice daily. When I awaken in the morning and before I get out of bed, I’ll do several iterations of the X and box and then again throughout the day when I take a break or before I go to sleep. It stimulates my thought processes and calms my nerves.

I tell people it is the easiest, cheapest antidepressant and anti-anxiety drug around!

Join us at the NLP Practitioner Training this summer and you will learn how to use this powerful process to improve many conditions.

Managing Today’s Chaos

Bad News


Record snow and cold, Jihadi John beheadings, deadly hospital viruses, oh my!

Mall shootings, terrorist attack plots, measles and ebola, enough to make me cry!

Just turn on the news and you too can go crazy with anxiety after being bombarded with the bad news of at the day – especially on your 54” HD TV. So, how can you stay informed and keep sane these days?


Well, one way that works for me is to refocus my experience. Instead of thinking about me, an American woman, in the U.S., in the year 2015, I think about all the women who have ever lived, all over the world, for the last 10,000 years, and viola! — just like the Sound of Music song My Favorite Things, “then I don’t feel so bad” when I am stuck in gridlocked traffic.

I love reading historical biographies and often think of my grandmother, married at 18 to my 30 year old grandfather. Bearing 12 children at home (4 of whom died in infancy), feeding them, sewing clothes from grain seed sacks, fighting the dust storms and depression of the 1920s on a sugar beet farm in eastern Colorado… well, it puts my puny irritations in perspective.

How we internalize events, not the events themselves, determines how we respond to and feel about the external world. When we are calmer we can respond with more appropriateness. NeuroLinguistic Programming teaches many ways to manage our feelings by restructuring our internal representations of events. Here is a little exercise you can try:

  • Think of something that worries you right now, over which you have little control— for example the recent police shootings of unarmed young men.
  • Notice how you experience it: what are you saying to yourself about it; what are you imagining (visualizing) about it; what sensations do you notice in your body?
    My guess is that you are seeing and hearing it up close, in color as if it were happening now.
  • Next imagine stepping back, putting a frame around that experience, and then sliding it far away to one side. Allow it to become a very small, black and white, still photo, like the ones taken 100 years ago. Notice your experience of it now.
  • Now, think of something you know is happening right now in the world that is a sign of human compassion or innovation; for example when policemen recently spent a day pulling over unsuspecting drivers and handed them $100 bills.
  • Make sure those images are close, in color, vibrant, and the voices close so you can hear the delighted responses of the recipients. How does that feel?
    Imagine doing that automatically every day with the input you receive!

While we don’t want to eliminate awareness of the negative like a Pollyanna, we also don’t need to be the unhappy curmudgeon who is only in touch with the evil in humans either. Having awareness of and control over how we manage our experiences is what we can do with and what we teach in NLP.

I highly recommend the book Rapt by Winifred Gallagher which explores the concept of attention and how it influences our lives. Gallagher quotes poet W.H. Auden:

“Choice of attention is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. In both cases, a man is responsible for his choice and must accept the consequences.”

So take charge and focus in a way that allows you to take appropriate action and reduce anxieties. My friend Sally put it well: In all of time, in all of places on the earth, no one ever had it as good as me.

Side note: Journalist George Will’s interesting article also puts one aspect of our situation into perspective.

Is it Information, Knowledge, or Wisdom?

imagesInformation is everywhere – and everyone knows everything because we can google it. Think of it as piles of factoids – like bricks for building.

Knowledge is knowing how to put the bricks together into something cohesive- how to construct a building.

Wisdom is using the knowledge well- should a building be constructed at all, and what materials are best for the purpose.

Everyone has information. Some have knowledge. Very few have Wisdom. Wisdom involves knowing when to impart knowledge or opinions.

Before opening one’s mouth it is wise to remember the NeuroLinguistic Programming principle:

Know what you want to happen by saying what you are about to say. First ask:

  • Will what I am about to say be useful?
  • Has my opinion been invited?
  • Am I just showing off what I know?
  • Am I fulfilling my own need to fix things?

I’ve heard it expressed even more precisely:

  • Does it need to be said?
  • Does it need to be said now?
  • Does it need to be said by me?

A passage from Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth has good advice regarding this: “Being present is always infinitely more powerful than anything one could say or do, although being present can give rise to words or actions.”