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How To Build Self Esteem and Learn to Laugh at Criticism in 21 Days

NLP and the secret of high achievers

Click the Image to Watch on YouTube

In this course I am going to give you some simple processes that you can use to build self esteem and make yourself more resilient to criticism whether that be from self or other. To get the most from the processes that are written into the text I suggest that you take your time reading the article to give your unconscious mind the time to process the information.

Map of the World
So we start with your map of the world. Each of us has a map of the world that we use to navigate through the reality of life. If you are not getting your desired outcomes then rather than blaming the world I would suggest that you update your mental map by changing the way that you think which includes finding an environment, activities and people that support and validate you. NLP gives you a set of tools and techniques for doing just that. What are these tools and techniques? In simple terms they are thought processes.

Access and mobilise resources
So what are the thoughts, that if you brought them to mind, could help you to access and mobilise your inner resources? And if you take a moment to think about that deeply then you might notice that you develop a state of wonder and curiosity. We call these meta states and frames of mind. And as you continue to hold the wonder and curiosity you may find that it creates a sense of openness to new information. Following this you may find that questions begin to arise. So what you get is a series of thoughts and by making decisions on what the series of thoughts should be – using questions, statements and commands – then it puts you in the drivers seat of your life but more on this later.

Look for a role model
As you would know – NLP is a modelling methodology – so now with a sense of curiosity I suggest that you start looking for a role model – someone who is able to demonstrate the traits that you admire? You may know of this person from a scripture, a book, a film, TV or youtube – with a bit of luck you may know the role model in person. Think of someone who is able to maintain a strong sense of self and stand up to harsh criticism? You could also find a friend to work with and run them through the questions below just to see what information you get.

Model the role model
So now holding a sense of wonder and curiosity begin to formulate some questions that you could address to the role model and to yourself. Start with the following questions and allow your intuition to guide you in asking a range of investigative questions. It can help to think of a range of contexts. You could also play with stepping into the shoes of the role model and imagine how they would answer the questions.

1.1 How do you look at the world?
1.2 When you look at the world what do you see?

2.1 How do you look at people?
2.2 When you look at people who and what do you see?
2.3 What do you think of people?

3.1 How do you see yourself?
3.2 When you look at yourself who and what do you see?
3.3 What do you think of yourself?
3.4 What would it mean if someone should criticize or disagree with you?
3.5 What would it mean if your ideas were shown to be wrong?

4.1 When you get up in the morning how do you approach the day?
4.2 What is your attitude to the future?
4.3 What is your attitude to life?

As you listen to the answers – whether they be from the role model or from yourself – keep in mind is the speaker holding a frame of negativity and looking for what is wrong? Or is the speaker holding a frame of positivity and looking for what is right and what could be improved? Is the focus on the negative or is the focus on the positive? Is the focus on what was wrong in the past or is the focus on the potential for improvement in the future?

So now we get to the fun bit. This is where you actually get to build self esteem. We start with the present state, then build a desired outcome, then get into the how and the steps and stages.

Rate yourself
1. On a scale of 0-10 how would you rate your self esteem? Keep in mind the context. For example with family and friends, in social situations, at the beach or the gym, with colleagues and professional people.

2. On a scale of 0-10 how well do you respond to criticism? Keep in mind the context. For example, on social media, from family and friends, from work colleagues, etc.

Your current behaviour
When you get criticised or when someone disagrees with you what is your current response?
1. How do you feel?
2. What do you do?
3. What do you think?
4. What does it mean to you if you are wrong?
5. What does it mean if someone has a stronger argument that you?
6. What does it mean to you when you are able to help someone solve a problem and become a better version of themselves?

Rather than react, get emotional and argue your position how would you like to respond to criticism? Would you like the ability to listen to criticism and just laugh? Would you like the ability to see or read something which contradicts your beliefs and understandings and with a sense of playfulness begin an investigative process to update your understanding – even if that should contradict what you used to believe?

1. First off I would like you to consider that words on paper are just words on paper. The words that people utter are just thoughts and ideas that they are verbalising.

2. The second point that I would like you to consider is that you are the one who gives the words and the ideas meaning. Humans are meaning makers. We take in information via our senses – visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory and gustatory – we create a cinema in our minds and then we give that cinematic thought meaning. Once you step into the role of being the director of your mind – the dispassionate objective observer – then you get to consider how you could feel about the thoughts and ideas. So there is no need to be scared or offended by what others say or by the thoughts that arise in your mind. In fact you should make it a practice to invite people to share their thoughts so that you get an understanding of how they think. By being proactive and directing a conversation it also lessens the chance of you being reactive. So remember – ideas are just ideas – no matter who formulated and uttered them.

Let’s start with acknowledgement
Acknowledgement is a recognition of the existence of something or someone. It is the first step to building rapport with self and other – and by building in additional steps into the rapport process (strategy) it gives you time to reconsider and think things through before making a decision to judge or not.

Let’s use an example from a work context in which a supervisor is required to give feedback to an employee. In the first scenario the supervisor focuses on the negative and says something to the effect, “What did you do wrong?”

In the second scenario the supervisor acknowledges the employee and the efforts that they have made and then either asks or points out what needs to be improved, for example. “Good to see you John. I like what you did this morning – that was really good. In terms of this afternoon’s activity I can see that you are making progress in what many would consider a challenging situation. I’d be really interested to hear what you learned from this activity/situation, the understanding’s that have arisen and how you think you could better deal with that type of activity/situation in the future?”

So let’s say you get criticised – so rather than having a knee jerk reaction – perhaps if you take a moment to step back and acknowledge the criticism? This does not mean that you accept the criticism – what it means is that you build in an extra step in between yourself and the criticism. So if you take a moment to acknowledge the criticism – evaluate the criticism – think about it for a bit – is it a valid criticism? Perhaps it is a valid criticism in which case you might want to take a moment to thank the other person, and say something to the effect, “Wow, you know you could be right. Give me a moment to think about that”. In doing this you actually empower yourself.

Keep in mind the following:
- Are you acknowledging your self?
- Are you acknowledging others?
- Do others acknowledge you where you need the acknowledgment most?
- What steps could you take to encourage people to acknowledge each other?
- If someone should not acknowledge you then what are some options you would like to have? Could you say something to the effect, “Hey you just failed to acknowledge what I said and did. You are jumping ahead and forming all sorts of assumptions and mind reads. Slow down. Let’s start at the beginning?” So you force a structure on the conversation which empowers you and hopefully brings out the best in all involved.

Frames of mind
What frames of mind would allow you to step back and laugh at criticism? Consider some of the following: curiosity, fascination, wonder, awe, openness, friendliness, appreciation, thankfulness, acceptance, gratitude, love, compassion, kindness and playfulness – curiosity and playfulness probably being the two most powerful resources that you could harness.

So think about this for a moment – what would be the most useful frames of mind for you to hold – and how and when would you need to set the frame of mind? Would it make more sense to get yourself into a winners mindset before stepping onto the playing field or when you are in the midst of a fray? Should you get into state before you check your social media account or after you read some criticism?  So learn to be more procedural and think in terms of strategies.

Let’s use a surfing analogy. Have you ever been to the beach for a surf? What were your frames of mind? Anticipation, an expectancy of having a good time. Time to relax and enjoy the ocean, the sand, the birds, the clouds, the sky, the sun? A time to forget the world – a time to forget the negativity – and a time to just be in sensory experience in the present moment.

So you made a decision to go to the beach – and what I want you to think about is how did you do the process of forgetting the world and focusing in with positive frames of mind? If you were to use that same process before switching on the computer and checking your social media account would that change things? Would that process allow you to see things differently? Would that process allow you to respond in a much more positive way – much like when you go to the beach and a wave nocks you over but you ‘go with it’? It holds you under the water and pushes you into the sand but then you relax and the wave lets go and you come back to the surface – take a deep breath and experience the world with awe and gratitude.

So let’s say that you get criticised – it hits you hard but you ‘go with it’ – it holds you down for a bit but you know that you will survive – and in actual fact it is part of the game of life. So now we bring in the game metaphor as a meta state. Playing on social media is a game. Having conversations about sociopolitical issues could be a game. Debating is a game. Business could be a game. Relationships are a game. Politics is a game but as with all games it is really important to skill yourself up and do your best not to step outside of your league – and if you should step outside of your league then you need to have an exit strategy so that you can get away for a bit and sit on the sidelines  –  and reflect upon what happened and in doing so preserve the positive learnings, set new frames of mind and skill yourself up before getting back onto the playing field.

Thinking about what I just said in the above paragraph, I would like you to consider that resilience is the process of building, implementing and mastering strategies.

Slow down and withhold judgement
So let’s say you get caught off guard – what is going to be your default frame of mind? Perhaps it should be context – as in you always need to gather more information before forming a judgment. So if you were slow to form an opinion could that delay your emotional reaction to criticism? Slowing down? Hmm? What happens in meditation practice? You slow down and learn to be a dispassionate observer – just a witness to the thoughts – without actually being involved in the thoughts. So if you could be more meditative in your everyday life would that be useful? So perhaps you could treat a visit to your social media page as an opportunity to practise your meditation skills?

If you get caught off guard then what could be a functional backstop response? Something like, “What the expletive? Heh, wo, what is going on here?” In terms of the other person you could ask with a sense of curiosity, “How do you do that? What are you doing in your mind?” Anything to put the conversation on pause and give you time to collect your thoughts.

If you were put on the spot and someone asks you a question – and they demand an immediate response would you feel pressurised? However, if you had plenty of time to gather information, to think about it and delay making a judgement would that help you to relax? So what-if your default response was that you need more information from multiple sources and you need time to think about it – would that help to put you in the power seat?

Is your attention on self or other?
And if someone should criticise something that you say or do, how do you know that the criticism is about you? Why make everything about you? Sounds a bit like narcissism? This brings us to the self and other meta program. So is your attention on self or is your attention on other? Perhaps the criticism says more about the one giving the criticism than it does about you? Perhaps they are projecting? So perhaps it could be useful to hold a frame of compassion? Who knows? The person who is criticising you could be totally off the planet and real messed up so the least you could do is to hold a sense of compassion for them and respond to them a little playfully? If you were to playfully respond to criticism what would that look like, sound like and feel like? Could you find yourself laughing? How empowering would that be?

Play with the opposing viewpoint (get in the power seat)
Rather than getting on the defense and looking for ways to challenge and refute the opposition – an option you may like to explore is to step into the shoes of the opposition and look at the world through their eyes. Why? Because it puts you in the power seat. As Richard Bandler said, “According to the law of requisite variety the part with the most flexibility controls the system”. Which brings us to perceptual positions.

First position is where you are looking at the world out of your own eyes, listening with your own ears and grounded in your body. Second position is empathy – the process of standing in the shoes of another person or thing – looking out of their eyes at the world, listening with their ears and feeling their feelings. Third position is where you are neither looking at the world from your own perspective or from the perspective of another person – it is where you are ‘in space’ so to speak looking across at both yourself and the other/s.

So having the flexibility to shift perceptual positions means that you can analyse a topic from multiple viewpoints – and also have an intuitive understanding of how others may think and feel. This is going to make it difficult for people to pin you down.

Experiment with saying what you think the opposition wants to hear and see how they react. In some cases they could have a polarity response and disagree with you and hence disagree with their original premise.

Don’t take things personally
One of the most important distinctions to keep in mind is that you as a person are not the behaviours or the ideas – you are separate from the behaviours and the ideas – you are the witnessing consciousness. So when you criticise someone you should be criticising the behaviours and the ideas not the person. When you receive criticism you need to understand that the criticism is about your behaviour and your ideas – the criticism is not about you personally – even though the person attacking you might like it to be about you – it is not about you – so if you can keep that in mind then you are safe.

For example, sometimes I get highly critical and offensive comments on my youtube channel. One day I was browsing a channel with very similar content to my own and I saw exactly the same time of positive and negative comments. It was a reminder that the comments made by others says more about them than it does about me. It also reminded me of how identification works. So if you love your car and someone says it is a piece of junk would you take it personally as-if someone has judged you personally – like saying that you are a piece of junk? But if the same person should criticise a stranger’s car would it bother you less?

This says something about who and what you identify with. Are you your car or are you the owner and driver of the car? Are you your religion or are you the one who practises that religion? Are you your body or are you the driver of your body? Are you your mind, the body and the emotions – or are you the dispassionate observer?

This also says something about association and disassociation – that is, the ability to step into the cinema of your mind and identify with the content or step back and view the cinema of your mind as a dispassionate observer – in much the way a film director would direct a movie production.

And fundamental to all of the above is meaning. What would it mean if someone should criticise you? What would it mean if someone should criticise your car? And what would it mean if someone should praise you or praise your car? And what would it mean if no-one ever said anything negative or positive about you and your car? What if you never got any negative or positive feedback – how could you possibly navigate life? Think about that for a moment – does that put a more positive slant on what you have been calling criticism?

Timeline and laughter
How you sort for time also plays a part in dealing with criticism. Is your attention on what happened in the past? Are you focused in the present? Are you looking towards the future? Or are you at a future date looking back towards now? For example, take yourself in your imagination out into the future about a week from now – and looking back towards the present see what positive results you got by setting daily goals and taking methodical action on those goals. You might say to yourself, “It is going to be hard work but at the end of the day, looking back it is going to feel so good – and if I keep up the momentum in a month or two I will be laughing with success”.

With the passage of time you will gain some distance from your memories which will allow you to reflect upon what happened. Giving you the opportunity to preserve the positive learnings and come to new understandings which you can then take into the future to improve your life. I am sure you have heard someone say, “One day you will look back on this and laugh”. Richard Bandler said on one occasion, “Why wait? Why not laugh today?”

Laughter is a powerful resource and has positive effects on the brain and immune system so make it a part of your daily routine to find something that makes you laugh. Watch comedy videos on youtube. Get emails with funny memes and jokes sent to your inbox every morning – and notice how it changes your state of mind. What you want of course is the feeling of laughter to be there in the moment when you need it – not so much afterwards so how can you wire in the laughter?

One way is to meta state the laughter. We cover this in detail at the bottom of the article but in brief what you do is to watch a comedy show and take note of your emotional state, your frame of mind and your thoughts. Then while holding that mindset you start to look at events in the world – and look for the humour in those events. It is not that I suggest that you laugh at serious events – unless of course you would like to do that – it is that I want you to gain the flexibility to laugh at a serious event if that should serve you. So that puts you at choice rather than having a default reactive state.

Another way to wire in laughter is by using the NLP anchoring technique, which is a bit too detailed to include in this article, but what you do is set up a kinesthetic anchor for times when you had a good belly laugh. Then while holding that resourceful anchor you have the client think of negative memories – of times where they were just too serious and a bit of playfulness and humour could have helped. What happens is that the client is now able to view the negative memory with a positive frame of mind and emotion. If you would like to experience this then feel free to book a session and I will take you through it.

Process versus Content
One way to stop yourself from hooking into the content of a conversation is to remember to make a distinction between process and content. When you are having a conversation – whether that be in person or on social media – there is the content - the actual words that are being used – and then there is the process – the conversation – how the words are being delivered.

One way that you can remind yourself to separate content from process is to do what the team leader does at a meeting – where they invite the participants to put their thoughts out on the table, so to speak – and then to step back and take a look at what has been presented. So only ideas are evaluated and judged – not the person. Which takes us to the need for approval.

If people give you approval do you feel good? If people disapprove of your actions do you feel bad? This takes us to the NLP Meta Programs – the perceptual filters which determine how you think and act. In terms of approval what is your frame of reference – is it internal or external? You learn that by answering the following questions:

How do you know that you did a good job?
1. Do you just know?
2. Do you need approval from another person? And if you need approval from another person what is the status of that person? Is approval from one significant other enough or do you need approval from a number of people? And how many times do you need to get the approval?

So rather than looking for approval from others I would suggest that you look for approval from God or your higher self. By meeting the standards required by God or your higher self you have a way to assess and improve upon your performance that is independent of other people. So this is where we get the statement, “I don’t have to answer to you. The only one I answer to is God”.

So how do you wire that in? Let’s say you write a post on social media – you take care writing the post and you do the best that you can. Someone writes a critical comment – but on reflection you realise the comment has nothing to do with you – it is just their opinion – which means it is all about the person who wrote the comment. You take the appropriate learnings – you ask God (or your higher self) if he approves of what you did – you ask God for guidance on stepping up to the next best version of yourself – and you move on.

Meta Stating Exercises

In this series of exercises I am going to show you how to get yourself into a resourceful frame of mind. The exercises are graded. It is easy to apply a frame of mind to an object. A little more challenging to apply a frame of mind to another person and it may be quite challenging to apply a frame of mind to yourself. So we do it in stages.

Start by making a list of frames of mind that could be useful to you. For example, curiosity, fascination, wonder, awe, openness, friendliness, appreciation, acceptance, gratitude, love, compassion, kindness, playfulness, value, worth, status.

Exercise 1 – Access and apply a frame of curiosity.
1. Access a state of curiosity. What do you get curious about? Or what gets you into a state of curiosity? For me when I am out for a walk if I see a bolt in the gutter at the side of the road then I feel compelled to pick it up. I get really curious as to where it came from and how it was made. So think of what triggers a state of curiosity within you?

2. Hold that mindset of curiosity and now look at some object that is nearby. Get real curious about that object. This puts you in sensory awareness. If possible pick up the object or get close enough so that you can examine it. As you examine the object what do you learn? In this process were you using your eyes? Were you using your hands? Did you have a mindset of knowing or did you have the mindset of a naïve inquirer? Was your mind busy or was your mind quiet? Were you talking to yourself or were you just listening and open to new information? To summarise, make a note of what you learned from this exercise?

3. Holding a frame of curiosity look towards some people and begin to get real curious about those people. As you get curious about those people are you judging them or are you suspending judgement? In suspending judgement and putting a pre-judgement to one side what are you doing? Are you gathering information and re-evaluating the situation? So when you get curious about people what thoughts come to mind – are you making statements (judgements) or are you asking questions? Make a note of what you learned from holding a frame of curiosity when you look at people?

4. Holding a frame of curiosity think about some recent topical event that you saw on the news and watch where your thoughts and behaviours go when you get real curious about that event. Does the curiosity get you into a process of gathering more information? Does the process of gathering information get you to re-evaluate any judgements you may have previously held? Make a note of your learnings.

5. Holding a frame of curiosity think about some historical event and watch where your thoughts lead you when you get real curious about that historical event. Do you find yourself wanting to do some research and gather more information? Do you begin to question what you once believed to be true?

Exercise 2 – Access and apply a naturally occurring frame of mind.
In the first exercise we started with a specific frame of mind (curiosity) and applied that to objects, people and events. In this exercise we start with an object – and see what state of mind it engenders and then apply that frame of mind to a range of objects, people and events.

1. Choose an object from the following list: a bolt, a sunset, a flower, someone that you admire, an athlete, a sports person, a bird, an animal, a whale, an institution – or choose anything that you like. For this exercise let’s choose a magnificent sunset?

2. As you think about that sunset what frame of mind does it engender in you? Let’s say there is a sense of awe, wonder and beauty?

3. Holding a frame of awe, wonder and beauty apply it to a significant person in your life and notice how it changes how you think about that person. So what changed? All you did was change the frame and your perception of the person changed. What does that tell you?

4. Now holding a frame of awe, wonder and beauty apply it to something that you did or said. It could be something as simple as a meal that you prepared, tidying your room or kind words that you said to someone. On completing this process what have you learned? What understandings have arisen? How do you now feel about yourself?

5. Was that exercise easy for you to do? What would you need to change or practice in order to get better at meta stating yourself?

6. Once you understand the process of meta stating then make note of when you have entered a profound state – such as being in awe of a sunset or the moon, or admiring a magnificent person and then bring that frame of mind back to yourself.

Exercise 3 – Apply a frame of mind to another person
1. Access a state of curiosity. Get real curious.

2. Make a short list of people that:
- you like.
- people that you admire.
- people that you hate.
- people about whom you are ambivalent.

These could be people that you know personally, have seen on television or have read about in a book from the present or the distant past.

- Get curious about the people that you like.
- Get curious about the people that you admire.
- Get curious about the people that you hate.
- Get curious about the people about whom you are ambivalent.

3. Work through your list one person at a time. As you get curious about someone notice what thoughts come to mind. Become aware of the pictures that arise in your mind; your auditory thoughts and your feelings. Most importantly keep in mind questions, statements and commands. What are the questions that arise? What are the questions that you have yet to ask? If you were to analyse and understand something totally what are the types of questions that you would need to ask? What questions would you need to ask to challenge your assumptions?

4. Become aware of how the questions that you have not yet asked actually limits you. The greatest challenge is to learn how to generate useful questions. My suggestion is that you write down a list of questions and then you hold one question in mind and see how it directs your thoughts and your behaviours. In addition I suggest that you ask similar questions of a friend and see how they respond? As you run this process I think you will discover that you actually challenge some of your own assumptions about what you believed to be true. What does this tell you?

Exercise 4 – Apply a frame of mind by using the third person singular
In this exercise you learn how to meta state yourself – one way to do this is by thinking about yourself in the third person singular. For example, how does this guy/girl (you) do what he/she does? For example, how does he generate that passion to explore the truth? How does he motivate himself to get up early and go for a surf? How does he do the process of seeing humour in things? How does he make himself laugh? If you think about yourself in third person then you naturally step back out of the cinema of your mind and you become a dispassionate observer.

Another way to do this is to use the pronoun ‘you’. So you might say to yourself. “You had a great conversation with John last night. How did you generate that passion? (The past tense verb helps you to step back.) What is it that motivates you to talk like that? You have been like this your entire life. Is it genetic, did you learn it as a child, did it come from a past life?” So by using the third person in reference to yourself you begin to meta state yourself with a frame of curiosity.

4.1 Example: refer to yourself in the third person.
- Start with a statement, for example: This morning I was waiting outside a medical clinic. When I arrived there was just one other man there. We struck up a conversation and then a couple of women turned up. I facilitated a conversation between us all.

- So now I restate the event in the third person as follows: Whenever there is an opportunity he (that’s me) is always looking to connect with people. He enjoys building deeper connections. He naturally finds himself directing the conversation and inviting people to think in a constructive manner. He works hard to build rapport with people and create a sense of trust and harmony.

- So as you reflect upon your behaviour using the third person past tense notice what states come to mind? In my example above there is a sense of curiosity – a little awe – and a sense of a power that needs to be harnessed and better utilised.

- Once you have the frames of mind (e.g. curiosity, awe and power) then bring those frames of mind to some problem that you are dealing with and an outcome that you would like to achieve.

4.2 Summary of the procedure
1. Reflect back upon an event in your life – referring to yourself in the third person singular (he/she).
2. Acknowledge the frames of mind that arise when you reflect back upon that event.
3. Holding those frames of mind think of some problem that you are dealing with. How could he/she better deal with that?
4. Holding the new frames of mind think of some outcomes you would like to achieve. How could he/she better take action to achieve those desired outcomes?

Exercise 5 – Give yourself unconditional value
In this exercise you specifically learn how to build self esteem and value yourself. This could also be done by mapping submodality distinctions but in this exercise the task is to do it by meta stating with frames of mind.

1. Identify a role model: Who do you look up to? Who do you admire? Who do you give status to?
2. Access and hold a frame of mind: Thinking of the role model what thoughts come to mind? Admiration – prestige – status? (You may have a picture, auditory thoughts and internal dialogue, feelings.)
3.1 Apply to self: Imagine that you could see (visual) yourself in the same way that you picture your role model. (In your mind take a picture of yourself and move it behind and into the same position as the role model.)
3.2 Imagine that you could think (auditory) about yourself the same way that you think about your role model.
3.3 Imagine that you could feel (kinesthetic) about yourself the same way that you feel about the role model.
4. Think of another role model and repeat the process.

Time to rate yourself and ratify the changes to the conscious mind
Having worked through this course it is time to reaccess yourself and see what changes you have made.

1. On a scale of 0-10 how would you rate your self esteem?  How does that compare to the previous value?

2. On a scale of 0-10 how well do you respond to criticism?  How does that compare to the previous value?

What have you learned from working through this course?

To-Do List
What are some action steps you can take in the next few days to help you build your self esteem and become more resilient to criticism?







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NLP Future Selfing


stop smoking marijuana script
The secret of high achievers
nlp and high achievers
How to build a powerful team
how to build a powerful team
Learn the NLP Meta Model
learn the NLP meta model
How I stopped drinking alcohol.
stop drinking alcohol nlp hypnotherapy
How to coach yourself using NLP.
how to coach yourself with NLP
Stop making excuses. No
"buts" about it.
How 'but' works. NLP video.
Learn NLP rapport skills
NLP rapport skills
The power of acknowledgement
power of acknowledgement