How To Use NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) To Be Happier

quote anxiety strong
Here’s a “Weird Truth.” When you’re going through a challenging time, many of the compassionate things people say to you to help you can accidentally wind up hurting your healing process.

For example:

“I’m so sorry!”

“You must be in so much pain!”

“How terrible for you that this awful thing happened!”

Boris Cyrulnik, a famed French ethologist, wrote about this “Weird Truth” in a report about his recovering trauma patients.

He noticed that if he expressed too much pity or horror to one of his trauma patients, he could accidentally escalate their pain.

His recommendation instead?

Tell people going through a tough time: “You are strong.”

Cyrulnik believes that by reminding someone how strong they are, you can actually help to make them become more strong!

I personally love Cyrulnik’s recommendation. I know when I’ve endured challenges in my life,  I appreciate being around people who reinforce my identity as a strong person.

In a way Cyrulnik is practicing what’s called Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).

When he tells his trauma patients that they are “strong,” he’s priming their subconscious minds with positive language that keeps them feeling positive and strong. 

NLP is a therapy built on the belief that using positive and self-loving language can influence your subconscious mind – which then leads you to choose more positive behaviors and more self-loving attitudes. 

One helpful NLP technique: dilute strongly negative words.

For example,  stop saying things like:

  • I’m furious!
  • I’m devastated!
  • I’m completely crushed.

Instead replace them with milder expressions such as:

  • I’m a bit miffed.
  • I’m disappointed.
  • I’m surprised.

NLP is a pretty amazing phenomenon. In 2000, researcher John Bargh set up the now-famous study that showed how the words we use strongly affects our behavior.


Bargh gave 2 different groups of people 2 different lists of words to unjumble, telling them they were being tested on simple problem solving.

  • The first list contained words suggesting impatience, rudeness and aggressiveness.
  • The second list had words suggesting patience, politeness and calm.

After the test was completed, the participants were asked to bring their lists to an administrator – who was deep in conversation with a colleague. Actually, this was when the true experiment kicked into gear!

  • All the participants given the list of words suggesting rudeness and aggressiveness became those exact words—angrily interrupting the administrator.
  • However, of the participants primed with language suggesting patience and calm 82 percent never interrupted the administrator at all.

The lesson to be learned? The words we use, hear and think are powerful!


Make it a conscious choice to pepper your thoughts, conversations, and journal writing with strong, uplifting words – which will keep you aimed in a positive direction!

During tough times,  enter what I humorously call the “Identity Protection Program!” Own one of the following identities as yours:

  • I’m the type of person who makes the world say yes to me.
  • I’m an indomitable spirit, a phoenix rising from the ashes. Nothing keeps me down!
  • When life gives me rough waves, I surf ’em!

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Want to get stronger at love and intimacy? Sign up for my digital course THE BROKEN HEART RECOVERY PLAN –  and get the relationship tools which helped me. Watch the video course at your own pace – and keep it for life! 

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My research-backed happiness tools have been featured on CNN, Oprah, Psychology Today, The Today Show, etc – and will empower you to live a live of love!


Karen Salmansohn (Founder)

Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.

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