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NLP: Reading eye movements to spot negative self-talk

Spot negative self-talk

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Can you spot negative self-talk using NLP?

I have been accused of many things, once there was a lady who left my NLP training before the first lunch break as she was highly disturbed that I could read her mind. Not only that, she said I reminded her of her “f*bleep*ing” father. Usually, I find It a compliment when people become aware of my ability to read people, this wasn’t one of them. Also, I absolutely can not read minds. And I am actually grateful for that.

Combining NLP techniques

NLP offers multiple tools that allow you to get a better idea of how someone uses their mind, not necessarily what they are thinking. One way of doing so is “NLP eye accessing’ meaning the ability to read eye movements. One thing I don’t like about NLP eye accessing is that there has been no reliable or accurate scientific research done to prove it either right or wrong. And it is the first thing that people google for when they want to prove NLP right or wrong. These are usually people who have never taken an NLP training and feel threatened by it. NLP wasn’t created or tested in a lab, it was created and has been tested by studying the successful, and then teaching their skillsets to others.

What this means for NLP eye accessing is when I teach NLP classes to people all over the world, I see consistently see a pattern displayed in their eye movements. And when I teach these tools to others, they see the same thing, Students observe this in each other and the world around them. I don’t know how many classes are taught each year by other trainers, I myself teach 7 times a year in Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Mexico, Bali, and Miami. But NLP trainers and students have no question that this works. Lab or no lab.

How can you spot self-talk?

NLP eye accessing

Before I can answer the question of how you can tell someone is talking negatively to themselves, I need to answer the question of how you can tell someone is talking to themselves.

The answer is simple, people need to move their eyes down to their left (your right if you are facing them.)

You may have noticed that when you are chatting to yourself inside your head that you are looking down. Not on the floor or your shoes, but randomly in space.

If you are still learning how to eye access, start paying attention to others. And notice when their eyes are facing downwards to their left. And ask them: “what are you saying to yourself right now?” This insight alone into others is golden already when you think about it.

How can you spot someone having an emotion?

Most negative self-talk you listen to comes paired with emotion. Also, someone experiencing emotion can be observed through eye movement.

Another person’s eyes go down again, and to their right (your left if you are facing them.)

If you are still learning eye movement, this is a good place to start. And when you observe it you can ask: “What are you feeling right now?” The feeling can both be an emotion, or a sensation (like temperature, or an awareness of a texture, imagining a certain movement.)

Reading eye movements to spot negative self-talk

This is not something you can learn through eye movements. It is however something I can you can learn through observation.

By looking for congruence (a yes, resourceful, all systems go), or incongruence (a no, unresourceful, stuck), and negative emotions.

You can observe:

– Skin color

– Tension

– Lower lip size

– Pupil dilation

– Breathing

– etc.

Simplistically, you can use the ability to tell someone is experiencing a negative emotion or not in the way you have been trained to do so from the day that you were born. You just know on an unconscious or intuitive level.

What else is required to spot negative self-talk?

1. Listening to what someone else is saying to you.

2. To be in uptime (paying attention to what is going on outside of you, rather than inside your head,)

3. Eye movement and telling what feelings someone else is experiencing can only be done when we are in what we call in NLP up-time.

Start by paying attention to eye-movements and pairing it with negative words you hear, this is an excellent place to start.

Resources: reading eye movements to spot negative self-talk


Emotions Revealed, Second Edition: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life – Paul Ekman, Ph.D


Changing negative memories using NLP


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