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anticipating the future

According to evolutionary biology, two characteristics set humans apart in the animal kingdom: first, the ability to make tools, and second, the ability to think proactively, to forecast future events, to anticipate. This enables humans to shape their own future and to orient their lives towards (desired) future demands.

The history of ‘tool development’ in psychology is also a history of time. While psychoanalytic tools were directed at the sublation of traumatic childhood experiences, Gestalt therapy methods (as well as other humanistic schools) by Freud’s student Fritz Perls focus strongly on the experience and perception of physical and mental states in the present. Gestalt psychotherapy is strongly inspired by Buddhist teachings and Buddhist psychology, the Abbidharma.

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) was the first method to translate conceptually the future dimension of personal and systemic development into tools and intervention strategies. This method drew on theoretical concepts from systems theory and cybernetics, as well as methodological approaches such as Gestalt psychotherapy and hypnotherapy.
NLP thereby brought the human ability to anticipate the future into the world of mental change processes. This is why it also views itself as a meta-learning model, and rightfully so. Due to its promises of rapid healing, which have sometimes come under fierce criticism, the development of applied psychology in such fields as learning, health, coaching, staff development and leadership would not be where they are today without NLP.

Thanks to current findings in neuroscience, we know that all developments are only possible if all three times are properly considered when working on change processes.