emptyNLP and CFS: Getting UP from Down

People keep talking about CFS / ME like it is something you just suddenly use Mind Over Matter to become well again. I know people who think they had it, but really, they were chronically fatigued.   As in tired.  And they don’t have relapses now. I know many people who did a lot of personal work to deal with past traumas – and as they released the internal pain, they regained their lives as long as they managed their energy. What really happened? 

NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) can help manage emotional blocks, depression, or fear based behaviors. NLP works wonders to reprogram your thinking, to focus more on positives, and to release deeply held emotional memories – even when the memory is stagnant or stuffed deep into the past. NLP is a solid practice that helps people make lasting changes in their lives. But NLP alone can not resolve a viral illness.  Nor can its counterpart, CBT.  

Think about how your car just won’t go if the tank is on Empty. Now think about how crazy it is when that gas gauge is unreliable and you really never know how far you can go. 

CFS and Depression

CFS is not a psychiatric illness, nor a form of depression. However, up to half of people with CFS become depressed during the course of their illness. This is in part due to living with a chronic illness that often takes years to diagnose. In the meantime, the person questions themselves while doing whatever they can to pretend they are able to function – until they just can not.  Depression may come on as a result of the difficulty in adjusting to life with a debilitating, chronic condition. Depression generally responds well to treatment, and getting it under control can make CFS easier to cope with. But it won’t make it go away. 

Just a Mental Illness? Right! 

Why is it that so many doctors want to believe that CFS / ME is a mental illness when these two well-respected treatments do nothing to solve the root problem? They only make it worse, destroy friendships and families, and cause more depression than anything.
While CFS is all about Fatigue, ME is more complex.  Both are complex situations. ME is a far more severe form of this disease, and far less recoverable. Due to the fluctuating symptoms, it is difficult for the patient to communicate to the doctor or for the doctor to really understand the overall picture. It is complex and it can’t be cured with mind management tools. 

Can it cure a chronic disability? Is it just smoke and mirrors?  

Self-Proclaimed Experts Everywhere

Someone on an ME / CFS forum posted her thoughts about NLP and why they think the Lightening Process is dangerous. They went on to talk about NLP and how there might be a use for it with ME. I studied NLP extensively as it works for some things but not others. Admittedly, I am a Master Practitioner and earned my certification some 15 years ago.  But I first learned of NLP in 1983 when selling Real Estate.  NLP can be hugely valuable as a healing tool, but it can also be extremely manipulative. In the case of a severe illness such as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, it can be dangerous to the point of life-threatening or positively life-enhancing

It depends on how it is used.  “ME patients do not have chronic fatigue debilitating them as their core complaint.
They have central nervous system dysfunction, cardiac issues, sudden presyncope issues, inflammation, and infections.”


Folks, there is no ‘man up’ and ‘deal with it’.  There is no ‘buck up and take it like a man’ or other tough talk.  The best solution was to accept it, allow it, and apply whatever spiritual strength you can to get through it with the faith that the next hour or next day might be better.  

Online Discussions Provoke Thoughtful Writing

I wanted to share my online response here. I can not promote nor denigrate the Lightening Process except to say it sounds like NLP and NLP will not provide a cure.

“Let me try to reframe it. NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) is an internal communications system that helps the patient reframe their thinking and rechannel their minds. It might considered to be a hypnotic form of Cognitive Behavior Therapy where the patient learns to rechannel their thoughts from negatives to positives.

That said, NLP is no better at treating ME than CBT is. And CBT is useless when it comes to dealing with the many fluctuating symptoms. The only good either CBT or NLP is for is to help with accepting that you are sick, accepting that exertion can make you sicker, and learning how to pace yourself.

From what I’ve seen, the real challenge is a nearly impossible one. The post exertion malaise does not show up for a day or two after the effort is put out. At least, in my husband that is the case. He can string 2 days maybe 3 together where he seems to have more energy than normal… and then his words get slurred, his symptom worsen, and suddenly over the next 2 days, I notice the onset of another round. The trouble is, he never knows what the real trigger is. Was it talking on the phone, visiting with a friend, or grocery shopping? Was it the mere act of trying to write a letter? Was it dealing with doctors or trying to explain to an attorney or a family member just why he feels so sick most of the time?

WE NEVER KNOW — and we only know that the exertion troubles are somehow an accumulated source of misery.

That is why CBT and NLP do not work. They work on the mind. If ME is an “inflammation of the brain and spinal chord” then the mind does not function normally when it is inflamed — much like a sprained wrist is impaired by swelling and inflammation.

So getting to your question — what can be done to curb the misuse of NLP? Probably nothing as it is most often used for sales and manipulation. But what can be done to use it well in the case of ME patients?

There is one way: Reframe and re-pattern folks to accept that some days they can and when they can, they can listen to the signals to learn somehow when to stop. Maybe just Re-Frame so they remember they are the same person and they are still valuable, loved, and worthy of love and respect no matter what. Working on the self-esteem restoration and helping them seek a way to find things they can enjoy when they do feel well enough is a key part of survival. yes? So why not do that.”

What this allows the ME / CFS patient to do is get up when you can. What this helps the ME patient do is accept the illness and work with it. Get Up when you can! 

©2015 Nancy Lamb, Healthy Life Coach at