In NLP, we call people that determine whether or not they’ve done a good job, or they’re doing the right thing by using their own standards as a yard stick ‘internally referenced.  On the other hand, for those people that tend to go by the standards that other people set for them they’re ‘externally referenced’.

In either case, it’s important to recognise whether or not the person (you or somebody else) has the knowledge, or correct information to make a sound judgement.  Does this person have tunnel vision, really know what they’re talking about, or have the best positive intentions in mind for that other person (or for you, for that matter…)

There are other people that are a combination of the two – for example they are internally referenced, but they do an external check before making a decision, or allowing themselves to feel they’ve completed a task well.  Or they’re externally referenced, and do an internal check before reaching a conclusion.

The danger, for internally referenced people, is that they believe only their opinion counts – they feel they’re right all the time, and it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks.  On the other hand, for those people that are purely externally referenced, they find it impossible to reach a decision without input from others, and will often go against their own values in order to obtain approval.  Or, without constant positive feedback, they feel they haven’t done a good enough job.

The best thing of course is that we have the flexibility to use the appropriate reference and the ability to switch at will.  If I am going to someone who is extremely knowledgeable about a problem that I have, I may want to go by their standards and take their advice, but other times maybe I know for myself that I’ve done a great job and I should celebrate, no matter what somebody else’s opinion is.

So have a think about what sort of personality you have – internally or externally referenced?  How do you react when you need to make a decision?  Does it worry you what people think about how you behave, or act, or approach things?  Do you crave praise from other people for everything you do?  Dig deep.  And ask yourself if you could take some conflict out of your life (and others’ around you) by being more balanced?  Try and go for a happy medium.  As my Dad used to tell me: ‘As long as you’ve done your best, that’s the best you can do’ – regardless of who contributed to the decision!



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Please accept this blog in the spirit in which it is offered.  I am intending only to give you some light hearted food for thought here – not reams of indigestible facts that you can find elsewhere all over the internet.  If any of the suggestions ring a bell for you – great.  This is a simplified version to give you a taster, so if your problem is more serious, and you feel you need more in-depth professional help, please contact me.  I can help you identify any underlying issues that may be holding you back, and allow you to kick-start the process of moving you forward again.  And of course, if you feel the need to visit your GP please go straight away.  NLP, hypnotherapy and counselling are not a substitute for professional medical advice, but a complementary therapy.  Thank you for reading this, and I hope to meet you soon.