I’ve just got back from a great few days in Las Vegas.
It’s a really incredible place, in case you haven’t been there. In fact it’s really difficult to describe it if you haven’t been there – it’s like aliens landed and designed this really way out place that is like some sort of fantasy put into reality.
And Vegas – it’s not just about gambling, it’s also an amazing place for shows, food and incredible hotels – for great value.
Whilst I was there I was really fascinated by why people would sit for hours and hours on slot machines. I mean at least with some of the gaming tables it’s not just about luck, but the slot machines seem to be pure luck. Although, saying that, when I trained as a Firewalk instructor with Tolly Burkan, one part of the training involved going to a casino and using the slot machines as a biofeedback device to channel out negative emotions. He had a philosophy that human emotions can influence electronic devices – apparently some research has indicated this as a possibility. So anyway, you have to pick a machine you ‘feel’ is ready to pay out and then give it a go. If you don’t win, you have to go inside and become aware of any negative emotions you are holding onto and release them before having another go.
I don’t know if there’s any reality in this, but it is a great way to become aware of any negative emotions you’re holding onto and releasing them. And the strange thing was that in a group of about 20 people nobody lost any money and a couple of people made several hundred dollars!
But why is gambling so addictive?
Well a lot of it comes down to classical conditioning – going all the way back to Pavlov and training the dogs to salivate at the ring of a bell. You probably know the story, how the dogs are presented with food and as they start to salivate a bell is rung. After a while, all you have to do is ring the bell and the dogs will salivate.
Well with classical conditioning studies it’s also a phenomenom that after the initial conditioning is set and positively reinforced, that if the ‘reward’ is removed and only presented at random, the response will continue until the reward is received.
In fact the behaviour may become more frenetic to get the reward.
And that’s the same with gambling – you get some reward and then the behaviour becomes more compelling in the anticipation of getting a reward.
Of course, there’s also the nature-nurture argument – there may be some genetic pre-conditions to compulsive behaviour, but it’s also certainly environmentally driven also.
And then there’s the question of how to change compulsive behaviour – and that’s where NLP gets really interesting – it’s all about understanding and changing our patterns of behaviour, beliefs and motivation.
At Master Practitioner level we explore the really deep unconscious drives to our behaviour – the next NLP Master Practitioner training starts in November. When you learn NLP, you learn many different ways to influence and shape behaviour.