Nina Khoo, What is NLP, NLP,

NLP for Female Founders with Nina Khoo

Bridie Houlihan

Bridie Houlihan | Founder & CEO of Female Health Founders


Nina Khoo is a Master NLP Coach, Highly Sensitive Creative Visionary, Guide & Champion of all Sensitive Women, Nina supports & nurtures those called to lead our World to a healthier, more compassionate place for our children to thrive in. Through understanding and embracing their unique wiring, Nina’s clients let go of everything that keeps them small & invisible so they can lead with confidence, integrity & sensitivity. Managing overwhelm, perfectionism and self-doubt they feel safe to be seen, show up consistently in their chosen fields, comfortably step into higher positions and get paid well.

In the following guest article Nina Khoo shares with Female Health Founders, what is NLP, how founders can use NLP in their leadership journey and use NLP to tune into their self worth.


How did your journey working as an NLP Master Coach for female professionals begin?

My journey to supporting female professionals stems from my time in the corporate world. After studying Psychology, then Law, and not wanting to practice either, I found myself working in a predominantly male, technology department of a global investment bank. I fell into my roles there purely by chance – I say ‘roles’ because I started out in admin and support for the department and ended up in research and development, with a few detours along the way!

I found the culture in the company pretty challenging. It wasn’t so much the long hours or the unrealistic deadlines that got to me, so much as the politics and injustices. How the people that quietly got on and did the work were let go of, while those who bought rounds of drinks down at the pub, told lewd jokes but did no work ended up getting the promotions. That really rankled for me.

After a few years, I became thoroughly disillusioned, and ended up leaving to travel around the world. I spent the first few months travelling from beach to beach, soaking in the healing sun and sea in a bid to heal my frazzled nervous system!

When I finally returned home, I felt lost and didn’t know what I wanted to do. My sister had previously studied Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and had recommended I look into it.  I’d poo-pooed the idea thinking I knew it all already from my Psychology degree, but now felt it was the right time to give it a go – mostly to help myself. 

NLP opened my eyes to a completely different way of thinking and being and was so effective, I decided to continue training as a Master Coach in NLP so I could help others.

-Nina Khoo

It’s taken me nearly 20 years to feel comfortable returning to the corporate world, even as a coach. I’ve overcome my reluctance because I strongly believe we need more women, and in particular, highly sensitive women, in positions of leadership so they can heal the toxic cultures still found in so many institutions. I want to play my part in making this happen.

Nina Khoo, What is NLP, NLP,

What inspired you to create a business in this area of women’s development?

It’s only in the past decade or so that the inequality between men and women has really bothered me. I’ve always been aware of it, but until recently, I’ve never felt I was in a position to do anything about it.

As I’ve gone through my own personal development and healed many of my own traumas, I’ve become more aware of the struggles women face world-wide. Supporting women and addressing this imbalance is something I now feel passionately about.

I also discovered I’m a Highly Sensitive Person a few years ago. This was a true light-bulb moment for me! 

-Nina Khoo

Knowing I’m different from the majority of the population and how I am physiologically wired to think and process deeply, feel deeply, and see things that others miss, well, this was like finally being given the right user manual – for me!

I’ve come to realise that the highly sensitive trait, far from being a weakness or something to be overcome, is actually our greatest leadership asset. I now combine my NLP and knowledge of high sensitivity to support women to step into positions of leadership. I know sensitive female leaders will make decisions that are deeply considered, compassionate and will be good for the long-term.

Yet I also recognise that sensitive women may be reluctant to step forward as leaders because of their sensitive physiology and the way sensitivity is regarded as a negative trait in the western world. 

-Nina Khoo

Much of my work is about teaching sensitive women about their highly sensitive brains and highly responsive nervous systems, so they recognise how the way they are wired impacts their lives, and how the physiology that causes many of their challenges, is also what makes them great leaders. My knowledge of NLP and the highly sensitive trait are a potent combination!

How has your own women’s health journey impacted how you work with female leaders?

Having a highly sensitive nervous system meant the years of long hours and work-hard, play-hard culture during my time in the corporate world took its toll. It explains why I spent all that time lying in hammocks on beaches on my round the world trip! My body so desperately needed that down-time.

Since discovering I’m a highly sensitive person, I’ve come to understand the importance of taking care of myself, and how I need to make self-care a priority. Early on in my research into high sensitivity, I was googling ‘the best form of exercise for highly sensitive people’ and came across something called Nia, a form of movement and dance. 

From my very first Nia class, I knew I’d discovered something that was going to help transform my relationship with my body and that I could share with my clients. The way Nia is so much more than physical exercise, but works on the mind, body, spirit and emotional levels blew my mind! I can honestly say, doing Nia brought joy back into my life.

I now use Nia movement and its principles, along with NLP, in my coaching work to help sensitive women still their busy minds, get back in touch with their bodies and manage their energy.

What is NLP?

NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming. I think of NLP as a super-powerful collection of tools and techniques that can help people heal emotional wounds, uncover patterns of previously unconscious behaviour so they can choose to do things differently, and consciously create a life they want. Like any tool, the way NLP is used differs depending on the practitioner. 

How can female leaders use NLP to rewire themselves to know their worth?

There are so many ways NLP can be used to help female leaders realise their worth! 

A large part of recognising your worth lies in uncovering any limiting beliefs you hold about yourself. Common beliefs held by highly sensitive women are ‘I’m not like everyone else’ (true), ‘I can’t do things as well as everyone else’ (not true), and so ‘I’m not worthy’ (definitely not true)! 

NLP can help uncover these limiting beliefs, find where they stemmed from, heal and replace them with new, empowering beliefs.

-Nina Khoo

It’s about making unconscious patterns conscious, which then gives you choice and behavioural flexibility.

Can you pinpoint a particular NLP strategy that female founders can start using today to help them earn their worth?

Just one! Hmmm. Let’s go with Pattern Interrupt. 

If you catch yourself saying something negative to yourself or out loud, pause – you can even imagine a big STOP sign flash up in your mind. Take a breath. And change the script to something positive.

-Nina Khoo

This is a really simple, but effective way to start changing your habitual patterns. It’s not always easy to catch yourself in a negative thought, but whenever you do, practice the pattern interrupt. This is how we build new, more positive neural pathways and good habits. Repetition is key.

3 takeaways for female founders:

  1. Start doing this: Focus on all the amazing things you have to offer. Think about all the things you are good at, no matter how trivial them seem to you. Whether you have incredible empathy and are someone people seem to pour their hearts out to or have a knack for seeing how people can grow their business, it’s ALL valuable. Value your gifts, no matter what they may be. And share them with others. That’s why you’re here.
  2. Stop doing this: Comparing yourself to everyone else and feeling as if you fall short – especially if you’re a highly sensitive person. Change that inner dialogue from ‘I’m not good enough’ to ‘I have all the resources within me!’
  3. Use this: Here’s a simple Nia technique to ground yourself if you feel overwhelmed or need to drop out of your busy brain and into your body. It’s called the Body Awareness walk:
  • Take your shoes and socks off and walk slowly around your space starting from your heel and rolling onto the ball of your foot. 
  • Notice any sensations in your body as you do this – no judgement, no good or bad sensations – just notice. You may want to say out loud to yourself ‘I notice…’ 
  • e.g. ‘I notice my left knee is clicking’, ‘I notice my chest feels tight’, or ‘I notice I feel light and have a spring in my step’.
  • Come to a standstill, and breathe, measuring the volume of air you’re able to take into your lungs. Give it a number from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least and 10 being the greatest volume. Say out loud ‘I’m a x/10’ – again with no judgement and continue your walk around your space. 

A few minutes of doing the Body Awareness walk really helps to reconnect us with our bodies and helps to reset our nervous system, lowering our cortisol and stress levels. Which helps us stay healthy, focused, and able to do our world-changing work!

Contact Nina Khoo