Monthly Archives: January 2013

NLP – Self-Actualization

serenity-wallpapersHow real are you?  Are you your real self?  How much do you live your life to express your authentic self with your highest possibilities and actualizing your best potentials?  That’s what the self-actualizing life is all about— creating and living the best version of you so that you can contribute and make a difference.  You were made for that.  And your potentials clamor within for that.  And if you try to shut all of that down, you only doom yourself to being unhappy for the rest of your life.

What this means is that your vitality is related to, and dependent upon, you discovering and being your best self— you’re real self.  The wisdom within this actually goes far, far beyond Maslow to the ancient Greeks who made this one of the points of wisdom: “Know thyself.”

And to others who said, “To thy own self be true.”  “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

In Self-Actualization Psychology Maslow forged the way beyond the “empty slate” idea to the realization that each of us are born with unique features and possibilities— potentials of our disposition and uniqueness.  And just as we are not born human (we become human, we learn how to become human), so we are not born fully ourselves— we become. We don’t arrive on the scene with “instincts.”  We don’t come out of the womb and can run and jump.  We develop.  Hence, Developmental Psychology arose in the twentieth century to map out how we develop physically, socially, sexually, mentally, and emotionally, etc.  And all of that resulted in Lifespan studies of the developmental stages.

All this relates directly to your sense of vitality in life.  If you want to dampen your energies, reduce the quality of your vitality— try to be someone else!  Try to conform to a mold that’s established at school, in the media, by your culture, by Hollywood, or by any group.  If you succeed, you will fail at being you. You will fail at being authentic and knowing yourself and with that, you won’t know your best gifts and contributions.  So you’ll feel like a fraud, you’ll evaluate yourself as up or down depending on local circumstances, you’ll suffer identity crisis, you won’t know what you like, your values, your unique potentials.  And in the long run that will undermine your joy of life and basic vitality.

Another way to dampen your energies, reduce your vitality, and diminish yourself as a person— try to be what you are not.  Try to be perfect!  Ha, that’s a great way to ruin a perfectly good fallible human being!  At first you’ll have lots of energy and effort but then you’ll over-prepare and begin to procrastinate and hyper-worry about flaws and fill your mind-body with anxiety and … yes will make life a party!

Or try to be totally positive and never negative!  Yes, at first it will seem like a great strategy— you, the positive thinker.  But then whenever you have an experience that doesn’t fit that mental box of “positive” you have to distort your experience and so begins the pretend-life.  And the more you refuse to welcome (a very un-positive thing) the so-called “negative” emotions and experiences, you begin to defend yourself against reality. And in the long run that distortion will undermine your ability to accept reality for what it is.

When your life energies seem down, depressed, empty, or diminished, you may be wasting your energies.  You could be wasting them fighting some phantom in your mind like the need to be perfect or positive or never fallible, vulnerable, or mortal.  The paradox is that your vitality for life comes more alive with more energy when you fully embrace your true nature as a weak, fallible, and mortal person!  Look at any young child— weak, fallible, vulnerable and fully alive to the mystery, excitement, and fascination of life!


Vitality emerges from your needs, not in spite of them.  So what do you need?  What are the requirements of life that activates your full mind-body-emotions?  People become experientially empty and out-of-touch with themselves when they don’t know their true needs and try to live in some synthetic life that Wall Street or Hollywood or some Cultural Bureau of Standards impose on their lives.  Then they live by external values, by the clock, by brand names, by what others are telling them they should think, feel, and experience.

Because we come without “instinct,” and because we have to learn how to be human— we are so open to information outside of ourselves.  This is our glory and our agony.  Maslow said that for the human species is it hard to be the species we are (1971: 179).  That’s why we have to discover ourselves, to “know ourselves.”

If your tired of being diminished, devitalized, and living like a zombie, then I’d recommend Unleashing Vitality so you can discover who you are in your lower-level needs and drives and find out how to gratify them adequately and accurately for yourself.  Achieving that you can then move on to discovering who you are given your higher-level needs— your being needs and, again, how to gratify them so that it brings out your best and fulfills your nature.

NLP – Own Your Own Power

own-your-own-power The Art of Changing the External Referent Meta-Program

In psychology there is a concept called “locus of control.”  It deals with our sense of “control” and where we locate it, do we locate it inside of ourselves or outside of ourselves in others, rules, structures, groups, etc.? We use this concept in the Meta-Programs as the authority meta-program of internal reference / external reference.  The questions used to elicit this perception are these:

  • At work, how do you know you’ve done a good job?
  • How do you know that you’ve responded appropriately to someone?
  • What lets you know that you on the right path for your life?

These elicitation questions generally call forth one of two patterns of responses.  Our answers will typically fall within either the category of internal or external.  “I just know.”  “I feel it here.”  “I tell myself that I did a good job.”  “I measure it by my standards and criteria.”  “I look to see how things are going.”  “My boss tell me that I’ve done a good job.”  “My promotion tells me.”

When the circle of control is within we are coming from our own internalized standards, rules, understandings, beliefs, etc.  When we are not in the circle of control, but it is out there in structures or others, then we are referencing off of the ideas, beliefs, standards, rules, etc. of others.  Developmentally, we all begin there.  At birth we have no internal locus of control.  Our sense of control develops through learning and development.  And unlike the majority of meta-programs, this is a meta-program where there is definitely a best style.   The best style is to have an internal reference with an external check.  That is, we use our own values, beliefs, visions, outcomes, etc. as our stabilizing gyroscope and regularly look outside of ourselves to see how it fits with the world of others and the state of knowledge.

Yet, how do we do that?  How do we change our meta-program from external to internal?  People who grow up in strong authority environments like a dogma driven (creed driven) religious context such as the Catholic Church or any fundamentalist church, the Moslem faith, or a strong dominating patriarchical family structure, or a strong non-democratic political environment such as a Communistic government structure will often find that they have effectively been condition to look outside of themselves for authority.

Those who buy the full program and are highly compliant, who seek to please, follow the rules, and do what they are supposed to do, when these qualities of a great follower are over-done we can come to feel imprisoned to only do such and forbidden to do otherwise.  That’s when problems arise.  Then we will have no flexibility to go inside and make up our own mind, clarify our own values, standards, beliefs, understandings, and choices.  The person who knows how to follow, defer to others, go along, be a good team member— when they overdo this and build frames that prevent them from doing anything else, then become liable to lose themselves and their human freedom to that authority structure.

The other extreme can be just as detrimental to success and happiness.  As we develop our own powers of response we simply take ownership for thinking, feeling, speaking, and acting from our locus of control.  This centers and grounds us in our own reality and enables us to assume responsibility (response-ability) for ourselves.  But if over-done, we do so to such a degree that we don’t or won’t even consider the ideas, beliefs, perceptions, criteria, etc. of others.  We can do this until we become demanding, commanding, dictatorial, tyrannical, and closed-minded to any influence outside of ourselves.  Then we dismiss others out-of-hand.

The balance, of course, is to have an internal reference with an external check.  We then feel centered in ourselves, in our values, standards, beliefs, understandings, visions, goals, etc. and then fully open and responsive to information and perceptions outside of ourselves.

The Challenge of Change

  • Suppose we wanted to change our meta-program from external to internal?
  • Suppose we come to realize that the best structure is internal with external check, how would we then shift this perceptual filter and locus of control state so that we bring the authority within?

As we step back to think about these questions, it’s immediately obvious that we are dealing with several concept and conceptual states.  We are dealing with the ideas of control, authority, right and wrong, permission and prohibition, ego-strength, sense of being centered in self, and so on.  Therefore in changing this meta-program, we will be altering and/or even transforming multiple levels of beliefs and understandings.

Recently I worked with a young woman in her early thirties who operated completely from an external referencing style.  She had almost no skill, permission, or experience with internal referencing.  Noticing that and reflecting it back to her, I asked, “Would you like to change that external referencing so that you move through the world internally referencing with an external check?”  She did.

Now, while I know of six explicit methods for changing Meta-Programs1, in that conversation I decided to not use any of them as a process or pattern but to do something else, something very different.  We had a very deep rapport and so I decided to just let the conversation flow.  At the time I had no plan and didn’t know where it would go, but an intuition to not run any of the patterns. “How do you represent the idea of authority?” I asked.

This threw her momentarily, “represent authority?”  The concept was so vague and indefinite.  I followed up by helping her ground the experience.  “When did someone recently tell you something or give you information that you deferred to, yet at some level knew that going along was not in your best interest and that it actually violated your values or beliefs?”  As she located an instance, she quickly glanced to her far right.  “And when you notice this information coming in from out there, notice how you represent authority, or control, or however you think about an external authority.”

Upon this glance to her right, my first automatically thought was, “visual and/or auditory construct,  what does that movie look and sound like?”  Then, almost as instantly I thought, “What difference does that make?  It’s out there.  Let’s bring it in and see what happens.”

She began to sense that the external referent of the particular person as a strong voice out to her far right, up and forceful in tone.  “Great.  As you notice this, what’s happening inside you?”

“I feel empty and weak.  I don’t feel like I’m able to stand up to him.”

“Good.  We now have a representation.  What happens when you reach your hand out and take the external authority out there and bring it inside yourself?”

With that she reached out and grabbed at the air where the external reference had been and pulled it into herself.  As she did, her open hand became a fist and with the fist she moved it at the top of her chest just below her chin, at her voice box or larynx.  With that movement of the arm, she then quietly began to integrate the feeling of bringing authority into herself.
“With the authority inside yourself,” I said holding my fist at my larynx also, “how do you now experience the external authority of that person given that you now have your own sense of authority within you, your own sense of authoring your own life, writing your own script of your values and visions?”

“This is incredible!  I like this, but it’s weird.  Is this okay?  I feel selfish doing this.   Ego-centric.  Are you sure?”

“Do you really want to change this meta-program so that you operate from your own values and visions? [Yes’]  Are you clear that operating from your internal reference with an external check most fully respects you and others? [Yes.]  Then do you need to listen to the old feelings and judgments? [No.] Is this your decision to bring in your own authoring of your life and having an internal reference? [Yes.] Great, then how will life be for you as from this day forward you operate from ‘internal with external reference’?”

These questions invited her to bring “authority” within herself and to set higher level belief and decision frames about this new way to move through the world.  Several times in that conversation she looked to me and asked me if this or that was right for her—once again defaulting to an external authority.  Upon each occasion I gestured with an open hand that went out to her right (my left), made a fast and then brought it into myself and asked her, “What do you think?”  This continually re-anchored the internal referencing state and kept connecting it to a real life event that she needed more choice with.


If you have an external reference, or even an external with internal check reference, and want to change this meta-program, here’s a pattern for making that change.

1) Identify a referent experience.

When has someone spoken to you that seemed “authoritative” and determining, so that it seemed to take choice away from you?

When have you thought about something and deferred to a person, situation, set of rules outside of yourself that in hind site was not ecological or good for you?

When has someone come on to you very strongly so that you betrayed your own values, understandings, beliefs, and you deferred to that person even when you knew that it was not good for you?

2) Discover how you represent “authority”or “control.”

As you think about this event, where do you locate it?  Where is it in space?

Where is it?  If you were to point to it, where is it?

What is the volume and quality of the voice?

As you think about it, any other qualities, visual, auditory, or kinesthetic?

How do you inwardly respond to this outside authority?

What emotions does it trigger in you?

Is this ecological?  Useful?  Enhancing?

3) Alter the source of the authority.

As you reach out and take in the authority out there, where do you want to put it in yourself?

Would you like to put it in your mind, heart, chest, around your head, or where?

As you bring it in, how does the sound qualities of the voice change?

What is the best auditory quality for your own voice?

What voice enables you to author your own life?

How would you like to make that even better and more compelling?

4) Focus in on the differences.

As you now hold the authority within yourself, how do you experience external authority?

What changes are occurring as you hold your own authority within yourself?

Where is the authority settling inside of you?

How is your own voice of authority changing or transforming to be the most powerful voice that references from you and checks with others?

Are there any other changes occurring visually, kinesthetically, or in any other system?

5)Confirm the change and apply to the rest of your life.

Do you like this?  Does it serve you well and enhance your

Does this empower you as a person so that you are creating your own locus of control?

What other qualities do you need to add to this and set as meta-frames so that it is appropriate, responsive, and ecological to you?

As you now imagine this [fire anchors] with that person we talked about when we started, how does it transform things? Is that good and ecological?

As you now imagine taking this into this week, next week, the months and years to come, are you fully aligned with this?  Any objections?

6) Final refinements and commissioning.

What other refinements would you like to make?

With these refinements, how does that settle?

Are you ready to fully commission this as your way of being in the world?

Great, as you do that now, will your executive mind take full responsibility to look at the world from the point of view that you are the author of you and have the right and responsibility to direct your actions and speech?

As you thank that part, how would you like to celebrate this enhancement of your own self-actualization?


  • The only author of your life is you.  To let anyone or anything else be the author of your life is to default on your own life!  Welcoming in the power, right, and responsibility to be you, to have your life, your values, understandings, beliefs, etc. and to live out your life finding your way is the beginning of taking your development to the next level.
  • By authoring your own life, you begin the process of developing an internal frame of reference and taking responsibility for where, why, and how you move through life.  It is this self-authoring of your life that you build up your own sense of being centered and grounded in your values with an external check to make sure it corresponds with the people and contexts of your life.
  • Internal and external references are two key perceptual filters and can be shifted, changed, and completely transformed once we step back from it.  This pattern provides a way to make transformative change using both representation (NLP) and framing references (Neuro-Semantics).

NLP – Using Meta States To Cure Phobias


To meta-state means to reflect on a mental or emotional state with additional thoughts, feelings, ideas, and even kinesthetics. This power to rise up in you mind and have a second thought or second feeling about a previous thought describes the most wondrous power of self-reflexive consciousness. It involves what we call “going meta” in NLP, and yet it involves more than that.

“Going meta” refers to moving up the scale of specificity. It means generalizing to a higher classification. We go meta in our minds when we move from a specific thing (strawberries) to a higher classification (fruit). This gives us the ability to categorize things. We categories strawberries as fruit. We can categories fruit as food. “Conceptualizing” in this way by using higher levels of abstraction define the class of life we are a semantic, symbol-using class of life.

Meta-stating involves more. It involves not only going up and above our thoughts and experienced, but also reflecting back on them. When we do this, we can then create several new things. We set a frame– a new frame of reference and this than allows us to re-classify the experience. We can legitimately call an experience by a different term: “Raising his voice like that doesn’t mean he’s being insulting, he feels stress and that’s a sign of his insecurity.”

By meta-stating we can also texture and temper experiences. In Meta-States and Frame Games trainings, we describe this as the layering of higher levels of mind or frames. And doing that enables us to texture and quality our states in ways that can totally transform and revolutionize our lives.

A great example of this occurs in the Visual-Kinesthetic Dissociation Pattern or NLP Phobia Cure. After twenty-five years of using “The Phobia Cure” for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), traumatized states and experiences, and phobias of all kind, this pattern has proven a staple for de-stabilizing old trauma reactions and giving thousands of people a new lease on life.

  • How does this pattern work?
  • What mechanisms actually govern its power to so pervasively effect memory, identity, and emotion?

With the Meta-States model, we can now explain the processes that allow the magic of this pattern to do its work.

Meta-Stating “Trauma”

As an overview, the Phobia Cure works as a guided imagery into a movie theater where we sit back in the theater to watch a showing of the old memory. After we pick a beginning snapshot, we even float back and up to the projection booth and there view the movie feeling the safety of the Plexiglas before us. At the end we forward the movie onto another experience something later wherein we were okay and feeling a sense of comfort. We freeze frame the comfort scene, step into it and then let the whole movie fast rewind in a second or two.

Easy to guide a person through.

So where’s the magic? How can we explain the wonder and power of NLP in this pattern? What are the governing mechanisms of mind-and-emotion and meaning that explain the felt transformation which the pattern elicits?

As an overview of the meta-stating processes occurring in this pattern: we essentially layer, qualify, and texture the “thought” –the memory with multiple layers of resources that change the very feel of the memory as the other thoughts transform it.

The Levels of Resourcing

Level 1: Primary Trauma Thought. Begin with a “negative” thought that sets off all kinds of painful emotional reactions. Pick a “thought” of a memory that “rattles your cage” so much so that you can’t even “think” it in a calm and rational. This presents the primary state or experience. In it you find that you have become wired (so to speak) to react semantically to an “idea.” Just the idea of the trauma upsets you and your entire body and neurology becomes reactive. It is this thought, this representation, that we will be dealing with.

Level 2: Calm Distance. Imagine putting the “thought” that upsets you on a mental screen and stepping back from it as if in a movie theater. When you have located the memory, turn it into a black-and-white snapshot of a scene at the beginning of the traumatic event. Freeze-frame this scene and hold it there as you take your seat in the 10th row.

Here we are meta-stating the trauma thought with distance, stillness, and black-and-white coding. All of these higher ideas about (meta) to the first level thought induce messages of comfort about it.

In NLP we call this a “dissociation” step, yet it involves so much more. It certainly does have the effect of stepping back and out of a felt memory. And as a result most people feel some relief. Yet we have not so much moved to “not feeling” as we have to “feeling calm” and “feeling distance” about the memory. We have begun to layer thoughts and feelings upon the trauma memory that gives it a new texture a new feel.

But it doesn’t end there.

Level 3: Increased Distance and Protect and Control. Now imagine yourself and feel yourself float out of your observing self and up to the projection booth. From there you will be able to see the back of your current self watching the old memory representation as a black-and-white snap-shot on the screen. Touch the Plexiglas that separates you from the auditorium knowing that you’re safe here in the projection booth.

This so-called “double dissociation” actually brings all kinds of resources to bear upon the original thought that we have not actually “thought” about yet. All this is preparation (pre-framing) for thinking. Here we have continued meta-stating our old memory with more distance and protection behind a Plexiglas. And because in the projection booth we can edit the film we bring editing skill and power to bear upon the old memory, which gives us the sense of power and control.

Figure 1

Meta-Levels of
ThePrimary State
More Distance
Control over your own Images
Distance/ Comfort
Black-and-White Snap-Shot 

Traumatic Memory

Level 4: Controlled viewing & Fast Rewinding. Now you can turn on the movie (intentional control) and let it play out. Just watch it in this black-and-white movie of your past. After the traumatic scene is over, let it play until you find a scene of comfort where you’re okay, freeze frame that scene. Then, step into that scene of comfort (where you froze frame) and run it backward while you are inside seeing, hearing, and feeling everything run backwards. Let this happen so quickly that it only takes two seconds.

Here we layer onto all of the other layers of awareness cues like the images being black-and-white that we are observing “the past,” and that we’re in control of editing our memory. Then, after we meta-state the memory with comfort, we add a very strange layer of consciousness as we rewind the movie. Bringing backwardness or fast reverse to our memory really layers on some weird thinking and feeling. For some this will interrupt, for others it will spread comfort backwards through the past, and for yet others it will confuse and mess up the old strategy for trauma. Talk about more layers and frames that texture the old trauma. And yet we have not finished.

Level 5: Clean Slate and Directiveness. After the first backward super-rewinding process, do this 5 more times. Clear the screen of your mind, start with the Scene of Comfort, step in, rewind.

In this step, we layer onto everything ideas of a clean slate and we bring that to bear upon the memory. This interrupts things and it directionalizes our minds.

When a Negative Memory Doesn’t Stand a Chance

When my co-author, Dr. Bodenhamer and I talked about this recently, he noted that “the poor memory representation doesn’t stand a chance.” Too many layers of resources. With layer upon layer, the higher levels begin to govern and self-organize the lower levels. And yet we still have not finished with our analysis of the meta-stating involved in this pattern, there is yet another.

Figure 2

Meta-Levels of
Coherent Movie Theater Metaphor
Directionalizing the Brain
Clean Slate
Rewinding in Super-Fast Speed
Controlled Viewing
More Distance
Control over your own Images
Distance/ Comfort
Black-and-White Snap-Shot
Primary State Traumatic Memory

Level 6: Meta-Stating with a Coherent Metaphor. The whole set of the meta-level states that you have added one upon another in this process has all actually occurred inside of a metaphor the metaphor of a movie. In other words, you also brought a movie show situation to bear upon the thought– which enabled the other moves (stepping back and back, altering the visual and auditory components, running it backwards, etc.) to occur without really noticing.

True enough, a negative memory doesn’t stand a chance. We can’t track that many levels and so the first meta-levels begins to “collapse” or coalesce into the primary state thereby texturing and qualifying the memory in new and more resourceful ways.

Appreciating Your Meta-Stating

When you reflect back onto your thoughts and feelings, your states, you meta-state. And given the very nature of your consciousness (your self-reflexive consciousness), you do it all the time. If you have used the NLP Phobia Cure, then you can now appreciate your meta-stating powers even if you didn’t know that’s what you were doing. In running that pattern, you have performed an elegant and powerful set of meta-stating maneuvers to transform an old semantic reaction. And now that you know what you were doing, you can appreciate this higher level skill.

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