Premise 4: Neuro-Semantics invites and provides direction for how to explore higher neuro-semantics states. So how do you get there? How do you rise above your first-level primary states and enter into the human experience of these layers upon layers of meta-states? How do you go about exploring the meta-levels of the mind so that you can now enter into a person’s inner world more deeply?
Begin with rapport skills of NLP. Listen for the specific words and expressions that a person offers. Watch for and detect her specific ways of gesturing and using her body and then feed that information back, become a living, breathing bio-feedback mirror to the person. Do this in an attitude of respect, care, and sensitivity, and you create the experience of “rapport” or trust with that person. Doing that typically creates the sense of safety with you so that you earn the right to enter into that person’s inner world of meanings.
The structure and strategy of rapport as discovered in NLP involves matching and mirroring the outputs of a person— the energy that they express in their speech and behavior. You receive it at the primary level and mirror it back. As you then enter in further and further, you continue to repeat this same process. As you hear meta-level expressions— value words, idiosyncratic expressions, beliefs, etc., you simply mirror it back as expressions of those higher states, invite the person to confirm or disconfirm, and hold it for them.
In this way, the receiving the person’s feedback and mirroring back (giving it back) makes you a living, breathing bio-feedback mirror which enables the person to holdand ground the experience. Typically, doing this rather than problem-solving, giving advice, lecturing, teaching, correcting, etc., is so new and strange that it is a incredible and marvelous experience that for the first time enables the person is really able to see, hold, and embrace oneself. And with that, both you and them can then move up to the next level. Now the exploration has truly begun.4
This is why the first step in any communication with another human being has to be listening, questioning, exploring, checking out, reflecting back, and suspending judgment to enter into that person’s world. If you don’t do that, you can’t even begin to “understand” the meanings that drive and govern that person’s experiences. This “pacing” involves using all of your output systems (not only your words, but our postures, movements, tones, etc.) to match or fit in with the person you’re communicating with.
To pace in that way is the basis for mutual understanding. It enables you to enter into the other person’s structured reality. It gives you a way to try on another reality structure. When you do that from a stance of respect for the person, a desire to truly understand and to help, the person feels understood, confirmed, and validated. You don’t have to agree with the other person in order to create such strong and powerful subjective experiences, you only have to match the other’s experience of the world. Doing so gives you entrance.
Then, from there you earn the right to lead them somewhere else. You can influence them in ways that will enrich and enhance their experience. This holds true whether you are a formal change agent like therapist, hypnotist, teacher, marketer, manager, sales person, or less direct influencers— a lover, parent, friend, etc.5
By receiving whatever the person says and respecting it as that person’s mental model of the world, and by not judging or evaluating it, but just hearing it, that enables them to also hear it. And whatever they offer you, whatever they say is just words, just gestures, just emotions. And it is real to them. It may not be real to you. It may not make sense to you. That’s besides the point. The exploration is not about you! You don’t have to agree in order to understand. You only have to hold this space and let them go into the next higher level of their mind.
The next higher level is a layer of thought-and-feeling which operates as a frame. Its position, as a context for thinking and interpreting, makes it a frame of meaning or a frame of mind. And as such, it makes up the Matrix of frames that the person lives inside of. And from inside it is psycho-logical. Whenever or however the person drew the conclusions and made the interpretations that created that layer of thoughts-and-feelings, it made sense to them at that time. Of course, it could have been created by a 15-year old brain or a 5 year old brain or even a 9-month old brain and so may be childish, ridiculous, wrong, even stupid. Yet when created, it made sense and continues to make sense until seen, examined, and then changed.
Frames of reference which you and I experience as our frames of mind or frames of meaning are like that. Regardless of your age or mental capacity or life circumstances, when you take a referent event that happens to you and represent it within your mind (re-present it to yourself as your thought) you thereby hold it in mind. That is what the term “meaning” means— “to hold in mind.” So whatever you hold in mind is what something means to you.
This explains how you can get some really stupid, toxic, childish, and accidental meanings lodged in your mind as your frames of reference. Some event happens and it catches your attention, it triggers a strong emotional state, and so you bring it in by representing it in the theater of your mind. Then you don’t let it go. Instead you reflect upon it. And yes, you may reflect on it with a 3-year old mind! You draw conclusions, you make interpretations, decisions, beliefs, understandings, identities, etc. You layer thought-and-feeling layer upon layer building up a whole matrix of frames about that event. And given the primitive cognitive style of thinking during infancy and childhood, it’s no wonder that you create all sorts of limiting, stupid, and even toxic ideas about things, about the world, about yourself, about others.
Now unless there are been plenty of corrective experiences or unless you have engaged in a self-awareness program to chase out the limiting beliefs, like most people you probably have lots of limiting frames at the top of your Matrix of frames. And most of them are outside-of-conscious awareness. These are your unquestioned assumptions that organize your perceptions and responses and that make up your inner reality. If you were conscious of them, your very consciousness of them would cause many of them to just vanish away. But you are not conscious of them. They make up your blind-spots. So they operate as your unconscious, assumptive presuppositions about life. And that’s what makes them powerful and dangerous.
This highlights a central Neuro-Semantic distinction: Higher levels govern the lower levels of thought and meaning. And that leads to a key principle: Personal effectiveness is about utilizing and using these higher meta-levels of mind. The best and most pervasive personal change is made at these higher levels of mind. And here lies the difference that makes a difference.
Neuro-Semantics enables you to look at the frames of reference you use to make sense of things. Frames grow from how you take a reference event “out there,” bring it into your mind, represent it, use it as a map, and then Higher levels govern the lower levels of thought and meaning.
transform it into a frame of reference, frame of mind, and the frameworks of your conceptual understandings. “Mind” grows in this way. It evolves and transforms and emerges from within your neuro-linguistic system. And just when you have it mapped, it changes.
To tolerate the journey around the loops of reflexivity and up and down the embedded frames within frames, you have to have a good stomach for putting up with ambiguity, paradox, uncertainty, transitions, and transcendence.
Premise 5: Neuro-Semantics de-mystifies many of the old myths of psychology and philosophy. Recognizing this structure of mental-emotional frames demystifies a lot in human psychology. First and foremost it clarifies that there’s nothing wrong with you. If you have a problem—the problem lies in your frames, not in you. This specifies another one of our key premises in Neuro-Semantics (#1): The person is never the problem; the frame is the problem.
Another demystification is this (#2): There is nothing inside you but frames and frames are made out of images, sounds, sensations, and words. There’s nothing alien within you which needs to be cast out. The worst experiences of a human being— the personality dis-orderings are just that, the dis-ordering of a person’s thinking-and-feeling. The person is not flawed or broken or sick, the person is suffering from flawed and sick frames. That’s why exorcism isn’t called for, education is. What is needed is a renewal of the mind and the transformation of the governing frames.6
Another de-mystification (#3): There is a structure that makes psycho-logical sense of every experience. It all makes sense! Well, it makes sense from the inside. It makes sense given the frames that any person is living within. If I had those frames, I’d be thinking and feeling and believing and acting as the person who has these frames. And because it makes sense, because there is a structure that we can identify and make explicit— transformation involves changing the frames. It is as simple as that; it is as profound as that.
The person is never the problem; the frame is the problem.
De-mystification #4: Human nature can be changed and that change can be without pain. Two of the old ideas are first, “You can’t change human nature,” and second, “Change is hard and painful and takes a long time.” These statements were indeed true given the tools that mankind has had for most of its history. They were even true through the early years of psychotherapy. Yet with the tools that are now available in Neuro-Semantics, we have made these old belief statements redundant. After all, if the problem is the frame, not the person, we do not have to fight or wrestle or trick the person. Instead we can align with the person and facilitate the person changing his or her own frames. That’s because we can change no one, but we can facilitate any person to choose to make changes which he or she wants to make.
L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.