Beyond Belief

Another way to think about behavior is that it's organized around some very durable things called "beliefs," Whenever someone says something is important or unimportant to do, it's because she has a belief about it. You can think about all behavior as being mobilized by the beliefs that we have. For example, you probably wouldn't be learning about NLP if you didn't believe that it would be interesting, or useful, or somehow valuable. Parents wouldn't spend lots of time with their infant children if they didn't believe it would make their children turn out better later on. Parents used to keep young children from getting too much stimulation because they believed it would make them hyperactive; now they give their children lots of stimulation because they believe it will aid their intellectual development.

Beliefs are really phenomenal things. Beliefs can compel perfectly nice people to go out and kill other human beings for an idea, and even feel good about it, too. As long as you can fit a behavior into someone's belief system, you can get him to do anything, or stop him from doing anything. That is what I did with the father who didn't want his daughter to be a whore. As soon as I pointed out that his abusive behavior was exactly the way pimps treat whores, he couldn't do it anymore without violating his own beliefs. I didn't compel him to stop "against his will," whatever that means. I made changing fit into his belief system so completely that he couldn't do anything else.

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