72 Eternity Framing

The mind-lines that arise in this move continue to conceptually shift a person's mind until it expands one's sense of "time," outcomes and effects, and outcomes of outcomes. In this final move outward into the future, we even go to the largest time-frame possible so as to bring to bear upon our thinking of the formula our perceptions of eternity.

This linguistic reframing utilizes what Covey (1987) described as "starting with the end in mind." If we start from the perspective of designing the epitaph on our grave stone, what do we want it to say? If we start from the perspective of what our closest friend, our mate, our parents, our children, our associates will say at our funeral, what do we want them to have said about us? (Remember that funeral begins with the word "funn—so aim to live a fun life for yourself and others!)

Milton Erickson played with people's consciousness about "time," in the context of therapy, in order to help them develop better and more enhancing meanings. He would move a person (conceptually) by his linguistics to places of the past and places of the future to create different frames-of-reference. He referred to such as pseudo-orientation in time. We have done just that with the two previous patterns of First Outcome Framing and Outcome-of-Outcome Framing. Here we do it again, except we just do it in even more exaggerated terms, using an end of life frame.

The mind-lines within these three future shifting reframes enable us to post-framea behavior. Starting with the end in mind enables us to look upon a behavior (belief, conversation, idea, etc.) with hindsight. And since, throughout history, people of every time and culture have praised the wisdom of hindsight—pseudo-orienting ourselves (and others) in "time," conversationally, to get hindsight upfront offers us a truly marvelous neuro-semantic tool, don't you think? Well, maybe one of these days, you'll look back on this skill and fully realize how much you now appreciate this Mind-Line. How will you view things in that light when you look back upon your experience in life from the perspective of eternity?

(A) "Saying mean things makes you a bad person."

"It may seem mean to you now, but when you come to the end of your life and look back on how our relationship developed to the point where we could truly handle the storms that life threw at us and we didn't have to walk on egg-shells with each other, don't you think you'll appreciate the feedback, especially if, in the long run, it helped you to become effective over such verbal static?"

(B) "Cancercauses death."

"Is that what you want people to remember about you-that you became a victim of cancer? Surely as a mortal who will die, as do all mortals, wouldn't you like to be remembered for something other than cancer? When you think about the legacy you'll leave—how would you like others to remember you?

(C) "Your being late means you don't care about me."

"This seems really important and big now, doesn't it? I wonder when you get to the end of your life and look back on this experience-and take in the overall meaning of your life and our relationship—what will this experience mean in the light of that?"

(D) "Stress causes me to eat chocolate."

"Travel with me in your mind, for just a moment, to the end of your journey in this world... experience a kind of trip that Ebenezer Scrooge took one night when he took the hand of 'the Angel of Christmas to come' and went into his future. There he saw his own funeral and his own grave stone, and from there he looked back on his life... as you can now on your experiences of stress that caused you to eat chocolate, and tell me just how significant you see those experiences from that perspective."

(E) "I can't really make a difference because management doesn't walk their talk."

"And because their incongruent behavior has such a power influence on you today... zoom forward to the day when you will retire from work altogether, and turn around and look back from that point of view to this day and these complaints you have... and tell me what they look like when you take that adventuresome step."

(F) "I can't buy your product because it costs too much."

"It really seems like a big deal today... and maybe that's the problem. Just for the fun of it, imagine yourself having come to the end of your sojourn, and ready to leave this world, and look back to this day when you had this opportunity to make this purchase... and how expensive does it seem when you view it from that larger point of view?" To elicit this pattern, use the elicitation question of eternity: "When I get to the end of my life, how will this EB look?" "From the perspective of eternity, how will I perceive this?"

Other Examples

I (MH) first learned the "Sleight of Mouth" patterns from Chris Hall. During her presentation, she described a point in her life when she had come to "a point of indecision." | wrote about this in The Spirit of NLP (1996).

"In my mind I went out to my future, and then to the end of my time-line. From there I then looked back on the decision point of this day when I was attempting to make a decision. When I did this, the process brought about a dissociation for me. The effect of that was that some new criteria came into play thus providing me the needed information and frame from which to make a good decision. Now I could play each scenario out and more fully notice the values of risk, fear, hesitation, etc" (Hall, 1996, p. 134).

When we change the time frame of an event we often allow (or create) larger level values to come into play that will impact the decision. To the question, "What do I fear?" and the state of fear itself, it often helps to gain a sense of the size of our fear's context by changing the time frame in our mind. We can use this reframing pattern on ourselves to replace our repeating and looping worries when we get caught up in the state of indecision and keep repeating the same pictures, words, and feelings.. We can think of this technique as tracking people forward in "time" or future-pacing their belief.

The "Sleight of Mouth patterns that utilize the consequence frame involve reframing the context by exaggerating. "What if you do get this or that, then what will happen?"

One man said, "I want to be calm so I can set her right." Now suppose we respond by asking the four questions from Cartesian logic.

"What would happen if you do?"

"What would happen if you don't?"

"What would not happen if you do?"

"What would not happen if you don't?"

What effect do these four questions have on you? Do they not create a set of internal representations that generate both the push and pull dynamic? "Would you want that future now so that it could become your present reality?"


Okay, we have moved backwards and forwards in "time" in our five reframing patterns in this chapter. As conversational time-travelers, we have cued our brains and the brains of those with whom we converse to access, neuro-semantically, their ability to use "time" to their well-being.

This highlights the fact that the formula in the box does not occur in a vacuum. When we consider the "time" frame-of-reference (which we have portrayed here as a moving backward and forward direction), the meanings in the box change

The reframing in this chapter empowers us to stop using the past to torment ourselves and others. We can now return to the past to set a positive frame for living life more fully today in the now. It also empowers us to stop using our futures to worry and fret ourselves about. It enables us also to tap into the power of good solid consequential thinking that enables us to access the wisdom of the future today by starting with the end in mind.

[If this playing with the conceptual framework of "time" interests you, I believe you will become absolutely fascinated by our entire work on "Time-Lining: Patterns For Adventuring in "Time." There you will find advanced patterns for working with, using, and even altering "time" so that it serves you much better.] You might have noticed that many of the "future" consequences Mind-Lines involved accessing strong aversion states. Not only can we think of the 'future" in terms of the attractions of desired outcomes that pull us into a bright future, but we can also think of the things that we definitely do not want to have in our futures. Awareness of the not-goals creates aversion values in a human propulsion system. And such aversion power gives us the energy to move away from such unacceptable consequences.

Chapter 8

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