9 Positive Prior Cause Framing

Just as we can move backwards in "time" (conceptually and linguistically) to identify positive intentions that drive a behavior and a person's meaning formula that creates his or her semantic reality, we can also go back in "time" to identify a positive Prior Cause. Now why in all the world would we want to do that? For the same reason that we would want to attribute positive intentions to any and all behaviors. Namely, we want to frame behaviors, experience, emotions, etc. so that it allows a person to move on in life in a resourceful way, rather than get stuck in a comer with nowhere to go.

Now the negative prior cause attributions tend to occur more often than the positive prior cause attributions. The negative use of Prior Cause occurs when we say something like,

"Hey, that's just an excuse! Cut it out! Face up to reality. Quit justifying yourself. It doesn't get you off the hook!"

Have you ever tried that one? Personally I never have found that it worked very well for me! In fact, as I think about it, I don't like people using that mind-line on me. Do you? It typically evokes defensiveness more than anything else, if you don't believe me, go out tomorrow and tell people that the reason they do what they do involves making excuses and self-justification for things!

Positive Prior Cause involves attributing to someone a reason, explanation, cause, etc. for some behavior (EB) that we don't like— and doing so in such a way that it allows them to see, perceive, frame, and then operate out of a much better place—a place that gives them room for change, better aims, more resourcefulness. Can people misuse this approach? You bet. Should we? Ah, the ethics question again. And an ecology question. Well, why don't we just decide to not do that?!

Begin with a negative behavior (i.e., showing up late for a meeting, missing an appointment, or forgetting to take out the garbage). Now run this behavior through the frame of a positive prior cause, and apply it to yourself. You show up late or do something else that someone does not like. So they feel angry. "Sorry that I'm late, with all the traffic on the road, an accident occurred and wouldn't you know it—right in my lane." (When you deliver a mind-line like this, make sure you have rapport enough that the other will listen to your explanations.)

But we have a problem with that. It sounds like an excuse, doesn't it? So we don't have much of a reframe in it so far. Just the mere relating of facts. So lets spice it up—with some magic (you know, words that set a positive frame.)

"Sorry that I'm late. I had looked forward to this meeting with you all week and really wanted to meet with you. Repeatedly throughout the day I have thought about the possibilities of working together with you. So I do apologize for getting here late. I should have considered the traffic at this hour and the possibility of an accident—which of course happened. I guess I was thinking more of you then those details."

Here we attribute, as a Positive Prior Cause, a cause to our behavior, namely, our wanting to see and be with this person, and our thoughts of experiencing a positive relationship. We have also tossed in (and, therefore, downplayed another factor), our recognition that "Traffic Happens!" Yet we have emphasized the most positive prior cause—a positive causational force, of our desires, emotions, and hopes, which we want to carry the day. In this conversational reframe, we have put heavier emphasis on that cause, rather than to the accidental causational factors. This allows the person to swish his or her mind to two contributing factors—one accidental and one intentional.

Typically, most people do not do this. We don't do it either for ourselves or for others. It seems that most of us not only attribute negative intentions, but also negative causation to things. In other words, we blame! Yet when we negatively frame our world, we only elicit the corresponding thoughts, emotions, conversation, and behavior of negativity, accusation, attack, and blame.

Now we can change all of that. Now we can redirectionalizeour brains, and the brains of others, with this "Sleight of Mouth" Pattern. If we hear a limiting belief about the "reasons" people, mates, children, bosses, companies, the government, God, etc. do things—we can set a positive frame of causation.

Now we can choose to establish a Prior Cause with our languaging that offers constructive justifications and explanations that enhance life and responses rather than increase a sense of victimhood and excuse making. When we bring a Positive Prior Cause into the limiting belief and/or behavior, we broaden a person's understanding of contributing causes and influencing factors. And we simultaneously invite the person to catch a vision of living up to a more positive image. This redirectionalizing of thought also can give one permission to stop blaming and to move into a more solution oriented approach.

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

"If hatefulness or ugliness caused me to say those things you consider mean, then I would agree with you and immediately change. But I cut you short because I had a terrible day at work, feel unresourceful, and just didn't think about your feelings as I usually do, and as I want to."

When we use a Positive Prior Cause, we appeal to socially acceptable reasons for a behavior while we simultaneously disconnect the behavior from mere excuse making and negative causes. In making this reframe, we assert that the behavior does not arise from a negative cause, but that other reasons, causes, and factors play a role. When offered on behalf of someone else, we use this to set a positive prior cause that invites the other to step into a more responsible position and live out of that causational frame.

(B) "Cancer causes death."

"You say that, undoubtedly, because that describes your experience with a few people who you knew who got cancer. Since you use your experiences to make such learnings, let's visit Hospice to expand our experiential base of knowledge."

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

"I didn't know that stress caused people to eat chocolate. I thought I ate chocolate because I felt hungry and wanted to eat something delightful in the afternoon. What would it be like if you found out that you ate it because you actually liked the taste?" "With your inquisitive mind you have identified a possible cause of your 'eating chocolate' habit. Just how willing would you look at other reasons that prompt this eating of chocolate?"

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

"Maybe you can't make a difference because you are burned out and need an extended vacation." "You only say that because you find it much easier than applying your creative powers to making a change there as you have at other times and can any time you choose... but haven't yet because you operate best when you have their congruency." 'You must really want to make a difference! And yet how strange. That very ability will enable you to find a way to make a difference, won't it?"

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

"Since you take that position in order to make good solid purchases, let me give you some other facts about this product that you will appreciate for that very reason."

| To elicit this pattern, simply explore about other possible Positive 4 Prior Causes that cause or contribute to the response or belief $? statement.

> "What could be a possible cause for this limiting belief or hurtful behavior?"

"What else could explain this that also opens up space for changing?"

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