Cartesian Quadrants

For Thinking, Questioning, Reasoning



Using Counter-Example Mind-Lines

The mind-lines that arise from counter-exampling offer some truly great and powerful ways to run the Sleight of Mouth patterns which then redirect a brain (even your own) and swish it in an entirely new direction and to entirely new referents. Using the counter-exampling process we will deframe the old generalizations and beliefs and simultaneously offer a new piece of "reality" (conceptual reality) for the mind that does not fit.

"Oh this stuff is just too hard to learn, I don't think I'll ever learn this!"

"My, oh my, what a learning! How did you learn that!?" Using these counter-exampling mind-lines inevitably plays on a paradox and contradiction. Namely, that the very thing that we affirm and absolutelybelieve we can or can't do—in so asserting we will typically demonstrate the very trait or behavior in our affirmations and denials!

The NLP founders, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, tell a story about one of the early NLP workshops where they met a lady who said that she could not say no. So they asked her to come up to the front of the workshop. There they told her to say "No!" to each and every request that all of the other workshop participants would ask of her. But she refused to allow herself to go up to each one and receive a request.

Now in refusing to learn to say no in that way, she also had to say no to the seminar leaders. In this set up, Bandler and Grinder put her in a double-bind (a benevolent one) wherein she demonstrated the very skill she asserted that she didn't have.

As you listen carefully to find examples of the principle that people generally tend to demonstrate what they say they can't do, you will begin to see it everywhere.

"I have no particular expectations..."

"Wow! How did you develop that expectation about yourself?"

"I want to have more confidence because I don't have any confidence."

"My, you sound pretty confident about that!"

These counter-exampling examples also demonstrate how this pattern tends to make it easy to set up benevolent double-binds. Why? Because in counter-exampling we bring up undeniable evidence to the contrary. At other times, we ask a person to do the very behaviorwhich will then deny their generalization. In a sense, in counter-exampling, we track the person backwards to experiences which prevent them from (or make it hard to) maintaining the old generalizations. Counter-exampling questions also provide a standard of comparison. "I can't learn things like this!"

"Do you mean that you learn language patterns more slowly than others? Could it be that you simply take a more methodical approach to things?"

This reframe dissociates the person from his or her behavior as it simultaneously validates him or herself as a person.

"Do you believe all learning has to occur in a fast way? Can a person learn slowly and yet still learn?" "I believe that there is no change." "Have you had that belief since birth? No? Then you mean you began life without this understanding and then somewhere along the line something changed so that now you have this understanding?"

When we use these kinds of mind-lines with people, we should always remember that if we attack someone's belief (or if they think that we have attacked their belief!), they will typically fight us tooth and nail. Does that ring a bell about interactions you've experienced?

So we aim here to avoid that push-shove scenario altogether. Rather, we want to first track with the person back to either the experience out of which the old learning came, or to new experiences that will allow one to expand his or her maps. "How do you know that?" "What does believing that do for you?"

We can also use temporal presuppositions to take a problem away (conceptually) from a person. We do that by coding the "time" element as in the past.

"Now what was it that you thought at that time that created what, at that time, you felt as a problem?"

In that response, we have offered four temporal presuppositions as mind-line phrases and have created (conceptually), layer upon layer of distance from the problem. Simultaneously, we have subtly presupposed that some change has already occurred. If you imagine yourself the listener, you can feel the effect of this kind of response as very powerful, can you not?

"Picking your nose in public means you're inconsiderate." "I can think of a situation when, if a person didn't pick his nose, there might occur some consequences that would score as worse than merely being inconsiderate; can't you?" Or, putting it into metaphor or story form (#20):

"We were out on this camping trip and this mosquito got up my nose..."

"Sniffling your way through life, and never giving it a good robust blowing represents an even greater act of inconsideration."

Hiding the Equation in Identity Statements

Consider the statement, "I am depressed!" What do we have in a statement like this? We obviously have an internal state (IS) of depression. But what serves as the EB?

Here lurking within the passive "is" verb, we have "am" as a state-of-being or identity. This "is of identity" (Korzybski) summarizes everything about the person: my whole being, my essence, my existential being, "I." The belief now takes the form of an identity complex equivalence. Structurally, in terms of the magical formula, this statement has the form:

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