One of the presuppositions of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is that there is a positive intention behind all behaviors. And based on that presupposition, when it comes to successfully eliminating negative behaviors, there is formula that we must always keep in mind. I’ll let you in on the secret in a minute. But first, I have a riddle for you to solve.
Riddle: A minister made his son drink lye, which burned out his vocal chords. What was the positive intention behind his behavior?
If you are like 99.9% of the clients who have come into my office since 1978, you’ll indignantly say something like: There’s no positive intention behind that behavior. But you would be 100% wrong. To answer this riddle, first you have to separate the behavior from the positive intention of the behavior.
The minister’s son was cursing. And the minister believes that if a person curses, his soul will be condemned to Hell. So the answer is that the minister was burning out his son’s voice box so that he couldn’t curse. So he was saving his son’s soul from being condemned to Hell.
The secret formula for success works as follows:
We must always respect the positive intent behind every behavior. If we have a compulsion to use a behavior that we don’t like, we can easily get rid of the compulsion to use that behavior providing we find another behavior to substitute in it’s place that is as effective and available at accomplishing the same outcome, but is more consciously acceptable to you. This is called a REFRAME.
When clients come into my office, one of the first things that I do is to take a through case history. Let’s say that they come in and ask me to help them overcome their appetite. Conventional wisdom tells us that the two main reasons that people eat excessively are:
(1) For relaxation and pleasure;
(2) Because eating can be a conditioned response. For instance, if a person eats while they are watching TV, they will develop a conditioned response, and thereafter, every time they sit down to watch TV, they’ll get cravings and an urge to eat.
However, the above answer only takes into consideration the possible positive intention behind the eating behavior. What if they also have another behavior that is involved in the equation? For example: What if being fat is also a behavior for this person? I can hear your mind grinding right now as you think, Being fat isn’t a behavior, what are you talking about?”
Sorry but you could be 100% wrong. Here is one simple classic text book example that will illustrate the fact that being fat can be a behavior. It can be a behavior because it can accomplish positive outcomes.
Example: A woman is deeply in love. Her boyfriend breaks up with her, and breaks her heart. Her unconscious mind wants to protect her emotionally and prevent her from having her heart broken again. So it motivates her to get fat to keep her out of relationships. That way she won’t get her heart broken again. The point is that everyone is totally different. And sometimes there are hidden elements at work causing compulsive behaviors. These are elements that are different for each person.
Here is another example: A woman comes into my office complaining of an uncontrollable urge to overeat at dinner time. During my case history, upon questioning, the woman explains how she was never been able to satisfy her father.
We did an age regression, and one of her earliest memories was of eating dinner with the family. And dad was insisting in a very loud voice that she clean her plate, even though she was full. So she cleaned her plate out of fear, and dad commended her for eating everything. It was one of the only times in her life that she could recall her dad telling her that he was happy with her.
Shoot forward to present day. Dad’s been dead for years, but the unconscious program he installed is still working. She still has a compulsion to clean her plate, even if she is feeling stuffed, because by cleaning the plate she is getting dad’s approval, and eliminating her fear!
So if you are having a problem making personal changes, keep in mind that there is a positive intention behind all behaviors. And keep in mind “The secret formula for success.”
© 2006 By Alan B. Densky.