No kidding: the power of negative intention!

Last weekend I was debriefed by my friend Katie Raver on some cutting edge NLP tools she learned about at the recent IASH convention in San Francisco.

One of them was so unexpectedly awesome that I just have to share it! It originated with a Japanese doctor, Masaki Kono, who works with children who have cancer, which you might imagine can be pretty depressing. He only has a few minutes with each patient, and he wanted to get the most out of his time with them.

We’ve all heard a lot about the power of positive intention. Sometimes it seems like a cultural bias or a meme that we need to be positive, that being negative is taboo or at least anti-social and unproductive.

In fact, one of the presuppositions of NLP is that there is a positive intention behind every behavior.

We also know that problems can have secondary gains, such as the caring attention we receive when we’re seriously ill.

Realistically, people get stuck. We set goals we never reach; we have problems that can persist for a long time. Something — an unconscious negative intention — is blocking us from being the person we say we want to be or doing the things we say we want to do.

If that something was conscious, we could probably deal with it. But usually it’s not conscious.

This process can help. It works best when you do it with a partner, one being the guide and the other being the explorer. Then change roles.

  1. Guide, tell the explorer to think of a problem, something that’s wrong that has persisted for a while. Ask what the fear is behind this problem. And what is the fear behind that?
  2. Keep inquiring until the explorer reaches the greatest or core fear associated with this problem. You and the explorer will be able to tell what it is because they will feel some emotion about it.
  3. Now ask the explorer to repeat the core fear this way five times, out loud: “I have been intending to ________________.”
  4. Ask the explorer what he or she is noticing now.
  5. Future pace by telling the explorer that he or she may experience new learnings and even substantial shifts about this topic in the days and weeks to come.

Several people who used this technique have reported back that it is a pretty amazing tool for getting new information about what’s kept us stuck, and just that alone is enough to create a shift!

What happens when boundaries are crossed

Special Bonus! What happens when Boundaries are Crossed!.

Came across this blog post, which illustrates how to use Somatic Experiencing when one’s boundaries have been crossed. There’s a lot of noticing sensations, emotions, reactivity, and new tools to facilitate healing.

It’s good to see how to use SE. It develops “the witness”.


Day 9 of The Work: Who would you be without the thought?

The fourth question to ask when you are doing inquiry (i.e., “The Work” of Byron Katie) about a situation that is emotionally painful is this:

Who would I be without the thought?

Applying this question to my statement that my father didn’t care about me is astonishing.

Without the thought, I am free of these painful feelings. When the thought leaves, the feelings leave.

What’s left is an empty openness. I feel it in my chest. There’s a freedom there that wasn’t there before. It’s as if that thought never existed.

Who would I be? Well, I experience myself as more expansive, more open, lighter.

“Who I am” is my identity, composed of my thoughts, emotions, sensations, and emptiness or spaciousness. Who I am is pretty much how I experience myself in each moment. (Everything else is about me, not me.)

What are you experiencing this very moment as you read this?

It’s so easy to think that who I am is my story: “the woman whose father didn’t care about her” or “the woman whose father had Asperger’s” and so many more stories I’ve bought into and perpetuated about myself. Whenever I think a thought that’s accompanied by emotional pain, I can do inquiry, starting with question #1.

Who I am is not my story.

My father is also not who I formerly believed him to be. When I think of him without this thought, a series of images comes into my mind. Without my story and its emotional baggage, they are neutral snapshots: my father sitting on the sofa, my father at the dinner table, my father driving, my father standing outside his office building waiting for his ride home, my father kissing my mother.

These are much kinder images than those of a father who didn’t care about his daughter.

Man, where did that thought ever even come from? Never mind. Who cares? I’m just glad to have busted this painful, limiting story.

To recap, I’ve already asked:

  1. Is is true? (if no, skip to #3)
  2. Can I absolutely know it’s true?
  3. What happens when I believe the thought?

“Who would you be without the thought” can also be asked “What would you be without the thought?” And whatever your answer is, you can ask again, “What would you be without that thought?”

See where that takes you! (It takes me into a vast experience of empty presence where anything can happen.)

Next: the first turnaround.