The following article does not offer tips and techniques. It extends an invitation to you to direct your attention to much higher levels of thinking when considering the potential of NLP as a body of knowledge. It is not intended to give you answers but entice you to raise questions that you may never have considered before. It is intended to press up against your model of the world, invite you to consider an alternative and, if I'm really lucky, leave you wondering: if this is possible, then what else?
Bringing things together
There was a time when it worked well for us to segment and segregate information (reductionism), breaking things down into smaller and smaller chunks as a way of allowing us to better understand our environments - physical and emotional. To this day, there are times and places when it continues to be useful. Yet, we live in a time when we are witnessing the effects that are produced by finding ways to bring things together; to create linkages through space/time; and move away from separation to wholeness. In other words, we are chunking up ... going bigger not smaller ... in so many ways. Even so, our years of experience, working with human beings who are brilliant, quantum biological devices and not mechanical instruments, have proven time and again that even that is not enough.
We've bumped up against the edges of the 'box'
Despite our knowledge of, amongst other things, NLP, we continue to find people for whom the best training, the extensive certifications and their vast accumulation of knowledge (content) is not helping them to become who they know themselves capable of becoming - continuing to feel at the mercy of a variety of things outside themselves - and, in the process, be the kind of person that others want to spend time with. For so long, we've bumped up against the edges of the 'box' and wondered what was wrong with us that we could not be happy in the box. Maybe the time has come for us to recognize that it is not us ... it is the box. It has become too small for the immensity of our own potential.
NLP will only have the limitations we impose upon it
Around the world, NLP continues to be taught pretty much the same as it has been for almost three decades. Yet all around us, change is not only the essence of who we are but the very force required for unfolding who we might become. We scramble to keep up with the advances in technology and the magical moments that these advances allow and invite us to step into. And yet, when it comes to NLP, we continue to treat this body of knowledge as somehow sacred and untouchable - making efforts to retain its 'purity' - when all around us we are moving to connect things, integrate things, enfolding and unfolding into new expressions. The truth is that NLP is, after all, only information. It is also information that has been structured and labeled, or put together, through the perceptual filters of its creators. Its power is totally dependent on the context (the box) within which we consider this information and our courage to step into bigger forms of its expression. NLP will only have the limitations we impose upon it and these limitations will come from our own certainty, positioning it as an absolute truth... and from our own fear and uncertainty of moving beyond this fabrication.
Two of the most powerful notions offered by NLP are:
- All meaning is context dependent. Not just some meaning, or not just sometimes, but all meaning is always context dependent.
- In the Cause/Effect equation of life, you choose where you stand and this choice will dictate the quality of your life.
What this boils down to is that quality of life - mine and yours is dependent on and driven by the context we create for interpreting our experience and, subsequently, our capacity to choose mindfully.
My colleagues and I have now had the privilege of working with thousands of people, witnessing their evolution as well as our own. More than 10 years ago, my work with clients in a variety of venues allowed for the unfolding of a non-therapy (or autopoietic) perspective on change that has been deepened and refined over those years. In addition, we have taken this non-therapy perspective and over the last five years molded NLP trainings, at the Practitioner and Master Practitioner levels, that have allowed for miracles of change, in their speed, their depth and their on-going capacity to generate new life.
In this process, we've discovered:
- There are in fact seven Logical Levels of Thinking and we've named that seventh the level of Choice.
- There are seven Representational Systems and we've named that seventh representational system PsI, or Psychic-Intuitive.
- The therapy model is not fact or truth - it is a world view. The WEL-Systems® approach to change is also not fact or truth, it is a world view that invites and encourages rapid, profound and generative change. It is a context for change (and all meaning is context dependent) that is driven by what we now know to be true about the nature of being human, as offered by cutting-edge thinking in quantum biology. It is not enough to just talk about this new science ... it is essential that we become living expressions of these scientific revelations, if we are to continue to evolve.
- When all of these - and more! - come together, the context for change is massive! We have created The CODE Model (See Chart 1) as an instrument for moving through the complexity, allowing us to chunk bigger and make connections, making sense of what otherwise may frighten us into falling back into what we know ... or the 'default' position of awareness.
NLP, as a body of knowledge, has been evolving over the last 30 years or so and yet constrained by the context within which it was positioned. That context, or model, is a therapy model. Much of its effect has been transparent to the process since, as a context, it has never been identified let alone questioned.
We begin to access untapped resources
This model, or interpretation, is one that is grounded in the science of another era; a science that approaches human beings as mechanical devices; and one that is focused on the limitations of being human, driven by an external standard or 'norm'. In today's world, with its technology and its potential as derived from the new science - or our quantum perspective - it would seem that we've overlooked that its magic can be expressed not only through technology and the implications of that technology for observing or acting on human beings, but can be expressed directly through the behaviors of human beings as quantum biological devices. When we begin to discover this, we begin to access untapped resources that do already and will continue to shape the world in which we live.
NLP, as a body of knowledge, has been taught around the world in this therapy model, with this model transparent to the process. Never questioned. Perhaps the time has come for us to reconsider NLP and its potential as we create a new context for its expression. Same technique, new paradigm. That new paradigm is the WEL-Systems® approach for rapid, profound and generative change; allowing us to recognize, know, claim and engage the full spectrum of possibility from therapy to autopoiesis.
This work, begun in the late 80's, has come together over the last 15years and is expressed in detail through a number of different vehicles. (For more detailed information, please refer to the note at the end of this article.) We (Partners in Renewal Inc. and the WEL-Systems Institute ) have now had several years of witnessing the results of this approach. We would like to share with you some of what we have discovered so that you too, can begin to consider the possibilities for yourselves and for those whose lives you touch. My intention here is to provide you with an overview ... and it is only the tip of the iceberg of potential that is available. At the end of this article will be references that you can access via the internet; as well as access points for the more detailed material. Perhaps the easiest place to start is at the end and work back.
Decoding the Messages from the Body: The CODE Model™
This model will change the way you perceive yourself, your world and your ability to function effectively within that world. It will also change the way you interpret, live and teach the body of knowledge that is NLP.
Chart 1: The CODE ( Creation Out of Deep Energy) Model™
|Levels of Thinking||Environment||Behavior||Capability||Beliefs / Values / Attittudes||Choice||Identity||Spirituality|
|Representational Systems||Auditory Digital||Kinesthetic||Gustatory||Olfactory||Auditory||Visual||PsI|
|Structure of Time||Past||Past||Past||Past||NOW||Future||Future|
|Interventions||Therapy - Rogers, Jung, etc.||Autopoiesis ... Quantum TLC™|
The Seventh Representational System
Around the world, NLP training at the Practitioner level includes a discussion of representational systems. Depending on who you train with, they will include visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory and gustatory, with the last three sometimes rolled into one; and often a sixth, Auditory Digital (Ad), which is language-based and sensory devoid. Our work over the years has led us to introduce a seventh ... and one that has become a critical (and extremely potent) consideration within which we offer NLP training generally. That seventh representational system we have called 'PsI" orPsychic-Intuitive.
We live in a world of dualities
Consider this for a moment. We live in a world of dualities or polarizations: male/female; good/evil; black/white; yin/yang; etc. If you were to take the duality of black/white, for example, you would already know that black is the extreme that represents the absence of all color and white is the extreme that represents the presence of all color. If we were to stretch out those extremes, and make room between them for a continuum of color, we would then experience a range of colors that would become available between those poles. What we would also notice is that 'black' and 'white' are not separate things but the ends of an unfolding.
So it is with the representational systems in NLP. Along the continuum of expression of the senses, we have visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory, gustatory and, at one end of the continuum we have the absence of all sensory input, or Auditory Digital. In order for this to make sense, the other extreme must also exist in order to allow the continuum to unfold. The opposite end of the spectrum would be the presence of all sensory input ... or what we have called PsI or Psychic-Intuitive.
How consciousness unfolds and expresses itself in matter
Were we to connect these representational systems with notions of consciousness, and some of the thinking on how consciousness unfolds and expresses itself in matter, we would equate the Auditory Digital end with references to fact, data, content, specifics and the Psychic-Intuitive end with references to impressions, notions, impulses, hunches. At the Ad end, as consciousness slows and takes form, details would become more accessible. At the PsI end, where things move extremely fast, detail would be impossible to track at the level of conscious awareness.
It is also possible to link these to notions of time and the structure of matter ('reality'), with the Auditory Digital end equating with that which is already present allowing us to look back on it and observe and describe (the Past), through to the PsI end of the spectrum, which would equate with that which is enfolded, unstructured, undefined, not yet shaped (or the Future).
We now know from science that your body is a bio-processor
It is not analogous to a bio-processor, it is a bio-processor. Its capacity to 'metabolize' information is beyond our comprehension and can easily manage, amongst other things, 3trillion cellular interactions per minute. What we have called the conscious mind, on the other hand, can only track at a rate of 7, plus or minus 2, items at a time. An Ad response requires that the conscious mind be involved in expression of the details. The body however, can easily process at the speed of thought ... and likely beyond.
We offer NLP training that is both expressed and experienced along the continuum. It allows for the detail of content/specifics at the Ad end of the spectrum and then invites our participants to trust the other end of spectrum and allow themselves also to engage at the PsI end. To put it in the words of our clients, the results are "Amazing! ... Profound ... Life-altering ... Gave me back my life". We determined that this was worth paying attention to.
Around the world, NLP continues to be taught in a therapy model/Auditory Digital context. It is interesting; it is factual; it is driven by an awareness of the past; and it is no longer enough given who we now know ourselves to be capable of becoming. It is also not enough to hold our attention and ignite our passion for creating and engaging life to the fullest!
The Seventh Logical Level of Thinking
Because there already exist so many other references for detail in this area, for purposes of this overview, consider the following.
The first six Levels of Thinking, as developed by Bateson and Dilts, have been extremely effective in ordering information. In 1997, we added the seventh Logical Level of Choice (between Beliefs/Values/Attitudes and Identity), taking that which has always been present and yet transparent to the process and bringing it to conscious awareness. By bringing the act of choosing 'out of the closet' so-to-speak, we create a platform for choosing that also makes it impossible to deny the power of its presence. We are always choosing, whether we do so consciously or not.
As I worked with people - individually and/or in small groups or in training programs - I became increasingly aware that even with the information ...the knowledge ... that the six logical levels allowed us to elicit, this frequently was not enough to engage or propel to action. It invited and accommodated conversation, exploration, analysis, consideration and yet, for many, the action required to bring life into full expression was frequently not taken. A disconnect, somehow. A detachment that allowed for analysis and observation, and yet the ability and the willingness to put the 'pedal to the metal' often eluded us.
In parallel with these activities, over the preceding years, I had also spent much of my time working with people across the country, introducing a controversial new model that I had developed for personal, professional and organizational change. The WEL-Systems® (or Work Environments as Living Systems® ) approach to change had proven to be one of those things that people just seemed to instinctively know the truth of ... inside, where they live. Easily engaged, it became a framework that helped them to put words to what they already knew; invited them to pay attention to what was already taking place and offered a context for choosing differently.
Concurrently, sharing information about this approach also allowed me to explore interpretations of 'wellness' that went beyond the so-called 'traditional' approaches and included notions from quantum biology as well as references to the 'chakras' or energy centres of the body.
All behaviors have consequences whether we notice them or not
As I moved through these programs and processes with hundreds of people, observing responses as I went, one thing caught my attention and stood out. I was struck by how frequently and easily people were able to overlook - to simply not notice - that they were already, always making choices, and that there are no exceptions. It also became evident that the notion of 'consequences' had become skewed ... so that there was an awareness that new behaviours would have consequences but an inability to notice the fact that existing behaviors already had consequences, called 'the quality of my life'! All behaviors have consequences whether we notice them or not. Like change brings consequences, there are also consequences associated with no change; and these choices are literally becoming the building blocks of our tomorrows.
It is impossible for us to 'not choose', just as it is impossible for us to 'not communicate'. When we are silent, our absence of speech is a choice. Choosing not to choose is a choice. This underlying process was completely imperceptible to those who were doing the choosing. Yet, at each of the Logical Levels, a moment of choice had been required to create the experience of what is represented.
Over time, my expression of the six Logical Levels of Thinking was influenced by my awareness and mindfulness of those other things, as well. As I continued to share this information with my clients, they were quick to capture its logic, sliding easily and comfortably into the structures of detached observation and analysis that we are all so well trained for. Yet, when it came time to take action, there was often hesitation, pulling back and pointing to something outside of themselves as the cause of their misery. And then it struck me: I was working with human beings, not machines. Human beings are living, biological systems and as such, movement is a sign of life. What was missing was a place to stand to choose consciously, moment to moment, and with intent, as a reference point for quality of life for an evolving living system.
The Seventh Logical Level of Choice was born!
- Spirituality (Who Else?)
- Identity (Who?)
- Choice (Which?)
- Beliefs/Values/Attitudes (Why?)
- Capability (How?)
- Behavior (What?)
- Environment (Where? When?)
Positioned between Beliefs/Value/ Attitudes and Identity, it clearly marks the point at which the experience of being 'at cause' or 'at effect' takes place. It brings to conscious awareness the line of demarcation between what has always been(Beliefs/Values/Attitudes) and what can become (Identity). And perhaps, most importantly, it drives home the notion that power is not in any particular choice, but in the on-going ability to choose - from one moment to the next - with the experience of' choosing' producing quality of life.
How do I choose?
In a nutshell, the fourth logical level is a reference to culturally-conditioned Self, as expressed through installed beliefs, values and attitudes, while the sixth logical level of Identity is a reference to our own potential: the perpetually unfolding, evolving, possible Authentic Self. With the logical level of Choice positioned between the two, the question then becomes: do I make choices that are driven from the fourth level, meaning from what I've been culturally conditioned to believe is true, real, valid, authentic? Or do I make choices that are driven from the sixth level, meaning from who I know myself to be capable of becoming? Do I choose from conditioning, which means re-engaging the past? Or do I choose from potential and possibility, which means stepping into the future and inventing my life, one choice at a time?
Without naming, claiming and including that seventh logical level of Choice; without identifying and legitimizing the level of Choice as the platform on which to stand while determining our context for choosing, (i.e. do I choose from the past, from what I already know? Or do I choose for the future, stepping into the uncertainty that it carries?), we go around and around the track, seeking an external point of reference for making a difference in our own lives.
Without the Logical Level of Choice, and its implication for perpetual movement (with movement being a sign of life!), Identity easily becomes repetitious, static and lifeless, surrendering our immense potential for growth and evolution. Also, Identity becomes confused with Beliefs/Values/Attitudes. We are easily seduced into thinking that something outside of us is going to make the difference in our lives. Culturally conditioned, we look outside ourselves to others - individuals or systems, be they authority figures, community systems, religious systems, educational systems, etc. - to tell us what to do, or to act as our reference points for what constitutes 'normal' or 'appropriate'. We continue to believe that something other than our own capacity to decide; our own capacity to reach out, wrap our hands around our own lives, and take what is appropriate and legitimate for us, will direct our lives. As such, we find ourselves believing to have chosen ... and yet feeling like a victim, nonetheless.
Bridging the Gap
The potential that this Logical Level of Choice carries becomes even more evident when linked to the energy centres in the body. (See The CODE Model 1)These energy centres can easily be linked to direct messages from the body that we have come to think of as 'symptoms' or 'dis-ease' and, when bridged with the Levels of Thinking, invite us to consider their meaning with significantly different results. Without going into the full detail, the following is an overview of those areas relating specifically to the capacity to choose.
Choosing from the past or the future
The throat (fifth chakra) is the platform for personal expression. It is also the gateway to sound; the junction of the internal and the external; the point at which information from the Heart (fourth) chakra 'collides' with information from the Third Eye (sixth) and its messages of possibility and magnificence. It is at this point that I must choose which will direct my life - the past (known, repetition, habit) or the future (unknown, possibility, potential). It is at the throat that this struggle is played out and the resolution is put forward, into physical space and time, for all to hear and know; it is the point at which I either choose to decloak and move toward who I am capable of becoming, or to stay cloaked, to await the next opportunity for expression - with these opportunities never-ending. Life refuses to be subdued.
The first through the fourth chakras carry history (the past); the sixth and the seventh carry possibility (the future). The fifth chakra, at the throat, is the link between these points in time as well as the platform on which we stand in the "now". This platform is my connection to what I perceive as the outside world. As I stand on this platform in the present, do I speak from history or do I speak from possibility? As I choose mindfully, information from the higher chakras moves into the lower ones, disengaging me from multiple dualities and allowing for the integration, in the full body, of new insights.
The throat is the point at which we choose either to continue to repeat our experience or choose to make different sounds (i.e. say 'no' instead of 'yes') and create a new expression of ourselves. Do I continue to express myself from the Heart chakra, which carries history and training, or do I express my Self from the Third Eye, which holds and defines what I am divinely capable of? Do I express in a way that I always have or do I 'stand tall' and express something that is much more a reflection of who I know my Self to be - and to be capable of becoming.
If there is conflict between the fourth and the sixth chakras, there will likely be struggle in the throat. If the rules (in the fourth) always bump up against what I believe is possible (in the sixth) I get tension in the throat: which do I speak myself to be? When the path clears from the fourth through to the sixth, expression flows easily, smoothly - and is free to change as air moves through the fourth chakra, bringing new insights and awareness to beliefs, values and attitudes (for example, I have the right to change my mind.).
The throat is also located at the narrowest, and by extension, most fragile point in the physical body. Here, the spinal column and major arteries are at their least protected. In our decision to choose mindfully; to move away from the influence of the past, and to allow the uncertainty of the future to guide our selection, we are at our most vulnerable and our most fragile. We risk taking what has been secret and making it public for all to hear, see and judge. To choose is, potentially, to lay ourselves bare.
Standing at Cause
Naming and claiming the Logical Level of Choice makes visible that which has always been transparent to the process. It's huge in its implications, given that we are choosing at every level. The question then becomes: are we choosing mindfully, or are we mindlessly dancing to habituated responses? Positioning it at the level of the fifth chakra - a very high level - draws our attention to our vehicle for self-expression (sound and speech), as well as to the profound implications of choice, which are about unfolding identity, Self, who I AM in the world.
Until we mindfully, consciously choose to be greater than our experience, our experience will be what defines who we are. And since our experience is limited, we too, will fall short of what holds power and possibility for us. To make Choice a conscious, mindful act at all Logical Levels is to bring out of the darkness the very act of power which, by default, is causing us to hold and maintain the status quo. Anything we can name, we can make real and visible in the universe.
I am deeply grateful to have been taught so well by the lessons learned through the work of Bateson and Dilts. Like all things in life, growth is a natural progression through a living system. Logical Levels of Thinking is just that, a living system that allows for the structure of thought to be made visible ... and invite choice. The addition of the seventh logical level of thinking allows us to consider the structure of 'choosing', make it visible ... and give us the power to live with attention, intention and an invitation to continue to unfold ... forever ... .
The WEL-Systems® Model for Change: A non-therapy context
The WEL-Systems® approach to change has helped thousands of people take back their lives. It is a context for change that doesn't just tell people that they are in charge of their own lives, it helps them to rediscover the natural expression of this and become willing to reclaim it. Both willingness and ability must be present if we are to engage life.
The book "Fully Alive: Awakening Health, Humor, Compassion and Truth" introduces the notions, with "Phoenix Rising: The Freeing of Human Potential " providing a theoretical framework for Quantum TLC™ as an intervention.
In general, consider the following:
- The WEL-Systems™ approach is the context (Intention).
- The CODE Model™ is the roadmap; the framework for enquiry (Attention).
- Quantum TLC™ is the experience/intervention, not as technique but as a state of being (Invitation).
In conclusion, NLP as a body of knowledge has given us the language to describe the results that we have observed. In other words, NLP has allowed us to bring structure to that which thought has produced and slow it down sufficiently so that we can calibrate it with the clarity of content. However, what we have overlooked is that what is now available to us, given what we have discovered in the last 15 years, is to begin to access directly the very process that produces the results that NLP has described!
As we move beyond a therapy context, the divisions of 'conscious' and 'unconscious' mind disappear and are replaced with an awareness that these are like the back and the front of the same hand, with separation an illusion. There is only one Force and it is always moving as one Force. It is the therapy model that has demanded that we create artificial distinctions and dichotomize that which is most potent when engaged as a whole.
Science now tells us much about the body that was unknown as recently as15 years ago. It is not about good/bad, right/wrong. It is about usefulness. Does it serve us to continue to create these constructs? Do they support our own unfolding and expressing ourselves with the full magnitude of our own potential?
As we begin to reclaim the territory of the body, and trust the brilliance of the instrument that we already are, we become able to engage that 7th Logical Level expression - Spirituality - that we all so desperately seek. It is possible to teach NLP in that 7th Level context and help people learn to trust themselves. Once this happens, the miracles are only seconds behind the discovery.
For at least 100 years, our perception of what a human being is and what we are capable of has been shaped by what has come to be known as the 'therapy' model, with all its sub-sets of particular styles of intervention (i.e. Freud, Rogers, Jung, etc.). The therapy model is just that ... a model or an opinion ... and yet is taken as 'fact' and 'truth' around the world. Perhaps what we are perceiving as our limitations as human beings are nothing more than the limitations of the model. Not only may this world view no longer serve us, it may actually have become a part of the problem.
1 The WEL-Systems® model or world view is described in detail Fully Alive: Awakening Health, Humor, Compassion and Truth . The details of the Seventh Logical Level of Thinking and its implications as a practical, working tool for decoding the messages from the body, linked to the chakras or energy centres in the body, can be found in the audio program called Pathways to Personal Power. The combination of this new, powerful and ground-breaking context for change (WEL-Systems®) and its instrument for practical application (The CODE Model™) have become the invitation for change known as Quantum TLC™ and can be found in detail in Phoenix Rising: The Freeing of Human Potential. (Both books and the CD's are authored by Louise LeBrun.)
If you enjoyed this article, additional information is provided on the CD sets Pathways to Personal Power and Guided Reflections - Energy and the Chakras and also in the book Phoenix Rising also by Louise LeBrun.
Original Copyright © 2001 Louise LeBrun; updated 2008
First published in Rapport, November 2001