NLP, as a body of knowledge like any other body of knowledge, is a river of information in perpetual flow. From time to time, we have attempted to harness this flow and contain it, intending to use its potential force for specific purposes (nominalizing NLP). And yet, we are frequently reminded that perhaps what is most valuable is the essence of the flow itself – endless in its potential and possibilities.
Logical Levels of Thinking, or neurological levels, has formed part of this body of knowledge for some time and has proven to be a very useful tool. The tool is always, in some way, a creation of the artist in recognition of a requirement for the expression of that artistry. Logical Levels of Thinking is no different.
The first six Levels of Thinking, as developed by Bateson and Dilts, have been extremely effective in ordering information. As far back as 1997, I 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 that we are indeed, doing so; and acknowledges the power of its presence … and the natural by-product of its expression, whether conscious or otherwise. We are always choosing, whether we do so with focused intention (design) or from habit (default or fall-back position).
Over the ensuing years, 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 – for storytelling – and yet the ability and the willingness to put the ‘pedal to the metal’ often eluded them.
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 centers of the body. All of these things came together in such a way as to allow me to begin to notice the way that each, as its own distinctive thread, could intertwine with another, weaving a completely different tapestry of life potential.
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 adept we had become at telling the story of our lives and yet how frequently and easily people were able to overlook – simply not notice – that they were already, always making choices that were creating those lives! There are no exceptions.
It also became evident that the notion of ‘consequences’ had become skewed, so that while people were aware that new behaviors would have consequences they were unable to notice that the existing behaviors already had consequences, called ‘the quality of 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 was unfolding at that level, in that moment.
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!
Logical Levels of Thinking
Spirituality (Who Else?)
Environment (Where? When?)
Positioned between Beliefs/Values/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 or what I refer to as Culturally Conditioned Self) and what can become (Identity or what I refer to as Perpetually Evolving/Unfolding Self). 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.
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 centers in the body. The notion of energy centers or chakras has been around for thousands of years, the basic idea being that Vital Force is moved through the physical body by the presence of these energy vortices or generators. More detail on the notion of chakras can easily be found in the abundant literature that exists. Interesting to note that ‘traditional’ science is moving more and more into the recognition of the vital importance that ‘energy’ plays in the healing equation.
These energy centers 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 theLogical Levels of Thinking, offer us a decoder. This becomes an invitation to consider the physiological responses of the body as manifestations of higher levels of thinking and expressions of a natural intelligence. Presupposed in this awareness is a recognition that by changing thought at higher levels, the body will respond accordingly by reflecting these changes of thought, in tissue. Without going into the full detail, the following is an overview of those areas relating specifically to the capacity to choose.
The throat (fifth chakra), like the Logical Level of Choice, is the platform for personal expression, from moment to moment. It is also the gateway to sound; the junction of the internal and the external; the point at which information from theHeart (fourth) chakra (Beliefs/Values/Attitudes or Culturally Conditioned Self) ‘collides’ with information from the Third Eye (sixth) (Identity or Perpetually Evolving Unfolding Self) 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 charkas, like the first four Logical Levels, carry history (the past; what I already know); the sixth and the seventh charkas (or Logical Levels of Identity and Spirituality) carry possibility (the future; the unknown; unfolding potential). 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 from what we already know (the past or fourth center down) or we choose to make different sounds based on a choice to move into that which is as yet unexperienced (i.e say ‘no’ when we have always said ‘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 whatI 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 theinfluence 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 consciously/mindfully – with purpose and intention – 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.
For more information on WEL-Systems®, please see the book Fully Alive: Awakening Health, Humor, Compassion and Truth and for more information on The CODE Model, please refer to Phoenix Rising: The Freeing of Human Potential and the audio event Pathways to Personal Power. These products are available from www.LouiseLeBrun.ca and/or at Amazon.com. Related free articles are available at www.WEL-Systems.com/articles.htm
For use with Apple devices, New Paradigm – New World!: Awakening the Quantum Biological Human includes six hours of audio material.
The Seventh Logical Level : Choosing with Purpose, Power and Intention
An invitation to consider what’s possible when we are inclusive rather than exclusive in our thinking about thinking. Calling on what we already know from the worlds of NLP and so-called alternative healing, this article bridges the gap between the intellect (the tool of which is thought and the structure of which is found in Logical Levels of Thinking) and the body (the tool of which is sensation and the structure of which is found in the chakras or energy centres of the body), producing a ‘decoder’ for experience.
Original Copyright 2001 Louise LeBrun; updated 2008
First published in NLP World, November 2001