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"That Means She Doesn't Love Me!" - How Meaning Messes Up Our Lives, And How To Fix It Using Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

May 4, 2008
INTRODUCTION

"That means..." How often do we say this? That means this, this means that.

* "The fact that she shouts at me means she doesn't love me"
* "My presentation went badly, that means I'm a failure!"
* "I didn't get the job, my life is over"

When we make statements like these, we are saying that as far as we are concerned, one thing "means" another thing, or is equivalent to another thing:

* Shouting = not love
* Bad presentation = failure
* No job = life over

In neuro linguistic programming NLP we call these "complex equivalences". This simply means that one thing means another on a subjective level. The reason these cause us such problems is because we often equate an external event (she shouts, how the audience reacted to my presentation, or whether the interviewer liked me) to an internal state or feeling (feeling unloved, feeling a failure, feeling life is over.)

ERBAL REFRAMES

This means (there we go again) that our internal state is no longer under our control. Instead it is dependent upon the outside world. So what can we do about this? The way to begin to break these patterns down, in ourselves or others, is to challenge the basis of the complex equivalence. One tool for doing this is neurolinguistic programming's (NLP) verbal reframes.

Let's take a look at a few of these. Remember the phrase we started off with:

"The fact that she shouts at me means that she doesn't love me"

Here are a few Neurolinguistic Programming NLP reframes that could be applied:

* Have you ever shouted at someone you love?
* Have you thought that she actually shouts at you because she loves you?
* How exactly does shouting equate to not loving?
* Can you think of a situation where shouting would reflect love, for example shouting to alert someone about a fire?
* If you continue to believe that, what will the end result be for your relationship?
* How would you rather feel when she shouts?
* I know this belief comes from a natural desire to protect yourself from being hurt. How could you do that in a better way?
* I know you are a strong and grounded person, too grounded to have this reaction to such a minor issue.
* Perhaps she just loves shouting?
* How would it be if you shouted: "I love you!" to her?

What is the effect of using these reframes? Quite simply, they begin to undermine the verbal equivalence that exists inside our mind "shouting = not loving". Let's take an example:

* Have you ever shouted at someone you love?

If they say yes they have (and who hasn't!), then they have a specific counter example where shouting=loving. Therefore the equation shouting=not-loving cannot be universally true. The truth of the complex equivalence is brought into doubt.

Let's consider another:

* I know this belief comes from a natural desire to protect yourself from being hurt. How could you do that in a better way

This statement assumes the positive intention behind the behavior. It then suggests that another behavior (other than feeling that "she doesn't love me") might be available.

And so on. Learning NLP's verbal reframes can assist in reframing "complex equivalences" so they seem less fixed, and hence less problematic
About the Author
Shawn Carson is director of the International Center for Positive Change and Hypnosis in New York, offering neuro linguistic programming NLP training in New York, NY. He is a certified hypnotist and offers coaching, weight loss, smoking cessation, etc.
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