Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What are you doing in class?

We began a new nlp practitioner certification course last week - new in that we are training new practitioners and new in that we have redesigned our program. What was not new was how hard it seemed to be to find words to answer the question "what are you doing in your nlp course?"

What they were doing this weekend was fine-tuning their awareness of states in themselves and others. As human beings, we experience the world as a chain of unified states.That means that all different parts of our experience (mental, emotional and physical, for instance) are experienced simultaneously, not in sequence. What we do in a situation depends on the fit between circumstances and the state in which we experience them.

If you think of our clients as being in training for a competition, this is the phase where they develop strength through exercise and repetition. Strength is the ability to exert force in a particular direction to meet a particular purpose. In order to develop a stronger ability to match states to experiences to achieve particular goals, clients first strengthen their ability to pay attention to the individual components of state and the way those components fit together. On a rudimentary level, this means learning to match someone's physiology with his/her state (whether that someone is yourself or another person). This learning is different than the way the strength will be applied once developed just as athletes or musicians practice drills and exercises in order to perform better.

The next level of skill building (also in the first weekend) is the ability to notice how an individual's state directs the outcome of various situations. Exploring their personal past, clients learn various ways of recognizing, "Because I was in X state, Y happened. If I had been in Z state, something different would have resulted. When I encounter a similar situation in the future, I will have a choice than includes X state and Z state and maybe others as well. The same situation can lead to a different result."

Sometimes people think that being able to make choices about which states to access is a matter of control. This is a distortion: people do not thrive by 'controlling' themselves. They thrive when they regularly achieve states that create a fit between their internal drives and their external situations. They are both in control of their state and infinitely responsive to the world around them. They are both strong and flexible.

What were our clients doing this weekend? They were practicing the skills that will allow them to be the people in the room who know what they want and move with strength and flexibility to get it.

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