Putting the frame on the outside

The beautiful building where we train at NLP Canada Training is currently covered with scaffolding. The roof is being repaired and replaced, and it will be a slow job. In the meantime, our warm brick is covered with a metal skeleton.

It's not pretty, but it is useful.

Think about this scaffolding when you have to repair or replace the way your audience understands the thing you want to communicate. Be especially careful when that understanding is keeping them safe from the elements in an unpredictable environment.

For instance, people frequently come to me with a version of "I don't like this thing that happened to me in the past and the way it has me stuck now."

Their understanding of the current situation is like a roof: it both limits how far they can see and gives them a measure of predictability in an unpredictable world. It's a trade-off: to protect themselves from a world where bad things might happen, they focus on a bad thing that has already happened (but they survived that one). What we need to do is the big work of repairing and replacing sections of that roof so that they can be more comfortable in the present as they think about both the past and the future.

What kind of scaffolding would you use to do that kind of work? I've already suggested some of how I build the external framing that will help people begin to work on the meaning they assign to their past experiences. The first layer of scaffolding is time: I remind them of the difference between past and present and future. This is like the metal frame you can see in the picture.

Next I need to put up the boards (the floors) that allow workers to move on and around the scaffolding. The boards will facilitate a new way of moving from past to present to future without going into the building (their core experience). In my work, these boards are often observations about how human perception works to give meaning to sensory reality. More specifically, our sensory representations (what we imagine seeing and hearing and feeling) provide the floors that allow us to move between the levels of past and present and future. Thinking about how we perceive and interpret instead of what we perceive and interpret is like moving on a scaffolding, going up and down without going into the building itself.

In your work, people might be afraid of a new goal, and you might allow them to imagine the tools, conditions, and results of that goal before they were ready to tackle the steps necessary to achieve it. Or you might need to introduce a very large problem by creating a framework made up of the history, the willpower, and the resources that give people the courage and resolve to face it.


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