Illogical Thinking

In any coaching or therapy, momentum is very important. By momentum, we mean that a productive process is taking place at the correct tempo. Since NLP relies on state management, much of the time, and since states are dynamic processes, the pace of the steps in the intervention must be maintained. This key and basic move can allow you to move in a number of directions. It is an excellent set up for a reframe, for reprocessing, and as part of a hypnotic induction. In this pattern, we ask a simple question, “How do you know that you…” and guide the client into experiencing the sense modalities that make up their knowledge. This converts knowledge into something that can be questioned, added to, reformulated, deducted from, and made more dynamic.

It can help identify illogical thinking that the client can begin to question on their own, thus “owning” their experience with no incentive to resist the therapists “agenda.” It is an excellent gateway to body awareness patterns, because the senses are, well, senses. It helps the client become less attached to their mental narrative, acting somewhat like oil for a squeaky hinge. This is one of those sub-patterns that I mentioned in the introduction. It is a fragment of a larger, strategic series of moves. You’ll get some additional ideas about what to do with the results later in this section. 

Example I

Client: “I feel like such a complete loser.”

Therapist: “How do you know that?”

Client: “Well, it’s pretty clear when you have friends that…”

Therapist: “Wait, I mean, how do you know that you feel like a loser. How does it feel?”

Client: “Totally awful, I feel like giving up.”

Therapist: “Where do you feel that in your body? Where is the main center of that feeling, of the emotion or intensity?”

Client: “Well, really, it’s like my stomach is twisted up.”

Example II

Client: “I just can’t do it. I can’t face him, much less make any sense.”

Therapist: “As you think about doing that, or, I mean, not doing that, how do you feel if you were looking at him and trying to make sense?”

Saying “or, I mean, not doing that,” helps to forestall an objection such as, “But I can’t,” so you can maintain your momentum. Also notice the use of conjugations, mixing, “how do you feel,” an “if” phrase, and, “trying to make sense.”

Client: “I would shut down. I really hate him.”

Therapist: “So if you’re facing him and shut down, where is that feeling of being shut down? Where do you feel it mostly?”

Client: “All over. I just want to turn and go.”

Therapist: “So there is a motivation to action, to move, to escape. What is that like?”

Client: “Oh, well, I would probably feel panicked. Either that or start yelling at him.”

Therapist: “And where is the center of that feeling? Your heart? Your throat?”

Client: “It just moves right up through me from my heart.”

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