Resolve inner conflicts so you can engage consistently in a desired behavior. This technique uses logical levels and NLP resources in an interweave that deserves some explaining. We encourage you to study this thoroughly. In essence, you will learn to leverage higher levels of criteria in order to produce your desired behavior, despite the resistance, distractions and temptations that have typically sabotaged your efforts in the past. Often inner conflict arises from the way higher logical levels override lower ones. This is possible because a desire often gets its drive from more than one level. When these levels work at cross purposes, we can end up sabotaging our higher intentions through procrastination, misplaced priorities, and other self-defeating behavior. Consider this example: If you derive personal meaning from helping others, and you have made a career of it, then your Identity level (one of the logical levels) provides much of the drive for your career choice. At the same time, you desire to express your skills and knowledge and to act on habitual behavior. These desires drive your career actions on a day-to-day basis. This example shows three different logical levels driving behavior:
Identity (as a helper), Skills/Knowledge (applied to helping), and Behavior (helping). But, what if you want to get a better job so that you can make more money and contribute more by gaining more responsibility in your chosen field? Let’s say the answer is that you need to return to school to learn more and get an advanced certification or degree. Although you may be able to say that this goal is connected to your Identity level, it is not enough if that understanding is only an intellectual, conscious one. If your strongest connection with going to school is only happening at the Skills/Knowledge level, then you’ll have a problem. That’s because your Identity level is currently filled with actually carrying out helping behaviors on a day-to-day basis.
This “Identity override” (the Identity level overriding the Behavior level) leaves you procrastinating on going back to school, while your current work absorbs the lion’s share of your energies and creativity.
This technique is designed to help you connect a higher level, such as your Identity level, to an important aim, such as going back to school. This creates a strong subconscious drive that causes you to move forward much more easily and creatively. As you’ll see, the power of this technique comes from its clever integration of several different NLP resources.
In addition to Logical Levels, this technique can use Spatial Sorting and the Counterexample Process. It will also sharpen your awareness of rep systems and cognitive strategies. It has broad applicability and much flexibility in the hands of an experienced Neuro Linguistic Programming practitioner.
Prepare the page
On a piece of paper, in a landscape (sideways) position, create four columns with the following headings.
Leave room at the top of the page for two items: Behavior and Override.
Column 1) Capability
Column 2) Belief
Column 3) Desired Behavior
Column 4) Identity
Note the desired behavior.
At the top of the page, write down a behavior that you want to engage in, but that you somehow self-prevent from carrying out. For example, studying as much as you need to.
Note the motivating factors.
In column #1, Capability: list the factors that give you the most motivation to engage in the positive behavior. Emphasize factors related to skills, possessions, and knowledge that build and result from your capability to do this behavior. For example, getting into a top-notch grad program, getting into a great career, or having a nice house. Note the strategy, meta-program patterns, and sub-modalities that tell you that each criterion is motivational. For example, the idea of a great career goes along with the eager excitement in the solar plexus. The things that feed into that positive feeling include the desirable challenge and a desire for prestige. Refer to the meta-programs appendix as needed.
Note the preventing factors.
In column #2, Belief: list the factors that prevent you from carrying out the desired behavior.
Emphasize thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and values, including any that seem irrational. Include any resistance or objections that pop up and take you away from your desired behavior, even if you have never put them into words before.
Take yourself through the process of getting pulled away from your desired behavior and analyze it as though it was a formal decision-making process.
Look for strategies, meta-programs, and sub-modalities that drive these decisions.
Look for the criteria that the decisions are based on. For example, “I do not study as much as I need to because it is stressful and I run out of time.”
Another would be, “When I study and the phone rings, it seems important to answer, even though I know it will be a friend who will distract me from studying.
The sub-modalities are that the ring is in the center of my attention (auditory), and gives rise to feelings (kinesthetic) of relief and excitement that are a very attractive alternative to studying. This creates a sense (kinesthetic) of urgency, so I fail to think (self-talk) about setting limits on this. I don’t think of myself turning off the ringer (visual).”
Note the override criteria.
Carefully think about your criteria for your desired behavior from column #1.
Think about how these criteria make you aware of criteria at higher levels, including the Identity level.
Jot down any ideas that occur to you in the appropriate column or on a separate sheet if you like.
Continue until you are able to select one criterion that is the highest and most powerful of all.
Write this one down in the space just below the behavior and put a big star beside it or highlight it. In seeking this high criterion, it might be helpful to ask, “What strikes me as being so important that I would always have time for it, and that stress would not prevent me from doing?”
Note what personal value of yours that it satisfies so that it achieves this superior level of importance, (e.g. “preventing tooth decay is a value that means I never forget to brush my teeth twice a day.”). Elicit the strategy, meta-programs, and sub-modalities that drive this criterion. For example, preventing tooth decay is represented as seeing bad teeth (visual constructed) and getting a bad feeling about it (kinesthetic). Refer to the meta-programs appendix as needed.
Let’s discuss how these levels play out in the example of the student. His problem was that his context contained a convenient temptation (phone calls from friends) and an aversive (the discipline required for studying). As a result, the student’s behavior appears to be at odds with his identity as a student, and even with his higher values and vision.
Since the conflict is coming from the lower levels (behavior and context), you can intervene at any of several higher levels, and at the same levels.
For example, students often intervene at the behavioral level by using behavior modification to “outgun” the effects of temptations in their environment.
For example, one student made a rule that he could not leave his study area without doing twenty chin-ups. The chin-ups served as an “aversive stimulus” that reduced his drive to escape to the kitchen for snacks. He enjoyed the side benefits of losing weight and building up his arms. Prior to this intervention, the snacks tempted him away from his studies too often and he gained weight. This intervention uses context (the chin up bar and the requirement to do chin ups) to affect behavior, just as the problem caused the context to affect behavior. However, unlike the problem, the solution was driven by his identity as a student and as a physically fit person.
You could say that he used leverage from his identity level in order to produce success at the behavioral level.
In this case, he did not directly confront his behavior with beliefs about the value of studying. Instead, he used the identity level, and a rather superficial version of it, pertaining to his physique and attractiveness, in the service of his desired behavior, which was eventually studying, not pumping up his biceps. It doesn’t matter much where the motivation comes from, as long as you are able to engineer the behavior you desire.
Also note that, by using behavior modification principles, the student gained leverage over his behavior at the subconscious level. You will see in the remaining steps how to engineer the most effective behavior.
Leverage the process by anchoring the behavioral content from override.
Go back to column #1, Capability, and anchor the behavioral content there.
Really get in touch with carrying out the behavior in a positive state (use the override criteria to help you).
Anchor that positive state.
Apply the highest override criterion.
In column #4 (Identity), use the highest level criterion that you found by applying it at the Identity level.
With the school example, you might say at the Identity level, “My identity as a helping professional is expanding and becoming more meaningful because I am attending the program I have chosen.”
On the belief level, you might say, “I believe in life-long education, and I believe in the craft I am learning.”
Brainstorm, and review what you have done so far to determine how your high-level, override criterion applies to your Identity level.
Engineer the desired behavior so that it is in harmony with all criteria levels, and fulfill the objectives of the desired behavior.
This step may mean a dramatic change of course, or some simple refinements to your desired behavior. Most likely, it will involve adding supportive activities and perspectives to make it ecologically sound and highly motivating.
Bring your attention to column #3, and draw a line below what you have written so far. Write down a behavior here that fulfills (or at least does not violate) the criteria of all columns.
You might want to start by brain storming all measures that you can take in order to enhance or add to your desired behavior so that it fulfills the criteria at each level.
This way, you will come up with a main behavior for this column, as well as a collection of supportive behaviors and adjustments that will help to ensure that you succeed.
Remember that brain storming means you open your mind to many possibilities. You may want to start on a separate sheet and exhaust your ideas, then return for more after letting some time pass.
You might want to call some friends or a mentor to discuss this step. In making sure that your ideas are in harmony with your criteria, you might ask questions such as, “What ways are there for me to take part in a school program that will (from column #1, Capability) improve my income, skill, prestige, and (from column #2, Belief) allow me to continue the work I am doing now in a meaningful way and keep making a living?”
Pick out the best idea for column #3.
Map and adjust the override criteria and limiting beliefs.
Review your override criterion that you noted above the columns.
Notice what sub-modalities give it power. Also, note what strategies it implies.
Observe what meta-programs give this criterion its shape. (Meta-programs are the higher level programs that affect how we think and perceive. For example, some people focus more on what they are avoiding, while others focus more on what they want.)
Now take your revised desired behavior from column #3, and adjust the strategy, meta program, and sub-modality features of the criteria of the desired behavior to match the strategy, meta program and sub-modality features of the highest level (override) criterion. Do the same thing for the column #1 Belief criteria (the values and conditions that give the limiting beliefs a sense of legitimacy). This may seem like an odd request, but remember that you are harmonizing your desired behavior with criteria from all columns, and this adjustment will actually help to drive your desired behavior now that you are no longer waging an internal battle between conflicting levels of criteria.
Over the next few days or weeks, notice if you carry out the desired behavior enough to achieve the positive outcomes you intend it to, such as getting better grades so you can get into a good graduate program.
How well have your interventions worked and how might you improve them?
Are there other logical levels at which you should intervene?
Discover and correct any ecological or other conflicts.
This technique can go very far in helping you achieve very useful depth of insight as well as valuable, creative, fresh solutions. It helps you develop capacities that are quite under-realized in most people. We strongly suggest that you make a project out of this technique for any really challenging or complicated situations in which you are trying to cultivate or engineer behavior that is more appropriate than what you do automatically.
By keeping it handy and revisiting it from time to time, you are likely to find that it can go much farther than one time can achieve. Reviewing Dilts’ neurological levels can help generate ideas.
What additional support or interventions might help you secure this new behavior?
Use your environment to reinforce what you come up with. Posters, sticky notes, and recordings can all help reinforce and remind you.
Recall the behavior modification example above. It takes advantage of context and behavior modification principles. It is not an obvious strategy, because it does not directly or obviously addresses the desired behavior or confront the undesired behavior. In working with a client, you can keep track of the details by writing them down yourself, while guiding the person to step into areas that represent each of the elements written.
In this approach, the original one suggested by Dilts, the person steps into spots on the ground that correspond to each of the columns. This assists with anchoring and eliciting states.
A common problem is to find that the criteria preventing your desired behavior occur at the same or higher levels than the criteria that support your desired behavior. When that happens, people feel mystified as to how to sort things out. Keep thinking it over and you will find a way. For example, put criteria that are on the same logical level side-by-side and keep asking what makes them different.
At first, it might just appear to be that the desired behavior is more relevant to your long-term status, or it might bring a better version of the same benefits or a larger quantity of the same benefits. But if you keep asking why that matters, you will come to values at a higher level, even at the identity level. Get as many as you can, and explore ways to make them more compelling.