The NLP Pattern of the Month: The Change Cycle
by Robert Dilts.
Implementing the Belief Change Cycle
To implement the Belief Change Cycle, lay out separate locations for each of the states associated with the 'landscape' of belief change. This essentially involves having the person put himself or herself as fully as possible into the experience and physiology associated with each of these aspects of the natural cycle of belief change and 'anchoring' them to specific spatial locations.
- 'Wanting to believe' something new.
- The experience of being 'open to believe' something new.
[Note As an additional 'attractor' you may identify a 'mentor' that helped you to become more 'open to believe' by 'resonating' with, releasing or unveiling something deeply within you. Then make a physical space for the mentor near the 'open to believe' space. Mentors can include children, teachers, pets, people you've never met but have read about, phenomena in nature (such as the ocean, mountains, etc.) and even yourself.]
- The beliefs that you 'currently believe' now, including any limiting beliefs or beliefs that conflict with the new belief you would like to have more strongly.
- The experience of being 'open to doubt' something you had believed for a long time.
[Again you may identify another 'mentor' that helped you to become more open to doubt something that was limiting you in your life.]
- Beliefs that you 'used to believe' but no longer believe. [This is a space we sometimes call the 'museum of personal history'.]
- An experience of deep 'trust' - perhaps a time when you did not know what to believe anymore but were able to trust in yourself or a higher power.
These states and mentors do not need to have any connection to the current belief issue you are trying to resolve.
'Landscape' of States Associated with the Belief Change Cycle
Implementing the Belief Change Cycle
Once this landscape has been laid out it can be utilized in many different ways. One of the common ways in which to use it is to have a person think of a new belief that he or she would like strengthen and simply 'walk it' through the natural steps of the cycle. The instructions would proceed as follows
- Stand in the 'Want to Believe' space, think of the 'new belief' that you would like to have more confidence in. Holding this belief in mind move into the 'Open to Believe' space. (If you have chosen a 'mentor' for this state, you may step into his or her 'shoes' at this point. Seeing yourself through the eyes of your mentor, you may give the you who is 'open to believe' the new beliefs any helpful advice or support.)
- Feel what it is like to become more open to believe this new belief. When you intuitively feel the time is appropriate, step into the 'Currently Believe' space concentrating on the new belief you want to have.
- If there are any conflicting or limiting beliefs that come up in the 'Currently Believe' space, hold them in mind and move to the 'Open to Doubt' space. (Again, if you have chosen a 'mentor' for your 'open to doubt' state, you may step into his or her 'shoes' at this point. Seeing yourself through the eyes of your mentor, you may give the you who is becoming 'open to doubt' any of the limiting or conflicting beliefs any helpful advice or support.)
- Ecology Check Go to the 'Trust' space and consider the positive intents and purpose of both the new belief and any conflicting or limiting beliefs. Consider whether there are any changes or revisions you would like to make to the new belief. Also consider if there are any parts of the old beliefs that would be worth retaining or incorporating along with the new belief.
- Return to the old limiting or conflicting beliefs that you left in the 'Open to Doubt' space, bringing the insights you had from the 'Trust' space and move them into the 'Used to Believe' space, your 'Museum of Personal History'.
- Step back into to the 'Currently Believe' space and focus on the new beliefs you want to strengthen. Experience your new sense of confidence and verbalize any new insights or learnings that you may have discovered during this process.
- Ecology Check Again step into the 'Trust' space and consider the changes you have made. Know that, because this is a natural, organic and ongoing cycle, the process can continue evolve and that you can make any necessary adjustments in the future in the way that is most appropriate and ecological for you.
Many people find that simply walking through these locations (or even imagining walking through these locations) and reexperiencing the states allows them to gently completely shift their beliefs.
Symbolic Belief Change Cycle
Another application of this belief change 'landscape' involves the creation of symbols for each of the locations. This can be very powerful for two reasons. First, it adds an additional 'attractor' to each state making them more easily accessible. Secondly, as Freud pointed out, symbols often help us to involve unconscious processes more in the process of change.
The symbolic belief change cycle involves creating symbols for each of the states that make up the belief change 'landscape'. The symbols are then synthesized into a personal story or metaphor for belief change.
When coming up with the symbols, it is important to keep in mind that they do not need to 'logically' relate to each other in any way. They should just simply emerge from your unconscious. It is not necessary that they make any sense at first. Just write down what pops into your mind as a symbol for the state.
Remember the states which make up the landscape and their symbols should be kept general and not connected to any particular belief issues. In this process, there will be separate symbols or characters for the particular belief you would like to have or strengthen, and any limiting or conflicting beliefs. As an analogy, the symbols relating to the states which make up the belief change landscape will make up the 'stage' on which story is played out. The desired and limiting beliefs will be the 'characters' that move around on that stage.
1. Stand into the 'Want to Believe' space and think of what it is like when you want to believe something new. Create a symbol or metaphor for 'wanting to believe' something new.
1.1. Make up character or symbol for the new beliefs you would like to develop or strengthen.
2. Move into the 'Open to Believe' space and think of what it is like when you are open to believe something new. What is your metaphor or symbol for being 'open to believe'?
3. Stand in the 'Currently Believe' space and think of the current beliefs that you have. Focus on any limiting beliefs that you would like change or which conflict with the new beliefs you would like to strengthen. Create a symbol or metaphor for the old belief or beliefs you would like to change.
3.1. Make up character or symbol for the conflicting or limiting beliefs you would like to update or change.
4. Move into the 'Open to Doubt' space and think of a time you were open to doubt something you had believed for a long time. What is your metaphor or symbol for being 'open to doubt'?
5. Stand in the 'Used To Believe' (your "museum of personal history") space and remember something you used to believe but no longer believe. What is your metaphor or symbol for all the beliefs in your life that you used to believe but no longer believe?
6. Step into the space for the experience of deep 'Trust'. Create a symbol or metaphor for the experience of trusting in something beyond your beliefs.
7. Tell your 'story of change' by incorporating all of the metaphors and symbols that you have created. If you want to, as you are telling the story, you may physically walk to the spaces to which you are referring.
Allow the story to 'self-organize' itself. That is be intuitive. Just begin and let the story take you where 'it needs to go'. Tell it as if you were telling a fairy tale to a child or as if it were a dream. In fact it is best to start the story with the words, "Once upon a time..." or "I had a dream that..." and then just let it flow.
Also see the Article of the Month or the Archives if you are interested in checking out NLP in more depth.
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