Springingtiger's Blog


NLP Conference – Reflections on Modelling

For me one of the recurrent themes of the conference was the place of feelings in our lives and our approach to them. Michael Neill talked about how our feelings are given  not so much by our thoughts, but by how we are thinking. He postulated that feelings are part of a feedback mechanism; a feedback mechanism ceases to be useful if we mess around with it. Michael Neill suggested that taking away someone’s bad feelings is actually harmful because they lose the ability to recognise the thinking that gives rise to the feelings.

I don’t think in NLP we focus on removing upsetting feelings rather than addressing their cause. I note that in John McWhirter’s session on Creative Modelling he stressed the importance of feelings as a source of feedback upon which to act. Sometimes,  however, he suggested that sometimes feelings were an indication of erroneous thinking to be addressed by education. John recognised that feeling bad has value, as he said a part of his work had been to make people feel bad about taking drugs or indulging in violence.

Art Giser also  addressed the ecology of feeling bad. As Art said, some things you should feel bad about. If you don’t feel bad about hurting others you are a psychopath or even a sociopath.

The  other theme that ran through my conference was modelling. Modelling is of particular interest to me as someone with Asperger’s,  because it is a tool both for understanding humans and behaving like them. Michael Neill’s session began the theme looking at the models we make of the world and suggesting that rather than model others we should look rather to the genius within ourselves using the three principles of Sid Banks.

Although Michael Neill may have moved away from NLP, Frank Pucelik has not. As we learned in the session he and Wyatt Woodsmall ran, the greatest tool in eliciting a person’s models is the Meta model. Frank was largely responsible for uncovering the Metamodel and participants were fortunate to get a demonstration of modelling from the master himself, moderated by Wyatt Woodsmall who paused the demonstration at intervals so participants could ask questions.

I think it was Wyatt Woodsmall who quoted Einstein saying that you “should make things as simple as possible,  but no simpler”; I don’t think anyone will accuse John McWhirter of oversimplification. I think that, for me at least, his session on Creative Modelling was worth the cost of the conference. John has been looking at the methodology of creating a model as opposed to the NLP norm which is about methods of eliciting a model. Working from the premise that babies create models of their world prior to the acquisition of language. John, as well as asking the questions “What?” and “How?” also asks, “Why?”. Generally NLP modellers are interested,  only in the process of modelling, John thinks it important to understand the reasons that undely the model. John’s “Fractal Modelling” introduces varying levels of complexity and infinite specificity into the model. Some NLPers might argue that this introduces too much complexity,  the model becomes impractical. However the fractal design of the model allows us, having enriched our understanding,  to pull out of the design to a level of manageable simplicity,  which means we have a practical and highly informed model. I am only beginning to get into the sheer volume of content John presented,  but, of all the modelling I have come across, it appears to me, the best approach to meet my Asperger’s driven objectives.

I went to Art Giser’s session, deliberately eschewing another presentation on modelling because the presenter had made an intervention at the Frank Pucelik session that suggested that, for me, her presentation would have been a waste of time. I did, however, attend one more presentation on modelling.

If I am honest I went to Joe Cheal’s Neuro – scaping and Embodied Modelling presentation primarily because I expected to be entertained,  he did not disappoint me. Neither was I disappointed by the content which,  although time precluded any great depth,  introduced me to the concepts of Embodied Cognition and Cognitive Linguistics and the possibility of using them in modelling. We use a lot of kinaesthetic metaphors and  prepositions of time and place to describe our lives. We have a Neuro – Scape which is a three dimensional, symbolic,  representation of our mind and our prepositions and predicates are a reflection of it, a map. Joe made it clear that Embodied Modelling is still a work in progress, but it introduces the possibility of designing physical responses to a situation using the Neuro – Scape and Embodied Metaphor. Actually embodying “rising above”, “retreating from” or, “pushing forward”, for example.

The Metamodel may underlie much of modelling,  but modelling contains so much more than the Metamodel. Modelling is itself fractal in nature embodying great richness and complexity with the facility to simplify as much as possible to be practical. The varying levels of complexity possible allow a range of possible modelling, none of them wrong as long as they do their job.

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