Springingtiger's Blog

Blindly Following Doctor Cooper.

I personally think that having a diagnosis of Asperger’s should enable one to adopt strategies that increase one’s ability to interact with ordinary humans. I find myself at a loss to understand why some Aspies, admittedly mostly self-diagnosed,  so determinedly want to model themselves on Doctor Sheldon Cooper in the Big Bang Theory. While I can recognise the appeal of Sheldon Cooper, surely he represents an extreme of the behaviours from which we wish to escape. Some of us at various times have felt rejected by society and in turn have rejected society’s norms, but in practical terms an ability to interact with society is useful, to deliberately model oneself on someone virtually incapable of interaction with normal humans is illogical if not downright perverse.

It occurs to me that there are some people who feel a need to prove they have Asperger’s and so deliberately adopt Aspie traits as if to give themselves an identity. When one has these traits involuntarily they do not possess the same appeal, indeed for many of us life has been a struggle to escape their domination. My wife says that the Big Bang Theory reminds her of home, she doesn’t always mean that in a good way. It is a principle of Neurolinguistic Programming that we should seek flexibility of thought and behaviour and flexibility brings a degree of freedom. I was running my daily washing routine this morning when I realised I picked up my flannels in the wrong hands, rather than swap them over, I deliberately chose to continue. Sheldon Cooper tends to find himself paralysed when his routines are frustrated, why would anyone choose that?

I discovered people’s determination to be like Doctor Cooper from interactions on line, in particular I remember someone admiring Sheldon Cooper’s tee shirt folding gadget. I realised then they were governed by their need for identity, rather than logic, because they had failed to notice that the gadget does not fold equally, it leaves one  side longer than the other. It is far better to fold by hand so that the shirt is folded evenly. Having written all that, Doctor Cooper does have admirable qualities, but one can model selectively, as we say in NLP, you don’t have to wear purple to model Milton Ericsson. Richard Bandler emphasises that the difference between NLP and conventional psychology is that psychology focuses on what is wrong NLP, on what is right. I shall not cease to enjoy Sheldon Cooper in the Big Bang Theory,  but I won’t model myself on him.

Writer’s Block – Commitment and Context.

As I left the cinema this lunchtime, I bumped into my friend Charlie Russell and walked him along to his work. As we walked we talked and the conversation turned to writing. Charlie told me that when faced with writer’s block Dan Brown hands upside down, it led me to the contemplation of writer’s block.

As you may know, I have committed to posting to my blog every day this year, so the subject of writer’s block is of some interest to me. There were days at the start when writing was a real struggle and for those writing something specific like a book or commissioned article, I can appreciate writer’s block is a real problem. I have the freedom to write what I choose and after a while it occurred to me that every day something happens, all that remains is to write about it. If one pays attention there is always something about which to write, all that one has to do is notice it. Of course what draws one’s attention may not be the subject about which one writes, it is sufficient that it calls one’s attention to something about which one can write. Unfortunately the events of one’s daily life may be irrelevant to that about which a writer needs to write, but at least they will be writing, and writing, any writing, may be sufficient to start the ideas flowing again. It goes without saying that any writing will require editing, if that editing is to remove irrelevant content that stimulated a flow of ideas, so much the better. Anyone who has a commitment to something will, on occasion, face obstacles, sometimes the obstacle is called “writer’s block”, but everyone has their blocks.

My commitment is to post to my blog every day, it is not to post rubbish,although there are days when I am not entirely satisfied with my output. There is no point in my writing something that is of no use to readers, so contained in my commitment is the further commitment to provide value. I write primarily for myself, but there is no satisfaction in worthless content; time constraints may prevent me fully editing what I write, but at least the content should have value, my values will not allow it to be otherwise. I believe I may have said in a previous post that a commitment that does not have one’s values as its foundation will not be compelling. My commitment is to write, someone else’s may be to feed school children in Africa or, perhaps, to educate their own children. A person’s real commitment creates the context in which they live and act. I have said it before, and it remains true that commitment is not something one has, it is who one is. Commitment will always bring obstructions, but it will also provide the power to get past the obstruction.

Because I Say So

When I say, “I am going to be powerful” I am declaring that I am NOT powerful.
When I say, “I am someone” I dissociate from myself, I put me at arms length.
When I say, “there are doubts” or “doubts occur” I am declaring that I am not in control of my feelings, I am abdicating my responsibility.

When I say, “I doubt” I am responsible. I am doing the doubting, it is not something happening to me. I choose to doubt and I can choose not to, I am in control.

When I drop the “someone” and instead say simply, “I am” I put myself at the heart of the action, I am where everything happens.

When, instead of, “I am going to be…” I say, “I AM fun, I AM joyful, I AM powerful!” I am declaring this is who I AM. This is who I am BEING regardless of how I feel. This is not who I hope to be this is who I am and the world will adjust itself accordingly, because I say so and, as I learned from Werner, “My word is law in the Universe!”*

* “If you keep saying it the way it really is, eventually your word is law in the universe.” (Werner Erhard)

The Month

On Tuesday the month ends. This year I have to admit Autism Awareness month, or Autism Acceptance month, has made little impact on me as my focus has been very much on National Poetry Writing Month. It has been the least stressful April for years, I have argued with no one, despite there being a Measles epidemic over here, I haven’t managed to pick a fight with an anti-vaxxer, I am feeling chilled and virtuous. I have even made a positive connection with a cure seeker, I wouldn’t have predicted that last April.

The month may be ending, autism isn’t and our respective struggles continue, even if the spotlight has been turned from us. If I would want us to take anything forward over the year, it would be respect and tolerance; how can we expect acceptance when we present the world with a model of vicious intolerance and division. One thing autistics come to learn is that other people are very different, in all honesty it sometimes manifests more as “why are normal people so weird/horrible/wrong?”, but they are definitely different.

There is an NLP presupposition that, “People do the best they can with the resources they have available” and another that “all actions have a positive intent”. If someone espouses a ridiculous point of view, it does not mean they are are bad, it merely means that the data they have is flawed or is it? Before we correct them let’s double check our own sources first; are they empirically sound, are they up to date? Autism is a subject that provokes strong emotional reactions from some people, particularly the neurotypical who are less prone to rely on reason. We need to put our emotions aside and treat their opinions logically and respectfully. There may be some beliefs from which no amount of science or reason will sway them, but this is no reason to hold them in contempt, they remain human beings. Far better to find common ground upon which we can build, than insist on wasting energy in pointless struggle. If they are unwilling to put aside differences for the sake of the greater goal then shake their dust off your sandals and pursue more fruitful activities. At the end of the day we have a goal that is too important to allow us to waste time in fruitless argument, better to focus on reaching out with the truth where we can make a difference and hopefully allow that which is unhelpful to wither from neglect.

Now is a Good Place.

“The mind is a complete multi-sensory record of successive moments of ‘Now’” (Werner Erhard).

This quote has remained with me for nearly thirty years, the idea of complete multi sensory records speaks to me although my memories are far from successive. My wife says I have the biggest “Now” of anyone she knows, I also have very little awareness of past and future. Some people wonder what the future holds for them, I wonder what’s for dinner. Dinner time is about as far ahead as my conscious mind routinely looks our cares to look. Most people arrange their memories on a line from past to future, my memories are stored spatially around me and not in a line, sometimes I can be seen literally grasping for memories with my hands. For the point of exercises I can make a timeline, but its positioning is arbitrary – I once put it from left to right in front of me, and accomplished as much in an hour as I would normally in a day, but that’s another story – and I change it as I choose. The work of NLP in looking at how we store our memories and how we can use that to enable someone to heal a traumatic personal history is an amazing gift. Steve Andreas & Connirae Andreas applied Richard Bandler’s insights on submodalities to how we relate to time, and in turn Wyatt Woodsmall introduced it to Tad James and together they developed Timeline Therapy ®. I learned Timeline Therapy ® on my NLP Practitioner course and was amazed at the speed with which we were removing the emotional charge from people’s traumatic memories because the name Timeline Therapy is so closely guarded others who work therapeutically with timelines, many of whom have progressed beyond TLT, tend to use tother terms like, for example, “Time-Based Techniques” for what they do. A popular use of the timeline is to empower the goal setting process. This is done by putting the completed goal onto someone’s timeline as a complete multi-sensory representation of their accomplishment of the goal, with all the attached positive emotions to make it compelling.

One of the reasons that traumatic memories continue to plague us for years is that memories are complete multi sensory records, any sensory stimulus that was present when the first traumatic incident occurred when repeated will bring back the memory, that’s how anchoring works. NLP has techniques for discharging unwanted anchors, but also for installing useful anchors, for example, to put one in a resourceful when facing a challenging task like public speaking.

I remember during the est training, one of many light bulb moments occurred when we got to realise that we only experience in the present, because by the time we start to think about an occurrence it is already in the past. “You aren’t even remembering what happened, you’re remembering a concept of what happened!” This is, of course, the truth that underlies the spiritual injunction to surrender to the present moment found in Eckhardt Tolle and Jean Pierre Caussade amongst others. The essence of spiritual practice is to be aware in the present. Most of our problems exist in our interpretions of past events or in our anticipation of things to come; and it’s all made up! I am fortunate in my now disconnected from past and future. So many people live lives of discontent because their thoughts are elsewhere, they wish they had different jobs, different partners or they were somewhere else, and so they can never fully experience nor enjoy the present. I rarely suffer from anticipation of the future because like many Aspies I tend not to connect actions to consequences. I can logically plot a course of action, but I don’t have emotionally charged dreams and hopes. The only place we can live is here, the only time is now. I cannot imagine a better time or place to be than now.

The Power Of Language

“In the beginning was the Word, the Bible says in John’s Gospel and Genesis describes God speaking Creation into being, personally I’m not sure I trust it entirely as a witness statement, but what if our world is created by language, isn’t that the logic behind the use of mantra? Perhaps the most abiding lesson I learned from Werner Erhard’s “est” training, nearly thirty years ago, is that the world occurs for us as we describe it. est and the work that grew out of it emphasise the power of our language to construct our reality, literally it exists as a declaration. Much of the value of the work of Landmark Education less in learning to distinguish the sentences with which one describes one’s world.

We tend not to be aware of how much our lives are determined by sentences like, “money is bad”. In NLP we would challenge such a statement with a question like “who says, money is bad?” or “In what way is money bad?” perhaps, “what do you mean by bad?”. When Richard Bandler and John Grinder modelled Virginia Satir, they discovered that by challenging an emotionally charged statement, the charge could be taken out of it by getting in touch with the reality behind it. This gave rise to the NLP Meta Model which defines how we delete, distort and generalise the expression of our beliefs and allows us to challenge those linguistic distortions and use specificity to get to the reality behind them. It always works…Always? A lot of the time…How often exactly? The Meta Model in effect wakes people up and helps them focus outwardly on reality.

NLP also has the Milton Model, based on the language patterns of Milton Erickson, which is the opposite of the Meta Model and is designed to take a person’s focus within to access the resources of the unconscious mind. The language of the Milton Model is described as artfully vague and leads one into trance, bypassing the conscious mind.

The set up questions used in Access Consciousness like the Milton Model are designed to tap into the unconscious. The Access Consciousness Clearing Statement, which is appended to the setup question is a string of abbreviations used so quickly it is impossible to apprehend it logically, even if it were logical. Dain Heer describes the process as, “frying your brain”. Basically they are linguistic tools for bypassing mundane thought.
I wrote recently about the power of questions, but questions are just one, possibly the most powerful, of the linguistic tools available to us. In the work done by Landmark Education we are questioning ourselves to distinguish the stories that we allow to control us and the sentences that express our beliefs. In NLP carefully constructed questions are very much a tool, but as important is an awareness of content. The language a person uses reveals their preferred learning styles, their beliefs and values, how to motivate them and what disempowers them not just specifically but in general. NLP makes much of the use of language to accomplish results, whether by self-talk or by communicating persuasively with others. Rintu Basu’s Persuasion Skills Black Book is a very useful guide to the use of persuasive language patterns. Robert DiltsSleight of Mouth is a useful guide to using language to bring about change. Dain Heer talks about listening for the energy behind a question in Access Consciousness, which as far as I can see, is a matter of getting to the underlying problem and it is this understanding that gives the setup question that will be used to address it. I applied this principle yesterday to my oncoming cold and what was revealed to me was just how much power my mind has over my body, hence today I am cold free. If God can create with language the least I can do is to model myself on him.

The Power of the Question.

I remember when I did the est training nearly thirty years ago we were taught that, “There is no power in answers, the power is in the question!” and it is true. However some questions contain more power than others, the point is to question with purpose and awareness. It occurs to me that the best technologies in the human potential movement derive their power from language and particularly from questions.

I have a favourite question from NLP which is a response to someone’s assertion that they don’t know what to do, “And if you did know, what would you do?” amazingly this nearly always has them respond with a list of possible actions. It is as if questions open a door to the unconscious mind. I have recently developed an interest in Access Consciousness which is described as energy work, but it uses questions coupled with a “Clearing Statement”. Again the questions are used to open up possibilities, one I particularly like is, “How can it get better than this?” as it opens up the possibility of getting more, joy, fun, love or whatever, whereas a statement like, “It doesn’t” get better than this” immediately closes off possibility.

One of the questions in Access Consciousness, “What else is possible?” reminds me very much of Richard Bandler’s question on learning anything new, “What else can I use this for?” a question entirely about opening up possibility. One of the cornerstones of NLP is Modelling excellence, which is eliciting how someone with a particular skill does it so that others can do it to. Modeling is also used used to elicit less than optimum strategies so that they can be changed, replaced or improved. The modelling process relies upon intensive questioning so that every detail of a strategy becomes clear. Once one has a strategy it can be opened to improvement with further questioning like, “What would happen if I did this instead?” or, “What would happen if I skipped this step?” Of course once the strategy has been improved to apparent perfection, there comes the aforementioned question, “What else can I use this for?”.

In NLP there appears to be a fork whenever a new technique is discovered and developed; on the one hand there are those like Bandler who look for new questions and on the other, there are those who take the technique, for example the Spelling Strategy, and build a career on it. I am not saying this is wrong, thousands of people with dyslexia have been cured by people using the Spelling Strategy, specialisation can be good. And there are those whose interest is in discovery, but there is little point in discovering useful strategies if they are not used.

Science is all about asking questions, many of which are along the lines of, “How can I answer the question?” the cause for every experiment. All progress derives from questions, from refusing to accept that, just because something has always been a particular way, it must always be so. The root of progress lies in, “What else is possible”, “What more is there”, “Why is this happening?”. When faced with any any apparently insurmountable problem, or uncertainty, the key to progress lies in asking the right question.