NLP Health Attractor Journal


In NLP, we primarily tap into the magic of transforming meaning by the process of reframing. By this we refer to the process whereby we create or offer new, different, and more enhancing frames-of-references. In doing so, we frame our thinking in new and different ways, we take a different point of view, we alter our perspective, or we entertain new thoughts. Given the basic holistic neuro-linguistic principle, this transforms not only the way we think but also the way we somatically feel. Thus when we shift from thought viruses that make our body-mind toxic to thought vitamins we think-feel in ways that more holistically support life and well-being.

The basic neuro-linguistic principle? We do not have “mind” and “body” as separate and disconnected elements, what we “think” (represent using a variety of representation modes) inevitable and inescapably effects our “feelings” (our neurological response to representation). This explains how reframing meaning has physchosomatic effects in our body–for health or ill-health.

Ways to Reframe–Let Me Count the Ways
While numerous other models of human functioning utilize reframing (Brief psychotherapy, Solution-Focus, Narrative, Ericksonian, etc.), NLP provides several reframing models. Bandler and Grinder (1979, 1982) earlier distinguished between content and context reframing. Later Richard and Leslie Bandler specified what we now call the “sleight of mouth” patterns to suggest numerous other ways to reframe. In a recent work with Bob Doenhamer (1997), we identified six basic reframing directions–six directions for shifting consciousness creating different frames (content, counter, pre-framing, post-framing, deframing and outframing) with 20 specific patterns for reframing.

The Meta-Move of Outframing
When we move to a meta-position (“go meta”) and out-frame, we typically bring one state of mind-and-body to bear upon another lower level state. In outframing we thus put a larger frame-of-reference around our belief or meaning. This generates a larger-level context within which the old frame then operates. In the Meta-States Model (1995), we refer to this process as meta-stating (i.e., bringing one state of mind-body to bear upon another state).

Thus in accessing our thoughts-and-feelings about other thoughts-and-feelings, we reflect on the previous products of our consciousness. This activates our self-reflexive consciousness so that we “abstract” (Korzybski’s word, 1941/1994) to a higher logical level, a level about a lower level. This puts us in a meta-state position–usually enabling us to adopt a more objective stance, sometimes as dissociative stance, but sometimes as stance that amplifies the lower state as in fear-about-fear or guilt-about-anger.

Meta-Stating/Outframing States of Distress
In ill-health, illness, disease and/or dysfunction we experience a primary state of distress. Here various cues (in the form of thoughts, images, sounds, sensations, words, etc.) Signal our nervous systems (central and autonomic) as well as our immune system about illness.

In ill-health, illness, disease and/or dysfunction we experience a primary state of distress. Here various cues (in the form of thoughts, images, sounds, sensations, words, etc.) Signal our nervous systems (central and autonomic) as well as our immune system about illness.

Much of NLP to date has focused on exploring the question of how we represent (in our sensory modalities and sublimities) and the words that we use in coding and representing psycho-somatic states of distress. For example, we might explore how we represent an allergy, headache, cold, etc. Doing this begins the process of identifying our strategy for a state of distress. “Hello, I’m from a temporary employment agency. If you teach me how to have this experience, you get a day off.”

But now let’s make a meta-move and look at the higher level thoughts-and-feelings that we may typically bring to bear on our states of distress that may make the state worse, and in fact, begin a pathological process. How about the following?

“I hate to feel this way!”

“Why do I have to be this way? It’s not fair!”

“I’ll always be this way. Nothing ever works.”

“Getting healthy is a matter of luck–the right doctor, the right medicine. . .”

“Some people just have healthier genes. They don’t have the struggles that I do.”

“I gain weight just by looking at food . . .”

“It’s too much work to eat right, exercise regularly, etc.”

When we take a meta-level position to an unpleasant primary state and bring a state of hate, rejection, non-acceptance, a discounting state, an excuse-making/victim state to that–we outframe our distress state in a way that usually amplifies the distress. The state-about-a-state that then results generates a layered complexity and a gestalt of pain.

Such self-reflexivity can really create a life a of living hell! How we communicate to ourselves about our primary states can initiate increased states of psychosomatic distress. But we can take this internal mechanism of reflexivity and also use it for vitality and well-being. If, for example, we bring more empowering states to bear upon our distress, we can generate a more enhancing overall gestalt. Here we outframe our distress with more useful thoughts-feelings.

The subjective structure of many psycho-physiological states that ultimately result in sickness, disease, psychosomatic problems arise because of the negative emotional (mental-emotional) states (meta-states) that we have brought to bear upon some original difficulty. The problem doesn’t merely lie in the fact that we have a headache–but that we hate our headache. The way we “run our brain” about our internal experiences can turn our psychic (mental-emotional) energies against ourselves to our detriment. We can thereby layer our experience so that we live in a meta-state of non-acceptance, self-rejection, self-hatred of our experiences.

Herein lies the paradox and ironic nature of accessing states of joy, pleasantness, acceptance, humor, imperfectionism (in contrast to perfectionism), affection, meaningfulness about our fallibilities, hurts, dysfunctions. As we lighten up and cease to take such primary states so seriously, we set a higher level frame-of-reference around things (outframe). This creates “magic” (neuro-semantic and neuro-linguistic magic) at a higher level. Thus the seeming “magic” of accepting and welcoming my headache. Typically the headache vanishes.

At the heart of my great many NLP and Ericksonian approaches to states of ill-health involves outframing, at a higher logical level, a frame-of-reference of acceptance, love, purpose/meaning. In the Milton Erickson’s classic approach to headaches, he first simply accepts its presence and then encourages a welcoming of it by having a person curiously explore just what type of kinesthetic qualities comprises it.

“Does it throb or pound? Do you feel pressure or heat?”

“Where do you centrally feel it? Where does it begin to fade out?”

“And if each throb is like a kitten stomping its feet–and you imagine the kitten stomping even harder . . .”

At a higher level Erickson presupposed that the person could become curious about the pain, and that by accepting it from the frame of curiosity about how much control one has over the submodaility qualities, one’s experience changes. Then “magic” begins to occur.

It could happen.

Bandler, Richard and Grinder, John (1979). Frogs into Princes: Neuro-linguistic Programming. Moab, UT: Real People Press.

Bandler, Richard and Grinder John (1982). Reframing: Neuro-linguistic Programming and the Transformation of Meaning. UT: Real People Press.

Hall and Bodenhamer (1997d). Mind-lines: Lines for Changing Minds; Conversational Reframing. ET Publications, Grand Junction, CO.

Hall (1994). Meta-States: Reflexivity in Human States of Consciousness. ET Publications, Grand Junction, CO.