What is NLP? Definition #4

NLP is… A toolbox of techniques for expanding perceptions, changing behaviour, redefining capabilities, revising beliefs, updating identity, & extinguishing personal coherence & well being.

Gregory Bateson said that in processes of learning, change and communication, there were natural hierarchies of classification. He also said that it was the confusion of these logical levels that often creates problems. The reason for each level to exist was to organize the information on the level below it. So, if you would change something on one level it wouldn’t affect the upper levels, but would cause change in the lower levels in order to support the change at the higher level.

Robert Goldson devised a hierarchical list of logical levels of change. So the higher on the list, the harder to create the change. And, the higher the change on the list creates change and support for changes lower on the list. The list was as follows: (high) Identity, Belief, Capacity, Behavior, and Environment (low). John Grinder said this was illogical. However, in NLP we tend to use what works… and this logical levels of change, works.

Understanding the logical levels of change creates a context for thinking about NLP techniques.  It also provides a framework for gathering and organizing information, so we can identify to the best point to intervene in making change. As humans, we do not change in bits and pieces, but organically. Learning and change can take place at any level or levels.

Identity change deals with your sense of self  – your values, your purpose, who you are.

Belief change deals with what you believe is true about life: the ideas that determine your daily behavior. Beliefs can be values, permissions, necessities or limitations.

Capacity change deals with the sets of behaviors, skills and strategies we use to function in our daily life.

Behavior change deals with the specific actions we carry out regardless of our capacity.

Environment change deals with what we react to – our surroundings, the people and the events that make up our experience.

So you may have noticed that after attending a seminar or reading a self-help book the processes doesn’t work after a week. It is precisely because behaviour is a lower level of change. And, to change a behavior permanently one must also make the belief and capacity level changes. Belief and Identity level changes are difficult to create with out specificity. When an author is writing and book or a speaker is running a seminar, it is difficult for them to create enough specificity for your unique belief system to create that level of change. At the most they could make some capacity level change.

If we don’t change identity or belief, it can clash with a new capability. The system in those instances will throw it out due to cognitive dissonance. NLP starts with behavioural and capacity change to figure out what’s not working. It then goes to belief and identity to create the sustained change.

Tracy Joy is an NLP practitioner, author, and speaker in Vancouver, Canada. She is an international business expert in the area of human systems analysis and thinking change. If you have brain questions, send them Tracy and she’ll answer them on this blog. She can be reached through www.TherapeuticNLP.com