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NLP 101 Language Patterns: “I don’t believe…”

By on September 18, 2014

In this series of blog posts we will be explaining an NLP language pattern of trance. We’ll be explaining how your hypnosis clients use the pattern to put themselves into trance, and how you can use the pattern to dehypnotize them, or at least give them a better trance.

The NLP language pattern

In this blog post we will be talking about the word ‘believe’, as in, “I believe” or “I don’t believe”.

Our old friend Master Yoda of Star Wars also has a wonderful quote about beliefs. Master Yoda raises the spaceship from the swamp with the power of his mind,  while Luke Skywalker watches on. As the spaceship rises into the air Skywalker exclaims, “I don’t believe it!” Master Yoda replies, “That is why you fail!”

Our beliefs about constraints limit what is possible for us. As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you believe you can or whether you believe you can’t, your probably right”. Our beliefs create our reality.

I believe the thing about beliefs that makes them particularly difficult to deal with is they are normally not explicitly stated.

How your client hypnotizes themselves with their Beliefs

Your hypnosis client comes to see you, and you have them relaxing comfortably in your hypnosis chair as you lead them into a deep trance. You see the signs of trance beginning to appear, the shift in  their breathing,  the change in the muscle tone of their face, when suddenly their eyes pop open and they say, “ I’m sorry, but I don’t believe I can go into trance!”

How to hypnotically respond

The best way of dealing with beliefs is to surreptitiously install positive beliefs that will support change in your client before they realize what’s going on, and then to test to make sure they have installed.

For example, you can install the belief that they can change, or a belief that they can go into trance, by talking about all your other clients who have succeeded. You can either do this yourself, or more effectively through testimonials etc. You can also install a belief about their ability to go into trance using ‘susceptibility tests’ which will give your client the opportunity to experience several small successes and slowly build belief in the power of their own unconscious mind. It is much easier to install a belief using pre-frames such as these, than responding to a limiting belief which your hypnosis client brings up. A pre-frame simply installs the appropriate belief before the client even questions the matter inside their own mind.

If you do have to deal with it limiting belief there are a number of different techniques for doing so, such as the NLP double map across.

Meaning and Root of the word ‘Believe’

It’s good to understand both the meaning of the word and its etymology (where it came from, its root).  ‘Believe’ can have a range of meanings ranging from ‘this is true’ to ‘this is my opinion’ to ‘this is the correct cultural or social interpretation’. So I might say:

  • “I believe we first met in 1997”, a statement of (probable) fact.
  • “I believe in God”,  a statement of faith.
  • “I believe the Yankees can win the World Series”, a statement of opinion (or possibly faith!).
  • “I believe a gentleman should hold the door for a lady”, a statement of social norms.

The root word can often gives us insight into how the brain interprets the word. The root of the word ‘believe’ is  to hold dear or to love. In general,  we neither believe nor disbelieve things we don’t care about! Beliefs are therefore important to us.

Putting Beliefs to hypnotic use

Of course you should be listening out for negative beliefs which your clients may hold, as in, “I don’t believe I can do this”, “ I can’t do this”, “I’m not sure I can do this”, which need to be addressed using some kind of belief change.

You can also use the word ‘belief’ proactively. For example you can combine it with a double bind (see the separate blog post on double binds) by saying something like, “I believe in you, the question is do you believe in yourself?” or the slightly more subtle, “I believe in you”, which has the same implied meaning but without the explicit challenge of, “… to believe in yourself”.

The bigger picture

Your brain uses beliefs to tell you what is possible and what is impossible. You believe in gravity so that you will not attempt to balance your coffee cup in mid air, but will rather find a table to put it on. Beliefs make our lives, and all decision-making, simpler.  However when they limit us inappropriately we need to change them, and you can help your hypnosis clients by helping them to change their limiting beliefs.

As Master Yoda says, these beliefs are what make them fail.

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