“All behaviour has an intended positive outcome … no exceptions, ever!” says Carl Buchheit, founder and wizard of Marin-style Transformational NLP. In this post, I share with you the essential contribution of the Marin-style NLP discipline to humanities’ understanding of self and Life itself.
NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming. It is the art of communication as it applies to how it shapes our brain, governs the way we behave in the world, and creates the results we get in life. And more importantly, the experience we currently have of life.
Not to be confused with the conventional use of NLP (procedures, set-formats, and prescriptions), the Marin-style takes the discipline and adds loving dimensions to the art of being human. Dimensions that are ignored by the majority of change practitioners in the world.
So, back to the presupposition, “All behaviour has an intended positive outcome … no exceptions, ever!” It is the same as presupposing that you and every other fellow humans are always doing the best they can with the information you have. Through all ages, space and time.
Let’s take a look at an example of this …
Imagine a mother who loves her son but struggles with an addiction to alcohol. She wastes a lot of her money, and when she is at home–she has little attention or energy to care for her son. As a result, her son feels abandoned, neglected, and responsible for maturing beyond his years.
He essentially becomes parentified at an early age. So he takes on the burden of being the carer for mum; cleaning up her bottles of beer, paying the bills, and putting a blanket over her after she has passed out on the couch.
When you look at this from a surface level, it’s all too easy to cast severe judgement.
- “She’s a terrible mother!”
- “She should know better–she should spend the money on taking care of herself and her kid!”
- “Poor son. And god bless him! He’s doing a great job caring for mum!”
But in holding the presupposition that her action has a positive intention–we can ask the following before we cast judgement:
What “worse thing” did mum fear might happen if she didn’t leave the house and get drunk?
What if the answer to the question was as follows …
Mum feared she might get violent, hit her child for no apparent reason, and potentially be a child murderer. Her way of dealing with her uncontrollable rage was to numb and dumb herself with alcohol as much as she can bear–to make sure she was almost never around for too long that it might physically damage her son.
Of course, there are better ways to control and express anger than relying on alcohol. But for this mother, her perfect but expired solution (covered in the previous post The Art of Personal Change II–Perfect Solutions that Have Expired), was to numb herself to avoid her rage and to control her violent tendencies.
The early aspects of herself are working hard to preserve their intention, as they continue to work off very limited information. This became the survival mechanism for which continual survival depended on. Hence repeating itself over and over again with a loving intention to preserve life.
She is running a perfect solution that has expired. And one that has an intended positive outcome.
For most of us, the information we have is limited by the nature of the human construct. At an early age, we are taught to delete, distort, and generalize the infinite amount of information we receive (pictures, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings) so that we can more easily function in physical reality. This is a necessary convenience for the human construct. It helps us manage information overload. And by generalizing, we can keep ourselves doing safe things without thinking.
For example, not touching a hot stove because you will get burned. It would be far too troublesome to consciously figure that out every time you come into vicinity of a hot object. So we generalize that touching hot objects with our bare hands is not a good idea.
Let’s return to the mother having her experience.
When we recognize her efforts to protect her child, there is a greater compassion and appreciation for the way she has perfectly constructed her experience. This creates a space that allows for revision.
Imagine being a mother with a similar experience, and having a person approach you, holding true compassion and appreciation for the experience in life you are beating yourself up over. Likely, you would feel safe enough to learn the same compassion for yourself.
When we can learn to respect the aspects of us who are working so hard for us in their own loving way–it allows for a dialogue to occur that helps revise the experience. It diffuses the charge, and allows seemingly conflicting aspects of us to work together towards a better solution.
That’s the power of holding true, that people are doing the best they can always.
The positive intention reframe enables us (and humanity) to understand that we create our experience, and that as human beings, we are sincerely doing the best we can with the information we have. We are then empowered to progress as human beings through trial and error. These mechanisms support this fascinating thing in this universe called learning.
The all knowing beings do not have this in their domain. But as humans, we do. That is part of our distinction. That is wholly our dignity as creatures who learn via a feedback loop of; try it out, see what happens, then make amends. Et cetera, et cetera.
It is my belief that holding the positive intention as true, is a great mechanism by which a human being can re-concile with the war within. After all, how often do we try to end the war within, by starting a war with another aspect of ourselves?
- “I should be doing this … that other thing I did was just wrong!”
- “Why am I such an idiot?!? I just wish I would stop doing that!!”
- “I’m going to get over my shit, and crush my excuses!”
- “I’m going to force and grind my negative thoughts to a pulp so I may be positive about life!”
All these thoughts form part of the positive intention function in life. Rather than separating them and disacknowledging them, it is wiser to give them a space in your heart for the intention they hold. This is the unification of self.
So there you are, having an experience you no longer want to have.
Try if you may, and speak to the parts of you creating that undesirable experience you are having, and say, “Thank you for the positive intention you have for me, and the many ways you have been working tirelessly to serve me.”
Notice how much easier it is to breathe right now, knowing in essence that every experience is there to serve you. And inform that part that there is a better way to fulfil on its positive intention.
If you are willing, please share one way the unwanted experiences in your life have been serving a positive intention for you?
Till the next episode of The Art of Personal Change IV; Casting Words…