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Seven 'Keys' to Personal Change
Bobby G. Bodenhamer, D.Min.

What common elements involving personal change have I learned from my clients during the last eleven years?
If I were to ask those 600 plus clients whom I have had the privilege of working with, 'What are the key elements involved in personal change?' What would they say?

What are some of the key components in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Neuro-Semantics that once learned, allows a person to make some significant changes in his or her perception?

What do you do inside your head in order to have a problem and what do you have to do inside your head in order to 'fix' your problem?

Seven Key Structural Elements Involved in Personal Change:

Those clients that made personal change accepted some basic beliefs that we have in Neuro-Semantics about just 'how' our brain works. Note the word 'how.' That word is important. We place prime importance on the mental processes that determine behavior. What kind of pictures, feelings, sounds and word meanings do we need inside our heads in order for us to do the problem? What kind of pictures, feelings, sounds and word meanings do we need to activate inside our heads in order to not to have the problem? By the way, we believe that brains aren't broken; they just run sick thought patterns really well. Indeed, the brain doesn't care whether or not we think ourselves sick or whether we think ourselves well. Our brain just does what we tell it to do. This is what this article is about. Those who change their thinking understand and accept the following beliefs:

1. The brain primarily processes information from the outside world through the five senses. We experience our world through what we see, hear, feel, smell and taste. Now, importantly to Neuro-Semantics, we believe that when we re-present our world on the screen of our consciousness, we utilize the same programs involved in the event of recall. When we recall something we have seen before, we will recall it with a picture (Visual). When we recall something we have heard before, we will recall it with remembered sounds (Auditory). The same is true for feelings (Kinesthetic), smells (Olfactory) and tastes (Gustatory). We call these the Representational Systems or VAK for short. We call these our 'neurological mapping' (See Figure 3:1).

Our brains not only do this with remembered experiences, we do the same with constructed (imaginary) experiences. I can ask you to imagine seeing yourself where you want to be one year from now. Your brain knows how to construct a picture of the desired you one year from now. And just as easily, your brain can construct an image of a perceived fearful event happening in the future. We call this anxiety.

Now, these experiences we re-present on the screen of our minds (images) often contain more than just one system. We can recall a picture and also have sounds with it as well as feelings. Furthermore, these images have finer qualities. Usually images that we hold as very important to us will be very close to our eyes visually. They will often be very bright and colorful to let us know this image is important.

2. The brain gives meaning to these images with words. So, I have pictures, feelings, sounds, smells and tastes in my mind, so what? Our brain doesn't stop there, as a thinking class of life; the human brain has the marvelous ability of giving meaning to these images with words. These words are 'about' the images composed of pictures, sounds, feelings, smells and/or taste. We call this process the 'Linguistic Mapping' identified as 'Frames of Reference' in Figure 3:1.

3. The brain doesn't stop at just the first level of word
meaning you gave to the image.
Our brain keeps having thoughts (primarily with words) about thoughts. The brain does not stop at one thought, it continues having thoughts about thoughts and there is where the 'magic' lies. In Neuro-Semantics we realize that as important as Representation is, there is yet something more powerful and more magical - Reference. That's how the brain works. It starts with a referent experience, the event. Something happens. Then we re-present it on the screen of our mind with the Representational System (VAKOG). But by reflexive awareness, we develop a thought and a feeling ABOUT it, now we have our first frame of reference (See Figure 3:1). Our Frames of References govern our perception because they 'set the frame.'

4. Repeating thoughts will create unconscious frames-of-mind that will direct our consciousness to whatever we are attending. These frames of mind operate inside our head totally outside of consciousness. '

Our brains do not stop at just one thought. It will keep on thinking thoughts about thoughts. These thoughts about thoughts when habituated (drop into the unconscious) become our Frames of Mind - our perceptual filters through which we view our world. These frames become like eyeglasses through which we view and experience our world. And that doesn't end it. We develop frames-within-frames, each frame embedded in another frame (See diagram).

These higher frames determine our neuro-semantic states that governs the way we think, feel, our health, skills, everything. All the while we are having thoughts about thoughts, these thoughts are interaction with our physiology through our central nervous system and out of that interaction comes what we call 'states' of being. And, out of our 'states' of being comes our behavior. Thus, 'as a man thinketh, so is he' (Proverbs 23:7).

These 'repeated' unconscious frames of mind become our blessing or our curse. In problem framing, we can have frames of mind that say, 'I am worthless.' 'I can't ever do anything right.' 'In order for me to have personal worth, I have to do for other people; I am not an OK person in myself.' Etc. Such frames inevitably come from our earlier years and for that reason become quite unconscious and difficult to change on our own. However, they are changeable and they do change for they are just thoughts no matter how much they operate outside of consciousness. In 'fixing' ourselves, metaphorically we delete those old frames of mind and install new frames of mind that serve us. This is what Neuro-Semantics is all about.

The individuals who make personal changes accept that they have constructed these frames themselves with their internal representations and with the levels, however many, of the meanings that they have given these internal representations. In therapy, I constantly discover old memories of the person hearing dad or mom tell them that they are worthless or that dad or mom was absent in their lives and from that they developed a word meaning frame that 'I must be worthless because dad and/or mom was not here for me.' Etc. Important to personal change is to accept the reality that these frames are constructed and therefore can be de-constructed.

5. People that change believe and are aware that 'The Map Is Not The Territory' or 'The Menu Is Not The Meal' and they believe it is their map and their map alone that they operate out of. This is another way of saying that our perception is not reality.

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