HOW TO MODEL WITH META-STATES – Meta Reflections 2013 #14

March 18, 2013

Modeling Excellence Series #7

In the last article I described the modeling that discovered Meta-States, now for an overview of how to model using the Meta-States Model.  This was actually the surprise that I experienced after discovering Meta-States. While I was absolutely delighted to identify the meta-level structures of resilience (#6), I really had no ideal how extensive the Meta-States Model would apply.  And how extensive does it apply? In any and every experience where a person’s self-reflexive consciousness is operative.

Now if you are new to Neuro-Semantics and to Neurons, self-reflexive consciousness is the kind of consciousness, the kind of mind that you have, that we humans have.  What does it mean?  It means that you never just think.  You never just feel.  As soon as you think-and-feel (create an emotional state), you think-and-feel about that first state.  You do not just get angry, you get afraid-of-your-anger or you get angry-at-your-anger, or you feel ashamed-of-your anger.  And that’s just the first level.  Then you think-and-feel something else about that first meta-state.  And so it goes.

This explains the complexity of your states.  This explains why it is often very difficult to answer the question, “What do you feel about X?”  When you think about that X, there is your first level thinking-and-feeling, then your second level, third level, and so on.  Up the levels it goes.  Nor do these “levels” stay separate.  It is their nature to combine and integrate. We call it coalescing in Neuro-Semantics.

So if you meta-state your learning state with joy, fun, or delight and you create the meta-state of joyful learning, if you do that repeatedly, then after awhile the joy and the learning so coalesce that they operate as if they were a single primary state- joyful learning.  Then try as you will to pull the joy out of the learning and you will find it next to impossible. Why?  Because your mind-body neurology is designed to make-actual (actualize) your thinking-and-feeling and so when you keep meta-stating learning with joy, you generate a new gestalt state so that a new emergent property arises- joyful learning.

For modeling, this is crucial.  It lies at the heart of every complex and dynamic “state” that we humans are able to generate and this goes far beyond the linear modeling of basic NLP.  And if you want to model the rich, robust, powerful, and complex states that characterizes experts- resilience, self-efficacy, seeing and seizing opportunities, entrepreneurship, leadership, etc., then you have to model out the meta-levels within the meta-states of the expert.  Ignore that and you only get the surface first level and you will never tap into the rich layered qualities that lie behind it.

Now years ago I wrote a whole book on Modeling with Meta-States, I gave it the title of NLP: Going Meta (1997) and wrote it after the formatting that Robert Dilts used in Creating NLP: The Study of the Structure of Subjective Experience, Volume I.   So I also titled it, NLP: Going Meta – Advanced Modeling Using Meta-Levels, Volume II.   Here are the book’s chapters:


  • Ch. 1    NLP: Identifying the Pieces of Subjectivity  19
  • Ch. 2    The NLP Strategy Model                                   33
  • Ch. 3    Strategies for Modeling                                     47


  • Ch. 4   Why Introduce Meta-Levels to Modeling?    69
  • Ch. 5    Logical Levels: What are They?                      80
  • Ch. 6    Models of Logical Levels                                   97
  • Ch. 7    Bateson’s Logical Levels of Learning          132
  • Ch. 8    Korzybski’s Levels of Abstraction                 149
  • Ch. 9    Dilts’ Levels of Outcomes and Beliefs           167
  • Ch. 10   Levels of Perception  (Meta-Programs)      193
  • Ch. 11   Levels of States (Meta-States)                        213
  • Ch. 12   Systemic NLP: Meta-Layering Consciousness    242


  • Ch. 13   Integrating Meta-Levels With Strategies    261
  • Ch. 14   Elicitation: Unpacking Multiple Layers      278
  • Ch. 15   Utilization: Meta-Level Resourcefulness    303
  • Ch. 16   Design: Meta-Level Design Engineering    336
  • Ch. 17   Installation: Meta-Level Installation           363

Epilogue                                                                                            380


  • A:    When Levels Coalesce                                              384
  • B:     Logical Levels in Emmanuel Kant                       385

Bibliography                                                                                     386

So just how do you model using Meta-States?  The answer lies in detecting and identifying the meta-levels that a person has reflexively brought to him or herself that now qualifies the experience and operates as a frame to the experience.  What this means is that as you and I access another thought-and-feeling about our first state, that second state operates dynamically to do several things-

  • It brings another mind-body state to it and so adds qualities or qualifies the first.
  • It sets the cognitive ideas within that state as the frame for the first.
  • It puts the first as a member of a class, the “class” being the classification that the second one creates.

The second bullet point means that all of the so-called logical levels (beliefs, values, identity, mission, spirit, intention, permission, memory, imagination, meaning, etc.) are dynamically inside of the second state (the meta-state) and set the frame of meaning for the first.

Back to the example of “joyful learning.”  Is that a belief?  Do you believe you can joyfully learn?  Is that a value?  Do you value learning for the joy it gives you? Is that an identity?  Are you a joyful learner?  Do you have memories of joyfully learning?  Do you imagine it in your future?  Do you anticipate, expect, desire, give yourself permission, etc. to learn joyfully?

So what is it?  It is all of those things at the same time.  It is we with our linear thinking who want to separate these things and make the different phenomenon.  Yet are they really?  Could they all be aspects of the same thing?  That’s our position in Neuro-Semantics.  We look at all of these “meta-level phenomena” and view them as facets of the “diamond of consciousness.”

What does this mean for modeling?  It means that when you discover a meta-level that’s qualifying an experience- there are beliefs in it, values in it, identities within it, intentions, permissions, prohibitions, and all of the other 100 logical levels.  Oh yes, there are one hundred logical levels (actually more).  I made a list of 104 of them in the book, Neuro-Semantics (2011).

There’s more to describe about this – especially the third bullet point on classes and categories as well as how to detect and call forth the meta-levels.  I’ll write about that next time.  To your effective modeling!


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L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.

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