Meta Reflections #27 – #39
June 4, 2007 to August 27, 2007
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #27
June 4, 2007
THE MYTH OF TOTAL RESPONSIBILITY
In the domain of personal development, self-actualization, modeling of excellence, creating success in living your visions and values, accepting, acknowledging, and owning your personal responses is fundamental and essential. Even the word responsibility tells the story. After all, the word contains ability at its core and so it speaks about an expression of personal power, that is capability, energy, and vitality. It speaks about the power-to-respond with our essential powers, our powers of mind, emotion, speech, and behavior.
In a way, this is core to Neuro-Semantics. On day one of almost every training, we begin with the power zone wherein we access our four core powers and meta-state them with awareness, ownership, acceptance, and appreciation. If we don’t do that explicitly (as in APG), we do that implicitly and by implication. The result is that this then enables people to build up more complex meta-states (gestalt experiences) such as proactivity, initiative, a sense of being in control of one’s life, self-efficacy, and much more. Part of that “much more” includes the abilities (powers) to learn, relate, receive feedback, flexibly adust, etc.
Given all of that, in the Neuro-Semantic approach we present responsibility as a high level metastate that creates the foundation for effectiveness and success. But, as I mentioned in the last reflection, there is a sick, toxic, dis-functional, and morbid “belief” abroad that distorts the idea of responsibility as it over-exaggerates it and ends up creating a new subtle way to induce existential guilt.
What is that toxic belief? It is this:
“Whatever comes into your life, you created. You attracted it into your life, and so you
are responsible for it.”
Now in Neuro-Semantics we talk about all of the hidden assumptions and presuppositions behind things as an FBI frame— a frame by implication. And everything we say and do contains FBIs. In fact, in the Meta-Coach training, we even provide training for Meta-Coaches to learn to listen for FBIs and to address them in their questioning. Why? Because when you do that, you can often get to the heart of mattes and find leverage points for change very quickly.
Given that, what are the FBIs of that toxic belief? Here are some:
1) The world you live in is totally and completely created by you with no influenced from
anyone or anything else.
2) You are all-powerful in how you create and attract everything.
3) There are no other influences, variables, factors in the world— just your thoughts!
4) Life is extremely simple and can be explained with a simplicity, namely, there is just
one cause for your reality—what you think.
5) There are no contexts that have any influence in your life— no social context, no
linguistic contexts, no family, racial, financial, political contexts that play any role in
6) If there’s any pain, distress, failure, problems, etc., you attracted it into your life by
your thoughts, therefore the problem is you.
7) If you had a miserable childhood and suffered various things in it, you are guilty of
inviting it into your life.
Now did I mention that this belief was sick? It is about as sick as the opposite belief that is equally as extreme and exaggerated: “I am a pawn of life, fate, genes, parents, culture, experiences, etc. I am not responsible for anything and I can do nothing to change things.”
The bottom line is that it is a myth that we are totally responsible or that we bring everything that is in our lives into it. It just ain’t so. We are just not that powerful. There are forces abroad that we have had nothing to do, forces that influence our lives and sometimes that create great problems and/or great opportunities. There are forces that operate as cultural, linguistic, political, and economic frames and realities that existed long before we came along and that will exist long after we’re gone.
I suppose that it would be nice in a way if life was so simple and if such over-simplistic explanations were true. We would not have to think so hard, search so far, or hold so many ambiguities in mind at the same time. But life isn’t so simple. And we do have to embrace multiple explanations at the same time. We have to share responsibilities as there are numerous people and events that create the responses that we have to deal with.
The total responsibility myth also ignores, downplays, or complete dismisses the factor of randomness or chance. It’s said in Ecclesiastes that “time and chance happens to them all,” that bread is not always to men of understanding, nor is the race always to the swiftest, nor is the battle always to the strongest, but time and chance happens to them all.” Of course, as meaning-makers we are so quick and so skilled at giving meaning even to random events. “It’s no mere coincidence, we were meant to meet.” “It’s not luck, I was destined to this.”
The worst thing about the total responsibility myth, of course, is the incurable guilt it induces. After all, you are responsible for everything that comes into your life. No one else has offered anything, influenced anything, created anything. In your world, they are nothing. They have no power. You have all power. This is the non-sense that the myth foster. And knowing that frees us from being seduced into it. Here’s to your healthy responsibility and empowerment!
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #28 June 11, 2007
AND THE SKILL OF ITERATION
The Meta-States Model opened up the whole realm of questioning at meta-levels and so introduced the meta-questions. Given that this will be new to many people, I’ll offer a little description about meta-questions. For more about them, you can find a list of 26 meta-questions in Coaching Conversations, Meta-Coaching, Volume II. Or, better, in the new training manual for the Ultimate Self-Actualization workshop you can find a list of 70 meta-questions.
Actually, meta-questions have been around for centuries, even millenia. In NLP, there was one meta-question that caught the interest of Bandler and Grinder, but they didn’t know what to make of it. So they dismissed exploring what could have led to the Meta-States model much earlier. The meta-question was Virginia Satir’s question, “How do you feel about your feelings about what is happening?”
Here’s what they wrote in the first NLP book: “When you ask questions like, ‘How do you feel about that?’ (Whatever that might be) you are, in fact, asking your client for a fuller representation (than even Deep Structure) of your client’s experience of the world. And what you are doing by asking this particular question is asking for what you know is a necessary component of the client’s reference structure.” (The Structure of Magic, Vol. I, p. 160)
Actually, “How do you feel about that?” is a meta question which takes us upward to the next higher logical level inasmuch as it asks about thoughts-and-feelings at the next highest level. In terms of the Meta-States model, it elicits the person’s frame-of-reference and the conceptual or semantic state that governs the experience.
“The new question, which is characteristic of Satir’s work, is: ‘How do you feel about your feelings about what is happening?’ Consider this question in the light of the Meta-Model. This is essentially a request . . . for the client to say how he feels about his reference structure—his model of the world.” (p. 161)
But they all lost their way. First Virginia, then Richard and John. What got in their way from recognizing meta-states is that they blindly accepted the erroneous explanation that the “reference structure” elicited “was the client’s self-esteem.” (p. 161). Unquestioningly they bought into the equation “Referent structure” = “self-esteem.” So in spite of stumbling onto a meta-question in the work of Virginia Satir, Bandler and Grinder failed to see what it offered.
Now the power of meta-questions is that they allow us to enter into a person’s (including our own) matrix of frames of meaning, level upon level, and identify the full structure of a model of the world. Currently, we have identified 80 some terms and expressions that can be used as meta-questions. But the key is not how many terms or even what terms, the key to effectively using meta-questions is the iteration process.
Iteration refers to repeating a process. So with meta-questions the process is inviting a person to peak into the frames that hold an experience in place. And given that our frames are typically outside-of-conscious awareness, being unconscious of them gives them even more power to influence us. But by stepping back and holding our experience in place (or that of another) and simultaneously inquiring about it— we are able to make a meta-move to the conceptual structures that frame the experience.
If someone says that he feels upset and stressed by how another person is communicating, we ask, “So given that this seems to be the case, what do you believe about that?” Now typically the person will not answer that question but will speak about his or her feelings that derive from it or actions contemplated. “I feel putdown by him and that I never want to talk to him again!”
What we teach and model in Meta-Coaching, Self-Actualizing psychology, and Meta-States for handling this is to affirm the expression of the state and iterate again using another meta-term to find the frame that creates that state.
“Ah yes, you feel putdown and want to avoid talking. That’s what you feel and want to
do. Yet I’m wondering what that means to you? What do you think about him doing
Again, the person may go out with his or her responses instead of up to the structural frame. “I
just want to avoid him . .. Forever.”
“Great. Now we know what energies is being generated that comes out of you. Yet how
do you create that response? What is your frame that generates that? What are you
aware of about his communications? “Well, that it is disrespectful.”
“Great. So that’s what it means! Disrespect. That’s what you believe it means to you.
Good, now we’re getting somewhere. And let’s say that’s true, it means disrespect,
starting there — what does that mean to you? What do you think about that?”
Iteration —that’s the key. Keep repeating over and over meta-questions, dancing with the person round and round the experience, inviting, teasing, tempting, evoking, provoking, and exploring the frames that create and hold that experience in place. Once you can do that, you will become truly masterful in being able to enter and explore a matrix of meaning. And that, in turn, will give you the ability to tease out all of the layers as you go up the meaning ladder.
The key skills here are the following five: 1) the step back skill 2) the iteration of metaquestioning, 3) the flexibility in using multiple meta-questions, 4) the holding a previous level for yourself or another as you keep moving upward, and 5) distinguish state expressions from state frames.
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #29
June 18, 2007
The Secret of the Secret
There are secrets, and there is the Secret (as the Movie and the book), and then there is the Meta-
Secret. In several of the recent Meta-Reflections I’ve written about The Secret under the themes
of attraction and responsibility. Now it’s time to move to the secret of life, well, the secrets of
C Do you know the secret of life?
C Do you know the secrets of living life fully and humanly?
Similarly I also wrote an article for Actualise this month about this same subject (which you can
obtain by signing up for Actualise on the Neuro-Semantic website, the article is in the second
edition of Actualise June). I will not be repeating that here. Instead I’ll talk about one secret, the
highest secret of all, the Meta-Secret.
In the movie The Secret, the idea that we can and do attract things into our lives (which is
reasonable) was elevated to an absolute degree. It was pushed to an extreme and turned into an
inevitable, immutable, everlasting, absolute, without exception, “law” of the universe. Yet if
that was the case, we would be living in a nightmare universe. Anyone and everyone who
“thought” anything so it would dominate his or her mind would bring that into existence. And
that would last until someone else “thought” and “attracted” it into their lives; or someone
thought-attracted the opposite, etc.
It would be the kind of nightmare world Alice experienced in Wonderland where nothing
seemed to operate by the regular laws that we know and can count on. People and things and
animals grew and shrink and reality kept shifting and changing by mere thought. In that world
Alice couldn’t depend on things. Nothing was predictable, regular, systematic.
In the movie, The Secret, over-simplistic ideas combine with the simplistic thinking patterns
characteristic of children —either/or, black-and-white, single cause attributions, magical
thinking, ego-central perspective, over-optimistic thinking— to create a world of simple
answers. What happens in your life is totally and solely your responsibility. You attracted it.
You thought it. You believed it.
Ah, that things were so simple. But thankfully, they are not. Thankfully we live in a more complex world that calls for adult thinking. And this gives hint to the Meta-Secret. So what is the meta-secret? It is that to live and thrive and succeed in the real world (rather than the fantasy world of childish fantasy where we can attract anything into ur lives and in fact attract everything) we have to develop sufficient ego-strength to deal with the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.
Disappointed? Don’t be. Developing ego-strength is a tremendously exciting thing. It lies at the very heart of being human, of growing, of actualizing potentials, of developing resources, of modeling the excellence of those who are the best specimens of human kind. After all, ego-strength speaks about a very special kind of consciousness, a consciousness that can look at reality, stare at it directly, without falling apart, without caving in, and without the need for defense mechanisms, or escaping to fantasy. Ego-strength speaks of a strong sense of awareness that simply acknowledges what is so that it can then begin inventing processes and skills for coping effectively.
Ego-strength is also developed. No one is born with it. For that matter, no one is born with an ego, a sense of self, that also is developed. In fact, all of life is about developing the construct called self so that we become what we are in our deepest self in possibility. Developmentally, this is the heart of growth and development, we grow up to become the best version of ourselves, of unfolding the potentialities within, and of developing the maturity.
For the growth of ego-strength, we have to develop more and more of an awareness of ourselves, others, and our world. It is also required that we develop our coping and mastery skills so that when things happen, we have a way to figure things out, rigorously define and understand problems and invent solutions. Ego-strength is the first step in being able to be fit for life as it is, for figuring out the life you live and for shaping it so that you fulfill your highest potentials.
This is the secret of creating a life well-lived. Instead of operating with the magical-thinking and wishing of a child, we create a life well-lived by developing our inner strength and resilience. We mature our skills and competencies and we develop the ability to perceive reality as it is so that we can then take effective action.
After there is thought, meta-states that operate as attractor frames, high level intentions, then there is ego-strength. Without ego-strength we don’t face reality as it is and begin working to transform it so that we attract to us the values, visions, and dreams that we have within our minds. To think that mere thought, mere desire, mere wishing is all that’s required is to live in a fantasy world that will lead to disappointment and dis-illusionment. Mere thought is not sufficient. That’s just mind. We need the full mind-body system. We need the active ability to do something about our dreams and visions and values. Sure we need semantics —rich and exciting meanings, but we also need neurology as well. We need the full neuro-semantic system. This is where the self-actualization quadrants comes in, the meaning-performance axes.
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #30
June 25, 2007
ON BEING A META-CONNOISSEUR
If a connoisseur is someone who knows and understands the details, techniques, and principles
of an art and has become competent to make critical distinctions about it, then it speaks about a
high level of expertise. At the primary level a person could be a connoisseur of wines, flowers,
literature, architecture, or ten-thousand other things.
C But what is a connoisseur at the meta-levels?
C Could a person become a meta-connoisseur?
C If so, what would that be like? What would that be about?
I began thinking about this last week in a training and then afterwards at dinner when we were
dealing with the multifaceted nature of mind and meaning within an experience. For several
years now we have used the metaphor of a diamond to speak about “logical levels.” That’s
because there are no “levels” in logical levels in the way steps up a pyramid are hierarchical
levels. In the “world of communication” or “mind” (Bateson), things are just not like that. It
just not that simple or that literal.
The metaphor of “levels” here (as a nominalization) refer to how we layer one thought or feeling
upon another. And, of course, we do not literally do this. This is just a way of talking. Just the
way we use language in an attempt to describe an experience to which we then use our self-
reflexive consciousness to think about it and to layer level upon level other thoughts and
When we use the diamond metaphor, we can then step back and reflect upon the experience
using a wide-range of meta-terms. And each one then gives us another discriminating look at
this or that facet of the experience. It’s like turning the experience over and over in our mind
and gazing at its different facets as a connoisseur contemplates a fine painting, seeing it now in
terms of this organization and then in that.
That’s when it struck me! After you learn about the meta-levels and the meta-dimensions and
begin to use the more than 80 meta-terms, you become more like a meta-connoisseur enjoying
the multi-facetic nature of an experience, forever becoming more fascinated as you look at it
from this and then that perspective, all the while being able to make new and finer distinctions
If you consider what seems like such a simple state, the state of passionately joyful learning, what is this state in terms of “logical levels?” If you say, “Well, it’s a belief. You believe in passionately enjoying learning.” That’s one facet to that experience. But is it the only? Perhaps it is a value? Could you value learning in a passionate and joyful way? Yes, you could! But perhaps it is a decision. Could it be a decision? Again, yes, of course. What about an intention? An anticipation? A memory? An identity? A permission? An awareness? A feeling? And on and on we go covering all 80 of the meta-terms.
Yes it is all of those things— and here’s the profundity of it all, it is all of those things at the same time. So instead of one step after another step up a hierarchy of levels, it is more of a holarchy, a hologram where the slightest sliver of the image can enable us to see the whole image.
But you have to become a meta-connoisseur to recognize that and to have the expertise to work with it effectively. And this, in a manner of speaking is what you can learn from Meta-States, Meta-Coaching, and Neuro-Semantics. You learn to take an experience and whether it creates a hell or a heaven on your insides, that experience has structure, has form, has a hundred distinctive facets and you can stand in awe of it, stand in fascination of it, and then, as you turn it this way and that, witnessing and observing and appreciating its structure— you can identify its distinctive qualities. And that’s when magic happens.
That’s when you yourself enter into the diamond and are able to identify the critical leverage points for change, transformation, or enhancement. Again, language fails to do us justice in describing this. So I have to shift metaphors again. Now as with a dynamic and interactive system as we turn the experience over and over in our minds, our turning itself influences the system, changes the system. After all, we are part of the experience. If it is our experience, then the facets are facets of our inner world and of the experience is that of another, then we have entered into its inter-personal dimension and so we influence and change it.
Ah, becoming an informed and wise meta-connoisseur! Perhaps we should market Meta-States
that way. After all, it is about developing finer discriminations of taste — mental tastes.
“Fine minds developed from the richest ingredients, blended together to give you the
quality of mental and emotional states that you deserve! For those with discriminating
tastes for luxury —who have no tolerance for greasy fast food beliefs. If you want to live
in the penthouse of life with an expansive views of beauty, then choose the higher states
for the kind of interior decorating that makes your mind a place of beauty, tranquility,
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #31
July 2, 2007
At the primary level, a hero is the person who faces some danger or risk, who puts his own
welfare at risk in order to do something of a higher value. We consider someone a hero who
rushes into a burning building to save a child. We consider it heroism when people give their
time and energy to be a part of a rescue team, to hunt for a missing person, to lend their hands
and shoulders to rebuilding a community.
Of course, even at the primary level of response, these heroic activities involve meta-states for
courage, passion, love, commitment, etc. so that in spite of the fears, apprehensions, worries,
uncertainties, etc., the person faces the fear anyway and stands against his or her fears.
Typically it takes stronger and more emotionally intense meta-states to overcome the primary
C If that’s the case with primary level heroism, what about meta-heroism?
C Is there such a thing as meta-heroism?
C If there is such a creature, what is an example of meta-heroism?
C What is the range of things that a person could be heroic about at a meta-level?
To move up to a level into meta-heroism this is where being heroic in attitude and spirit about
higher values and experiences of the mind and spirit. This means facing fears and dangers at
meta-levels. It refers to an attitude of being daring, audacious, and courageous regarding things
of our higher states.
What’s an example of this you ask? An example of meta-heroism is a person manifesting the
willing to engage in the struggle of self-understanding to know one self and to look directly at
weaknesses and character flaws. For a person to persist in this to gain self-knowledge, a higher
level courage is required. Meta-heroism is sometimes required to face oneself, to know that “I
am more than my problems.” In this it takes a meta-courage to refuse to let your circumstances
define you. Not infrequently I see a lot of meta-heroism when someone decides to face his or
her dragons— the shadow side of self.
More recently, as I’ve been working with the new Self-Actualization Models, I have seen people
demonstrate tremendous meta-heroism to their vision to self-actualize. Sometimes this is in the
realm of taking charge of their power to construct meaning, to resacralize life, to refuse the discounting skepticism of our age, and to take the courage to believe in goodness. Sometimes this occurs in the area of entering the Crucible of Change and letting old forms of meaning, old cultural rituals, dated emotions and impulses, etc. melt down and be de-constructed. Sometimes it is even in the zone of engagement. After all, it takes courage to let go of self, of ego, and to get lost in an engagement.
Courage is also required for gaining knowledge. It’s required in the struggle to understand things, to make sense of the world, and to overcome the challenges to solve problems. When many give up and take the easy road on the path of least resistance, those with the higher levels of courage continue the pursuit. They refuse to give in to pessimism or skepticism. As metaheros, they refuse to belief that defeat is permanent. They stubbornly refuse to stay down after a set back but instead resiliently bounce back. They pick up the pieces, learn from the experience, and give it another go.
It is meta-heroism to refuse to accept a temporary helplessness, to refuse to conform to society, to live off the opinions of others, to make a commitment and to follow through on one’s dreams and visions. In these ways, this is what Nathael Brandon calls “the heroism of consciousness.” Here it takes a higher meta-state of courage to accept our own consciousness and to be responsible for it.
After all, as semantic beings who live by our beliefs, concepts, and understandings at the higher meta-dimensions, it is a meta-heroism to choose high ones and then to translate them into reality. You engage in meta-heroic behavior when you use your determination to translate from mind into body. It’s easier to feel satisfied that you “know” something without transforming the knowledge into doing.
Other examples of meta-heroism include the courage to change your mind. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage and commitment to truth to admit to the need to change your mind and then to do it publically. We can view this also as the meta-courage to refuse to be a prisoner to yesterday’s knowledge and choices.
There is the heroism of acceptance, of just acknowledging what is, accepting the cards that life or God has dealt us, and to then ask the coping question. “Given that this is the case, what’s the best way to handle this?” A form of meta-heroism is to live in the moment. It’s easier to escape the here-and-now moment into the nostalgia of the past or the beauty of a different future. For us humans, living fully in this moment takes more focus, more awareness, more choice.
Ah, there are a great many areas within your higher state that you can rise up and demonstrate a meta-heroism. May your life this week be meta-heroic in the choices you make!
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #32
July 9, 2007
THE LEASHING POWER OF EGO
One of the leashes that will limit you and that will prevent you from truly self-actualizing is the
leash of letting your ego get in the way. And what does that mean? It means letting your own
self-promotion, self-investments, and self-focus contaminate what you’re attempting to do.
Several years ago a line in The Wild Days of NLP from Terry McClintock stuck in my mind. He
was writing about Richard Bandler and John Grinder training together and said that “the stage
was not big enough for both of their egos.” It was at that time that I decided to create a “Getting
the Ego Out of the Way” pattern. And it is that same pattern that we continue to this day to run
in NSTT (Neuro-Semantic Trainers’ Training).
Why? Because if you have ever attended a training, seminar, key note speech or other
presentation by a speaker who’s “ego is in the way,” who has a massive ego then you know the
irritation, annoyance, and even the damage it can create. Suddenly instead of you as the
participant and delegate investing your time, energy, money, and mind into receiving something
of value that will enrich your life, when a trainer’s ego is in the way, the design of the training
shifts. Now you there to stand in awe of the speaker. Now it’s all about him. Now it’s all about
her. His or her success, genius, incredible life, gifts, skills, and experiences. And this, of course,
is the beginning of a guru and a cult.
A person like that, one with a big ego, however, involves a paradox. It is, in fact, paradoxical.
That’s because a big ego results from a fragile and weak ego. And the paradox continues if we
look at the other side. It takes a lot of self-esteem to be humble and modest. It takes a lot of
love and unconditional regard for oneself as a precious human being in order to get the ego out
of the way.
The ego gets in the way when you feel that you have to always been parading your credits, your
resume, your achievements, your stories, and your perspective. It is when our sense of self as an
individual, as a person feels weak, inadequate, not enough, and conditionally important that we
get our ego in the way.
Given this, take a quick test to determine the extent that your ego may be in your way in turning
your dreams into reality:
__ When I meet someone I feel a need to let them know the successes I’ve been having.
__ When I’m at a social event, when I’m asked “How are things going?” I immediately present a
list of my achievements.
__ If I don’t parade my achievements out, at least I do so in my head.
__ I feel impatient listening to the stories and achievements of others.
__ When someone tells of some success, I feel an urge to present a success of mine.
__ When I go to a meeting or meet someone, my mind is full of chatter about whether I’m as
successful as the others.
__ I worry about my standing and status a lot.
__ I have not admitted “not knowing” something in at least 3 days.
__ I constantly anticipate and run through scenarios in my mind of how to present myself so that
I make a good impression.
__ I feel really uncomfortable with silence with others.
__ I not only like telling stories, but I enjoy hearing myself telling my stories and engaging
people with them.
__ When I work one on one with someone (coaching, helping, mentoring, consulting), it’s
important to me to know how I did.
__ When I hear someone else speak, I’m always preparing my response in order to make a good
__ I almost always have a voice in my head evaluating how I’m doing.
__ I have not spent time learning from someone else in the past 3 months.
__ When someone asks me what challenge or issue or difficulty I’m working on, I can’t think of
There are so many ways that our ego can get in our way. Yet however it does, it inevitably
contaminates whatever we are doing. When the ego is in the way there’s always a voice in the
back of our mind evaluating and judging how we did, how we’re coming across, how to position
ourselves in the best light, etc. And as such, this state of consciousness, of self-consciousness,
distracts our focus for whatever we’re attempting to do.
When the ego is in the way, we typically come from a place of insecurity and conditionality. In
ourselves we are not enough without praise from others, applause from others, acknowledgment,
recognition, etc. Our value and importance is conditioned upon impressing others. Now there
is another place that this could arise from. It could emerge from having learned some marketing
and selling skills and then not knowing how to be appropriate with it, learning when and where
and how to turn it off. So the person seems to be on a perpetual marketing and selling crusade.
The solution? Ah, that’s the easy part. Meta-state your sense of self, your identity as a human
being as unconditionally valuable and precious. Meta-state your self as a somebody. Set the
frame in your mind, “I was born a somebody; I don’t have to prove anything!” “It’s a given; it is
innate; it can’t be taken away from me.” “Not only do I not have to compare myself with anyone
else, but the only true comparison is where I started from and how much further I can develop.”
Getting the ego out of the way is absolutely essential if you want to be an effective leader,
trainer, coach, consult, parent, lover, etc. When you are engaged in giving of yourself, sharing
an expertise, responding to someone’s need— it is essential to be fully present to them and for
them. And you can’t do that if you’re ego is weak, wounded, insecure or fragile. Then your ego
comes across as “big” because you have to brag and carry on about yourself, then you have to con and manipulate others to let all the stories be about you. So it is a weak, wounded, insecure, or fragile ego that ties us down and leashes us to our limitations and ego-centric world-view. And that’s not the kind of inner experience one needs in order to lead, contribute, communicate, or do almost anything in the human realm.
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #32
July 9, 2007
SUCCESS AND META-SUCCESS
We all want to succeed. Wanting to succeed is wire into us. We want to achieve our goals, our values, our intentions, our hopes, our dreams. It is part and parcel of being human. There’s nothing wrong with this at all. It’s part of living and surviving— reaching the values that are requirements for living.
So first level success, primary level success, is the fulfillment of our basic needs. This means that the biological definition of success is having enough to eat and drink, keep warm, etc. Part of the biological definition of success is to feel safe and secure, to have a social life so that we feel love and affection, and that we have sufficient sense of self so that we feel that we count, we matter, we have a place in the social/ political world.
By way of translation, most of us think of being “successful” as having sufficient money to take care of these needs, having a sufficient job that gives us a sense of safety and respect, and having sufficient amount of friends and family. Obviously these are all the “lower needs” on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, they are our basic instinctoid needs that we share with the animals.
Yet when you are successful at this level, you are ready and prepared to enter into the human dimension of life. I didn’t realize this when I first read Maslow in the mid-1970s. I read through his classic work Motivation and Personality and did not realize that all of the lower needs are our animal needs, our physiological needs. Somehow I had mistakenly thought that the social needs (love and affection) and the self needs (self-regard, self-esteem) were higher needs and not animal needs. But they are not. The higher intelligent animals also have these needs. As social creatures, they live in communities, and thrive only through connection and support of each other. And the higher intelligent animals also have political structures from the top-dog, to the superior Alpha males so that their societies are comprised of a sense of self in the community.
And because we also have those needs as part of our biological nature, to be successful we have an instinctoid need for love and affection as well as a sense of self-regard in the communities that we live. So this, in part, explains why we all have these drives and experience them as some of our innate, intuitive drives.
From the Meta-States model, we can call all of that primary level success. And if we do so, then meta-success is succeeding at life in self-actualizing. This means moving out of the deficiency-driven needs that operate by lack, desperation, and competition and moving up into a whole new level of motivation, one that’s driven by abundance, expressiveness, and being-ness. Success at this level makes us truly human and fully human as it enables us to do human things and to engage in the human adventure. Here we strive for order, beauty, structure, justice, love, compassion, equality, contribution, meaningfulness, excellence, art, wonder, awe, and a thousand other things that make us uniquely human.
Now while primary success is for the most part objective, empirical, and therefore easily measured, not so with meta-success. While you can measure your income, your equity, how many cars you have, the amount of food, the quality of your shelter, the extent of coverage of your insurance policy, your status in an organization, your degrees, certifications, etc., it is immensely more difficult to measure meta-success. Why is that?
Meta-success is the quality of your life rather than the quantity of it.
The other day a friend of mine paraded his new Mercedes before me. I was impressed. “Nice car! Awesome!” I said wanting to congratulate him and give him some good feelings. Later at breakfast he talked about his worries with his relationships with several people and ongoing conflicts with management and competition with some others. Through the conversation I got the distinct impression that the new car was a way for him to salve on his wounded ego, a way to try to feel good about himself.
So I inquired, “Jim, if you were to gauge, what’s the quality of your life?” After exploring that question with him, he commented that he felt his life sucked, that he was on a decline, and that things were not going in the right direction. “So to make up for the quality of life you purchased an expensive car hoping that the quantity of that purchase would fulfill you, is that right?”
Long, long, long pause. Tears filled up his eyes. Countenance change. “Yeah, I think that’s right. I think that I unconsciously was hoping that if I bought something special just for me it would make me feel better.” “And how has it worked out to enrich the inner quality of your life so that you feel your life more rich and meaningful on the inside?” And, obviously, it had not.
Primary success is like that. It can only take us so far. And then, beyond a certain level of affluence, success at the primary levels of our needs actually becomes unfulfilling for true satisfaction. Why? Because meta-success is about your inner self, your spirit, and about your sense of the highest human values— the values that make life feel significant and meaningful. At that level it’s not about what you have, success is about what you give and contribute. At the highest level of success, it is about what you are and are becoming.
In the Psychology of Self-Actualization, this level of meta-success is what we call self-actualizing, experiencing our “full humanness,” and being “fully alive/ fully human.” How meta-successful are you today? How much more meta-success will you develop this year? Ready for a Meta-Coach to facilitate this with you?
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #33
July 16, 2007
SUCCESS AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS
Several years ago we began selling some T-shirts at Trainings read: “Meta-States — We do it at higher levels.” Recently I began wondering about what specifically is success at the highest levels? What is meta-success? And, of course, the answer is obvious. It is satisfying the higher needs and impulses that the chest of every human being— the needs that distinguish us as human beings above and beyond our animal needs. And even above the social and self-regard needs as I noted in the last Reflection.
Yet at this level there are so many paradoxes. Perhaps the most profound paradox is that in self-actualization as in the genius state of being “in the zone,” success involves getting beyond the self so that we have a sense of self-forgetfulness. It is as if in becoming so completely engaged in something, our sense of self goes away as does our sense of time, others, the world, etc. This “oceanic” feeling has been described by philosophers, saints, theologians, and psychologists over the years. It is a sense of merging-with-the-object of our engagement. It is a sense of becoming one with that engagement. It is a sense of being lost in the experience.
The paradox is that this is not the loss of self at all. That’s because it takes a strong sense of self to let go. As it takes a lot of self-esteem to be humble and modest, so it takes a solid and strong sense of self to give of oneself to the engagement and to others. Insecure people cannot do that. It’s too frightening. They are too concerned about themselves.
And people who develop some kind of a belief that they should get rid of their ego are, of course, focused on themselves and getting rid of their ego! They are always checking on their sense of self to see if they have that sense and as they do, they notice themselves, which they then read as having their ego in the way! What’s in their way is their ego-investment in the belief that they should not have their ego in the way. The belief itself is the problem. There’s no solution to trying to get the ego out of the way by focusing on one’s ego to get it out of the way.
The solution is counter-intuitive. It is to become so centered and secure in oneself, that one can turn and give oneself completely to some significant engagement that adds value to others and in that engagement, one simply forgets oneself. Self-forgetfulness is the key. And doing that is not turning inward and worrying about one’s sense of self or ego; it is turning outward to making a contribution from your strengths, resources, gifts, and uniqueness.
We often experience self-forgetfulness when we get go to the movies and get caught up in some great movie. It occurs when we are engaged in an intense conversation with someone. It occurs when we are passionately involved in a match or game or a contest or an activity that demands all of our mind and emotions. It can happen when we read, when we run a race, when we make a presentation, when we are coaching.
Success at the highest levels involves this kind of self-forgetfulness or perhaps I should say that when you are fully engaged in giving yourself to something (performance) that’s important to you (meaning), that contributes value (meaning) from your unique skills (performance), then you step into a state where you are synergizing a competence that is challenging to you. That puts you in the “flow” zone of self-actualization.
Maslow called this kind of success at the highest levels as “peak experiences” and, of course, if you do that regularly and consistently with something that’s you have lots of talent for, you’ll then move your delivery so that you have “peak performances.” Peak experiences are moments when you are all there, when you are at your best, when you have all your resources available, when you are pushing your own limits, and when you feel one-with the activity that you’re engaged in.
Most of us experience such moments of peak experiences as something “spiritual,” something above and beyond our mere minds-and-emotions, our bodies and kinesthetic sensations. It feels beyond that. As a gestalt, it seems to be the sense of transcending our mind-and-emotions and experiencing ourselves at a higher level. What this is we do not really know.
My postulation about this is that it is the self-reflexive consciousness at work. That is, when we look back on the total engagement experience (the peak experience) and we noticed the self-forgetfulness, we have a sense of transcending our mind-body-emotion system and not having any words for this state, we call it our spirit.
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #34
July 23, 2007
SELF-ACTUALIZATION MADE EASY
On the day that we launched the new Human Potential Movement in South Africa (Friday, July 20) we had just completed the 3-days of The Ultimate Self-Actualization Workshop. Sixteen Meta-Coaches and Neuro-Semantic Trainers had just experienced the three Acts of the Drama of Self-Actualization that we call the Construct, the Crucible, and the Zone of Self-Actualization. As they gathered for the Launch Day in Pretoria, I used the occasion to ask them what they had personally received from the experience. And I told them why I wanted to know that.
“The reason I want to know what you received from the workshop is because it is critical
that we all can both identify the value experienced and articulate it clearly to help us in
our marketing of the workshop.”
So what did they say? Willem Fourie, a new Meta-Coach, said that for him the Self-Actualization workshop was Self-Actualization made easy. Brand Coetzee, a Meta-Coach and Neuro-Semantic Trainer, said that it was Self-Actualization made practical. Then a large group of those present said that they were and continue to be surprised at how gentle the transformation process of the Crucible was. They didn’t expect that. And even on Day 2 when we entered into the Crucible, time and again people said, “It just can’t be that easy.” “I expected it to be hard, rough, and painful, but it was so gentle, so organic.”
Cary Lucas, a Meta-Coach, Neuro-Semantic Trainer, and a part of People South-Africa (the sponsoring organization), said the workshop was for her Change without a Crisis. All of this reminded me of what Jim Walsh, a Meta-Coach and Neuro-Semantic Trainer in Florida, said about the Crucible, It is a Change Machine.
And, of course, that led to the questions that I’ve heard time and time again,
“How does this particular change model work?”
“How does the Crucible as a change model differ from the Axes of Change?”
And that initiated much of our discussion that day with those who knew both of these generative Neuro-Semantic change models. Much of the discussion also focused on the demise of the first Human Potential Movement and of the multiple techniques that they used in their attempt to find and unleash human potentials. Back in the 1960s through the 1980s, scores upon scores of processes were explored in an attempt to unleash potential. From various Gestalt Therapy processes to numerous Body Therapy approaches to the Encounter group, to experimentation with psychodelic drugs, to the sexual promiscuity at the sulpher hot-springs at Esalen, to meditation, and so on. Those were the days of wild experimentation as they tried to find some mechanism, some process, some magic key, some enlightened Aha! that would facilitate the unleashing of the incredible potentials that are within human beings.
And while some people found new personal powers and began finding their way to unleashing their potentials, most did not. And more important, the “movement” as such did not work through the chaotic creativity of those days to define a theory and specific processes that would consistently lead people to actualizing more and more of their inner powers and moving into a self-actualizing life as Maslow had described. And so, three decades later, the movement was gone, all of the original leaders dead, and no one carrying the movement forward.
Yet within the original vision and theory that Maslow presented were keys—significant clues about the actual processes of self-actualization. So while the “movement” fragmented into numerous groups and disciplines, all trying various ways to facilitate self-development, no one seemed to think about returning to the source (Maslow) and seeing what could be developed from his original genius. Fortunate for me, that was the gap I found when I first returned to this area and that’s all that I’ve attempted to do during the past two-and-a-half years—to revisit the master of self-actualization psychology to see what I could mine from the richness of his extensive research.
And that’s precisely what many at the workshop have said: “This is the next stage of Maslow.” “This actualizes the self-actualization theory of Maslow.” “Standing on the shoulders of Abraham Maslow, Dr. Hall has made the Hierarchy of Needs practical and dynamic so that we can use it for unleashing potentials; now the Pyramid really has become a Volcano.”
Is the process for self-actualizing easy? Can it be made easy? The process is certainly natural and organic. We are all made to develop, to grow, to learn, and to become more and more of who and what we can become. The biggest problem that interferes with this is that of fearing the process, of getting stuck at a lower need, and of distorting our needs through toxic and limiting beliefs. These are the leashes—the things holding us back, tying us up, and preventing us from actualizing our highest and best. And these are the things to unleash.
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #35
July 30, 2007
MOVING UP TO A CLEARER PERCEPTION
Repeatedly in his writings, Maslow said that self-actualizers see reality more clearly and accurately. From his studies of self-actualizing people, he concluded that they are “able to see concealed or confused realities more swiftly and more correctly” than most people. He saw this leading to several other benefits. First, living life more efficiently since “they do not have to spend any time laying the ghost, whistling past the cemetery, or otherwise protecting themselves against imagined dangers.” And secondly, solving problems more effectively and creatively since they are more problem-centered rather than ego-centered. C But what leads to this clearer perception of reality? C What enables a self-actualizer to have this ability to see reality more clearly?
While I don’t think that the answer will surprise you, I suspect that it will delight you and may even create an Aha! moment. It did for me.
The answer involves the level of need at which you live. If you are still living and operating at the level of the basic needs of hunger, thirst, shelter, sex, money, safety, love, self-regard, etc., then you experience life in terms of need and deficiency. You need something. And all such deficiency motives color and distort our perceptions of reality by causing us to make demands on it. At the basic needs level of lack, we look at our world through our needs and so make demands: “Feed me! Clothe me! Protect me! Love me! Respect me!”
There’s a principle in operation here: The greater our need, the greater that need colors our perception. At this level, we also see others as the gratifiers of our needs. This explains the stereotype of the red-blooded male who sees females as nothing more than sex-objects. At the lower basic needs, we see others as those who are givers (or withholders) of affection, esteem, safety, etc. We don’t see people as ends-in-themselves, we see them as means to our ends and of our objectives. This is what makes life at this level ego-centric.
Maslow’s point is that as long as deficiency motivation drives us we look out upon the world through clouded lens. He called this level the instrumental level. By way of contrast, the higher level of the self-actualization needs he called the being level. It’s at that level that we are not striving or seeking to do anything, we are just being, just expressing ourselves, and non-purposefully perceiving nature and human reality for what it is.
When we move to this higher being level, it is as if we remove the clouded lens of instrumentality and means-to-ends thinking and that, in itself, enables us to see the world more clearly. We no longer see the world through the deficiency-motivated demandingness of our needs. We can now see what is so that we can observe it, witness it, and even appreciate and enjoy seeing whatever we see.
This level of the self-actualizing life changes the very quality of our life. Now instead of being driven by deficiency motivation, we are driven by expressive motivation, being motivation. We shift to a non-striving accepting, noticing, and appreciating motivation. Instead of “striving” we live a different kind of life, we live a life of “unfolding.” Our highest potentials and best values simply unfold as we express our gifts, talents, and possibilities.
Now if there are wonderful possibilities in all human beings and yet so few actualize their potentials, what explains this gap? There are many answers to this, one of which is that most people live their lives at the more prepotent levels of deficiency motivation. This means they see themselves, others, social reality, nature, etc. through the ego-centric lens of their own demanding deficiencies. This means that they live life “striving” as if they are deficient. And that’s because they have given too much meaning and importance to the lower need, attempting to use it for some higher self-actualization need.
So instead of eating for fuel and vitality, they eat for love, fulfillment, the good life, reward, and many other psycho-logical reasons. So sex is used for proving self, achievement, etc. Money is used as power, achievement, success, etc. Yet these psycho-logics (the reasoning, understanding, and meanings that we give to the basic needs) over-load them making them other than they are and locking us into the lower needs. Our psycho-logics leash us to the deficiency level because they distort the actual need and prevent us from adequately gratifying it with a true gratifier.
Why self-actualization? Why move to that level? Why move beyond the deficiency needs? To move into the truly human level of the higher self-actualization needs where you can take off the clouding lens of deficiency and demandingness and see reality clearer. Then you will be able to live and express your full humanness, live more efficiently, and solve the real problems of life rather than the pseudo-problems.
Our basic needs are legitimate needs. They are our biological needs, the needs of our physiogical well-being, and the needs that we share with the animals, especially the higher intelligent animals. And at any moment, we can be sent back to these needs. These needs are always with us and can ascend to dominance. They are the foundation for life and vitality and to that extent, good, valid, and important. But they are not the purpose of life. We humans are made for something much more— to be fully human / fully alive, to experience and express our full humanness. We call this experience self-actualization.
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #36
August 6, 2007
MOVING UP FROM THE JUNGLE
I concluded the last Meta Reflection with a statement about our basic needs being legitimate needs—biological, essential to our physiological well-being, and the needs that we share with the higher intelligent animals. I also noted that at any moment, we can be sent back to these needs because these needs are always with us as they serve as the foundation for our life and vitality.
Yet here’s the rub. When we could satisfy them in an accurate and stable way, but do not, we then perpetuate our life at the level of the deficiency needs. And that perpetuates instrumentality thinking that leads us to view people and things as means-to-ends rather than being ends-inthemselves. This puts us back into life in the jungle.
Jungle life? Yes, life at the deficiency needs is life in the jungle. Maslow used this phrase when he began translating self-actualization and his new psychology to management, leadership, and business. Human beings who could and ought to be rising up to the human level of living —expressive, being, self-actualizing, living the being-values, enjoying being-love, being-cognition, peak experiences, and even peak performances —do not, then continue to live life at a much lower level, the level of competition, demandingness, competitiveness, deficiency, lack, reactiveness, and ego-centricity.
And what causes that? Each person’s unique and idiosyncratic psycho-logics. “Psycho-logics?” Yes. Now if you are new to Neuro-Semantics, this might be a new term and idea for you. So let me explain. Psycho-logics comes from Alfred Korzybski and General Semantics and his classic book, Science and Sanity (1933/ 1994). Korzybski derived the term by putting a hyphen inside of the term psychology. This created psycho-logy, psycho-logicians, and psycho-logics.
His point? That we are not logical beings, we are psycho-logical beings. Our “logics” depends not upon Aristotle or Plato or syllogisms or mathematics, but upon our personal psychology. Our way of thinking, reasoning, and making sense of the world —our psycho-logics— depends upon something very subjective, personal, and idiosyncratic. Namely, upon the connections, associations, and emotional experiences. It’s in this way that what something means to us depends upon our experiences and the conclusions that we have drawn from those experiences.
In NLP we say that it depends on the way we have mentally mapped something. And that depends upon the generalizations we have created (beliefs, decisions, understandings), the deletions we’ve made as we mapped things, and the distortions that we modeled. Your psycho-logics about what anything means to you depends upon how you have created meanings about it. Now we can ask about any particular thing— food, wealth, money, exercise, work, budgeting, selling, negotiating, etc. —what does this mean to you? And whatever you say it means to you, whatever frame of reference you use — that creates your meanings, your psycho-logics.
It is in this way that you can take any of the basic human needs, the lower needs, and over-load it with so much meaning that you can condemn yourself to that level of living. With the meanings that you attribute to food, shelter, money, safety, friends, respect, etc., you can imprison yourself inside that need so that it becomes all-consuming. By semantically over-loading a basic need with existential meaning, it can become to you the very purpose of life. You can live to please people, get along peacefully with everyone, be in control of every social situation, accumulate millions (or billions), etc.
And it is precisely by semantically over-loading something, even a basic lower need, that you can doom yourself to life in the Jungle. How does that happen? It happens because by giving it so much meaning, any threat to it feels like a physical threat to you—like an existential threat. And because that locks you into life at the lower needs level, you are prevented from moving up to the highest human needs, the self-actualization needs.
What’s a human being to do? Ah, that’s the simple part. Well, simple if you know about your own psycho-logics and how to work with them neuro-semantically! The answer? Simply identify what and where you have semantically over-loaded something with too much meaning, step back to quality control your life with that meaning, then step up to release or suspend the over-load of meaning, and set a limit of meaning on it so that the lower need is just what it is without all of that extra meaning. Simple.
Well, on second thought, you might want to contact a Meta-Coach or a Neuro-Semanticist to help you with the res-structuring of your meanings so that you can move up out of Life in the Jungle to the highest of Human experience. Or get some training in the neuro-semantics of your psycho-logics and learn to run your brain at all of the higher levels of frames —the frames of meaning that create your inner reality. This also is theme of the book, Winning the Inner Game.
And because this is the determining factor of the very quality of your life — here’s to your highest and best of what’s human!
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #37
August 13, 2007
In Meta Reflection (#35) I presented the concept that Maslow developed that the process of self-actualization in itself involves a clearer perception of reality. This is not just a possibility which is available to just a few people. It is an intrinsically human height to which anyone can potentially ascend in the peak experience, even if only rarely and momentarily. Here’s what Maslow wrote in Toward a Psychology of Being:
“If self-actualizing people can and do perceive reality more efficiently, fully and with
less motivational contamination than we others do, then we may possibly use them as
biological assays. Through their greater sensitivity and perception, we may get a better
report of what reality is like, than through our own eyes, just as canaries can be used to
detect gas in mines before less sensitive creatures can.” (Chapter 6)
And what do these self-actualizing people see more clearly that those of us who still struggle with the deficiency needs do not see, or only see vaguely through clouded lens? The answer is the being realm of life and experience —the nature and glory of being itself, the being-values, being-cognition, being-choices.
For most people, our everyday values are heavily contaminated by deficiency needs and motivation. These needs cloud what we value and how we value. They cloud them through the frame of mind of scarcity and deficiency that the lower needs create so that we see being and being a human being through the filter of instrumentality. That is, we see it through the questions, “What’s in it for me?” “What can I use this for?”
By way of contrast, when we move to the higher needs, the self-actualization needs, as self-actualizing persons we enter into the realm of being. At this level our motivation changes. It ceases to be instrumental. Now, instead of attempting to do or achieve something, our motivation is to simply notice, see, experience, and be. This also is precisely what enables us to see clearer and to make better choices.
Maslow argued that self-actualizers are “good choosers.” Have you ever known someone who just seemed to be predominantly a good chooser in the sense that they regularly and consistently choose alternatives that are conducive of health, wholeness, joy, learning, etc.? When we choose, we have a framework of values, a value-system from which we make our choices.
From his research and study of self-actualizing people, Maslow said that the good choosers among human beings are the self-actualizing people. They make choices more quickly and naturally. They make choices that the rest of us would make if we had more time, wisdom, options, and understanding. Somehow they seem to perceive sharply and clearly what we perceive more dimly. And because they see more clearly, they are able to discern the best and choose it more quickly.
Using the idea of a biological assay as a metaphor, Maslow said that these self-actualizers with their ability to be good choosers are like canaries in mines who can detect gas long before people can. From this Maslow then made a list of the common values of self-actualizers. As he correlated the values that he found in them over and over and over, he eventually called these the Being-values (the B-values). And what are they? Here’s Maslow’s list:
Beauty Unity; wholeness
Dichotomy-transcendence Aliveness; process
Simplicity Richness, totality, comprehensiveness
What does the process of self-actualization entail and what is the experience of living a self-actualizing life like?
The process involves moving from an instrumentality mind-set to one of being-ness where we just observe and see and appreciate what is so that we can then fully express ourselves without ulterior motives.
And it is like rising up to a level of perception where we can see clearly, broadly, and with an ever-increasing perspective so that we see the B-values of what human life is designed to be at its best.
Interested in actualizing your highest visions and your best values? This is the heart of Neuro-Semantics— the purpose of our trainings, the focus of the Meta-Coaches. And when individuals begin to actualize in this way, so do families, and groups, and companies, and businesses, and nations.
To your Highest and Best!
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #38
August 20, 2007
DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT IT IS?
There he was in a night club at one o’clock in the morning. Standing alone in a corner . . . enduring the music that was blaring. And the people that he could see were dressed in black and in leather. Everywhere he looked there were tatoos.
What was he waiting for? How did all of this start? Earlier he had awakened with a start, having fallen asleep at his computer desk. That’s when a message flashed onto the screen, a message about something having him and the instruction, “follow the white rabbit.” That’s when a knock came on the door. And an invitation, an invitation that bring him to his night club.
Then suddenly in the midst of the crowded night club and the loud music someone appeared before him. She introduced herself. Her name was Trinity. Small talk followed and then some surprising reflection: “It’s the question that drives us. And the answer is out there. Do you want to know what it is?” And Neo asked, “What is Neuro-Semantics?”
“It’s all around us. It’s when we go to the grocery store, when we turn on the TV, when we take out the garbage. It’s the world of meaning that you live in; it’s the world of meaning that you live out from. It is in your mind and in your body, it is the world that you began mapping out from your first days and that you now accept as ‘reality.’ It is what you perform in all of your actions and your talk, in all of your emoting and even in all of your inward thinking. It is the world that you have pulled down over your eyes so that it is what you feel and see.”
While Morpheus said all of this to Neo, it was not all that he said or even the most important.
What he said next was actually the key. “No one can tell you what Neuro-Semantics is, Neo. No one can tell you what the Matrix of your mind with all of the layers of meanings upon meanings is or how it informs your body and sends commands to your nervous system. To know what it is, you have to experience it. I can point to the door, but you have to walk through it. Are you ready to do that? Do you want to experience the Matrix of your neuro-semantics for what it is—a matrix made for your mind?”
And the Neo that you are, that I am, that we all are—the new person that you have the potential to be within yourself, what will you say? Will you walk through the door? Are you ready to do that? What will your answer be?
If the sense that there is something wrong with the world that you’ve been living in, if you know deep inside that there’s something about that world that just doesn’t fit, if something about it is
like a splinter in your mind driving you mad—then you may very well be ready.
“I hold before you two pills. Take the blue pill and wake up tomorrow and live out
whatever mental mappings that you’ve inherited and that you’ve created. Continue to
live in that world and experience whatever that matrix of frames offers you. Or, take the
red pill and I’ll show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. I will show you all of the
labyrinths of your mind, all of the layers of the frames of your mind, all of the convoluted
psycho-logics of your mind. Are you ready to become the One—the master of your
matrix who holds the keys to the quality of your life, your states, and your experiences?”
So, do you really want to know what it is? Your neuro-semantics are all of the ways that you use your mind-and-body system to map out reality, yourself, others, the world, and everything you encounter. It is all of your neurological mappings, all of your mental and conceptual mappings, it is all of your meanings and the meanings-of-your-meanings that defines and describes “reality” as you know it.
It is the meanings that you invent in your brain and attribute to the things that happen. And this may work well for you or it may make life a living hell. Again, the choice is yours. As a species of life without instincts, we are the meaning-makers. Or to quote Colin Cox, we are magical meaning-making machines. And so our neuro-semantics is the construction inside our neurology (brain, body, nervous systems) of all of our ideas, thoughts, beliefs, decisions, intentions—in a word, all of our meanings (semantics).
And your neuro-semantics shows up in your states —your mental states, physical states, and emotional states. This is where your matrix is grounded. It is here, in your mind-bodyemotional states that you reveal, actualize, and experience your matrix of frames. What is it? The matrix is the everyday expression and experience of what you’ve mapped out in your mind and body.
If you do want to know what it is, of the identity and reality of the neuro-semantics of the matrix of your mind, then you can take the red pill when you enter a Neuro-Semantic Training or contact a Meta-Coach or work with a Neuro-Semanticist. We are the community of Morpheus— those who have the privilege of awakening and then training or coaching ever-new Neos to become the One of their Matrix. And in doing that, it awakens new possibilities. It actualizes new potentials. It activates core talents. It transforms old ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, and it facilitates the release and unleashing of human potential like nothing else.
So with all of that in mind — here’s to your full unleashing, unleashing your highest and best!
L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections #39
August 27, 2007
I have been working on an article and thought I’d put it here — esp. for those of you who have been through the Self-Actualization Workshop and the Trainers & Meta-Coaches who are now part of the New Human Potential Movement that we are launching.
WAYNE DYER AND THE MANTLE OF MASLOW
In 1984 when I read The Sky’s the Limit, a 1980 book by Wayne Dyer, I had no idea that Dyer was attempting to pick up the Mantle of Maslow and run with the Self-Actualization Psychology that Maslow invented. Yet I should have. Re-reading the book recently I found that it was there in black-and-white. But somehow I didn’t see that in 1984. I suppose that since I wasn’t interested in that at that time, I didn’t see it. At that time, I didn’t know that was even significant. But my ignorance of all of that created a blindness in me at that time!
Today, however, I’m a bit more conscious of things. So in July of 2007 I so happened to pick up the book and suddenly noticed something. Wayne Dyer had dedicated that book to the memory of Abraham H. Maslow —“the original pathfinder in he study of man’s potential for greatness.” So I had no choice. I had to sit down and re-read the entire book! And guess what? The whole book is an attempt by Dyer to pick up on many of the key themes of Maslow and to give it his particular energy, focus, and twist.
“When we look at humanity’s potentials for living in peace, harmony, productivity, even joy, and then look at the world as it is, the comparison is pathetic. … Each person on this planet is inherently, intrinsically capable of attaining ‘dizzying heights’ of happiness and fulfillment.” (xv)
“Dr. Abraham Maslow, who devoted a large portion of his life to the study of what he called ‘self-actualization,’ or the very highest levels of being available to humanity.
Maslow described the qualities that distinguish self-actualized people from others in an effort to create what he called a Psychology of Being. I have adopted or adapted a number of Maslow’s ‘self-actualized’ qualitites in putting together my picture of the No-Limit person, and have dedicated this book to his memory because of my tremendous admiration for his pioneering spirit.” (xvii)
Dyer reviews how Maslow wanted to look at humanity (human nature) from an entirely new perspective, namely, by studying the great achievers and learning from their examples. But just as soon as he acknowledges Maslow, Dyer then seems to have a compulsion to differ from him! That’s what then led to some of the mistakes that I think he made. First, thinking that he was simplifying Maslow’s language, Dyer introduces two phrases. “The NEZ person is the No Erroneous Zones person” [from his book on the Erroneous Zones] and the No-Limit person describe the greatness that Maslow discovered in the self-actualizers that he studied.”
So if you think that “self-actualization” was a tough phrase, Dyer introduces “the NEZ” and “the No-Limit person”—as if that helps! Somehow this strikes me as a case of refusing to stand on the shoulders of the giant and trying to invent one’s own vocabulary instead of starting with what had already been developed.
And yet Dyer was on to something: “You cannot become a No-Limit person without having eliminated your erroneous zones, and if you have eliminated them, if you are a NEZ person, you are already on the way to … creating a life of full freedom for yourself.” (xvi)
Now as a cognitive psychologist, he knew the power of cognitive distortions and how they create limitations and so leash people to hurt, trauma, difficulties, etc. But then Dyer did something in his book that I have seen so many times. In order to distinguish himself from Maslow and create his own name— he actually misrepresented Maslow. He wrote some things about Maslow’s position that are simply not true.
“According to Maslow, such people [those who are masers of their own emotional worlds] are few and far between, but they do exist. Maslow thought that the self-actualized person … had to be rare on our planet. He believed, in effect, that ‘many are called but few are chosen’; that only a special breed of person could attain what I have called total mastery of life.” (14) “Maslow implies that being ‘completely evolved’ is reserved for a very special category of elite people.” (16)
Now having read and re-read Maslow’s works several times I can tell you that none of that is true! Not at all. When I first read that paragraph I was literally shocked at the level of misrepresentation. In all of my readings of Maslow’s five books on Self-Actualization and his hundreds of articles, and his other book on the Science of Psychology, Maslow never said anything like that.
In fact, Maslow argued strongly that every person has the possibility of self-actualizing. He
framed it as what is within every person as part of our normal development. “Self-actualization, the coming to full development and actuality of the potentialities of the organism, is more akin to growth and maturation than it is to habit formation or association via reward.” (1954 / 1970, p. 233) “Every baby has possibilities for self-actualization but most get it knocked out of them. I think of the self-actualizing man not as an ordinary man with something added but rather as the ordinary man with nothing taken away. The average man is a human being with dampened and inhibited powers.”
Now Dyer tries to distinguish himself by writing the following: “I firmly believe that each person who resides on this planet has the innate capability to live his life in a rewarding and spontaneously exciting way. Anyone can rid himself of self-defeating thinking and behavior and grow into a human being who lives fully day by day. In sum, a high level of mental and physical health is available for anyone who is willing to go after it, and no one has any better chance of becoming more self-actualized or more fully functioning than anyone else.” (16)
Yet that is precisely what Maslow was after. Here is Maslow’s statements in his own words: “Self-actualization, full humanness, the development of the biologically based nature of man and therefore is empirically normative for the whole species rather than for particular times and places.” (1968, p. vi)
“Self-actualization is not a lack or deficiency. It is intrinsic growth of what is already in the organism, of what is the organize itself. They have no aim or goal, non-purposive. They were not elaborated for the sake of need gratification.” (134)
Self-Actualization is the tendency of every human being … to make real his or her full potential, to become everything that he or she can be. The self-actualizing person is the true human species-type .. not a normal person with something added, but a normal person with nothing taken away.
Where he may have misunderstood this is from this quotation from Maslow. “Self-actualizing people, those who have come to a high level of maturation, health, and self-fulfillment, have so much to teach us that sometimes they seem almost like a different breed of human beings.” (1968, 71)
“Maturity, or self-actualization, from this point of view, means to transcend the deficiency needs. This state can be described then as meta-motivated. Self-actualization is easy in principle, in practice it rarely happens, by my criteria, certainly in less than 1% of the adult population.” (204)
So while Dyer seemed to have been attempting to pick up Maslow’s mantle and carry on the work, by changing the terminology that Maslow developed and even mis-understanding or misrepresenting Maslow perhaps that’s why Dyer has not been recognized as connected with Maslow.
Now in The Sky’s the Limit he did play off of many of Maslow’s themes:
C The art of living now. Living in the moment and being present now. (19)
C The art of being in contact with life now and completely engaged in it. He quoted Maslow on the Japanese term muga “the state in which you are doing whatever you are doing with a total wholeheartedness.” (25)
C Transcending time in that engagement (28)
C Creatively involved in your life (32)
C Tolerating ambiguity (38)
C Transcending dichotomizing (41, 84)
C Transcending culture and enculturation (fifty-five)
C Accepting personal choice in life (81)
C Thinking and operating holistically (88, 106)
C Freshness of appreciation (93)
C Transcending gender limitations (9five)
C Transcending the work/ play dichotomy (112)
C Fully accept the lower needs (“be a good animal”) (130, 217)
C Recover childlike curiosity and learning (170)
C Develop your own internal “locus of control” (218)
C Welcome and cultivate your creativity (232)
C Find and trust your inner voice (236, 240)
C Respect your higher needs (chapter 7, pp 259. And yet in this chapter, he does not mention or quote Maslow once. He also mixed up lower and higher needs making me wonder how carefully he read Maslow in the first place.
C Overcoming the fear of greatness (308)
C Viewing all of life as sacred (311)
What I appreciate that Dyer did achieve was the he add the dimension of meaning to the self-
actualizing process that Maslow missed (274, chapter 8 “Cultivating a Sense of Purpose and
Meaning, 293). “The most important ingredient in the feeling of having personal meaning is the attitude that you bring to anything that you elect to do. But if you are simply going along with the routine of your life, performing duties that you find distasteful and having internal feelings of emptiness, then you have a huge void to fill.” (294)
“The importance of having a sense of meaning cannot be over-emphasized.” “You can make the decision to live meaningfully each and every day for the simple reason that it will make you a happier, more effective and, most importantly, contented human being.” (296, 300)
“See yourself as someone who can change the world, who is informed and who really counts, and you’ll also develop a sense of inner purpose as well.” (320)
Here is something that I find it so strange. If we begin with a new paradigm shift such as the one Maslow initiated where we look on the “bright side” of human nature and look for potentialities rather than limitations and problems, some people seem to be unable to leave it at that. They then have to turn the bright side into something so divine, so incredible, so fabulous that they soon start using phrases like “limitless potentials.”
“Nothing can be more important to me or to us than the legacy of … the belief in the
limitless potential of human beings…” (xlx)
“It means being in awe of your humanity and your limitless potential as a human being.”
Limitless? Really? No limits at all? No constraints? And, of course, when people over-sell something in this way, they end up undermining the value and good that they set out to add. Dyer also turns this into his theme “No-Limit thinking is perhaps the highest art of which the human being is capable.” Now we’re into something very different, a kind of new age belief that seems to not be able to accept human nature in all of its fallibilities, weaknesses, and limitations.
From what I can discern in Dr. Wayne Dyer’s works, I think that really did intend to carry on the pioneering work of Abraham Maslow. And I think he could have picked up Maslow’s mantle back in 1980 and carried on the work. But that didn’t happen. Dyer made a name for himself with his books and trainings and from what I can tell, never returned to the writings of Maslow to attempt to carry on that work.
Dyer’s trilogy of books — Your Erroneous Zones, Pulling Your Own Strings, and The Sky’s the Limit seems to me to have both popularized some of Maslow’s works as well as add the needed cognitive-semantic emphasis that Maslow missed. In that, Dyer could have been a key leader in reviving the Human Potential Movement at that time and carried on the self-actualization psychology that Maslow initiated, but in the end, he did not.