by Nick LeForce
The presuppositions at the heart of NLP contain age-old wisdom. For instance, the adage to “count your blessings,” which has been around for centuries, is expressed in the NLP presuppositions that every experience is a resource and that every behavior evolves out of a positive intention. Yet, even seasoned NLP practitioners, myself included, forget the gifts inherent in our problems. Instead, we often fall prey to a battle mentality and take up arms against the enemy within us or in our behavior.
The problem with this is not the “problem,” rather it is our relationship to the problem. The antidote to the battle mentality is to create a more accepting relationship with the “problem.” The appreciation process creates just such a relationship. A natural extension of the first three steps of the six-step reframe, the appreciation process creates a strategy that allows us to find the positive intention behind a behavior that we judge as negative and come to a place of appreciation about the behavior given its intention.
The process uses spatial anchors although other anchors may be used as well. There are four spaces: the context space, the part space, a neutral space, and an appreciation space. You can map these out in advance or build them as you go along. The steps below are described as if you are guiding yourself through the process and should be adapted if you are working with a client.
1) Identify a behavior (you may use a feeling state, or a thinking process) that you have and which you judge negatively or about which you feel badly. Identify the context within which you do this behavior.
2) Create a physical space that represents the context/behavior. Step into this space and vividly recall the context and the behavior. This is the “context space.” Anchor the context and the behavior to this spot.
3) Frame the behavior as generated by a part of you for some positive reason or purpose. If you judge the behavior as negative, you are likely to accept this frame readily. After all, you don’t have to think about doing it at those times when it happens. It just does it on its own as if it is directed by another part of you. You might have your ideas about why it does the behavior but the part that generates may have its own reasons and you may be surprised about what it is really trying to do for you by doing this behavior).
4) Take the part that is generating the behavior and step out of the context space to a second space (typically beside the first space — this is the “part space”). Leave the behavior and the context in the “context space.” This part space will allow you to find out what the part really wants through doing that behavior. Example questions that you can ask yourself/the part include “What does the part (use “I” if you are speaking as the part) want by doing that (point to the previous spot) behavior?” “What does the part (use “I” if you are speaking as the part) hope to get or gain by doing that (point to the previous spot) behavior?” Keep asking until you get a response that is both positive to the part and to you.
5) Now step to a third spot (I usually suggest two steps backwards from the second spot). You are now dissociating by stepping out of the part altogether. This third spot is a “neutral spot” or an “observer or meta-position.” Recall a time in life when “you really appreciated something or someone.” When you think of a time or imagine one, step into the feeling of appreciation by taking one-step forward (a spot in between the neutral spot and the part spot). This is the “appreciation space.”
6) Now vividly recall that feeling of appreciation as you look at the part space and imagine appreciating that part for working to get the positive outcome. Imagine giving the feeling of appreciation to the part (in the second or “part spot”) and back at the behavior itself (in the first spot or “behavior/context spot”).
7) Now bring the feeling of appreciation with you as you step back into the part space. Let this feeling of appreciation flow through you as the part for its positive intention. Now look at the behavior spot/context. Appreciate the behavior because it has provided at least one way to attempt to fulfill the intention.
8) Now take the part and the feeling of appreciation t as you return to the context space. Let this feeling of appreciation flow through you for the behavior again. Look at the context with these eyes of appreciation because the context is now a reminder of your positive intention and what you really want.
9) Test to find out how the person now feels about the original behavior.
Although this can be used as a stand-alone process, I usually incorporate it into other techniques. It will loosen up a rigid frame that often holds a “problem” in place, which then allows other change work to flow more smoothly. It also sets the tone for a more positive and life-enhancing relationship with oneself. The appreciation process is simple and yet it delivers a powerful benefit. An attitude of appreciation is a way to “count your blessings,” and life itself is much more of a joy when you do so.
© 2001 Nick LeForce All rights reserved.