Use your unconscious mind to set ecological outcomes

The Development of Formal Anchoring

Formal anchoring as a skill in NLP was developed by John Grinder and Richard Bandler in the 1970s, first as a skill for assisting people to choose and change their states and also as an influencing piece. Originally, Grinder and Bandler did not specify that the quality of choices people made was vastly improved when the unconscious mind was included in the process. Thus in the Classic Code of NLP when anchoring is taught, students are usually encouraged to think consciously when finding states they want to anchor. The result is often an improvement on the student’s previous experience, but it may not be as good as it could be, nor necessarily in their best interest in the greater scheme of things.,

When the unconscious mind is included in a process, provided it is adequately informed, the results are not only more fitting but often quite surprising and routinely supportive of the person’s whole system and life. In the New Code, the unconscious mind is an integral element to engage at all stages of any change or exploration. When given high-quality information on the context for a change and the intention for having the change, the unconscious mind, like a search engine, can find supremely fitting resources that make change effortless and lasting. Also and equally important, the unconscious mind is best at identifying the consequences, both desirable and otherwise, of having a particular change. If the consequences do not work well, the unconscious mind can provide a higher-level intention from which to work.

“When the unconscious mind is included in a process the results are more supportive of a person’s system.”

The Concept of Ecology and the New Code NLP

Awareness of all possible consequences of a change is essential and built into the New Code. This is called Ecology, as it refers to the ecology of a person’s life system, that is, who and what is important to that person. Given that it is possible to make far-reaching and lasting change with NLP, it becomes important to consider how the change could impact the person’s ecology, including its effect on people, animals, activities, and work that matter to the person. Class members learned the hard way in the early days of NLP. John Grinder remembers watching people getting their outcomes using NLP, but being deeply unimpressed with the quality of outcomes many of them chose. This was a result of trying to apply NLP with just the conscious mind and not considering the ecology of making that change. Therefore, when Grinder started working on the New Code, ecology was built into every piece, along with including the unconscious mind.

Engaging the Unconscious Mind

When engaging the unconscious mind in anchoring, it is appropriate for the conscious mind to nominate the context and turn the choice of resources over to the unconscious mind. If the unconscious mind agrees that it is a good idea to have resources in that context, it will provide high quality, apposite resources for the process.

When Grinder started developing the New Code of NLP with Judith DeLozier, as well as bringing in ecology and the unconscious mind, he wanted to create a system where change could be created via live experience shaped by a defined context. One of his prefered personal activities is technical rock climbing. This is an activity in which you will die if you do not maintain an aware, resourceful state while doing it. Grinder’s NLP training classes do not require his students to place their lives at risk, but the principle of using context to shape state and learning runs through the New Code and is a great facilitator of change.

“When Grinder started working on the New Code, ecology was built into every piece.”

In line with engaging the unconscious mind and preserving a person’s ecology, Grinder utilised context to develop an activity called a Task in the New Code. A task is a tailor made intervention which is offered to someone in the form of a set of instructions. The instructions require the person to follow a particular course of action, which may be framed as a job, a favour or simply a beneficial experience. What is not stated is that in order to follow the instructions, the person has to enter a context that will shape their experience in the exact manner needed to elicit the change they need to achieve their outcome. The person’s conscious attention is on following the instructions and performing the apparent task to the best of their ability. The experience they actually need takes place naturally and spontaneously without conscious attention. The unconscious mind is free to discover the patterns and integrate them without interference.

Grinder tells the story of a young man he worked with once. The young man came from a wealthy and protective family. He had been diagnosed with a mental disorder some time earlier and found interacting with people, especially women, very difficult. He had never had a job, which did not concern him and he wanted to be able to interact with girls. Grinder told the young man he needed work experience first and that he had arranged for the young man to have a temporary job. The job was created by Grinder for the purpose of the intervention. It required the young man to stand outside Victoria’s Secret with a clipboard containing a long list of rather personal questions about customers’ purchases. Victoria’s Secret is a lingerie shop that, at the time, sold a line of racy undergarments for women. He was instructed to approach people leaving the shop and ask them if they would be willing to participate in a survey for market research purposes. If they agreed, he was to ask them the questions on the clipboard and note their answers. He was told to complete at least 12 surveys a session and to do this every Saturday for six weeks.

The young man only managed two surveys the first day and was roundly berated by Grinder, who was actually very pleased he had managed to collect any at all. By the end of the task, the young man was approaching strangers with ease and guiding them fluently through the survey. The real intent of the task was to create a repeating experience of approaching people (the majority being young women) and engaging them in conversation comfortably and naturally. The choice of merchandise created a context where the task was potentially more difficult than it would be with social conversation. The intent of the task was to gain the skills and experience and generalise them into ordinary life. The work experience frame was the carrier for the task and engaged the young man’s conscious attention.

(Note: If you would like to learn more about the New Code of NLP, you can get a copy of our latest Kindle book, ‘AEGIS: Patterns for extending your reach in life, work & leisure’ by Jules Collingwood, NLP Trainer. For only $4.99 here).

By Jules Collingwood, NLP Trainer at INSPIRITIVE Pty Ltd.

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