February 2011 - A Positive Intention Behind All Behavior?
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Did you know there is a positive intention behind all your behaviors? At first glance you may not believe that, especially when you experience the behaviors of others.
For most people, the road to personal change and self-improvement may seem like a long and winding trail filled with difficult barriers. Drug companies in particular have capitalized on and created massive fortunes because of the elusive search for the "Magic Pill" that will fix everything. As it turns out, there is a secret formula for success, and it begins in the human mind.
The presupposition that there is a positive intention behind all behaviors is an integral part of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). Another way of understanding or defining positive intention is something called: “secondary gain”, or the “pay off”. Any time you catch yourself in a particular behavior, ask yourself: “What is the secondary gain or pay off I’m getting for behaving this way?”
Payoffs come in two varieties:
- Getting more of something you want
- Experiencing less of something you don’t want (avoiding difficult thoughts, numbing difficult emotions, or escaping from difficult situations or tasks)
NLP is one of the many quick and effective psychotherapy tools I use for my clients in addition to hypnosis. Based on the presupposition that there is a positive intention behind all behavior, when it comes to successfully eliminating negative behaviors, there is formula for success that we must always keep in mind and it has to do with something called a “reframe”. I will talk more about reframes in a minute.
If you are like 99.9% of the clients who come into my office you might initially say: "I’m not aware of positive intention behind my behavior." And, you probably aren’t, at least consciously. However, your unconscious mind does know the positive intention.
We must always respect the positive intent behind every behavior. If we have a compulsion to use a behavior that we don't like, we can easily get rid of the compulsion to use that behavior providing we find another behavior to substitute in its place that is as effective and available at accomplishing the same outcome, but is more consciously acceptable to you. This is called a “Reframe”.
Reframing is a potent technique for helping a person change their behavior. We must respect that there is a positive outcome or secondary gain accomplished by all behaviors. The outcome is always important. However, the behavior that is used to accomplish that outcome is unimportant.
When we do a Reframe, we negotiate with the unconscious and have it assume responsibility for making the client unconsciously substitute some other behavior that is as effective and available at accomplishing that secondary gain, but is more consciously acceptable to the individual.
When you come into my office, one of the first things that I do is have you complete a history questionnaire which helps me understand the bigger overview of your personal goals. Let's say you come in and want to stop overeating and or lose weight. Conventional wisdom tells me two reasons that people eat excessively: (1) for relaxation and pleasure; (2) because eating can be a conditioned response. For instance, if a person eats while they are watching TV, they will develop a conditioned response, and thereafter, every time they sit down to watch TV, they'll get cravings and an urge to eat.
However, the above answer only takes into consideration the possible positive intention behind the eating behavior. What if they also have another behavior that is involved in the equation? For example: What if being fat is also a behavior for this person? I can hear your mind grinding right now as you think, "Being fat isn't a behavior, it's just the outcome of eating too much. You are crazy!"
However, there is a lot more to behavior. Remember the rule: There is a positive intention behind all behaviors. Here is one simple classic text book example that will illustrate the fact that being fat can be a behavior. It can be a behavior because it can accomplish positive outcomes.
Example: A woman is deeply in love. Her boyfriend breaks up with her, and breaks her heart. Her unconscious mind wants to protect her emotionally and prevent her from having her heart broken again. So it motivates her to get fat to keep her out of relationships. That way she won't get her heart broken again. The point is that everyone is totally different. And sometimes there are hidden elements at work causing compulsive behaviors. These are elements that are different for each person.
Here is another example: A woman comes into my office complaining of an uncontrollable urge to overeat at dinner time. During my case history, upon questioning, the woman explains how she was never been able to get the approval of her father.
We did an age regression, and one of her earliest memories was of eating dinner with the family. Dad was insisting in a very loud voice that she clean her plate, even though she was full. So she cleaned her plate out of fear, and dad commended her for eating everything. It was one of the only times in her life that she could recall her dad telling her that he was happy with her.
Move forward to present day. Dad's been dead for years, but the unconscious program he installed is still working. She still has a compulsion to clean her plate, even if she is feeling stuffed, because by cleaning the plate she is getting dad's approval, and eliminating her fear!
So if you are having a problem making personal changes, keep in mind that there is a positive intention behind all behaviors. And keep in mind "The secret formula for success;” its called Reframing.
Reframing is normally an NLP technique, but it can also be used during any hypnosis session.
To clarify, in the case of compulsive overeating: We ask the unconscious to assume the responsibility for finding another behavior to substitute in place of being fat, that is as effective and available at accomplishing the same outcome, but is more consciously acceptable to you. This is called a “Reframe”.
The positive intentions behind behavior are almost unlimited. Here are just a few, and after reading this you may think of a few more examples.
|Being sick all the time or talking about your illness excessively.
|Being judgmental or critical of others
||To feel better about yourself or your life
|Excessive alcohol or drug use
|| Avoidance of uncomfortable feelings
||Avoiding something you don’t want to do or feel inept at doing.
|| To fill a void, feel more in control
|Saying yes to everyone/everything
The truth is, you may understand the motivations or intentions of many of your behaviors, but there are many intentions and payoffs which are running your behavior that may be completely unconscious and may date back as far as childhood. The good news is your unconscious mind knows what they are and can easily and quickly release them. What behavior would you like to change?
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