This is a quick demonstration of a thought experiment that serves as an analogy for in the box and outside of the box thinking. And the importance of exploring possible options when encountering a problem rather than focusing on the problem itself.
Just the other day I was teaching the forgiveness pattern (as modeled by Steve and Connirae Andreas) to a group of students and what was normally a pattern that I pull off seamlessly was something that seemed not to go well from almost the start. I had explained the concept of submodalities and had taken the group through a couple exercises designed to give them some familiarity with the model. At this point in time everything was going good. Everybody was able to notice a difference in their experiences as they practiced adjusting submodalities. I then began to ask for demonstration subject after explaining the forgiveness pattern so that the students could see it in action.
The demonstration subject that volunteered was someone I had worked with in the past. We had some difficulty last time we worked together but still managed to pull off the pattern still nonetheless so I figured no problem. I began the demonstration with asking them to think about a person that they were angry/still resentful about but whom they would like to forgive. After that I asked them to identify someone that they had forgiven sometime in their past. I then proceeded to run a contrastive analysis of submodality distinctions. With the exception of location in the visual modality apparently every distinction was the same between the person they resented and the person they had forgiven.
When it came to auditory distinctions there were a few differences in submodalities but nothing that made any significant difference in his experience. The interesting thing about when I was running the contrastive analysis throughout the demonstration when I was asking the subject to compare the differences between the two experiences was that they kept responding that they were the same. It didn’t matter for the most part what the distinction was they kept answer that they were the same. Part of me wondered if they were even looking for differences.
Eventually I exhausted all of the visual and auditory distinctions that I could think of while only having identified two differences. By this point I was wondering if I was eliciting the distinctions incorrectly or something. I had made it to the kinesthetic modality. They were able to distinguish between only a few submodality differences there. Anger was experienced as a warm body sensation on one side of their body and forgiveness was experienced as a cool body sensation on the other side. When I asked them to move over the sensations from the side of the body that was anger to the forgiveness side just to see what would happen they said that their anger just more intense almost like rage. This was truly an interesting demonstration indeed.
After telling them to go ahead and allowing the sensations to go back to the way they were. Based on previous experience with this person I already knew that visual location of images was extremely effective submodality distinction for them. So I cycled back into their visual submodality distinctions and had them shift the location of the visual representation of anger into forgiveness. The subject reported immediate relief. I had them move the image back to where it originally was in their experience. I then proceeded to an ecology question. I asked him if he had any objections to feeling forgiveness for the person in question. To that response I received vague generalizations about their moral code and how the other objections they were experiencing had to do with their ego and super ego.
These types of objections prove to be interesting challenges because they are so vague that they have to be broken down into something meaningful. At least to me they do because based on their responses I had no clue what they were talking about. I found that the more specific I made them get the more resistance I ran into when attempting to reframe their objections. This was an interesting turn of events for me because this entire time I was suppose to be giving a demonstration on the ease at which one can reach forgiveness using this pattern. Part of me thought that given the turn of events that I had thoroughly confused everyone in the group.
By this time I had figured that any educational value of what I was teaching was lost and in good conscience I did not feel justified in opening up the proverbial can of worms with this person and then ending the demonstration. Plus I thought that might set a bad example for the group. So I made a judgment call and dropped the pattern in question and proceeded to engage in alternative information gathering and interventions in order to assist the subject. What ended up working was taking them through 1st, 2nd and 3rd position with regard to the situation in question.
So for example I would have from 1st position take inventory of what resources that he was lacking in the situation in question and then add them. I would then have him check to see if that was enough to resolve the situation to his satisfaction. It wasn’t so I had him keep adding resources until there was a point of diminishing returns. From that point I had him jump into 2nd position (the other person’s perspective) to detect what resources that they might be deficient. I then had him add resources to that person’s experience. From there I had him jump back and forth from 1st to 2nd position and vice versa adding resources to each perceptual position until the point where they felt that both individuals had the resources that they needed.
Towards the end of this new exercise I had them just to 3rd position (observer perspective) where they would then add any resources that they felt both individuals in the situation might have been lacking. I finished off the exercise by having them just from 1st to 2nd to 3rd position and detecting whether or not anybody from any of those perspectives needed any resources added to their experience. I then had them clear their mind and imagine they were talking to the person in question and to notice their response. They stated that they felt resourceful and were able to forgive them. Given all the trouble I had to deal with during this demonstration I wanted to make certain that there wasn’t anything else that needed to be done.
So I had them go into multiple past experiences and to notice what they noticed. Every time without fail they said that they felt resourceful in a way that they didn’t think was possible. I then had them think of multiple times in the future one after the other in which the person might do something that in the past would send them into a rage. They reported back that they felt calm and relaxed. I then future paced them through as many different scenarios as I could think of. I told them to go back into their experience and to really do their best to feel horrible.
I implored them to please do everything in their power to make that piece of work that we had just done fail. But alas to no avail they could only succeed in feeling good. This situation reminded me of a good lesson. When what you are doing isn’t working then do something else. So in a way I guess I’m pretty thankful that the demonstration that I did failed. I think this is why I encourage so many people to fail as often as they can. I learn a lot more from my failures than my successes.