Make New Year’s changes that stick

The Hierarchy of Change

Happy New Year!  May 2014 be your greatest year yet!

What do you want to achieve in 2014? What would you like to change this year?

To assist you in making those changes permanent and easy, I’d like to introduce you to the Dilts’ model of change.  Robert Dilts is a significant contributor to the field of NLP and stipulated that there was a hierarchy of six different levels where change could be made within a person.  Those levels are: Purpose, Identity, Values & Beliefs, Capability, Behaviour and Environment.

Dilts' Model of ChangePurpose – Whom do I serve and for what purpose?

Identity – Who am I and do I reflect that in the way I live?

Values & Beliefs – Why do I make these changes?

Capability – How do I make these changes?

Behaviour – What do I need to change?

Environment – Where do I need change?

Changes made at one level tend to flow downwards and impact on the levels below.

Typically, when people want to make a change, they target the level of Behaviour.  For example, if someone wants to lose weight, they will target behaviour by changing their exercise regime or their diet.  A change at the behaviour level will filter downwards and impact on their environment as they start going to the gym or avoiding bakeries and fast food outlets.

When changes are made at the higher levels of Purpose, Identity or Values & Beliefs, change filters down into the lower levels and behaviours and environments can change easily.  Consider how you would naturally and automatically behave if:

  • You believed that eating cakes and sugar was causing immediate damage to your health and you valued good health as a high priority.  A change at level of Beliefs & Values
  • You identified yourself as an extremely health-conscious person.  A change at level of Identity
  • Your purpose was to make a huge contribution in your chosen field during your lifetime. Therefore you ensure you are in the best possible physical condition to do so.  A change at level of Purpose

Unless we have taken action to change our values, beliefs and identity, we may well be operating on unconscious programming that was installed during our early years.  By working with the unconscious mind and creating new beliefs, values and an identity that supports our goals and desires in the present, we can make taking action so much easier.

Should you wish for support to make those desired changes in 2014, I am always at your service.


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Busting the B.S of Procrastination

Busting Procrastination

Many of my clients have big dreams and plans for their future but get stuck when it comes to executing them.  They know what they “should” be doing, yet find themselves doing anything but!  In a recent lecture at the Institute of CBT Coaching, Professor Windy Dryden put forth a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approach to breaking apart procrastination.

First, a definition of procrastination  – Procrastination is putting off to do later what is healthy for you to do now as defined by you.  This last part of the phrase is important.  The decision must be self-initiated.  If you don’t believe it’s healthy to do this activity but your spouse/boss/mother does – that is not procrastination.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy breaks a situation apart into three pieces:

A. The Activating event.
B. The Beliefs we have about that event.
C. The emotional and behavioural response that are the Consequences of that belief.

By splitting a situation into these three pieces we can see that it is B, the belief systems (B.S) that we hold about events have the influence on how we feel and behave.  When we challenge and change those beliefs we change C, the emotional and behavioural response.

In the context of procrastination, belief systems about when one can commence work trigger the behaviour of procrastination.  Do you recognise this scenario?

You have a piece of work due on Friday.  You put aside an hour at 2pm on Wednesday to do it.  When you sit down to start work you suddenly find that your desk is so cluttered that you can’t possibly begin. So you spend twenty minutes tidying and organising your desk.  Now you’re ready to start.  But, before you do you make a small snack – you need your energy to think clearly.  Twenty minutes later you sit back down ready to commence.  Now the lighting at your desk is not quite right, it’s distracting, so you spend another 15 minutes sorting that out.  Then you find you’ve run out of time and its time to move onto the next thing.  The work does not get done, you feel bad and have to reschedule another time to do the work.

In this scenario there is an underlying rigid belief that “I must be comfortable in order to work”.  The consequences of that rigid belief are to procrastinate until a level of “comfort” is achieved – this may involve tidying, organising, getting snacks or drinks, exercising, adjusting the chair, changing the lighting, moving locations, the list goes on…

Or perhaps your rigid beliefs around starting work fall into one of the following categories?

  • I must be in the mood to work
  • I must be motivated to work
  • I must be under pressure to work
  • I must feel competent to work

The CBT breakthrough comes when the client consciously decides, “I would like to be comfortable but this condition isn’t necessary for me to work”.   Using hypnotic and NLP techniques that work with the unconscious mind, we can embed these new, more flexible beliefs, at a deeper level so that they are a natural choice in the client’s neurology.

My CBT challenge to you is to identify your rigid beliefs about your preconditions for starting work and then deliberately break them apart!

  • Set a specific time when you are going to work on something that is in your interest to do at a time that is in your interest to do so.
  • Identify the feeling that, in the past, would have triggered the procrastination behaviour (e.g. feeling uncomfortable with clutter)
  • Use that feeling to identify the rigid belief (I must feel comfortable in order to start work)
  • Start work anyway in the absence of that condition reminding yourself that it is desirable that the condition be met before you start work but not necessary.
  • Collect a bank of experiences where you challenged the rigid belief and got work done anyway! This is your path to freedom and flexibility to be productive regardless of other factors.

Get started now ; ) What rigid beliefs about starting work do you have? Share them in the comments below.  I invite you to celebrate your successes with this approach and share them!


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The Power of Beliefs

Last month I attended a presentation by Dr Raj Persaud at King’s College London about the importance of belief in the therapeutic process.  Dr Persaud, listed by the Times newspaper as one of the top 20 mental health gurus in the world, spoke about the continuum along which humans find themselves in terms of what they believe about their destiny.  On one end of that spectrum are those termed External, meaning that they believe they have no input, influence or control in creating their destiny.  These people see themselves as tumbleweed, blown about at the mercy of the wind and other uncontrollable forces.  At the other end of the spectrum are Internals, those who believe that it is through their hard work, diligence, practice and tenacity that they affect their destiny and shape their future.

Dr Persaud’s argument is that the first step of successful therapy is always to move the client along the spectrum from External to Internal.  According to him, it is only when the client believes they are in control of their destiny that behavioural change can begin to take root.

Beliefs, despite being invisible, colour the lens through which we view our world.  Dr Persaud quoted studies that showed Internals are more likely than Externals to vote, to work for achievements, to tolerate delays in rewards and to plan for long-term goals.  Internals are also less prone to learned helplessness and serious depression[1].  This is a wonderful example of how the beliefs we hold to be true are expressed in our behaviours, our action and therefore our achievements in the world.

What is incredibly exciting is that in separate research Dr Bruce Lipton, a genetic scientist from New Zealand, has shown that our beliefs can not only effect our behaviour, but can actually affect our physical bodies at the cellular level too.

In his lecture on the Biology of Belief[2] Dr Lipton gives a step-by-step explanation of the process by which proteins inside the cells are activated by the signals from the cells’ external sensors.  Based on the cells perception of what is going on in the external environment, specific proteins are activated within the cell or even created from the genes inside the cell.

The exciting concept that ties these two academics’ findings together is the real-world impact of our beliefs.  Changing a belief can normally be a difficult thing to do.  People can be quite attached to their beliefs – wars are fought over them!  And yet, when you decide that your current beliefs are no longer serving you and the results you want to achieve in the world, you can quickly and easily transform them by communicating in the language and structure of the unconscious mind.

What beliefs are you carrying around that no longer serve you? What would you prefer to believe about your ability to affect your health, your finances and your relationships?  Now you’re ready to become the pilot of your own destiny!

Would you like to know where you are on the spectrum?  Take an online Locus of Control test here. 

[1] Gershaw, D, “Locus of Control”,  adapted from Simons, Irwin and Drinnin’s Psychology: The Search for Understanding, West Publishing, 1987, pages 493-495.

Image Credit: Simone Paoli via Flickr