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The Meta-State Structure of a Belief Part II


Source: taken from L. Michael Hall, Meta-Relfections #51, October 31, 2011,

From Part I, if a belief is a sentence, then it involves words and typically, abstract and conceptual words. Yes, it will also include within it visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic representations, yet above and beyond that there will be words that tie the representations together and give it meaning- cause-effect meanings, equation meanings, value or importance meanings, etc. Let’s call this “VAK-Plus.”


Recently an especially intelligent NLP Trainer who I highly respect heard me say that “A belief is always a sentence and not simply a set of sensory-representations.” After that he questioned me for more than an hour on how that could be. It violated what he had learned in his original NLP training and, for him, was actually a shocking and upsetting idea. So his first response was to protest:

“But there are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic elements in a belief!”

I agreed. “Yes, within a belief you will find some pictures, sounds, sensations and other sensory representations, but that does not make it a belief. These facets by themselves do not comprise the structure of a belief.” I paused. Waited a bit, then I added with a smile, “And … yes I know that in saying this, I have committed NLP heresy!”

Now what I did not say but what I could have very easily have said was that I had been making this statement for many years (back to the mid-1990s). And yes, I have made that argument in Mind-Lines, Meta-States, Winning the Inner Game (Frame Games), and other books and articles.

So yes, while beliefs involve sensory representations, here is the point: Just having sights, sounds, and sensations by themselves do not make a belief. A Belief requires the VAK plus language that provides an explanation, interpretation, evaluation, and understanding of the VAK.

And this explains why beliefs do not change by merely changing the VAK. Yes, I know of the old out-dated NLP so-called belief change pattern based on changing sub-modalities. I learned it directly from Richard Bandler in the late 1980s. And I also know that when Bob Bodenhamer and I began challenging this in 1996, when we asked trainer after trainer, almost no one ever made that pattern work. The full story is told in Sub-Modalities Going Meta (chapters 8 and 9).

This, for me, explains why Robert Dilts invented a different Belief Change pattern and why it is basically a Meta-Stating Pattern. His Museum of Old Beliefs Pattern essentially meta-states an old belief with several resourceful states:

• Ecology: Is it limiting?

• Doubt: Are you absolutely sure? Could you be wrong?

• Oldness, Antiquation: Is this an old belief? Maybe a belief from childhood?

• Release: Are you ready to let this belief go?

Once you access these states and anchor them spatially-you can step into them in different spots and use them so they become the frame-the meta-state about the old belief. You take the old limiting belief into each of these and let them change the old belief until you are ready to release it. That opens space so that you can then step into an Openness to considering a new more empowering belief.

That’s one way to do it.

In Neuro-Semantics we have an even more direct approach: access the state of dis-validation (dis-confirmation) to weaken the old belief and then access the state of validation (confirmation) and say “Yes, this is true, this is real, this is the way it is.” Or, if you are not ready for that, “Yes, I would like to validate this as true, real, and the way reality is.” The disconfirmation is not to the belief directly, but to it’s ecology. Is it useful? No. Is it empowering? No. Does it make your life better? No. Would you like it for your children? No.

The Bottom Line

What is the bottom line about beliefs? Words. You have to use words to create a belief because beliefs are more than merely the sights, sounds, and sensations of the world – they are part of your Neuro-Semantic landscape. In your mind, you not only represent information, you confirm and validate information as your map about what is real. And when you do that, you create something much more powerful than a mere thought, you create a belief. And that belief operates as a command to your nervous systems- which your neurology will do the best it can to actualize. That’s why and how your belief because self-fulfilling prophesy. They operate in your neuro-semantics as self-organizing attractors and so make up the structure of your matrix of frames.

There’s more to be said, so I’ll write about beliefs and emotions in the next part.


Mind-Lines: Lines for Changing Minds. Chapter 3, pp. 62-64. Chapter 4, pp. 71-75.
Sub-Modalities Going Meta, see chapters 8 and 9 on “Beliefs.”

Check out Articles. Several articles on Beliefs.