In this transcript of the video seminar “Self Concept” Steve Andreas jumps right in showing you how just a couple of key NLP models and processes can immediately make a difference for you.

He gives a quick overview of the differences and what is most important to you about them. Then he takes you right into an actual demonstration from a live seminar of how to achieve this.  Then he gives several examples of how to better create your own durable desirable self image.  You’ll find having and maintaining the kind of durable self image that holds through time and challenges is well worth it.

Additional resources: The original video is available here. and for a fuller and deeper exploration and understanding you can consider the expanded audio seminar “Recreating Yourself” which gives more detail and examples here:

Transcript of video presentation:

Building Self-Concept by Steve Andreas

NARRATOR/STEVE: For many years, people have talked about the central importance of positive self-concept and self-esteem in guiding and motivating a person’s life. However, for the most part, the best that people could do to help someone build self-esteem was to compliment or encourage, or to approve of what they were doing, to love them in the hope that this would help them feel better about themselves.

The discovery of internal representations and the internal submodalities that compose them provides a way to answer the question, “What is a self-concept made of?” The answer to this question provides a way to build self-concept directly in a way that is durable, and that has profound consequences for the person across a wide range of behaviors and contexts. The demonstration on this videotape was made during the latter part of an NLP master practitioner training in early February 1992.

STEVE: Do you remember the belief change pattern, where you essentially weaken a belief–and usually it’s a negated, a belief with a negation, a limiting belief, which means it has a negation in it as “You can’t do this” or “This is impossible” or something like that? Remember that one? Well there, the person has a belief that gets in their way, so let’s call it a negative belief for the moment. And you weaken this by taking it over into doubt or uncertainty, and then you build in a new one and then bring it back over to the submodalities of the original belief or some variation. You can take a positive belief if you want to start, and that’s actually a little safer, but you have to eliminate the old belief before you can put in the new one. Remember that?

Now sometimes, the situation is a little different. It’s NOT that they have one of these, (negative belief) it’s just that they don’t have one of these (positive belief). OK? Now these situations can be recognized in some of the following ways: Some people–you tell them “Oh, you’re really a very kind person,” and they go, “Huh?” And it’s like they don’t register it. The TA people call this “discounting”–people who say, “Well, not really,” and stuff like that. But if you have observed them, and you know that they are this kind of person, but they don’t recognize it. It’s not part of their self-concept.

Another way to recognize it is people who sometimes continually come to you for validation. It’s like, “Do you really love me?”-that one. Have any of you encountered this one? It often happens with regard to being lovable, of being cared for. The people just–it’s kind of amazing to them that anyone could care for them. And even after 20 years, they still don’t quite believe it. OK? Now it may be that someone thinks of themselves as unlovable or unkind. In that case, you need to do this (other process). But sometimes it’s simply that there’s no representation built of themselves that gives them a sense of this being an attribute, a characteristic of that person. Does that make sense?

Now, is there anyone in here who would like to get one of these built? And I ask you to test very carefully to make sure that it’s not one of these (negative beliefs). Is there anyone who would like to play with this? It’s a very simple little process and it’s kind of fun, I think. And basically it’s just a matter of building something, so it’s the same old thing–contrastive analysis and build something.

PETER: I haven’t been a demo subject.

STEVE: OK. And what is it that you’d like to think about?

PETER: Well “lovable” really hit a chord with me.

STEVE: OK, you don’t think of yourself as lovable.

PETER: Not particularly.

STEVE: I think of you as lovable, so come on up. Now when I said that, what did you do inside?

PETER: ( (shaking his head and shrugging)) I sort of went “Nope.”

STEVE: OK. Now, if you go, “Nope”– Give me some more. See I’m testing to make sure it’s not one of these (negative beliefs).

PETER: It sort of hits a … I get a sense that it hits a blank.

STEVE: “A blank.”

PETER: Yeah.

STEVE: OK. That sounds good. OK? Because if it’s one of these, then it’s like there’s just nothing there. It’s not that there’s a negation. And as I experience you, I don’t– I wouldn’t think that you think of yourself as unlovable.

PETER: Not really, no. I mean it’s more– I don’t think of myself as unlovable, I don’t think of myself as lovable …

STEVE: Right. Oh, let’s put on a mike here.

PETER: … if that makes any sense.

STEVE: It’s one of those tie tack things. Yeah, that’s good. That’s what we want. (to the group) Does it make sense that I’m testing a little bit here? Because I want to make sure it’s not one of these (negations). What happens if you just go ahead and build one of these (positives) and you DON’T weaken one of these (negatives)? Think about it now. I’m serious. This is an important point. If someone has a negative belief, if he thought he was unlovable, and I build a belief in here that he’s lovable, now what?

PARTICIPANT: Then you have a “parts problem.”

(talking from the audience)

STEVE: Now you’ve got a parts problem. Most people have enough conflict as it is. Let’s not build in more. (to Peter) Think of something that you dobelieve is true of yourself.

PETER: (nodding) I think I’m intelligent.

STEVE: Intelligent. Good. And you’re pretty sure of that, right?

PETER: Yeah.

STEVE: Yeah. (audience laughs) (joking) Now we didn’t say “arrogant,” we said “intelligent”! (laughing). OK, now, what I’d like to know is when you–what is your evidence? How do you represent this sense of yourself as being intelligent?

PETER: Um … I’m not really sure. It’s sort of like it’s so built into me. There’s a voice that tells me (gesturing toward his left ear) “I’m smart.”

STEVE: OK. So there’s a little voice over here, OK. Now what’s its evidence? See a voice is just a voice, right? So there’s a voice on your left that says “I’m smart,” OK? And that’s fine. I’m not disagreeing with that. I just want to know what is its evidence? How does it know that that’s the case?

PETER: Other people have told me.

STEVE: Well, I don’t trust other people, do you?


STEVE: You do? So all I have to do is tell you that you’re lovable and from now on–?

PETER: I guess if I hear it enough.

STEVE: “Enough.” OK. And so …

PETER: Yeah, that kind of fits because that’s–you know what you were saying about like I’m always wanting my wife to tell me how much she loves me?


PETER: And her experience is that that’s really excessive. STEVE: Yeah. (participants laugh)

PETER: And of course my experience is–

STEVE: (to the group) This is what we want! This is what we want. (laughter) See, we’ve got it both ways, because the two major tests have just been fulfilled. The one is that he tends to go for a confirmation from others, and the other is that if I tell him he’s lovable, it’s like–it doesn’t compute. It’s like, “Well, it’s like there’s a blank.” And that’s what we want. OK. Great.

Now in terms of “I’m smart,” you have heard–do you have an auditory memory of lots of different people saying that in a lot of different contexts? Is that the evidence?

PETER: Yeah, and–I’ve done a lot of things that–yeah, that I got external confirmation.

STEVE: OK. So as you hear these–let’s just take one, let’s say–so, can you think of a particular one where someone says that you said something intelligently or something like that or whatever?


STEVE: So an auditory remembering.

PETER: Yeah.

STEVE: OK. So what kind of thing might it say?

PETER: I remember my father saying “I can’t imagine where you got all this intelligence from.” It amazed him.

STEVE: Oh, that’s nice. Do you hear it? It’s presupposed. “I can’t imagine where you got all this intelligence from.” There’s also an implied comparison there, isn’t there? That he’s not that smart. He’s saying that his father told him he was smarter than his father.

PETER: That created lots of strange stuff inside me.

STEVE: Does it?

PETER: Well because I’d always believed that he was a lot smarter than me. So that was a real–

STEVE: When he said that, it was …

PETER: It was (Peter looks amazed.)

STEVE: OK. Got it. OK. I’m just going to jot this down because I want to remember it. Sometimes you get a good one like this, and it’s just wonderful for teaching. “Where you got all that intelligence from.” Hmm, that’s a good one. I wish more parents did that. (to the group) What would most parents say? To keep the same form of the sentence and just change a few things, what would most parents say?

PARTICIPANT: “How’d you get to be so stupid?”

STEVE: “How’d you get to be so stupid … obstinate … I don’t know where you got all that stupidity from?” OK. Well, let’s not dwell on that.

OK, great. And then there are others? Can you hear other voices in there? And what I hear from you is that’s important whose voice it is. Is that right? If this was just a man on the street–

PETER: (nodding) Yeah.

STEVE: –would it matter as much? Would it be as compelling?

PETER: It wouldn’t be as compelling. It would still … it would still compute.

STEVE: OK, so it would still be part of it. OK, good.

PETER: It wouldn’t be — The more intelligent the person is noticing, the more impact it has.

STEVE: Sure. So the source is important. OK. All right, how many voices in there do you have, do you think? You said that you have a bunch of them … remembered people telling you.

PETER: I don’t know, but a number came to mind of 50.

STEVE: Fifty? OK, this is a thorough person. (Peter laughs.) Right?

PETER: I guess so.

STEVE: OK. Good. All right. Now, anything else in terms of the evidence and–so there’s the voice that gives you the message and there’s the evidence behind that of all these different people saying this kind of thing. Anything else? …

PETER: Um … there’s … when you first asked the question, I didn’t have anything, any pictures particularly. It was more an auditory thing. As you’re asking me now, I can remember pictures when I went and accepted my degrees and … I have certificates hanging on walls that let me know …

STEVE: And if you hear your father’s voice saying this sentence, “I don’t know where you got all that intelligence from,” is there some picture along with that?

PETER: (shaking his head) Um … no. There’s a picture of him … I mean, just him saying that–I can remember the situation in which he said that.

STEVE: OK. Well, yeah, but do you have that? Is it–is this the voice crying in the wilderness, or do you have some picture along with it of when he said it? . . .

PETER: I think the auditory is much more important .–

STEVE: OK. Fine.

PETER: –than the visual.

STEVE: OK. Good. OK. Now, I want to ask you another question, which may seem a little strange. Are there any counterexamples in there? Are there any? (Peter smiles broadly and shakes his head.) No? (chuckles in the audience). OK.

PETER: In a way, yes, and in a way–I mean like I know that I sometimes do things that aren’t–that are kind of stupid.

STEVE: All of us do. Yeah. Right.

PETER: But that doesn’t change the belief.


PETER: For some reason, that doesn’t have an impact.

STEVE: That’s fine. I just want to– Now, I’m going to do something kind of as an experiment and you tell me how it goes. What if you have one voice in there–at least one, or two or three–that says, “Well, every once in a while, you screw up.”

PETER: Yeah, that’s fine.

STEVE: Is that fine?

PETER: Mmm hmm.

STEVE: OK. (to the group) Now, what I’m doing here is something that is a way to avoid pomposity. It’s wonderful to have generalizations, but all generalizations break down somewhere. Even the most intelligent person in the world, I don’t care who you choose, is going to say stupid things from time to time, or be stupid, or act stupid, or whatever. If the person has only positive examples in their generalization, then they may get to think, “Everything I say is gold. Everything I do is perfect. Everything I do is right.” And– PETER: (shaking his head) Nope. (chuckles)

STEVE: –this is not here, OK? (to the group) And one of the ways you can do that is to deliberately build in counterexamples to the generalization. It’s wonderful to have a big solid generalization. He has 50. Some people have one. There’s an old joke about the guy who knows that all Indians walk single-file because he saw one once. (participants laugh). And this is a whole area that’s fascinating to explore, is in terms of self-concept and generalization in general, because the self-concept is simply a generalization about the self. Some people do make generalizations based on one example. A person does one thing and they go, “Oh, that’s that kind of a person because I saw them once.” It’s just like the single-file, really. And others are much more thorough, and they have to get a whole bunch of examples in order to build a generalization. Now these will be much more durable. But you don’t want them to be too durable, because if you ever–like in college, did you ever see someone who thought they were really, really intelligent and other people didn’t agree with them? Unfortunately, clients don’t come into you saying, “I’m just too pompous and I’d like you to change that.” (laughter) They don’t. It’s like the thing of–if a depressed person believes that nothing will work, he won’t come in to tell you about it because (he thinks) that will not work either. So there’s some loops that people can get into with certain kinds of problems, they will not bring themselves in. Somebody else may bring them in–the wife or son or daughter, someone else. But the person themselves do not perceive it as a problem. Most of the frame that we’ve had around the NLP that we’ve been teaching you is a voluntary client–somebody who comes in and says, “I’m hurting. My life is not working in this way. I want some help.” There’s other things like this that are a little harder to deal with because you have to kind of convince somebody that it’s a problem.

(to Peter) OK, back to this one now. Now, what I propose to do, and I’d like to see if you have any objections, is to build the same kind of representation here that you’re lovable.

PETER: (emphatically) No objections.

STEVE: No objections?

PETER: A little voice is inside going, “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”

STEVE: OK, super! And your wife will like it too.

PETER: Yeah.

STEVE: Now, you know where you hear these voices, and how loud, and the details of whatever for the “I’m smart” or “intelligent,” right? And I want to do this in the following way, because I think it will work better–you have this–the major generalization is “I’m smart,” OK? I want to build that last. And before I do that, I want to build these other ones, specific examples in the past. And it doesn’t have to be that you’re lovable–that word doesn’t have to be in there. It could be, “You just did a very loving thing with that child,” or “That was a sweet gift you gave me,” or whatever. And I want you to take the time, one at a time, to find 50 of those. And when you’ve got 50 of them built, then you give me–then build this one, the major voice that just lets you know “I’m lovable” or “I’m a caring person” or however you would like to say it, because the words are not important–except they are to the individual, because some words work better for an individual. Do you have any question about that?


STEVE: OK. Go for it. (Peter closes his eyes) Just search back through memory, (in a slower voice) and of course your unconscious mind can participate fully in this . . .to think of different times in your life . . . and just as it was important in the other one that the person was intelligent who said that you were intelligent . . . it would probably be important that the person who says these things . . . be a person who is intelligent and lovable or has something else that you respect along the same lines. Does that make sense? (Peter nods.)

OK? So just take your time . . . and gradually assemble-. . . one by one. . . voices that say sincerely and congruently . . . give you appreciation for being a caring, lovable person. (26 second pause) . . .

And I don’t think you really have to count to 50.

PETER: (In a softer voice, nodding) No, I was just getting the sense that the process was complete. Yeah.

STEVE: OK. Do you have a sense of that’s complete? You can always put in a few more in your spare time too, you know, when you’re waiting for a bus or something like that. OK. Now, have you already built the voice here that’s sort of summarizes all this?

PETER: (nodding) Mmm hmm. It says, “I am loved.”

STEVE: “I am loved.” Good. That’s a good one. And I like the tone of voice too.

PETER: Yeah. I like that one too.

STEVE: OK. Good. Now, are you a lovable person?

PETER: (softly) Yeah.

STEVE: How does it feel?

PETER: (smiling) Very strange. (chuckling)

STEVE: It will, at first. This is a new thing. It’s like–a lot of changes are strange at first, but it’s nice strange, right?

PETER: Umm . . .yeah, it’s sort of–thinking about myself in a whole different way. That … Do I sound different?

STEVE: Uh huh. (participants agree)

PETER: Yeah, because even to me, my voice sounds different.

STEVE: Uh huh. It has more depth.

PETER: Yeah.

STEVE: It’s a little lower. Yeah.

PETER: Oooo. (smiling broadly) Thank you.

STEVE: OK. How does it feel now? Now that you’ve had all of 20 seconds to get used to it? (laughter)

PETER: Um, … it kind of feels like there’s a whole bunch of bouncing around going on inside.

STEVE: Uh huh. OK.

PETER: And … it’s a little shaky. And I think I have a– :The greatest thing is this sort of a feeling of total wonder. (softly) It’s like … wow!

STEVE: Uh huh. It’s nice.

PETER: Yeah.

STEVE: (To participants) Do you have any questions for Peter? . . . (To Peter) You can sit down. Thanks a lot.

PETER: Thank you.

STEVE: OK. Do you have any questions? Yeah?

PARTICIPANT: He had principally the phrase from his dad about the intelligence.

STEVE: Well, that was one of them, yes. That was one of the more compelling ones.

PARTICIPANT: And you had him go through on auditory–bringing up voices. If it had been visual, would you then have pictures?

STEVE: Yeah. And it’s more common that that’s the case. Given our society’s predilection for visual–TV and visuals and–more visuals in our society–more often, people have a specific location where they’ll have a whole bunch of little examples, little pictures. Or it can be a rolodex where you flip them over and they keep popping up one at a time or something like that. Sometimes there’s three, sometimes there’s 10, sometimes there’s a whole bunch, sometimes there’s one. I’m a little wary of the single ones. If you have only a single example of an attribute, then it’s much more vulnerable. And sometimes I meddle. So sometimes–now here, he’s got 50 examples, you know, and (to Peter) you may not have 50 of the new one yet, but you can build them. Take–kind of check in from time to time and if it doesn’t feel quite stable enough, just build in some more voices like that. Think of other times in your past when you’ve been lovable and … or loved, and people have said nice things to you, and just build in a bunch more.

PETER: What I have sense–my model for this is like filters. It’s like, I previously had a filter. And so if anybody came up to me and said, “You’re lovable,” it wouldn’t get into the filter. And any small fragment of it … if it did get in, there would be a judgment that would immediately go, “Oh, that’s so stupid. They don’t know what they’re talking about.”

STEVE: Yeah.

PETER: And it would–it would never get into being a belief.

STEVE: Well, I think about it a little differently. I think about it as being–see, this (negative belief) is definitely a filter that rejects. And I don’t think you have that. I think it’s more like you were blind to it, in the same way that we’re blind to infrared. We don’t have the apparatus to receive it, and codify it. Or that we can’t see x-rays. That we don’t have the mechanism to take that in and go, “Oh, that’s one of those. Oh, OK.” This is–it’s a slightly different metaphor.

PETER: Yeah. What I’m having the sense of now as I was going back through time was a whole bunch of events immediately sort of came out as, “Oh, that’s an example of that. And that’s another one. And there’s another one.”

STEVE: Yeah. Exactly. Yes. Now this is what happens when you do have a filter. Now you can filter through that data and say, “Oh, there’s lots of these in there. I didn’t even know they were there.” Because before you didn’t have the mechanism to sort through that data and pick those out. Yeah. That’s the way I think of it. OK?

PARTICIPANT: When you were eliciting his knowing strategy and he came up with an external as a way of knowing rather than an internal, I thought you were going to go for something that was internal, but instead you just went for the external.

STEVE: Well it is internal. It’s his voice; I mean, it’s somebody else’s voice but it’s in his brain, OK? So when I talk external, I mean the thing of, “Well, do you love me?” and going external to another human being right now. See this–now I was cautious in –see, I’m a cautious person in a lot of ways. When–I want to know that there’s some basis for this. I want it to be based on feedback in the real world. I have this predilection for this, because I had too many college professors who had little voices inside like this, and they weren’t based on much data. And that’s why I was going for, “Do you have pictures? Do you know what this is based on?” He gave me a specific enough one here where his father, whom he considered an intelligent person–and I assume there was some context in which you had done something, in fact, intelligent and he commented on it. So this is fine data as long as it is somehow linked to the world. And that’s all I was exploring there. But an internal voice is just as good as an internal picture; I just want the picture and the voice to be somehow linked to something in the real world. That’s all.

OK, any other questions? Does it seem like a useful thing to do now and then?

PARTICIPANT: If the person had a rolodex, would you then have him do–

STEVE: Fill in one at a time.

PARTICIPANT: On another rolodex.

STEVE: Yeah.

PARTICIPANT: The same one?

STEVE: Another one in the same place, OK? So I make sure those voices are right down here (gesturing toward left ear) in the same–we want to use this as a prototype or as a template for building a new one, because this one works. And I test it here, you know. I say, “Well, are you intelligent?” “Sure.” And, you know, I invite you to come up and ask him (Peter) next week, or just say something nice to him about something he did and see how it computes, because now he has a filter for it.

You know the old NLP presupposition that people have all the resources they need? All of us has an immense databank of experiences of all kinds. I don’t care how isolated you were, how bad a family you came from, you have an immense database of experience through school and childhood and growing up and adolescence and adulthood and all the rest of it. And most of that’s kind of gone to waste. It’s sort of like, it’s stored in your basement, and you never use it. And this is a way to build a filter so that you can go back and filter. And what he said was, “Things keep coming up of other times when this was the case.” This organizes your experience. It’s like taking a whole big database and you plug in a new program that says, “Let’s slice it this way and get out this kind of information.” Because otherwise it’s just buried in the database. This is a way to make it explicit. This is how to build a generalization. And in this case, you’re building one about the self.

Oh, I forgot to check. Peter, do you have any counterexamples? Did you build in any counterexamples of a time when you were mean–you know, you were just frustrated and yelled at somebody or something like that?

PETER: I didn’t.

STEVE: Build in a couple of those. Two or three. Not enough to overwhelm this. But see, what this does is then in the real life, let’s say that he has 50 of these in here and he has three counter-examples. Then the next time he’s terribly frustrated and he yells at his wife or kids or friends or something like that, and that data gets input, then he’ll go, “Oh, yep, there’s one of those.” But it won’t destroy this generalization. What if there’s only one of these (examples)? What if there’s only one voice or one picture or one voice with a picture and the person literally has this as the generalization? This is the “big G” and then the person does something that is a “not G.” (writing on chart)

PARTICIPANT: They won’t notice.

STEVE: Well, that’s one possibility. Some people just don’t notice. But what if they notice?

PARTICIPANT: It probably could destroy his generalization.

STEVE: Yeah, because this (not G) is as big as this (big G). And especially … maybe this (not G) is bigger and brighter than this one (big G). And then this goes “kachunk” and then what is the person likely to think?

PARTICIPANT: “It’s not possible for me to have that (G) and the other one (not G) is true.”

STEVE: Yeah. So this one (G) will drop out, and then this one (not G) happens. What are the clinical symptoms of this? Think about being a person like this. What would you be like?

PARTICIPANT: Manic-depressive.

STEVE: Manic-depressive. Make sense? Because a manic-depressive typically doesn’t have any counterexamples. When they’re manic, they’re manic, and “Everything’s fine, everything’s wonderful. I’m totally capable. God’s on my side. And everything else.” It’s all positive. And then when they flip, everything’s negative. Now you can do this on a larger scale. You can have a large grid, for instance, let’s say you have a large visual grid of a whole bunch of experiences of “X.” If there are no counterexamples, it’s possible that when this thing turns over, on the back of it, there’s a grid just like this, but every one of which is a negation.

I mean, we’ve all experienced this, haven’t you? Haven’t you experienced there’s a good time in your life and “Oh, this is going well,” and you don’t think about the not-so-good things. And then you bump your nose against something–something bad happens–and then suddenly you think of all the terrible things. And you make a whole big collage–that’s a wonderful way to get depressed–you make an immense collage of all the things that went wrong in your life.

This (example) was in the book, but I love to remember it. A guy came into me and says, “Well, I’m kind of depressed sometimes.” I said, “Well, how do you do that?” He says, “Well, like if I get a flat tire.” This was a reporter who never wrote a story. But anyway, he said, “Well, if I get a flat tire, then I remember all the other times my car didn’t work.” Now how’s that for sorting? I mean, how many times a year does your car not work? Once? Twice? Three times? If you’ve got an old car, five or six? So for let’s take a worst case–360 days of the year, your car works well at least two, three times that day. And on six days, it doesn’t work. So you don’t think about the 360 days, you think only of the six. But isn’t that how it works sometimes? We tend to group things, and we tend to assemble things and that’s a wonderful way to get depressed. If you build in a few counterexamples, even if you have a big one like this, build in a few counterexamples down in the corner. And it will make it much more resistant to be flipping to the other and going “clunk” like that. See, I’m Mr. Counterexample. If you want to know about counterexamples, talk to me, because I’m the guy who has learned to keep my mouth shut, but I cannot not counterexample. So if my wife says–if Connierae says, “I love you,” I have to think of the times recently when she did not act lovingly. I have learned to keep my mouth shut (laughter) because if I go, “Well, not last Saturday,” then she’ll go “Arrrgh!” and then it fires off the whole thing. (laughter) And I don’t want to do that! But it does keep things on an evener keel.

Now that means you don’t have quite as much fun when things are good. Everything has its flip side. I mean some people who are not too manic have a lot of fun from time to time and then they really get down in the dumps. If you have counter-examples, you don’t go up quite so high, but you don’t go down so low either. Because the times when things are flying high, you kind of think of the things that aren’t going quite so well. And it’s always going to be something like that, even if they’re little. And when you go down, you won’t go all the way down because you’ll think of the good things in life too.

So this has a message beyond the particular example here. It’s a nice thing to do for someone. I mean you saw– (gesturing toward Peter) pretty nice, huh? He’s flying high! But more than that, the teaching purpose of this is to think about how people generalize, and ask some questions. Because if you want to change a generalization that’s already in there, you can just use the belief change pattern, or you can go in there and find out how they made that one. What is it made of? How is it structured? And then you can build another one. And then you can–if this one is all full of examples, you can start putting in a few counterexamples if you think that would be useful for the person. “Well, I believe that you’re a kind person. I think I’m a kind person too, but I know I’ve yelled at people. I know I’ve hurt people. Has there never been any time in your life ever when you made somebody else feel bad?” “Oh, well yeah, there was this one.” Well, stick a picture of that in, just to keep things even.

PARTICIPANT: So how would you work with a manic-depressive on the beliefs that they already have?

STEVE: Well for starters–well just the way I did. Build in counter-examples.

PARTICIPANT: Take beliefs they already have and build in some–

STEVE: Yeah, just add to it. See, they won’t like it if you try and wipe it out. People don’t like it if you just try and wipe out beliefs unless you’ve got something really good to put right in its place. And that pattern you’ve already learned, the belief change pattern.

PARTICIPANT: Because I was termed manic-depressive by a psychiatrist once, long time ago. And so I’ve done an awful lot of thinking about it. And I realize I go through those cycles–not nearly like I used to–a lot of it has straightened out–but it’s definitely–

STEVE: Just add some counterexamples. Add to it. It’s part of broadening the representation. Most of us, when we get into troubles, our representations are narrow, they have less data than you need at the time, and they’re often constricted in various ways. Anything you can do to expand it, make it more flexible, will help you in life. So that whatever the representation is, build counterexamples. Not to overwhelm it–unless you think it’s really a lousy generalization. I mean if the person is Marquis de Sade and he thinks he’s a kind person, then go for it. But those are not mostly the people that come in for help either.

Well it’s 4:11. This one doesn’t take long. How about–get together in pairs and do he process.

Follow-up with Peter two weeks later:

: The follow-up interview that you’re about to see was videotaped at the next meeting of our NLP master practitioner training two weeks later, on February 15th, the day after Valentine’s Day.

STEVE: So it’s been a couple of weeks, Peter, since we did the thing on being lovable–or loved, as it came out to be. And I just wondered if you noticed any changes and especially you had mentioned something I believe that you kind of kept asking your wife if she loved you and stuff like that? Or if she noticed anything?

PETER: Um … I’m not sure if she’s aware of what’s changed. I’m certainly aware of it in that I feel a lot more independent. It’s like … exactly that. I don’t need that constant feedback. And the thing that was kind of interesting was … of course Valentine’s Dayis a great time for this–and yesterday I got some real great Valentine’s gifts, a lot of them in a row that really showed me clearly how much she does care about me. And that in itself was a difference in that I really noticed. I mean, it had an impact. Whereas before, I would sort of take this stuff and “Ah, well …” (Peter gestures with his left hand, as if casually throwing it away over his left shoulder) it would sort of flow over my head. (gesturing over his head)

STEVE: That’s a nice gesture. (laughter) (imitating) “Do you love me?” “Yes.” (copying Peter’s “throw away” gesture).

PETER: (smiling and nodding) “It’s not possible.” So now, I was really noticing allthe extent–

STEVE: You could really savor it and experience it, rather than just discard it.

PETER: Yeah.

STEVE: Great.

PETER: That was really nice. The other thing that came up–I did a presentation to a group of people yesterday that I think are probably not particularly open to the kind of thing that I had to say. And I was amazed at how it went over. The positive response that I got back, I mean it was a really positive feeling, and again, I’m not quite sure how that ties in, but I got a sense that that’s involved, that there’s something very different about what I’m putting out in those situations, or what I’m allowing to come back in.

STEVE: Perhaps both.

PETER: Yeah. So it’s been great. I’m– I’m feeling it.

STEVE: Great.

Follow-up with Peter’s wife, Joan:

STEVE: A week later, I interviewed Peter’s wife Joan. At the time of this interview, Peter still had not told her anything about the work that I had done with him.

STEVE: Well Joan, it’s about three weeks now since I did some work with your husband Peter. One week ago, I had a little follow-up interview with him, and I asked him if you had noticed any difference in his behavior. And he told me that he hadn’t asked you. And I guess he didn’t even tell you that I had done some work with him. Is that right?

JOAN: No, he–he didn’t tell me the process. I kind of asked him what–that I had noticed changes in him.

STEVE: Can you say what those changes are?

JOAN: Um … oh, well it was amazing because what I’m doing now is going back to the first time he came through the door after three weeks ago, and I noticed right away that even physically, there was a change. There was more bounce in his step, there was a lightness about him, his eyes were brighter, his face was not as tight. It was a lot more relaxed. His voice was softer. The changes that I’ve noticed behaviorally, or how we interact–

STEVE: Yeah, that’s particularly what I’d be interested to hear.

JOAN: He’s a lot more fun. He plays a lot more. He’s gentler on himself, not as goal-oriented.

STEVE: Can you think of any specific things that are different … can you think before and after, or something that happened during the last couple of weeks that he wouldn’t have done before or anything like that that’s specific?

JOAN: Listened.

STEVE: He listened?

JOAN: Listened … instead of being as judgmental as before, like saying “right,” “wrong” stuff, it was like coming from a more loving and understanding place . . . where there was no right, no wrong. It was just listening to me. If we were having —

STEVE: You like the changes, I guess.

JOAN: Oh, I love the changes! They’re wonderful. He’s –we interact a lot more in a fun way. He’s lighter, he’s happier, he’s–

STEVE: Nicer to be around.

JOAN: Oh, bubbly– like– yeah, a lot nicer to be around. I love that.

STEVE: Great. Anything else? Then I’ll tell you what we did.

JOAN: It’s like he–I keep wanting to say it’s like he loves himself more and everybody else more. He’s more able to play.

STEVE: Yeah. Got it. So it’s made a big difference.

JOAN: Oh, an incredible difference, you know, there’s– yeah, I really– you know, yeah!

NARRATOR/STEVE: After the interview that you just saw, I told Joan about the work that I had done with Peter. In the discussion that followed, she mentioned two other specific changes in Peter’s behavior. One was that he had played for a long time with a child who had visited the house. Joan said, “He never did that before.” Joan also mentioned that Peter no longer worried if she wanted to do something on her own. If she were going to be away for the afternoon, he didn’t need to know where she was, and he didn’t need to call to find out when she was coming home.

Although the method demonstrated on this videotape is simple, direct and powerful, it is not appropriate if someone already has a negative belief about themselves. For instance, if Peter had thought of himself as unlovable, then using this process would only have created conflict. To use this method wisely, we recommend your having had a master practitioner training or equivalent background in NLP.

The videotape from which this transcript was made, “Building Self-concept” is available on DVD from NLP Comprehensive,