Friday, 20 November 2015


In Neuro-Semantics we have discovered how to turn the flow
state on and off at will.  That?s what the APG training is
about.  Turning flow on and off at will refers to the
requisite ability to step in and to step out of an optimum
state so that you can be absolutely at your best when you
need to be at your best with all of your resources
available, and to step out when that?s appropriate.

The Flow State.  Csikszentmihalyi is the cognitive
psychologist who explored and made ?the flow state?
explicit in his doctorate dissertation on happiness.
Originally, he was searching for the structure of happiness.
 Then, in the process, he stumbled onto the fact that has
been known for centuries.  Namely, the best way to not be
happy is to pursue happiness!  Philosophers have long know
that the direct pursuit of happiness is the best way to not
experience it.  The best way to achieve happiness is to
pursue something that?s important to you, something that
makes a difference, and something requiring knowledge and
skilled which you develop along the way.  That?s what
Csikszentmihalyi discovered?to be happy you need to be
doing something that?s meaningful and challenging and
something which is based on a skill?a competence.

Yet being happy is not something will happen immediately or
automatically.  In fact, the opposite may occur.  In the
immediate moment when you have a meaningful challenge which
may be at the edge of your competence, when you step up to
it, it will not ?easy.?  Usually it is hard.  Usually
you have to begin using all of your energy, effort,
knowledge, and intelligence to be able to do it.  This is
true of running a race, playing chest, rock climbing, taking
on a challenging project, writing a book, etc.   So
where?s the happiness?  Ah, that?s the secret.  The
state of ?happiness?(joy, delight, even ecstasy) comes
later.  It comes when you look back on the experience.
That?s when you say, ?What great days those were!?
?I was the happiest when I was doing X!?  The joy of the
experience typically occurs afterwards.  Happiness is the
afterglow of a worthwhile attempt at something important.

In mapping this out Csikszentmihalyi used two
axes?challenge and competence.  That generated four
quadrants and the ?flow zone??the pathway to flow
which involved integrating a challenge with the appropriate
skills.  In Neuro-Semantics our Self-Actualization Quadrants
integrates this and extends it as we use the axes?Meaning
and Performance.

Stepping in and out.  What NLP brings to the flow experience
is the phenomenon of a mind-body state?a state that you
can access, step into, and step out of.  States are like
that.  Comprised of a dynamic combination of what?s on
your mind, the condition of your body, and the emotions that
you generate from your meanings?a mind-body-emotion state
is simultaneously a state of mind, a state of body, and a
state of emotion.  This gives us three ways into state.

Further, we can also distinguish states in terms of purity.
The great majority of our everyday states are mixed states:
a part of me is in a state of learning, a part is
preoccupied with work, another part is fearful of rejection,
etc.  Very, very seldom do we access a pure state wherein we
are of one mind about something.  A pure state refers to
being fully engaged with one referent.  Then we are ?all
there??fully present.  In that situation, we have a
laser-beam focus or concentration and that also describes
the flow state.

In early NLP literature, this was called a ?genius?
state, not because it raises IQ, but because it describes
the power of the focused, engagement state?the power of
being of one mind about something.  That same literature
identified many of ?the prerequisites of genius.?  And
that?s what we took in Neuro-Semantics to create the
Accessing Personal Genius (APG) training.  Taking the
prerequisites of personal power, self-valuing,
self-acceptance, self-appreciation, ability to choose
one?s beliefs and suspend limiting beliefs, pleasuring
oneself in higher values, making peace with troubling
emotions, closing the knowing-doing gap, using the as-if
frame for generating new possibilities, setting high
intentions and aligning attention to one?s highest
intention ?we have meta-stated these genius requirements
into a single pattern.

The result?  By custom-designing your own ?genius,? or
flow state, for a particular engagement, you can step in and
out of that state at will.  Pretty amazing wouldn?t you
say?  ?Yes, but does it really work??

I will tell you about my experience with it.  Upon learning
and designing the pattern in 1994, I ran the pattern on
myself to create two genius or flow states.  One was the
genius reading state, the other was the flow writing state.
That was 1995.  Prior to that date, I had written a book,
Emotions: Sometimes I have them/ Sometimes they have me
(1985).  That took me eight years.  By 1995 I was still
working on the book that eventually became The Spirit of NLP
(1997).  That only took five years to put together.

Then came the ability to step in and out of the flow state.
The first result: no more ?writer?s block.?  None!  I
wrote two books in 1995.  And since that time have averaged
2 to 3 books a year, three to five articles a week, two to
three training manuals a year, and numerous Prefaces,
Introductions, and Chapters in other books.  How do I
explain this sudden productivity and ease of writing?  I can
step into the writing state, write for one minute or five or
for two hours, and then cleanly step out.  Then, when I want
to step back in, I do precisely that and start again
wherever I was, even in mid-sentence, without any loss of
focus, attention, energy, vitality, etc.  Now how cool is
that?  Today (2015) I have written 54 books and counting the
serial books, 68.

The same can be said for other flow states: the coaching
state, the training state, the exercise state, etc.  The
great thing is that when you can turn the flow state on and
off at will? it is there to serve you and your
engagements.  You don?t have to wait around to ?get in
the mood.?  You don?t have to do superstitious
activities like wearing your favorite yellow shirt or making
the victory sign seven times to get into state.  You have it
well anchored in the physiologies of the state and so you
just step in.

L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.
               Neuro-Semantics Executive Director
               Neuro-Semantics International
P.O. Box 8
Clifton, CO. 81520 USA                            
               1 970-523-7877
                    Dr. Hall's email:

It all began with an Aha! experience in 1994.  It was that aha! experience
in the middle of a workshop at a NLP Conference which led to the discovery
of Meta-States.  Most of you know the story, but for those who don?t, here
it is again.

I was involved in my very first modeling project on resilience.  I had
decided to study how people develop the quality of ?bounce? in their
thinking-and-feeling so that when they get knocked down, they don?t stay
down.  In the process I took to interviewing numerous people who had
suffered set-backs, who had been through a living hell of one sort or
another, and who had recovered their passions about living and were back in
the game of life.  In the process I had been sketching a basic working
schema for the stages of recovery from set back to being back in the game of
life.  Using the schema of the NLP Strategy Model, I prepared a 3-hour
workshop for the Denver NLP Convention when ?the call for papers? went out.
After applying for the previous three years, Steve Andreas finally accepted
this one.  So I went and presented to some 50 or 60 people.

After presenting the stages in the process of ?Going for It ? Again,? I
invited someone to come forward ?who had been through hell and had
returned.?  When several raised their hands and briefly described the
traumatic events that they had been through and the degree to which they
were back.  I selected one gentleman and began inquiring about his strategy.
I wanted to use the interview questions to model out how he did it.  At one
point, he mentioned that he moved from one stage to another.  So I asked,
?What was on your mind as you did that?  What did you think or feel??  He
said something about knowing that it would all work out.  ?I know that
eventually I will come out of this stage.?  ?How did you know that??  Then
either he said ?I have a state about my state, a meta-state,? or I said, ?So
it is a state about the first state, a meta-state.?  I no longer remember
who said it.  And there?s a reason for that.

Suddenly the lights and bells went off inside my head!  Suddenly the phrase
?meta-state? brought together all of the studies in Korzybski and Bateson
that I had been studying for years.  Suddenly it all made sense.  And with
that, the Meta-States Model was given birth.  The Conference ended a few
hours later, and that evening I drove with three friends over the entire
Rocky Mountain range (250 miles) from Denver to Grand Junction and I
couldn?t stop talking about it.  That week, I sat down and wrote out the
model in a 40 page document.  And because the NLP Trainers Association was
running a contest for innovations in NLP, I sent my document to Wyatt
Woodsmall.  Two months later he called and said it would be given the award
for ?the most significant contribution to the field of NLP in 1995.?

Now the Aha! facet of this experience was that the term meta-state brought
together things that had been percolating in the back of my mind for several
years.  Suddenly, lots and lots of things became clear.  First and foremost
was the structure of complex states.  While it was easy to identify the
structure of the basic states, not so with the complex ones.  NLP gave me a
way to think about the primary states of fear and anger, stress and
relaxation, aversion and attraction, love and hate (or apathy), joy and
sadness, etc.  I described them by saying that there are ?two royal roads?
for accessing these states?first, mind (thinking, imagining, talking,
hearing) and second, body (physiology, acting, gestures, breathing, etc.).

But what about more complex states?  What about self-esteem, proactivity,
forgiveness, understanding, responsibility, etc.?  I knew that to model the
structure of these states there was something more, something missing.  Mere
representational images and sounds on the movie of the mind is not
sufficient for most of the people I was seeing as clients.  After all, how
do you represent ?self-esteem??  What picture induces ?proactivity??  What
sound track fully elicits ?forgiveness? or ?responsibility??  Where do you
kinesthetically sense ?self-esteem??  The primary representational data of
sights, sounds and sensations cannot fully describe these complex state.

So, what?s missing?  Within complex states, there was also typically a much
less direct and different kind of kinesthetic.  So when the gentleman that I
was interviewing started to describe a higher state, a state about the other
states in coming back from a set-back, he said it was a ?state of knowing
that he would eventually get through it all.?  I echoed back his words.

?So it?s a state of knowing that he would eventually get through it all.
Ahhhh.  So what do you call this state??  He didn?t know.  ?I?m not sure,
it?s a big picture state, like I?m above it all and know that I?ll get
through it all.?

?How do you know that you?re in this big picture state of knowing that?? I
asked again, trying to understand what he was doing in his mind, how he
represented it, and how I could replicate what he was doing.

?Well, it?s like this state is about that other state of feeling the
emotional ups-and-downs of the setback, but I?m not too concerned about my
roller-coaster emotions because I know I will get through.  It?s like a
state meta to the other.?

?You mean it is a meta-state about the first state?? I reflected back.
?Yes, a meta-state.?  My friends tell me that I finished the workshop that
day.  But I don?t remember it.  Inside my head was a whirlwind of ideas
spinning around.  I was picturing a circle of a mind-body energy state meta
to a first one and governing it and framing it as its internal reference
structure.  This dynamic picture provided a new understanding of the
meta-levels of learning in Bateson?s ?levels of learning.?  I was also
seeing Korzybski?s layers of referent experiences in action, now his
?Structural Differential? (which was his way of solving the self-reflexivity
of the human mind) was alive and dynamic.  This initiated a new search and
began my second modeling project, the structure of self-reflexive

Six months later I had written the first book, Meta-States (1995), and
immediately began running it as a new training which I called ?Dragon
Slaying.?  My initial focus with Meta-States was to analyze the problematic
states that arise when a person brings a negative state of
thought-and-feeling against oneself.  What I discovered is that this usually
created meta-muddles of self-conflict and self-antagonism.  It creates the
disordering of personality, self-sabotages, and wastes incredible mental,
emotional, and personal energy.  Dragon Slaying (1996) was then transcribed
and written from that training.

What are meta-states?  A meta-state is the structure of
thoughts-and-emotions about the first level thoughts-and-emotions which you
have about an experience.  If your first thoughts-and-emotions are reactions
and responses to the world, meta-states are your reactions and responses to
yourself.  This includes reactions to your thoughts, to your emotions, to
your experiences, to your concepts, to your abstractions, to all of your

My meta-states and your meta-states are our reactions to ourselves.  So, how
do you react to yourself?  To you react to your thinking-emoting states with
kindness and grace or harshness and judgment?  Whatever you do, that sets
the frame or meta-state for the first state.  In this a meta-state is a
?logical level? jump.  We step back from ourselves as it were to then
think-and-feel a second time, then a third time, a fourth, and so on.

In fact, the process is never-ending.  Korzybski noted that it is ?an
infinite process.?  This is ?the infinite regress? which philosophers have
long noted.  In Neuro-Semantics I began calling it ?the infinite progress.?
Why?  Here the good news.  Whatever frames you have set and whatever
meta-muddles you have created with limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging
understandings and decisions, you can always make one more step forward and
set a whole new empowering frame.  Talk about opening up things so that you
are only as stuck as your frames.  This is it!

Why meta-states?  That will be the subject for the next Reflections.  There
you will discover the power, extensiveness, and nature of meta-states and
how to use them for fun and profit.

L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.

               Neuro-Semantics Executive Director

               Neuro-Semantics International

P.O. Box 8

Clifton, CO. 81520 USA                            

               1 970-523-7877

                    Dr. Hall's email:


When you ask a client what he wants and he says, “Confidence,” you are in the presence of a situation that could be the trickiest coaching conversation of all.  So, a warning—Beware!  Your next words will be critical if you are to avoid getting trapped in a dead-end exchange that will go nowhere.  You’ve probably fallen into this trap.  Most of us have.  You may get trapped in it during your next coaching conversation.  Many who read this article will.  The distinctions that follow are subtle and therefore require careful reading and implementation.  So, if you’re ready, here we go.

It all begins with what sounds like a perfectly reasonable desired outcome.  “I want to have more confidence.”  That’s what they say.  Yet is that always helpful?  Think about it.  It all depends, doesn’t it?  Further the request for more confidence can mean so many things to different clients.  So you have to ask what your client is really asking for.  So inquire before you jump into coaching to it.  Ask the clarity check question.  Don’t assume that you know what the person means.  So what are the range of things that confidence could mean to different clients?

1) “Confidence” as assurance of being able to do something.  The person wants to be sure that she can actually do something.  In other words, “confidence” to her is equal to “being sure.”  The person is saying, “I will only feel confident when I have a guarantee that I will succeed in what I want to do.  If I don’t feel sure, if I feel any slight twinges of doubt or frustration, then I’m not ‘confident.’” Now the more risk-averse a person is, then the more that person will be questioning his ability, doubting his skills, and not sure.  Then, with being unsure, the person feels the lack of confidence.  The focus for this person is on the feeling not being sure rather than on developing the competence for being able to do the skill.

Confidence literally refers to your faith (fideo) in or with (con) yourself.  It speaks about your faith that you can do something.  That’s why confidence requires evidence that you have done it and that means it is a thing of history— you have in the past demonstrated several or many times that you can do something.  Now you can trust yourself.  That evidence convinces you that you can do it, that you are competent in that skill.  So confidence is based on competence.  No competence—no confidence.  Confidence without competence is a false and delusional trust in yourself.  We call people who are confident when they can’t demonstrate competence, fools.

Given that, do you really want to help someone who wants to feel confidence to feel it if they are incompetent?  Isn’t that undermining their skill development?  If they feel confident, then why would they devote the energy and effort to learning or practicing?

2) “Confidence” as comfortable in learning and doing.  Others will use the word “confidence” to essentially mean “comfort.”  In other words, “confidence” is equal to a feeling, to feeling comfort, at ease, no stress, no strain, no discomfort, etc.   For this person, any discomfort equates with the lack of confidence.  She can therefore loss “confidence” very quickly whenever there are any feelings of discomfort.  This will be true for almost everything new, different, and challenging.  Yet because in taking on new things, we are inevitably required to get out of our “comfort zone,” all new learning and practicing will be uncomfortable, even unpleasant, disturbing, etc.  If this automatically equates to not having confidence, then all new learnings and challenges equates with the lack of confidence.

3) “Confidence” as self-efficacy for future unknown challenges.  Yet another uses the word “confidence” as a synonym for “trust in myself to be able to handle some future challenge.”  This person is “confident” if he knows that he can trust himself to figure something out, handle any challenge that arise, and use his wits and relationship skills to create solutions.  This is what the person means by the word “confidence.”

Actually, he is using “confidence” for a different concept, for self-efficacy, which refers to a future event.  Most people develop this after numerous experiences of becoming competent in something.  They then learn something about their learning experiences — “It’s just a matter of learning, practice, and eventually I will get it.”  The more times they walk the pathway from incompetence to competence, the more likely they can jump a logical level and conclude, “I have done this many times; this is just another instance of moving from incompetence to competence.  I know I will eventually get it.”

4) “Confidence” as a sense of self-value and worth.  Others confuse self-esteem with self-confidence, so when they ask for confidence, they want to have a strong sense of personal value in some context.  Yet because they frame their personal value and worth as conditional, then whenever they engage in something new, something thewy are not all that competent and skilled at, they then question their self-esteem and feel that their sense of self is fragile or shaking in a given role or activity.  Now they want “confidence.”  They want self-assurance that they are worthwhile.

The bottom line is that you just never know how a person is using a word.   This is especially true when they say that “I want to more confidence.”  So check it out.  Find out what they are really talking about— assurance, comfort, trust in self, esteem of self.  You’ll be glad you did; and they will be even more glad.

L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.
               Neuro-Semantics Executive Director 
               Neuro-Semantics International
P.O. Box 8
Clifton, CO. 81520 USA                             
               1 970-523-7877 

                    Dr. Hall's email: