The most wrenching questions people must grapple with usually involve their values. Sometimes two different values, like freedom and love, pull us in opposite directions. Freedom may mean the ability to do whatever you want at any time. Love may mean a commitment to one single person. Most of us have felt that conflict. When we do, it’s not pleasant. However, it’s critically important to know what our highest values are so that we choose behaviors that support them. If we don’t we will pay the emotional price later for not supporting what we believe is most important in our lives. Behaviors tied to the values higher on the hierarchy will supersede behaviors tied to lower ranked values.
There’s nothing so dismaying as having strong values pulling you in opposite directions. This creates a tremendous sense of incongruity. If the incongruity lasts long enough, it can destroy a relationship. You can act on one – for example, exercise your freedom in a way that ruins the other. You can try to adapt that is, stifle your urges toward freedom in such a way that you become frustrated and destructive in the relationship. Or, since few of us really confront and understand our values, we might just experience a general sense of frustration and unease; soon we’ll begin to filter all our experiences in life through these negative emotions until they become part of us, feelings of dissatisfaction that we may try to alleviate by over eating, smoking and so on.
If you don’t understand how values work, it’s hard to come up with any sort of an elegant compromise. But if you do, you don’t need to undermine either the relationship or your sense of freedom. You can change the evidence procedure. When you were a high school kid, may be freedom meant trying to imitate Warren Beatty’s sex life. But perhaps a loving relationship provides the comfort, the resources and the joy that embody more real freedom than the ability to jump into bed with any person you meet at a bar. That’s essentially the process of reframing an experience in a way that creates congruity.
Sometimes the incongruity comes not from the values themselves, but from the evidence procedures for different values. Success and spirituality don’t have to produce incongruity. You can be a great success and still have a rich spiritual life. But what if your evidence procedure for success is having a great big mansion and your evidence procedure for spirituality is living a simple, austere life? You’ll have to either redefine your evidence procedures or reframe your perception. Otherwise, you could be dooming yourself to a life of inner conflicts. It may be useful remember the belief system W Mitchell has used to support himself in having a rich and happy life in spite of what would seem to be limiting circumstances; There is no absolute relationship between any two factors. That is for him being paralyzed does not mean you have to be unhappy. Having lost of money does not mean you’re not spiritual, and living an austere life does not necessarily mean you are spiritual.
NLP provides tools for changing the structure of most experiences so they can create congruence. One Mr.X once worked with a man who had a not uncommon problem. He had a loving relationship with women. But he also put a high value on being sexually attractive and interacting with other women. When he’d elicit sexual signals from attractive women, he’d begin to feel guilty because of the value he put on his relationship.
When he met an attractive woman, his syntax for attraction worked this way. He’d see such as woman (Ve) and he’d say something to himself (Aid): This woman is gorgeous, and she wants me. This would lead to a feeling or desire to follow through (Ki), and sometimes desire become reality and he took action (Ke). But both the desire and many romantic adventures that ensured resulted in severe conflicts with his need for a strong, one-on-one relationship, which was a deep desire for him.
X taught him to add a new piece to his strategy, which had been Ve –Aid –Ki-Ke. X set it up so that after he saw a woman (Ve) and said to himself. This is a beautiful woman, and she wants me (Aid) X added another auditory internal phrase; And X loves the woman he is with: Then he had him picture the woman he was involved with smiling at him and looking at him in a totally loving way (Vi), which created for him a new kinesthetic internal feeling, one that made him feel like loving the woman he was with. X had him install the strategy by repetition. and simply see a woman he’d be attracted to, say to himself. This is a beautiful woman and she wants me, immediately say the new auditory internal. And love the woman in a loving tone of voice, and then picture his partner smiling at him in a loving way. X had him do this time after time after time until it was installed, just like a swish pattern, so that whenever an attractive woman walked by, it would immediately cause him to go through this new pattern.
This strategy allows him to have it all. His old strategy was pulling him in two directions at once, putting great strain on his relationship. Just stifling the urge to feel attractive would have made him frustrated and conflicted. The new strategy allows him to get the positive feelings of attraction he needs, while taking away the conflict that was undermining his relationship. Now the more he sees attractive women, the more he feels like loving the woman he’s with.