James Hayes And Martin Shervington
A mind line is a statement or a question that immediately changes your mind about something (hence the mind line).
The NLP Communication Model
The NLP Communications Model is a diagram that shows you, moment by moment, how you’re experiencing reality, and how it gets interpreted through your filters, beliefs, and values. It shows you how reality often gets generalized, deleted, and distorted into this final picture that gets in your mind as an experience (we often use the analogy of movie mind). That experience influences your state of mind, which influences your behavior. That’s kind of a big overview of your moment by moment reality.
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Why Mind Lines Are Important
Think of the NLP communication model as a big picture overview of the whole game, of how your inner game influences your outer game (your actions your behaviors the emotions that you experience). The subject of mind lines, which fits into the broader category of framing, is zoning in on a very specific part of that model. It’s not looking at the whole picture; it’s looking very specifically, in a given moment, at how you interpret reality based on the meaning that you give it. However it is also based on the connections that you’ve made between what you’re experiencing and what you think about it.
So the value of this subject is you don’t need to know all the different components, you can just fast track straight to the belief or straight to the meaning that a person has about whatever they’re experiencing. For example, criticism: It’s a common one. For a lot of people, criticism means that they’re being attacked. They have this interpretation that experiencing criticism means being attacked and they then become defensive.
So, with the mind line, we can get straight to that needing and change it. It can be reframed with a powerful question or statement that completely reorients their interpretation of that experience or event.
For example, a little while ago, I was talking to someone and they told me “I really need to exercise and eat healthy, but going to the gym is sweaty, it’s painful, it’s uncomfortable.” Basically, they were telling me that the gym equals sweaty, painful, and uncomfortable. That was the meaning that they had made for themselves.
With a meaning like that, it’s no wonder that they were not particularly motivated about it. So the mind line in this case, a question that I gave her as a response, was: “If you don’t go to the gym, how painful is that going to be?” She said “Well I’m going to be sitting on the couch it’s not going to be painful at all.” My answer was “What about five years from now? You know you haven’t been to the gym in five years. In fact how long has it been already?” She said “five years”.
So I told her “so now you’ve got 10 years, so what’s that going to look like in terms of pain and sweaty and uncomfortable?” and she answered “Wow I never thought about it like that. Well I guess I’d be putting on some weight, a couple of kilos a year, wow actually that I think about it, 10 years is 6 or 5 kilos of extra weight that I’ve put on.” I said “Is that sweaty and painful?” she said “yeah it is.”
So now, with that simple question, that mind line, she’s reorienting.
Suddenly the gym is not painful or uncomfortable anymore, not going to the gym is painful and uncomfortable. Now we can ask her “What if you did go to the gym 5 years from now what’s that going to look like?” she said “Well, I’m going to be in better shape, I’m going to have more energy.” So now the interpretation of the gym is changing, based on one powerful question. That is the beauty of mind lines.
How Practice Plays A Role
Practice and experience and all those things definitely play a role, they really help. What I recommend to people though is “kick things that you find uncomfortable. Forget other people and think about yourself for a moment. What are the meanings that you have that are causing you struggles?” This is the same thing that I did back when I was a student.
Write down 20 different beliefs or things that you have problems with. Public speaking for example: for some, it’s embarrassing and full of judgment, that’s the meaning they have of it.
Just write down a list of what presses your buttons. You will end up learning 20 different ways across a couple of different categories of how to reframe that. Basically, we make meaning by linking things together. For example, public speaking equals embarrassment or criticism equals attack. We link things together, like that:
External Event/Behavior = Internal Meaning/State
We link whatever is happening in the outside world to some interpretation, that’s how we learn. The problem is, it’s useful in terms of learning, but it can also be a massive oversimplification. Let’s look at the example of “criticism = being attacked”: One of the things we can mind line is called deframing. Deframing asks us to get specific.
“So how specifically does criticism equal being attacked? How do you feel attacked? Where is the connection? If they say one word, does that mean you’re being attacked? Are they saying something to you in a specific voice? What specifically makes you feel attacked?”
When we start being specific, the generalization starts to break apart a little bit as we shine the torch light on it. And now we start asking questions like “how does this actually equal that?”Another way we can mind line is a counter example:” Let me get this straight, every time I raise my voice that means I don’t respect you? Does that mean that every time you raise your voice to me, you don’t respect me? Have you ever seen someone raise their voice at anyone and it didn’t mean they were being disrespectful?”
So you deconstruct whatever they’re thinking. You simply change the equation. I could say “I’m raising my voice not because I don’t respect you, but because I respect you. I’m raising my voice because I’m desperate for you to hear me. Because this is really important to me and you’re really important to me. Because of that, in this interaction, even my state is getting involved.” So, we can basically attack the meaning equation in a million different ways.
Daily Use And Applications Of Mind Lines
Let’s say you’ve learned it and it got into your system. So how does that influence your life?
The first application has to do with your daily life. If you’re experiencing a struggle, and you know this material, you will know that the struggle is not outside of you, it is in the meaning you’re making out of it, and you can always change that meaning. So the first application is this. It’s absolutely freeing yourself from your struggles. I know that’s a bold claim, but this is extremely powerful stuff.
When I first learned this, I wrote down my struggles, and then I just went through step by step all the different ways to reframe. And I would find by step 5 – step 6 that I could no longer maintain the same struggle that I had before going to the process. That was just me with a pen and paper, so imagine when you have some skills.
The second application is: if you know how meaning works and how people create it, you will be extremely effective in terms of persuasion and helping people change their minds. People are going to believe things, and they’re going have objections to letting go of their frame based struggles. If you can change the meaning for these people, you can change their whole reality.
Then there’s this other application which is just day to day conversations. People who don’t know how frames work can get trapped in arguments they didn’t even intend to have. You can come home and your spouse says “you came home late, this is a sign that you don’t care about me” and then you went into an argument.
However you can say one single question to your spouse that will calm the whole thing, and that’s “How does me coming home late mean that I don’t care about you?” Then explain “The reason I came home late was because I wanted to get all those things at work in order so I can spend quality time with you.” See? That whole argument evaporated before it even began.
Some Things To Know
Someone asked this famous jiu jitsu guy “how do you get out of a headlock?” And he answered “the best thing you could do is never get in one in the first place.”
So, one way to use this is to see the meanings that you have. If you can see them, then you know what traps are waiting to be sprung upon you, and so, you can deal with them way in advance.
Reality is, you’ll occasionally find yourself in a metaphorical headlock, and that’s just normal life. Knowing this though, the struggle never lasts, because you know about mind lines.
If you know this methodology, you get the opportunity to pause and think “I found myself in this state, how am I doing this? What is the meaning that I’m bringing to this situation that’s causing me to feel like this?” The moment you start getting objective, is the moment you stop getting subjective.
Here’s the beautiful thing about mind lines. Let’s say you get angry, it happens. If you can deal with the meanings after the facts, they won’t happen again. Once you’ve changed the interpretation, it’s not something you’ll have to do again. Those are permanent sustainable changes. Every little argument is an opportunity to change. This is a “work hard once” methodology. You change your meanings about something once, you won’t have to do it again, and that’s what beautiful and masterful about this topic.
In The End
Mind lines are statements or questions that change your mind about anything. Where do you use them? Everywhere you want to change, especially your mindset about life.
So, here’s one technique you can use right now: write down whatever the meaning is and ask yourself this: “what is the purpose of this meaning that I’ve given to this event?” Whatever the purpose is, ask this “is the meaning that you’ve got actually get you to the purpose?” If not chances are, it’s not working.