Belief Change and Internal States

As the steps involved in the process of natural belief change illustrate, our internal state is an important influence on belief change. Our internal states are in many ways the containers for our beliefs. If one is in a positive, optimistic state, it is much more difficult to hold onto negative and limiting beliefs. On the other hand, it is difficult to remain congruent about positive and empowering beliefs when our internal state is one of frustration, disappointment or fear.

A person's internal state relates to the psychological and emotional experience that a person is having at a particular point in time. Internal states determine much about our choice of behavior and response. Internal states function as both a type of filtering mechanism with respect to our perceptions and a gateway to particular memories, capabilities and beliefs. Thus, a person's state exerts an enormous influence on his or her current 'world view'.

There is an old, and very relevant, New Guinea Proverb which states, "Knowledge is only a rumor until it is in the muscle. " A belief (positive or negative) is just a "rumor" until it is "in the muscle." That is, until we have incorporated a particular belief or value somatically, feeling and emotionally experiencing its implications, it is merely a disassociated set of concepts, words or ideas. Beliefs and values are given "power" by their connection to our physiology and internal states.

Similarly, our ongoing physical, psychological and emotional state will exert a great deal of influence on the types of beliefs we are inclined to enact. Consider, for example, the influence of the following lists of states on your experience:

"Positive"

"Negative"

Internal States

Internal States

Calm

Upset

Relaxed

Tense

Flexible

Rigid

Flowing

Stuck

Centered

Anxious

Confident

Frustrated

Optimistic

Doubtful

Focused

Distracted

Receptive

Closed

Trusting

Fearful

As you can easily tell from your own life experiences, it is probably much easier to associate to—and be 'open to believe'—empowering and positive beliefs when we are in positive internal states than when we are in negative internal states.

A basic premise of NLP is that the human brain functions similarly to a computer - by executing "programs" or mental strategies that are composed of ordered sequences of instructions or internal representations. Certain programs or strategies function better for accomplishing certain tasks than others, and it is the strategy that an individual uses that will to a great extent determine whether his performance is one of mediocrity or excellence. The efficacy and ease with which a particular mental program is carried out is to a large degree determined by the physiological state of the individual. Clearly, if a computer has a bad chip or power surges in its electrical supply its programs will not be able to execute effectively.

The same is true for the human brain. The level of arousal, receptivity, stress, etc., of the individual will determine how effectively he can carry out his own mental programs. Deep physiological processes, such as heart rate, breathing rate, body posture, blood pressure, muscle tension, reaction time and galvanic skin response, etc., accompany changes in a person's internal state, and greatly influence a person's ability to think and act. Thus, an individual's internal state has important influences on his or her ability to perform in any situation.

Our internal states have to do with the "neurological" part of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. The state of our physiology and neurology acts as a type of filter upon how our attention is focused; and thus upon what we hear (and do not hear), and how we interpret what we do hear.

Recognizing, reacting to, and influencing people's internal states is an important skill for effectively using Sleight of Mouth.

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