Reframing and Outframing a Thought Virus Using Sleight of Mouth

Once we are familiar with the system of beliefs that is holding a potential 'thought virus' in place, for instance, we are better able to find effective reframes which will help to place the limiting belief back into an outcome frame and feedback frame. The various Sleight of Mouth patterns can help us to approach the limiting system of beliefs in a more strategic (rather than reactionary) manner.

Let's consider how we can use the formalization of the Sleight of Mouth patterns as a way to more effectively deal with the paranoid 'thought virus' that we have been using as an example in this chapter. The essence of the limiting belief at the basis of this thought virus is something like:

"Person X did something that caused me to be hurt more than once. Because it has happened before, it will happen again. Person X intends to hurt me and I am in danger."

One of the best ways to both learn and apply Sleight of Mouth is by considering key questions relating to the various Sleight of Mouth patterns. In a way, each of the Sleight of Mouth patterns could be considered an answer to key questions leading to different perspectives and perceptual positions. The following examples illustrate how exploring the answers to key questions can be used to identify and form Sleight of Mouth reframes. The goal of these reframes is to find a way to reaffirm the speaker at the level of his or her identity and positive intention, and, at the same time, reformulate the belief to an outcome frame or feedback frame.

Limiting Belief: "Person X did something that caused me to be hurt more than once. Because it has happened before, it will happen again. Person X intends to hurt me and I am in danger.*

1. Intention: What is the positive purpose or intention of this belief?

There are many ways to begin to develop a sense of power and control when you are concerned for your safety. (Intention = "to begin to develop a sense of power and control")

It is very important to take all the steps that you can to make sure that people act ethically and do the right thing.

(Intention = "take steps to make sure that people act ethically and do the right thing")

2. Redefining: What is another word for one of the words used in the belief statement that means something similar but has more positive implications?

I think you should do everything in your power to avoid being a victim.

("Person X intends to hurt me and I am in danger" => "I am a victim.")

This is the kind of challenge that is necessary to face with courage, support and wisdom. ("Being in danger" => "a challenge")

Limiting Belief: "Person X did something that caused me to he hurt more than once. Because it has happened before, it will happen again. Person X intends to hurt me and I am in danger."

3. Consequence: What is a positive effect of the belief or the relationship defined by the belief?

It is going to be so much more difficult for you to be hurt again in the future now that you know how to recognize dangerous situations and ask for help. This is the first step toward being transformed from a victim into a hero.

Knowing what you know now will make it difficult for you to be taken advantage of again.

4. Chunk Down: What smaller elements or chunks are implied by the belief but have a richer or more positive relationship than the ones stated in the belief?

In order to deal with the situation effectively, it is important to determine whether the degree of danger gets greater with each instance of hurt, or if you are simply in the same degree of danger now as you were the first time you were hurt.

When you say that Person X "intends" to hurt you, do you mean that Person X makes a picture of doing something harmful to you in his or her head? If so, which part of that picture is most dangerous, and how does Person X get to the point of acting on that picture? What do you think put that picture in Person Xs head?

5. Chunk Up: What larger elements or classes are implied by the belief but have a richer or more positive relationship than the ones stated in the belief?

Intense feelings are always the basis of our motivation to change. As Carl Jung said, "There is no coming into consciousness without pain." ("hurt" => "intense feelings," "pain")

Dealing with the discomfort we experience from facing life's risks is one of the ways that we become stronger and more competent human beings. ("hurt" => "discomfort" "danger" => "life's risks")

6. Analogy: What is some other relationship which is analogous to that defined by the belief (a metaphor for the belief), but which has different implications?

Learning to master interpersonal relationships is like being able to pick ourselves up when we fell on our bicycles as children, putting the fact that we skinned our knees behind us, and having the determination to keep trying until we are able to achieve balance. Being angry with the bicycle for hurting us doesn't do much good.

Dealing with the intentions of others is a bit like being a bullfighter. 7b stay safe, we have to know what attracts the bull's attention to us, direct the attention of the bull, and learn to step out of the way when we see it starting to charge.

Limiting Belief: *Person X did something that caused me to he hurt more than once. Because it has happened before, it will happen again. Person X intends to hurt me and I am in danger."

7. Change Frame Size: What is a longer (or shorter) time frame, a larger number or smaller number of people, or a bigger or smaller perspective that would change the implications of the belief to be something more positive?

How to deal with suffering at the hands of others is one of the most challenging problems still to be addressed and resolved by our species. Until we are able to do so with wisdom and compassion, there will continue to be violence, war, and genocide at a global as well as individual level.

Everybody has to learn how to deal with the shadow side of their fellow human beings. I am sure that when you look back on this incident at the end of your life you will see it as a small bump on the road of your life.

8. Another Outcome: What other outcome or issue could be more relevant than the one stated or implied by the belief?

The outcome is not so much how to avoid being hurt by a particular person as it is to develop the skills that you need in order to be safe no matter what other people think or do.

lb me, the issue is not so much about what a person's intention has been, but rather what it takes to make a person change his or her intention.

9. Model of the World: What is a different model of the world that would provide a very different perspective on this belief?

Sociobiologists would suggest that it is the evolutionary development of Person X's hormones, rather than what you or he believe to be his conscious intention, that is the source of your danger.

imagine all of those people around the world who have to deal constantly with the reality of social oppression such as racism and religious persecution. They would probably welcome a situation in which they only had to deal with the negative intentions and actions of a single, identifiable person.

10. Reality Strategy: What cognitive perceptions of the world are necessary to have built this belief? How would one need to perceive the world in order for this belief to be true?

When you think of each instance of hurt do you relive each one again separately, or do they blend altogether? Do you recall them from your own associated perspective, or do you see them all edited together as if you were watching a type of documentary film of your life?

Is it your memories of the past events that are already over.; or your imagination of possible future events that may or may not happen, which make you feel most in danger?

Limiting Belief: "Person X did something that caused me to he hurt more than once. Because it has happened before, it will happen again. Person X intends to hurt me and I am in danger."

11. Counter Example: What is an example or experience that is an exception to the rule defined by the belief?

If only it were true that we did not need to worry about something occurring just because it had not happened before. We are probably in the greatest danger from the things that have not happened yet, and should work to prepare ourselves for any possibility.

In order to truly be safe, it is important to recognize that we are probably in just as much danger from people who are positively intended and who have never hurt us before. Think of all of the people who unintentionally kill others in automobile accidents. As they say, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

12. Hierarchy of Criteria: What is a criterion that is potentially more important than those addressed by the belief that has not yet been considered?

I have always found that figuring out what resources I need in order to successfully complete the path I have chosen and committed to is more important than worrying about the temporarily harmful effects of other people's intentions.

Don't you think it is more important to avoid being a slave to our fears than it is to avoid the inevitability that we will be hurt at some time?

13. Apply to Self: How can you evaluate the belief statement itself according to the relationship or criteria defined by the belief?

Since negative intentions can be so hurtful and dangerous, it is important that we be very clear about the way we understand and act upon our own intentions. Are you certain of the positive intention of your own judgment? When we use our beliefs about someone else's negative intentions as a justification to treat that person the same way that he or she is treating us, we become just like that person.

It can be just as dangerous to think that we are only in jeopardy from those who have hurt us before. Having internal beliefs that force us to relive past instances of hurt over and over again can create as much pain as a negatively intended person that is outside of us.

14. Meta Frame: What is a belief about this belief that could change or enrich the perception of the belief?

Research shows that it is natural for people to feel fearful of others and their intentions, until we have developed sufficient self esteem and confidence in our own capabilities.

As long as you are committed to remain in a 'problem frame' about Person X's behavior and intentions, you will be doomed to suffer the consequences. When you are ready to shift to an 'outcome frame'you will begin to find many possible solutions.

Practicing Sleight of Mouth

Practice using these Sleight of Mouth questions for yourself. The following worksheet provides examples of questions which can be used to identify and form Sleight of Mouth reframes. Start by writing down a limiting belief statement that you would like to work with. Make sure that it is a 'complete' belief statement in the form of either a complex equivalence or cause-effect assertion. A typical structure would be:

Referent (am/is/are) judgment because reason.

I not good complex equivalent

You incapable cause-effect

They unworthy

It impossible

Remember, the purpose of your answers is to reaffirm the identity and positive intention and person who is holding the belief, and, at the same time, reformulate the belief to an outcome frame or feedback frame.

Sleight of Mouth Patterns Worksheet

Limiting Belief: _ means!causes

1. Intention: What is the positive purpose or intention of this belief?

2. Redefining: What is another word for one of the words used in the belief statement that means something similar but has more positive implications?

3. Consequence: What is a positive effect of the belief or the relationship defined by the belief?

4. Chunk Down: What smaller elements or chunks arc implied by the belief but have a richer or more positive relationship than the ones stated in the belief?

5. Chunk Up: What larger elements or classes are implied by the belief but have a richer or more positive relationship than the ones stated in the belief?

6. Analogy: What is some other relationship which is analogous to that defined by the belief (a metaphor for the belief), but which has different implications?

7. Change Frame Size: What is a longer (or shorter) time frame, a larger number or smaller number of people, or a bigger or smaller perspective that would change the implications of the belief to be something more positive?

8. Another Outcome: What other outcome or issue could be more relevant than the one stated or implied by the belief?

9. Model of the World: What is a different model of the world that would provide a very different perspective on this belief?

10. Reality Strategy: What cognitive perceptions of the world are necessary to have built this belief? How would one need to perceive the world in order for this belief to be true?

11. Counter Example: WTiat is an example or experience that is an exception to the rule defined by the belief?

12. Hierarchy of Criteria: What is a criterion that is potentially more important than those addressed by the belief that has not yet been considered?

13. Apply to Self: How can you evaluate the belief statement itself according to the relationship or criteria defined by the belief?

14. Meta Frame: What other belief about this belief could change or enrich the perception of this belief?

An Example

Take, for example, a common limiting belief such as, "Cancer causes death." The following examples illustrate how these questions can produce various Sleight of Mouth interventions which could offer other perspectives. Keep in mind that the ultimate effect of a particular Sleight of Mouth statement will depend heavily on the tone of voice in which it is said, and the degree of rapport that exists between the speaker and the listener.

Belief: "Cancer causes death"

1. Intention - I know your intent is to prevent false hope, but you may be blocking any hope at all.

2. Redefining - Ultimately, it's not the cancer that causes death; it's the breakdown of the immune system that causes death. Let's find a way to improve the immune system.

Our perceptions regarding cancer can certainly cause fear and loss of hope, which can make it harder to live.

3. Consequence - Unfortunately, beliefs such as this one tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies because people stop looking for choices and options.

4. Chunk Down - I've often wondered how much "death" was in each cancer cell?

5. Chunk Up - Are you saying that a change or mutation in some small part of the system will always cause the destruction of the entire system?

6. Analogy - Cancer is like a grassy field that has begun to turn to weeds because there has not been enough sheep to graze it properly. The white cells of your immune system are like sheep. If stress, lack of exercise, poor diet, etc. reduce the amount of sheep, then the grass gets overgrown and turns to weeds. If you can increase the number of sheep, they can graze the field back into an ecological balance.

7. Change Frame Size - If everyone had that belief we would never find a cure. Is that a belief that you would want your children to have?

8. Another Outcome - The real issue isn't so much what causes death, as what makes life worth living.

9. Model of the World - Many medical people believe that all of us have some mutant cells all the time, and that it is only when our immune system is weak that it creates a problem. They would assert that the presence of a malignancy is only one of a number of co-factors— including diet, attitude, stress, appropriate treatment, etc.—that determine the length of one's life.

10. Reality Strategy - How specifically do you represent that belief to yourself? Do you picture the cancer as an intelligent invader? What kind of inner representations do you have of how the body responds? Do you see the body and the immune system as more intelligent than the cancer?

11. Counter Example - There are more and more documented cases of people who have had cancer and are surviving and living in good health for many years. How does this belief account for them?

12. Hierarchy of Criteria - Perhaps it is more important to focus on our life's purpose and mission, than on how long it will last.

13. Apply to Self - That belief has spread like cancer over the past few years; and it's a pretty deadly belief to hold on to too strongly. It would be interesting to see what would happen if it died out.

14. Meta Frame - An over-simplified belief such as this can arise when we don't have a model that allows us to explore and test all of the complex variables that contribute to the life and death process.

Sleight Mouth Patterns

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Sleight Mouth Patterns

Conclusion

This first volume of Sleight of Mouth has focused on the 'magic of language', and the power of words to shape our perceptions and attitude about our own behavior and the world around us. Building from the principle that the map is not the territory, we have explored the impact that language has upon our experience, and upon the generalizations and beliefs (both limiting and empowering) that we derive from our experience. We have examined the ways in which certain types and patterns of words are able to frame and 'reframe' our perceptions, either expanding or limiting the choices we perceive as available to us.

We have also made an in depth analysis of the linguistic structure of beliefs, and have established that limiting beliefs are those which frame our experience in terms of problems, failure and impossibility. When such beliefs become the primary framework around which we construct our models of the world, they can bring about a sense of hopelessness, helplessness or worthlessness with respect to our lives and actions. In this regard, the goal of applying the Sleight of Mouth patterns is to help people shift attention from:

1) a 'problem' frame to an 'outcome' frame

2) a 'failure' frame to a 'feedback' frame

3) an 'impossibility' frame to an 'as if' frame

The Sleight of Mouth patterns are comprised of fourteen distinct verbal 'reframing' patterns. The purpose of these patterns is to reconnect our generalizations and mental models of the world to our experience and the other aspects forming the 'meta structure' of our beliefs: internal states, expectations and values. The book has provided specific definitions and examples of each pattern, and of how the patterns may be used together as a system. The patterns may be applied in order to accomplish such outcomes as reframing criticism, leveraging hierar-

chies of criteria to build motivation, strengthening empowering beliefs by acting 'as if, and becoming more 'open to doubt' limiting beliefs by finding new and more enriching perspectives.

Sleight Mouth

Sleight of Mouth Patterns Help Us to Update Our Beliefs by Reconnecting Them to Experiences, Values, Expectations and Internal States

The fundamental strategy that we have followed for using Sleight of Mouth patterns involves, first, identifying the positive intentions behind limiting beliefs and the values that drive them, and then finding other more appropriate and useful ways of satisfying those positive intentions. The various Sleight of Mouth patterns help us to do this by prompting us to:

• 'repunctuate' and 'rechunk' our perceptions

• identify and appreciate different perspectives and alternative models of the world

• discover the internal strategies by which we assess 'reality, and through which we form and update our beliefs

• explore the ways in which we build the mental maps by which we form expectations, determine cause, and give meaning to our experience of the world around us

• recognize the influence of our internal states on our beliefs and attitudes

• pace the natural process of belief change

• better understand the impact of language and beliefs on different levels of our experience

• become more aware of potential verbal 'thought viruses' and unspoken assumptions and presuppositions

In many respects, what this book presents is just the beginning of the potential applications of the Sleight of Mouth patterns. The Sleight of Mouth patterns form a powerful system of language patterns which can be applied to produce deep and far reaching changes. These patterns have been used throughout human history as the primaiy means for stimulating and directing social change and for evolving our collective models of the world. The next volume of Sleight of Mouth, for instance, will examine how historical figures (such as Socrates, Jesus, Lincoln, Gandhi, Einstein, and others) have applied Sleight of Mouth patterns to shape the religious, scientific, political and philosophical systems which form our modern world. It will explore how these individuals sought to address and 'outframe' the thought viruses behind racism, violence, economic and political oppression, etc.

Volume II of Sleight of Mouth will also define fundamental strategies for using groups and sequences of Sleight of Mouth patterns, and explore the structure of the belief or 'convincer' strategies by which we form and assess belief systems (such as George Polya's patterns of'plausible inference'). It will also cover how the principles, distinctions and patterns that we have explored in this book can help to: (a) identify and address logical fallacies, limiting beliefs and thought viruses; (b) manage expectations and the 'Bandura Curve'; (c) deal with double binds; and much more.

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