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The Iceberg of Culture

A big part of what clients want out of coaching is happiness, and a big part of what creates the sensation of happiness within our neurology is programming, and a big part of programming is our culture, and the biggest part of our culture is that which we do not see until it is pointed out or we rub up against another culture and notice that difference: underlying assumptions, beliefs, lenses which filter the information we receive, through our senses, about the world.

In my experience the first thing to help clients feel happier is to de- programme their inner critic voice, the constant self talk that they describe with phrases like "I'm so hard on myself " or "I always beat up on myself ".

While there are quick NLP 'tricks' to change that voice to a kinder one, more lasting change often requires me to talk about which aspects of our cultural programming clients want to hang on to as 'useful' and which ones they want to question and let go of because they don't serve them well and actually create states of tension and unease and inner conflict, perhaps more so for certain personalities: those who are archetypally dreamers, creative, emotionally sensitive, intuitive by nature rather than practical, pragmatic, objective, 'logical' and task orientated by nature.

In the West, the dreamers are praised in retrospect once they are either rich or are dead but with a trail of accomplishments behind them: think of Vincent Van Gogh, or look at how many art galleries there are for those artists who "made it" a while back.

But what about the dreamers or sensitive types alive right now who are perhaps born into a family of practical pragmatists?

Mike Iamele (The Sacred Circle) talks zbout the Praise-Shame dichotomy. For me, I notice our culture praises productivity and shames day dreaming or 'procrastination'. It praises hard work and labels as lazy anyone staring off into space who can't be observed as concretely achieving anything with each tick of the clock: time is turned from a dimension of space into a unit or commodity: lawyers charge in 6 minute units. Most people are paid an hourly wage.

In the belief systems that go with this we find other assumptions operating in the background - in my opinion they function a little bit like a computer virus:

• It's not ok to pause, breathe, or check in with yourself

• Pausing is a waste of time=money

• Productivity is good, going slow is bad

• Efficiency is worthy of praise, but doing things in a non-sequential way that takes more time is to be shamed (learning as a non sequential messy process that takes time is thus is shamed since it is not efficient).

• Rest that goes beyond your allotted 8 hours of sleep is seen as lazy and bad and to be shamed.

Most clients struggle to relax and teaching them some instantaneous techniques to relax their neurology is the first process we do in any coaching session AFTER giving their unconscious mind "permission ".

Why is permission necessary? Well my hypothesis is that they have internalised our cultural programming which says that permission must come from outside, not within.

Coaching sessions, for me, are about reversing that programming in order to help people plug back in to their own inner permission or source of author-ity.

We need to remember that for hundreds of years our culture was authoritarian with a monarch over the rest of us: deconstructing that impulse to return to authoritarian rule is an ongoing process that was not fully realised with the advent of democratic elections: each of us are tasked with releasing the negative emotions stored in our body as a result of centuries of war, conflict, authoritarian rule, the effects of co-ercive power being used on us to make us do things against our will and parenting styles that were modelled on the "do as I say or else suffer the consequences " of our military leaders.

Finding agency and overcoming victim mentality requires re-programming the beliefs and assumptions in the neurology. The first 7 years of childhood are spent in the trance, or day dream state, where we are entranced by the planet we have arrived on: in this state the brainwaves are slower and the brain is open to programming and is forming beliefs from a patchwork of comments and stories we hear from parents and teachers and internal decisions we make about events around us - usually with insufficient information or context...hence the occurrence in the mind of limiting beliefs.

One reason hypnotherapy works so well to help people re-programme is because we slow the mind down to the daydream state of childhood. In this state you can check inside and examine what is useful and what is not. No wonder hypnotherapy is not promoted by powers that be! As a tool for personal empowerment it sits in direct conflict with programming people enmasse to function as efficient productive followers of an established order.

Thus your happiness is not a priority of that established order but your compliance is.

I happen to think that putting people in touch with their own real dreams would actually help productivity, GDP, and the economy more than having people miserably trying to fulfill the dashed dreams and expectations of their parents, teachers or bosses simply because people light up abd get excited when they are in touch with their real dreams: the emotions if excitement and joy result in a higher degree of motivation for the dreamers.

Rather than seeing the dreamers listless, sick, full of anxiety and depression, I want to see them alive, empowered, joyous and well, full of energy and motivation, doing the thing that lights them up like a Christmas tree.

But to do that we need to each deconstruct our cultural programming:

Think about our culture we a riddled with oppositional thinking:

Heaven vs Hell Right vs Wrong God vs the Devil Government vs Opposition Liberal vs Conservative Black vs White Positive emotions vs Negative ....and on it goes.

In NLP coaching one of the most powerful processes for addressing addiction or unwanted habits is the parts integration- that conflict that occurs when part of us wants to go for a run but the other part wants to stay in bed etc BUT in the past few years I find less need to do the parts integration with clients if I first get them to adddress the binary polarising cultural programming running in the background.

Now I start by saying, "What if we just set aside all those cultural assumptions for now, there's no right or wrong emotions, no positive or negative, no good or bad...fir the purposes of this session it's all just information...can we do that?

Usually they nod with relief since the most common stress and anxiety are sponsored by questions such as "What is wrong with me?" Or "Why am I always so...[insert judge, blame, criticize statement]

Such internal dialogue, sponsored by a culture that gives priority to judgement, only leads to feeling bad. Feeling bad causes us to avoid those situations that make us feel bad and to seek out situations that will make us feel good. If we are feeling disconnected from our own inner wisdom and emotions and from the people around us, then it's only natural to seek solace in temporary fixes whether it be food, drugs, alcohol etc... Research now points to lack of connection being the root cause of addiction. You may want to look at some of the videos by Gabor Mate on You Tube to get his take on the subject.

Some of the most powerful people used in NLP coaching are modelled from the traditional culture of Hawaiian Huna which does not give priority to judgment but rather to:

• Releasing emotional blocks • Forgiveness - Ho'oponopono • Connection to body wisdom "Ku" (emotions as indictors of the souls priority on earth) Connection to the wisdom of the Higher Self "Kane".

Yet our culture...

• shames emotions, especially negative ones, thus cutting off our access to our souls priority on earth • makes forgiveness the responsibility of a deity instead of our own • defines forgiveness more in terms of releasing someone from a legal debt rather than the concept of 'pono' which is zbout storing emotional balance a relationship • filters our relationship with the universe through the concept of an external agent (deity) or institution (eg church) rather than through an aspect of ourselves, as with Kane, the 'higher self' in Huna.

When the missionaries arrived in Hawaii they were struck by how healthy and happy the local population was. And then proceeded to ban the very processes that produced that health and happiness in favour of their own beliefs.

Huna went underground and was held onto by only a few families. NLP trainer Tad James modeled the process of clearing root emotional causes of unwanted behaviors from a persons past and called it Timeline Therapy (TM) and his son Matt has further modeled processes such as Black Bags for clearing negative beliefs and emotions.

Ho'oponopono, the forgiveness process, has been taken to the UN.

So, if you find you are being hard on yourself, I'd invite you to instead view that self judging as simply a habit that has been handed down through the generations as part of the unconscious programming of culture which, till now, you may not fully have been aware of. But now you are, you have the opportunity to de-programme that which is not serving you and reprogram your mind, your whole neurology with a different philosophy that is more aligned to how you are designed - to experience a batural state of pleasure, joy, fun, excitement, connection and motivation.

As we heal ourselves we change the atmosphere around us that others pick up on: thus, to heal ourselves is to heal the world.

Imagine being a hapoy chirpy fun parent boss or partner instead of the grumpy, tired worn out husk that is trying to fulfill someone else's agenda or dream instead of your own.

I'd invite you to contemplate and meditate on two questions:

The first is "What are your real life dreams"?

And the second, apparently first posed by one of the co-founders of NLP, Richard Bandler is:


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