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Relating to yourself with kindness in face of a negative internal dialogue

A systemic Neuro-Linguistic-Psychotherapy look at the dynamics of internal-dialogue changes

  by Asaf Rolef Ben-Shahar


To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.  Oscar Wilde


A. Introduction


I watch and listen to the news from my homeland Israel, and I’m horrified. So much violence hatred and fear. The Palestinians feel oppressed; they rebel – and Israeli army is sent in to hit. The Israelis feel terrorized. Israeli tanks kill Palestinian militants and civilians; Palestinians bomb themselves together with children, adults and elderly Israelis. It seems to last forever; it seems to have no foreseeable end.


Some people are saying that we must realize that forceful military operations cannot solve political debates in the long run. Never in the history of humanity did it work. Only political interventions would bring an end to this horror. We need to create an environment of safety, they say, in order to create peace.


Extremists, on both sides, argue: “this is easy to say; we all want an environment of safety – but they (Israelis / Palestinians) keep hurting us; they understand one way alone – and it is only to the language of force that they respond”.


You are naïve, people tell me when I say that this violence is eroding our souls. My friends are frightened and angry; the collective consciousness of Israel becomes that of a defender and oppressor, full of anxiety, fear and hatred.


Alas, there is a point in what they are saying. If we are honest, it is unrealistic to expect a genuine environment of harmony and safety between these two hurting nations to just happen; at least not at the moment. Nevertheless – it just has to stop.


True, it would probably take a few generations, living in hatred in separate countries, before the residues of fear, hatred and accumulated revenge would subside. Until then, a greater force than them both (perhaps UN forces) would most probably need to police these two confused, anxious nations into a forced truce – into non-violence.


Under the current affairs, kindness means disciplined enforcement of truce – realizing that, at least for the time being, both Israelis and Palestinians are blinded by fear and anxiety; they are thus incapable of taking care of themselves with clarity and reality; with non-violence. Both Israelis and Palestinians have lost the plot, and – like young children, they need to be held back from hurting each other. Such enforcement would probably not prevent all acts of violence and certainly not all feelings of hatred and fear, but it would substantially decrease them.


Such ‘first aid’ actions would not, however, suffice in the long term. A truly committed educational and practical endeavour to teach both sides how to relate to themselves and to each other with reality, clarity and non-violence (or kindness) needs to take place. With time, discipline and commitment – and most importantly with policed safety – a generation with greater clarity and reality would be cultivated, and then a genuine, congruent peace might be possible.


Occasional acts of violence and fear might possibly occur even in this new environment of peace, but both Palestinians and Israelis would be more resourceful and realistic in their overall attitude. The down spiral is less likely to lead, yet again, into the well-known space of rock bottom.


Peace is not a lovey-dovey cuddly ideal; it is an on-going process of cultivating positivity and reality while strictly policing (and reassuring positive intention) fearful and anxious responses.


We all have parts, to which at some point we related with violence and hatred; we all know the cycles of hatred, the vicious circle of negative relating.


This is not only the story of my homeland affairs, but also the narration of negative self-sponsoring in general, and specifically of negative internal dialogue. The current affairs of Israel and Palestine, of India and Pakistan, Of US and Afghanistan share the same structure with our internal current affairs, with our relationship with the different aspects that make us who we are. This is the story of my model.


B.         Profile

1) Model’s Presuppositions


The following model went through major changes in various stages of its progress. I too went through major changes while working on it. I have come to realize that the following presuppositions helped me to contextualise and understand the model, as well as to support its clinical application:


A.    Negative Internal Dialogue is a pattern of negative self-relating: Changing it requires an ad-hoc pattern interruption process, as well as an on-going discipline of positive self-relating.

B.    There is more than just one of us in there: We exist in a relationship; the Self is a relational field. We can therefore be in 1st, 2nd and 3rd position interchangeably with different parts of ourselves. Personally, I believe that the ‘Self’ is in fact the dialectic relationship between our working parts.

C.    We have a centre: There is an undeniable, recognizable centre to us. When we are in our centre, when we are centred - we can relate with clarity and reality to our different working parts (we are not stuck in any ‘one’ part).

D.    Love is a path of mastery: Love in general, and self-love specifically is disciplined practice of commitment to self, not something that ‘happens’ to us. Hence, it requires cultivation.

E.     Love has power to transform: When applied with reality, consistency and centre – love can transform even the most neglected parts of ourselves, changing our internal-relational-field for the better.





2) The Spiral – From TOT within a TOT to TOTE within a TOTE


Text Box: Diagram A – The spiral of Neg.ID


Negative Internal dialogue is a behavioral pattern. It is a pattern of self-judgment and bad sponsoring that tends to perpetuate itself – just like a down-spiral, or a vicious circle. It is a TOTE without an exit. See diagram A.





Text Box: Diagram B – Creating space for a TOTE


The Pattern Interruption process of my model supplies a potential exit, by first expanding the space in a singular point over the spiral (hopefully, quite soon at the beginning). See diagram B.






Text Box: Diagram C – Inserting a TOTE

Once we created an opening (or expanded space) by recognizing the pattern, we build a TOTE inside that space, potentially breaking the pattern by allowing possible exits. See diagram C.






The process of our specific pattern interruption is discussed later, in presenting the model.


Text Box: Diagram D – The TOT world

The pattern of negative internal-dialogue is also an example of a wider attitude to self, of negative self-sponsoring. It is almost like, due to an environement of spiralling negative-sponsoring, the specific patterns (neg ID spirals) are more likely to occur. The negative internal dialogue is a TOTE without an exit (TOT), which rests in an environemnt of TOTs.

See diagram D.


Text Box: Diagram E – cultivating TOTEs

As such, it requires a larger scale ‘pattern interruption’, or better said – an attitudinal change, to create an atmosphere that would make negative patterns less likely to occur: i.e. cultivating a TOTE of positive self-sponsoring and centring by disciplined practice of these processes (TOTE’s). See diagram E.




Text Box: Diagram F – TOTE world

Hopefully, a commited, disciplined and on-going practice  of positive self-relation would change the face of reality, creating a new way of living, which is a dynamic and positive way of sponsoring. In this environment, negative internal-dialogue, as well as any spiral, would occasionally still occur, but would not last that long and would be recognized and acted upon quicker. See diagram F.



C.         The Model

The model for kind self-relating consists of a pattern-interruption process (ad-hoc application), procedurally carried out in five stages, and two long-term processes of commitment to self. 


1) Pattern Interruption

The pattern interruption process is not a ‘quick fix’, but rather a vigorous enforcement of non-violence to self.

I present this pattern in a linear fashion, because it is easier to practice it this way. However, the aim is to create a parallel, holographic pattern of response whereupon recognition, decision and centering occur almost at the same time. It is a skill that can be acquired by practicing the TOTE for some time, regularly.



i. Breathe

Take a breath

Frequently, negative patterns of self-relating, and specifically negative internal dialogue, are accompanied by disturbances in breathing patterns. Taking a breath (at first – making the conscious effort) creates a ‘space in the spiral’ to start and introduce the pattern interruption. As soon as you recognize a negative internal dialogue you wish to work with, taking a breath is an anchor to start and cultivate the opposite. Since the nature of breath is (hopefully) continuous throughout life, it can be quite a powerful anchor.


ii. Recognize & Acknowledge - Give a name to what is happening


Acknowledgement that this is how I am at the moment is always a crucial start. People want to change… but for all change this is a very crucial beginning. Aryavajra (2002).


Recognize pattern and acknowledge behaviour by giving it a factual, non-judgmental name: “I do X”. Examples: “I do self-judgment”, “I do bulimic thoughts”, “I do addiction.” 


The purpose is to give a name to what IS, to what is happening, NOT to find yet another excuse to be violent to oneself. I suggest making a short list of common patterns, so that the process remains a ritual and doesn’t become a cognitive process of labelling behaviour. It might be helpful to write down the patterns that are most likely to spiral you down, so they are handy.


It’s becoming familiar, it’s a sense of: “hey, wait a minute, this is familiar; you’ve been there before. Do you really want to go there?” aah… I take a breath. In breathing I interrupt the pattern, it brings me back into myself. Silke Ziehl (2002).


The sooner we recognize a pattern (the higher up we are in the spiral), the more likely it is for the pattern-interruption to succeed in this specific intervention. However, even if we continue moving down the spiral, the mere action of acknowledgement and naming sharpens our ability to notice it in the future, as well as separating neurological levels: distinguishing between identity and behaviour.


Most people who come to therapy know they have patterns. At this stage, however, the therapist (or friends, or partner) is of great importance as he or she helps the person to recognize patterns by saying what is. When we do our negative internal dialogue, we are in 1st position of the ‘troubled / neglected’ part and we are disassociated from our centre. Until clients can recognize their patterns (i.e. can come to their centre and relate to troubled part from 2nd or 3rd position), the therapist teaches them to do so (by modelling centred non-violence)  – serving as an auxiliary centre.


Familiarity with pattern fosters desire and commitment – away from pattern and towards kindness (healthy self-relations), since it already takes an amount of centring (1st position from centre) to recognize negative patterns of thought.


We have to be able to recognise our faults and to acknowledge that we make mistakes… recognising that we are much more than our faults and mistakes. Paramananda (1996)


iii. Commit to stop – make a conscious decision

Once recognized, saying to yourself something along the lines of (finding client’s own wording): “I know that pattern, I know where it can take me (I’ve been there many times before). DO I REALLY WANT TO DO THAT RIGHT NOW?”


It is imperative that you answer yourself with honesty. Oftentimes, especially when intervention is made well down the spiral, the honest answer would be “yes, I do want to do it more” - and it is OK to continue pattern, to continue negative ID or addictive behaviour or self-destruction. The most important point here is making it a conscious decision, rather than ‘being possessed’ by it. If you say YED, well – you might want to run this TOTE process further down the spiral, when closer to rock bottom, or not.


This TOTE also involves relating to troubled part (or negative behavioural pattern) from a place outside it (leaving 1st position in troubled state), and as such it continues to build upon the basic differentiation of person / behaviour, centre / troubled part. It is about claiming back our right to be the initiators of our actions, the centre of our Selves.


iv. Centre – create a ritual of coming back home

If the answer to the decision question was NO, I don’t want to do it right now, then engage in coming to centre.

There are many ways of centring. Here is one possible way:


1.     Posture: Feet on the ground, straight and comfortable spine (neither collapsed nor rigid), relax facial muscles.

2.     Identify centre (see appendix III for a suggested way of doing so).

3.     Go Kinaesthetic: shut off auditory external and visual external by going inside (going K, and later amplifying Vi and perhaps Ai). Touch centre, breathe into centre; create a metaphor for centre.

4.     Amplify centre-field to create a bubble around you, to include all of you and a little beyond you (using KVA). Examples: my favourite metaphor is a the traditional Buddhist one of a thousandfold lotus opening in my Hara, gradually encompassing all of me. Some like to see it as a liquid sun, growing warm and pleasant; some – like bright light with a pleasant tune. Whatever metaphor the person uses – allow it to expand.


The process involves, among other purposes, the following elements:

i.                 Focal change: doing something else.

ii.               Engaging with similar mental faculties. Overloading pinpoint awareness with more than one Representation System and more than 7±2 chunks of information.

iii.             Strengthening the ad-hoc response to negative self-relating.

iv.             Strengthening an on-going practice of commitment to self.

v.               Changing Metaprogrammes (process rather than procedure, towards rather than away from, internal rather than external locus of control).


It is not enough to practice centring only when we have negative internal-dialogue. A successful mastery of positive self-relating requires an on-going commitment to self, which also manifests in disciplined practice of centring – as will be discussed later. It is important because unless centring is a practiced habit, a ritual, it would be difficult to call upon it when we are off-centred (running patterns of down-spirals). Additionally, without a greater outcome in mind – the pattern-interruption process is an AWAY-FROM one, and as such has lesser chances to succeed. On going practice of centring is a TOWARDS cultivation of self-relating.


v. Relate to ‘neglected’ part from the centre

Once centred, positively relate to the part that does the pattern. Here are some possible ways of doing so:


1.     Expand field of centre to include neglected part (and let metaphor flow into part too). Change to associate with part, receiving centred energy from ‘centred ’ you, then coming back to self – claiming back the ‘neglected’ self.

2.     Establish behaviour as a part (personalize: age, sex, appearance, etc.), and relate to it as if it was your own loved child who misbehaved.

3.     Expand centre-field to include neglected part; personalize and ask her/him what they need – give it (words, gestures, eyes, touch) and switch Perceptual position to receive it. Come back to self and bring transformed part inside.

4.     Let metta flow from you to part.

5.     It might even be enough to observe part that does troubled-behaviour from the centre to change the attitude to it.


Stay in ‘expanded centre-field’ until saturated (if there is no felt-sense of ‘its ok now’, then stay for a few breath-cycles) and disengage.


This is perhaps the most important part of the pattern-interruption process. The classical NLP Internal-Dialogue change technique primarily works on the behavioural level. However, without learning to better relate to the part that ‘does’ the pattern, we are merely delaying another down spiral.


It is almost like when we are in our centre, we are the responsible parent, and the negative pattern is a troubled, or neglected child. We separate from the child – we say – I don’t like your behaviour. But ending here would be almost like planting seeds for Juvenile delinquency; the neglected part feels even more neglected. When relating to it from the centre, we say something along the lines of: ‘I might not like what you do, but I love YOU and accept YOU.’  Being in first position in centre allow for constructive energy moving between selves, or rather for unobstructed movement of relationships, without identification with one ‘part ‘ on the expense of the relationship. Centring and relating to oneself with centre is akin to healthily breathing, to creatively pulsating.


At this stage we have further separated our centre-identity from the part’s-identity (or from behaviour), sharpening the ability to be in other perceptual positions besides 1st position in neglected part – learning to flow.  


Just like centring, it is crucial to incorporate this pinpoint attitude with an on-going practice of self-kindness. Re-establishing intention, and remembering why you are doing it (an intention of a higher order) can be a powerful motivating tool.


2) Long-term commitment:

As I have claimed earlier, negative internal dialogue is a pattern, but it is also an example of a general attitude to self. To create a genuinely efficient atmosphere of positive self-relating, it is not enough to just ‘mend the cracks’ when they happen. The need for long-term commitment might frustrate some people who expect ‘quick-fix’ techniques to change their entire lives, but without it we all tend to come back (we know these ways so well!) to the old roads we’ve been driving in for years.


To banish negative self-relating we need the pattern-interruption process, but even more important - we want to have a life-skill of cultivating the opposite – developing positive self-relating. While centring is about finding our authenticity and acting from it, realistic self-kindness is centring in the context of inter and intra relationships.


In The Art of Loving (1957), Erich Fromm describes the conditions for acquiring an art: “The practice of any art has certain requirements: …The practice of an art requires discipline… concentration… patience… Eventually, a condition of learning any art is a supreme concern with the mastery of the art.”


i.  Disciplined practice of positive self-relating

Among the first, and most important questions, that I ask myself (and sometimes the client) at the beginning of every therapeutic contact is: “Under which circumstances would this problem/difficulty/symptom be unnecessary”

In the case of a negative-internal dialogue, one answer – and I would like to believe the most long-lasting one, is in an atmosphere of realistic self-kindness, in a space of positive self-relating.


I use the word discipline, since realistic self-kindness requires constant practice, ritualising and giving space and priority for positive self-relating. It cannot only be done when things are difficult.


Appendices I-II offer possible ways to foster long-term attitude of positive self-relating.

During the course of constructive therapy, the therapist models – both through her attitude to herself, and through her relating to the client, a positive way of relating to oneself. The client can do both hetero-modelling and self-modelling of those skills.


ii. Disciplined practice of centring

All my exemplars spent a substantial amount of time in their lives, in one way or another, developing the skill of centring.


Appendix III offers a possible way of establishing your centre. However, as I discussed earlier, it takes more than just doing it when things go wrong – it requires an on going commitment and practice.


Centring is a nominalization, and when talking about centre we need to use metaphors, as it is difficult to talk about it directly. Once we have ‘a sense of centre’, we know it – it can be felt undeniably. Centring is being in rapport with ourselves, and congruently acting from there. My exemplars related to ‘centre’ as the place where they are mostly themselves and at the same time mostly connected to spirit (to something bigger than themselves); where they are most humble.

I believe that ‘our centre’ is the most vulnerable yet most indestructible dynamics in us, and as such we can never stay ‘in centre’ since, like any other path of mastery, centring is a process, a journey – not a place: we cannot stay static in breathing, we cannot stay static in pulsation (Stephen Gilligan, 1997, has beautifully expanded on that area).


To follow the path of centring is to cultivate going blindfolded into ourselves, affirming whatever is there; practicing coming back and hoping that our somatic, enveloping intelligence would somehow learn the structure of coming home. To be centred is not about being at home with ourselves, but rather about coming back home again, and again, and again until the path is clear and known, until we can walk it blindfolded.


Learning to centre is far beyond the scope of this paper. In the reference section, I have indicated some books / articles that may be a good source for centring ideas. 


3) Further considerations:     


The two major components of my model are the Pattern-Interruption process, and the long-term disciplined practice of self-kindness and centring. However, I have noticed other principles, beliefs or guidelines that shared by the exemplars. These are the belief-structure and environmental factors which, when harnessed to self-kindness and positive self-relating, make it an easier task.


i. The role of other people

The idea of support from other people was important for all my exemplars. At the first stages of acquiring self-kindness, they all needed to recognize their patterns and other people helped them by telling them ‘what is’ (indicating patterns).


Additionally, other people are important to help with self-modelling. From good relationships with others, and from watching others relating with kindness, love and reality to themselves (with centre) and others, we model our own relationship with ourselves, and our internal parts.


Thirdly, support from others helps us to create and maintain a nourishing environment for the cultivation of positive self-relation.


Lastly, other people can help us commit to ourselves through our need for social approval. One of humans’ innermost needs is for social approval and acceptance. Experiments have shown that people would comply with others to extreme extents when their acceptance is on the line. I believe that one of the reasons for the success of 12 steps groups is in the (positive) peer pressure for recovery they create.


After all, my model offers a way of establishing and maintaining a better relationship with oneself, and – in essence, there is no better place to learn it than in healthy relationships with others.


Significant positive personality change does not occur except in a relationship. Carl Rogers (1957, in Kirschenbaum & Henderson, 1997).


ii. Humour

One of the most difficult issues around self-hatred, negative self-relating and negative-internal dialogue, is taking oneself far too seriously. What a challenge it is to see yourself in a slightly humorous light – without losing self-kindness.


All my exemplars shared an amazing ability to look at oneself with kind self-humour.

They were all able, once centred, to put their faults and successes into perspective, and recognize that nothing is the end of the world, that things constantly change, that they are not that important.


Appendix IV offers one possible process for facilitating kind self-humour (iconoclasting Atlas).


iii. Intention & outcome of a higher order

The intention and outcome of a higher order involved in realistic self-kindness represent a Metaprogramme shift (see Appendix V). What was important for my exemplars was never to prevent the negative-dialogue as such, but rather to move towards their overall outcome. They were geared TOWARDS a positive self-relation, towards achieving whatever was important to them. It is important to spend some time defining well-formed outcomes (preferably positive self-relating being one of them), so we can use them in the process of overcoming negative internal dialogue. Without a higher goal, we almost seem to ‘fuel’ the core of the internal dialogue. All the exemplars shifted their attention thanks to their higher-ordered outcome (be it meditating, self-kindness, or winning a game).


In that context, it is ok to understand that the pattern-interruption process doesn’t and wouldn’t always work pin-pointedly. There would be times where it would fail to prevent the negative pattern of self-relating; where it would prevent violence. However, a persistent cultivation of these attitudes would create more space for positivity, reducing the need for negative self-relation.


In my practice, I find it rewarding to spend some energy on finding beliefs and values regarding the spiritual / mission levels (whatever is bigger than our ego), incorporating them into the outcomes (if they exist) to support the effort for self-kindness.


D.         Coda

This paper is the result of modelling people who are excellent in relating to themselves with kindness, specifically in face of a negative internal dialogue. In my work as a therapist, I have come to realize that oftentimes client’s difficulties (and specifically around ‘depression’ and ‘eating disorders’) are kept by violent attitudes to self, one aspect of which is negative (or destructive) internal dialogue. I was hoping to find a way to better relate to myself when I do negative internal dialogue, as well as to teach others how to acquire and maintain a more positive and constructive way of self-relating.


My major understanding in creating this model was utterly paradoxical: We change negative (or destructive) internal dialogue, primarily NOT BY AIMING TO CHANGE, or rather – by accepting it. We change negative self-relating (or bad sponsoring) NOT by scolding the parts of us which do this behaviour but instead by cultivating positive self-relating (realistic kindness) to those parts. This, however, is a long-term process and a long-term outcome. When the undercurrent processes are those of cultivated self-kindness, then it is also possible to use pinpointed therapeutic intervention to help break this violence in the short-term.


This model summarizes for me the important aspects of my therapeutic work. For me, positive and realistic self-relating is the higher-ordered outcome in therapy.


This modelling project began as a part of the Master Practitioner in NLP with BeeLeaf Training and Development, and was facilitated by Penny Tompkins and James Lawley. I want to thank Penny and James for supporting the project and Pamela for holding the space and helping to design and develop the project. I thank my exquisite exemplars, and my clients, who were willing to try it out successfully.


E.         Appendices

Appendix I

Internal Metta-Bhavana: Cultivating Loving-Kindness to self


Metta Bhavana is an ancient Buddhist meditation. The Pali word Metta is most frequently translated to English as Loving-Kindness, but can also mean Love (in the general term of the word). Bhavana means cultivation, or development. The following process is a therapeutic utilization of this beautiful meditation – of cultivating loving-kindness. It can be an excellent hypnotic process, but can also be done without trance.


Metta is the fundamental human response to life, that if we all practised it the whole world would be transformed; and it has to begin with oneself. Aryavajra (2002).


  1. Acknowledge the intention of exercise: to develop and cultivate love and kindness to yourself. Allow yourself to give and receive kindness only inasmuch as it is possible for you right now. The intention in itself is a practice of cultivating metta.
  2. Come to centre, breathe into centre and touch it. Find a place of kindness and love using VAK – whatever ‘way in’ is ok (Examples: Imagine a thousandfold lotus opening in your heart with all modalities; Elicit a time when you felt an overwhelming sense of love – VAK.)
  3. Think of a part of you that you like (can be a body-part, a personality trait or a period where you liked yourself), personalize it and imagine the part sitting in front of you.

Let the loving-kindness flow from your heart (thousandfold lotus opening in your heart) into the loveable you. Incorporate V (e.g. see the lotus expanding bright light into her) A (e.g. say to her: I wish you well, I wish you happiness, I wish you freedom of pain and suffering), K (e.g. feel love flowing from your centre to her).

Sit in her place and receive love and kindness, as much as you can (VAK as above).

Come back to Self, centre and let the loveable you fade.

  1. Think of a part of you that you have neutral feelings towards, or that you don’t know very well, personalize it and imagine it sitting in front of you.

Repeat process as with the loveable part. Give as much as you can naturally, without forcing love or kindness. 

Come back to Self, centre and let the neutral you fade.

  1. Think of a part of you that you have difficulty with, or that you dislike; personalize it and imagine it sitting in front of you.

Repeat process as with the loveable and neutral parts. Give as much as you can naturally, without forcing love or kindness. 

Come back to Self, centre and let the difficult you fade.

  1. Imagine the three parts sitting with you, with metta flowing equally among you (VAK). Turn to lovable part and say: “You are a part of me and I claim you back with love.” See, hear and feel the merge with intention of metta. Repeat with neutral and difficult parts.
  2. Let metta grow in you, and using Ericksonian language and VAK encourage expansion of metta to all of you, past present and future, and beyond you – including more and more expansive cycles to reach each and every living being. ANCHOR STATE.

Appendix II

Timelining and ritualising Metta Bhavana


This exercise can serve as one possible ritual to run alongside developing loving kindness to self.


  1. Create a meta-position ‘floating’ over timeline, overlooking the entirety of the timeline.
  2. Elicit state of all-inclusive, all-expansive metta as in the last stage of the previous process. Associate with the meta-position (a metaphor for centre?).
  3. Identify a space of unkindness to self, self-loathing or excessive internal-dialogue on the timeline. Associate and break state.
  4. From the Meta position, create a multi representational-system metaphor for projecting metta onto the entire timeline in general and that specific time in particular.
  5. Go back to Problem State and ‘receive projection’ of metta.
  6. Repeat with other problem states if necessary.
  7. Anchor a ‘calling’ – creating a reminder of centring and kindness (it can be the image of the lotus, calling your name, moving your head to the direction of the meta position, or – preferably - any or all of your own metaphors).
  8. Walk on the timeline from beginning to future while firing anchor constantly.


Appendix III

Finding your centre


1.     Establish a timeline

2.     Locate time (or times) when you mostly felt ‘like yourself’. For many, these are times when you felt a lot of love, strength or even anger. It may be as simple as walking in the woods, watching the sunset or perhaps giving birth. It is almost like asking to find a bodymind snapshot of the person at a peek moment.

3.     If no specific time was identified – stack resources through different times over the timeline.

4.     Trace down centre by asking ‘where does this come from?’ I often found that if a person cannot answer, you might suggest that their hands can go to that place (hands know…). Finding the centre can frequently be a non-cognitive process, and accessed easily through the body.

5.     Breathe into centre while touching it, allowing it to intensify with breath.

6.     Find a metaphor for centre: preferably including kinaesthetic and at least one more modality.


Going into negative thoughts is like losing the being in myself. It’s by definition not coming from my belly, from my centre. Silke Ziehl (2002).


Appendix IV

Iconoclasting Atlas

Retrieving humanity through losing self-importance


  1. Identify a problem state on your time line, where you felt ‘its all my fault’, ‘I should have known better’, ‘if only I did X everything would have been different” etc.
  2. Identify a state of self-humour in timeline and associate (step into). Beam to Problem State.
  3. Identify a state of kindness to self (or others) in timeline and associate. Beam to problem state (one possibility is to elicit metta).
  4. Having stacked the resources, return to problem state, with kindness and self-humour, and experience changes.
  5. Anchor kind self-humour (it’s possible to use it in the pattern interruption procedure if its too serious…).


Appendix V

Metaprogramme changes involved in the process


Problem state

Elicited state

Rep system

Vx/Axà Ai  (off centre)

K Vi Ai (Centre)


Away from


Authority (locus of control)

Internal – neglected part

Or totally external

Internal – Centre

And relational

Procedure / option



Linear / systemic



Uptime / downtime



Self experience

Usually mind/ body/ role/ things


Judger / perceiver

Firm judgment

Fluid perception

Neurological level

Environment / behaviour

Incorporating all levels



Appendix VI

Exemplars and resources

My second-position modelling exemplars included ex-clients, who learned to relate to themselves with kindness; a teacher of Buddhist meditation, specifically teaching the two practices of ‘mindfulness of breathing’ and ‘Metta Bhavana’; a bodyworker and trainer of bodywork and body-psychotherapy and a national-league basketball player with extensively high percentage in free-shots in hostile environments.


In addition, I have used techniques, processes, ideas and belief-systems (third-position modelling) originating in the works of Erik Berne, John Bradshaw, Martin Buber, Carlos Castaneda, Milton Erickson, Erich Fromm, Pamela Gawler-Wright, Stephen Gilligan, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Jack Painter, Paramananda and Carl Rogers.



Aryavajra. (2002), personal communication.

Berne, E. (1961), Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy, London:Souvenir Press.

Bradshaw, J. (1991), Healing the Shame That Binds You, Fl:Health Communications.

Buber, M. (1923), I and Thou. London:Continuum International Publishing Group.

Castaneda, C. (1972), Journey to Ixtlan, London:Penguin, Arkana.

Fromm E. (1957). The Art of Loving, London:Thorsons.

Gawler-Wright, P. (2001), The Skills of Love, Rapport, Summer 2001 edition, UL:ANLP 52:19-23.

Gawler-Wright, P. (2001-2002), Manual for Master Practitioner programme in Neuro-Linguistic-Psychotherapy

Gilligan, S. (1997), The Courage to Love, NY:Norton. [Excellent ideas for centring].

Gyatso, G.S. (1995). The Meditation Handbook, London:Tharpa Publications.

Judith, A. (1996), Eastern Body Western Mind, Psychology and the Chakra System, CA:Celestial Arts Publishing. [Excellent ideas for centring].

Kirschenbaum, H. & Henderson, V.L. (eds.). (1997), The Carl Rogers Reader, London:Constable and Company Ltd., 221.

Painter, J.W. (1984), Deep Bodywork and Personal Development, CA:Bodymind books.

Paramananda, (1996), Change your mind, a practical guide to Buddhist meditation,

Birmingham:Windhorse Publications.

Rogers C.R. (1961). On Becoming a Person. Boston: Houghton Miffin.

Rolef Ben-Shahar, A. (2001), A Myth of Transition - Modelmaking and transitional stages of reality formation as expressions of spirituality, Anchor-Point, September 2001 Edition: 15-9:3-13

Rolef Ben-Shahar, A. (2001), Dare I Touch? Exploring the potentials of using touch in NLPt and Hypnotherapy, Manual for ANLP-PCS conference [Some ideas for centring].

Ziehl, S. (2002), personal communication.





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