More Memory Empowerment

memory empowerment

~ Article co-written by L. Michael Hall PhD and Shawn Dwyer ~

By understanding memory as a dynamic process intimately related to thinking, there are actually lots of things you can do to develop a richer and more robust memory. In the last article I wrote about two things- encoding your data to make it more memorable and organizing so that you can easily retrieve what you want to remember. 

Semanticize the Data – Make it Meaningful

A great way to frustrate yourself is to take material that is random, meaningless, and irrelevant and try to memorize a list like that! This is what memory researchers often do; they ask college students to memorize meaningless lists of things. Yet what do people do in such experiments?
They try to find, create, or impose meaning on what’s essentially meaningless. They intuitively know that memory is enhanced by making something meaningful. The more meaning you give to something, the easier to remember.

There’s lots of ways to semanticize data.

The most common for almost everyone is to match what you are learning with what you already know. You do that to see if it fits into your knowledge bank. This is especially useful for material that you are familiar with and/or understanding  [The problem is using this approach when learning something new. It then activates your Confirmation Bias so that you project what you already know onto what’s new. You then only confirm your biases and blind-spots. Then you don’t learn anything.]  Otherwise, especially if you are not learning something new, connecting information with your knowledge base gives it a place (category) to put it in and a network of associations. And that makes retrieval easier.

You can make it meaningful by creating a list of reasons why the information is important or that it is important to code it the way you are coding it.
Each reason gives more significance to the data. And more significance makes it more emotionally energized. By way of contrast, when something is trivial, menial, non-sensical- it is hard to remember. Semanticize the data by giving it lots of rich meanings.

Believe in Your Memory

A cultural frame about memory is that “As you get older, you begin to forget a lot and your memory becomes weaker.” Believe that and you send messages and commands to your nervous system that will dis-empower your memory functions. So, do the opposite. Set a belief that “As I get old, my memory is getting better.” That was the belief I set in 1999. I set it because I had learned that memory is strongly affected by our beliefs and I did not want to send dis-empowering messages to my memory functions.

Neurons which fire together, wire together.

Another belief that dis-empowers is “Memory is automatic so I don’t need to do anything about it, in fact, I can’t do anything to improve it.” Believe that and you won’t take the time and effort to rehearse the information you want to remember. Yet rehearsing is a fundamental memory skill. Look for and rehearse similarities, rehearse links and associations. You’ve heard that “Repetition is the mother of all learning.” Repetition is also the mother of memory! So, cultivate the habit of repeating data. I do that in multiple ways. When reading, I use a special marking system, I create my own personalize index, I take notes, I type out the notes, I review the
notes, etc. Repetition, as a mnemonic process, strengthens your mind- that is, your thinking capacity due to the Hobbs’ neurological principle, “Neurons which fire together, wire together.”
Especially do not give yourself such suggestions as, “I’ll probably forget this.” “I don’t have a good memory, I’m terrible with names (numbers, statistics, dates, etc.).” “I’m getting more and more absent-minded.” If you’re going to give yourself suggestions, suggest this: “I’ll think of it in a moment.”

Use your Lazer-Beam Focus to Eliminate Distractions

When you are not “all there,” but are diverting your attention to other things, your focus weakens so that your encoding will be less robust.
Multi-tracking can reduce your competency in learning, remembering, and developing by as much as 30%. Being distracted undermines memory as it contaminates focus. The same thing happens with stress and anxiety and nearly every negative emotional state. These states interfere with focus and so lessens the ability to focus and remember.

The right state for enhancing your memory functions is a focused state of high intentionality. That is, the genius state. Memory, after all, is state-dependent. It works according to the mind-body state that you’re in when you are encoding, which is why to re-access that same state helps with retrieval. So, step out of any negative emotional state, take a deep breath, refresh your intentions and purposes, and then for the moments that you are concentrating your focus- be fully present in a calm, delightful, and playful state.

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~ Article co-written by L. Michael Hall PhD and Shawn Dwyer ~

While having a good memory is not a prerequisite for coaching, it certainly helps.  And while we do not explicitly train memory development in Meta-Coaching, it is fully implied in the NLP Communication Model.  In fact, one of the things that many people discover in learning NLP is that their ability to think, learn, and remember is enhanced- sometimes significantly enhanced.  How does that work? What implicit training occurs in learning NLP? And how can I, as a Meta-Coach, develop a richer and more robust memory?

What You Need to Know

The first thing you need to understand is that memory is intimately connected to thinking itself.  If in thinking, understanding, comprehending, believing, deciding, etc. you didn’t remember anything, then everyday you would be starting all over again. All your learning and understanding would be for naught. What you remember from your reading and studying forms a reference base within you that you then use to build upon.  And it is how your “mind” is constructed.  So thank your brain structures for that- thank your short-term memory that your hippocampus processes and your higher neo-cortex and prefontal cortex for transferring into long-term memory.

You also need to realize that memory is not a thing, but a process. Veto the idea that you “have” “a memory.” It is not a thing that you have. It is a process- a living, dynamic, fluid process that you utilize and maintain.  That’s why it is not separate from thinking, but an intimate expression of thinking. Your memory is dependent on the quality of your thinking. The process begins with inputting, processing, and encoding- what we call “memory”is how you retrieve your knowledge, understanding, and reference points.

Encoding Excellence

Your “memory” can only be as good as your encoding. If you do not code some information very well- you will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to retrieve. This takes us to the way you represent information. 

           Are you using all of the representational systems- visual, auditory, kinesthetic, language, etc.? Have you developed these systems so that you can use them?

           How distinct do you encode the pictures, sounds, and sensations?

Do you use the full range of your cinematic features (sub-modalities)? If not, are you ready to practice doing that? That is, turn your little black-and-white pictures into big colorful movies!

           Do you know how to “snapshot” sights, sounds, and sensations which are all around you to enhance your sensory systems? Are you willing to start doing that? If you want something to be memorable, then encode it so it is memorable.


What you experience as your memory is to a great extent a function of your skills to encode in a memorable way. Start with making the information vivid. If the content of your thinking is vivid to you- clear, colorful, bright, big, full of action, etc.- it will be easy to remember. Code the images so they are specific and detailed. As you notice a person’s semantic space, see it with crystal clarity and imagine using a colorful paint brush to paint some movements with strokes of bright blue, orange, red, yellow, etc. The more intensely visual your code, the more memorable pictures you will have in your mind. To distinguish levels, I sometimes color code the levels- blue for beliefs, gold for values, silver for identity, purple for permission.

Another cinematic feature is making the data that you are encoding animated.

Like animation cartoons, have things move. Imagine seeing a frame of reference that a person describes and code it in terms of something that moves. “The difficult boss” becomes “a fat 600 pound wrestler” see him trying to sit on your client! Images that move, that are wild, that are bigger-than-life, that are crazy, outrageous, exaggerated, humorous, etc. are images that you will be less likely to remember.

Organize the Data for Memory

Think of your computer. How do you keep track of files that you write or that are sent to you?  You need some sort of sorting system so that you can classify things. I have a category for “Coaching,” another for “Training,” one for “Meta-States,” “Psychology,” etc. Then under each category are next-level categories. And I often have 5 to 6 layers of categories. A system like that enables you to keep track of things and know where things belong.

Do the same in order to think effectively in an organized and structured way. What things do you want to group together? By creating semantic networks- you have an organizational structure that holds information.

Using NLP, I set up- in my mind- the natural categories of study:

           Communication Model: Sensory systems, sub-modalities, etc.

           Meta-Model: Language distinctions and questions.

           Meta-Programs: Perceptual lens, thinking patterns.

           Meta-States: States, meta-states, gestalt states, etc.

           Matrix Model: Systems thinking and processes.

           Framing: Mind-Lines, pre-framing, reframing, etc.

           Neuro-Semantics: meaning-performance, quadrants.

           Self-Actualization: pyramid of needs, theory X & Y of leadership, etc. And so on.

And why? We do this because of another understanding about memory- short-term memory is severely limited. George Miller’s famous 7+/-2 bits of information at any given time explains why we can quickly get overwhelmed and over-loaded. But there’s good news- if you take the 5 to 9 chunks of information and rehearse them so that they get connected (associated), the multiple chunks become one chunk. The 9 numbers of a phone-number now become one chunk. Then the 26-letters of the alphabet become one- the alphabet. You can now have a category of the Meta-Model with 21 distinctions.

The way of memorizing in ancient Greece was through pegging.

This mnemonic device refers to taking a picture of something you know very well, like your house or living room, and attaching various data to different scenes. For your speech introduction connect it to the doorway, the four points to four locations in the living room, and the closing the door into the kitchen.

That kind of thing. There are even peg systems that you can learn (rhymes or pictures for the numbers) by which once you memorize, you can encode lots and lots of information. Chaining is another mnemonic device. Because brains go places anyway, you can consciously choose to send your brain in useful directions and create a chain of associations (a syntax between ideas). When I think of a state, I immediately go to meaning which creates state, and then to intention, the backside of meaning. Then to self, power, others, time, and world. So then I have all of these dimensions of the Matrix chained (linked) together.

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Vitality Is Natural; Devitalization Is Unnatural


~ Article co-written by L. Michael Hall PhD and Shawn Dwyer ~

If people can and do experience life at too low a level on the hierarchy of needs, then what are people suppose to get and experience at the lower levels? Then if the “lower” needs, driven by deficiency, which when adequately gratified go away, then what? If these D-needs are instrumental and the B-needs are non-instrumental, then what are they the means to? Glad you asked! And the answer is simple and can be describe by a single word-vitality.

Vitality Needs

All of the lower needs are life-needs or necessities (requirements) for being alive. And in saying “being alive,” I don’t mean merely existing, getting by, surviving. I mean being fully alive to the human experience-to the adventure of life. Yet when we ask ourselves the questions about this level of vitality, most people are not fully alive. Are they? Okay, they may not be zombies, yet how many drag themselves through life, through their jobs, their relationships, and the activities of everyday life?

Vitality Complaints

And how many are full of everyday complaints about not being motivated, not having the energy to do things, and feeling that they have no passion about anything. They are bored. They don’t know what to do with themselves. Are they waiting for something. But what? By contrast, the idea of being fully alive to the adventure of life is our heritage. Just look at the life of a small child. Talk about being alive to the mystery and wonder and adventure of life! Talk about vitality! Then of course, we send them to school and they get most of it knocked out of them -all in the name of “education.”

Being Fully Alive

Now this being fully alive is the design of the Neuro-Semantic series, Self-Actualization Psychology. In fact, this is the name of the first module in that series, Unleashing Vitality. That’s where we start. Why?

What’s so important about vitality?

First, vitality is important first of all because we all use and need a lot of energy every day. After all, it takes
a good amount of energy (vitality) to actualize anything that’s important and meaningful to you- whether at home, work, or with some project that’s highly valuable to you. It also takes a lot of vitality to be able to handle life’s everyday demands at home and work. So if at the end of the day, you go home …
and go into your Energy Room and stand on your Joy Meter to see how much life and soul you have at the end of the day, and your Joy Meter is hardly registering- you’ve got a problem.

What is that problem?

You could have a vitality leak. Or you could have a vitality dampener. Somehow you are letting work or friends or family or children or chores or something suck the very life out of you! Even if your Joy Meter is only registering in the middle of the scale, you still have a problem. Something is happening that’s preventing you from living life with passion, and joy, and aliveness, and high motivation. I wonder what that is?

Second, vitality is important because without a strong sense of vitality or aliveness, you will not be feeling good.
You will be dragging yourself through life and work and activities rather than being full of the innate vitality that you were born with. Innate vitality?
Yes, we were born for that and as children we had that. So what happened? Were did our thrill and absorption and passion for learning go?

Wired for Vitality

In Self-Actualization Psychology, as developed by Maslow, Rogers, and others, we think of human nature as innately
wired for motivation- for vitality, energy, being alive, etc. This has tremendous applications. If we are, in our nature, in our biology, in our psychology, etc., wired for vitality, then we do not need for find some great Formula X that will solve our motivational problems. We do not need to add Formula X to our lives.

What’s needed is for us simply to eliminate the things that are downgrading, interfering, sabotaging, and throwing cold water on our vitality. Vitality is natural; devitalized is unnatural. So is depression, feeling demotivated, lacking energy, etc.

Vitality is natural.

And when you are taking care of your body as it needs to be taken care of- you will be beaming and energetic. Nor is this rocket science.  Among other things, it means eating right. If your body and brain is nutritionally deprived or trashed, you will not be able to think very well. It means moving your body. Today we call this experience by the disconcerting term, “exercise.” Moving your body means physical activity- walking, running, swimming, cycling, taking the stairs, dancing, standing up, moving around, sweating. Yes, sweating. That cleanses your body! If the state of being inactive and sweatless attracts you, you’ve chosen the wrong species to be born into. That describes the state of the dead, and you’ll be there sooner than you want. Now is the time to get active.

Sleep Vitality

When you are appropriately active, you will naturally get good sleep.Insufficient sleep reduces concentration and alertness. It undermines your ability to learn, solve problems and remember. Today just as so many people suffer from activity deprivation (exercise) so also many people suffer from sleep deprivation. They stay up too late mindlessly watching TV and then go through the day feeling the need for a nap and so readily able to nod off.


A healthy vitality shows up in not only in your level of energy and activity, not only in your restfulness, it shows up in your passion and ability to learn new things. There’s an innate passion for challenging your brain, for reading challenging materials and exercising your mind.  It will mean you won’t be satisfied with life on the couch flipping TV channels. So here’s to the rediscovering of your vitality- to becoming more fully alive to life’s adventure. See you soon at a The Coaching Centre training!

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Global Thinking

Article by Shawn Dwyer and Dr.L.Michael Hall ~

Warning: Global Thinking. A larger crisis on Planet Earth than global warming is global thinking. When a person generalizes (or over-generalize) that person engages in a kind of thinking that often prevents one from actually “thinking.” That’s because when you “think” globally you are actually describing a category or classification, and not actually thinking about anything in particular.

Global Thinking is Hypnotic?

Isn’t That Amazing? This should also be revealing and frightening. Revealing because putting something into a category, “I want to be successful in my life.” “This program will make you effective and productive.” “That’s a bad choice.” you can say all kinds of things and yet, in the end, not say anything. [This is actually the key to hypnotic language patterns, the art of speaking in an artfully vague way.]

This Is How Politicians Typically Speak.

So they say they are for the common good, prosperity for all, better social programs for the poor, equality under the law, and on and on. Of course, we all agree with that and want the same. But what does any of that mean in terms of policy decisions? The politician isn’t saying. Now while that prevents him from offending anyone and from being criticized by anyone (a good strategy for getting votes), it also saves him from taking a policy decision so that he can be held accountable (a poor strategy for building trust over the long-term). 

Cognitive Bias in Global Thinking

Frightening because global thinking can not only deceive others, it can even deceive you. This is a warning that should come with generalized words and statements- they can lead to self-deception just as easy as they can deceive others. What is the self-deception? Mostly the cognitive bias wherein you think you think you understand something. Let’s say you adopt a new belief, “I can be successful in my career.” That’s a good capacity belief. But what does it refer to? What are you actually believing you can succeed in doing? The statement doesn’t include any particulars only a global statement about “success.” A category. Therefore this is the occupational hazard which is built into the global perspective. It seems like you know and understand what you are saying, but you do not. You do not have an internal indicator about what it is that would be required to be successful.

Global Thinking Lies Inside of So Many of Our Everyday Problems.

Consider perfectionism as an example. Someone says that they are procrastinating on an activity because they want to do it right. Okay. And what does “right” mean? Whatever the behavior is- making a sales call, exercising at the gym, writing a report, eating more healthily, etc., what are the details in doing something “right?” While the statement sounds meaningful, its vagueness makes it impossible to pin down and so while one may think that he has made a meaningful statement, he has not. So we meta-model the statement and see if we can get some details:

           How right does the behavior need to be?  Are we talking 50%, 75%, 95%, 99.9%?

           In terms of being right, what criteria are you using to determine right?

           “Doing it right” sounds like a visionary goal, are you expecting to do it on your first attempt? How long do you think it will take you before you get it just right?


Recently, I was working with a trainer the other day whose goal was to change his perfectionism frame from getting it right, perfect, or flawless. I inquired about his decision and he had come to realize that “perfectionism” was a false hope, an unrealistic goal, and an impossible objective. “Great!” I said, congratulating him on his insight and decision. “So what do you want to set as your new frame of mind?” We had been talking about principles that one could mind-to-muscle to get it into neurology. So he said, “I just want to do my best and not have to do it perfectly.”

Then, having been through this one numerous times before, I immediately stopped, accessed a great big smile and with a twinkle in my eye said, “I think you have just snuck perfectionism in through the back door. You’re pretty sneaky that way, aren’t you?” “What? I don’t know what are you talking about. Sneaking it in?”

Doing Your Best

“Ah, now you’re going to play dumb. Okay, I’ll play along! ‘Doing your best…” Hmmmm. Best! Ah, yes, doing your BEST. and what do you think your best is but another description of doing it perfectly?” “That’s perfectionism?!” he asked. “It sounds like it to me. What do you think? If you weren’t aiming to do it perfectly, but you were doing to do your best, what’s the difference?” He paused. In a bit, he started to say something, stopped himself and then thought about it for a few more seconds. “You know, you’re right. It is bringing perfectionism in through the back door.”

Mastery Is In The Details

Therefore, Global thinking is dangerous if you do not follow it up with details. Mastery is in the details. Hence, that’s where every expert lives- in the details which manifest the meta-level principle [hence, the meaning of meta-detailing]. So with global thinking you have only started the process of thinking, you have named a category – but you have not actually engaged in a specific representation. Not yet. Are you ready to do that?

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Article by Shawn Dwyer Meta-Coach President International ~

Recently I’ve been working on material, patterns and practices for coaching anxiety in clients. Part of the process required research into the human orders and their description under our current health systems, including mental health “definitions”, current “mental health practices” and how to manage such significant issues in society today.  A new client said she had tried CBT for months, it cost thousands and didn’t help her. 

As part of this article, I will also write my concerns about the mental health labels and descriptions, a little further on in this article.Secondly, using NLP technology, I have found we can offer effective solutions for people anxiety-ing through use of NLP representational model and meta-representational strategy work. Much insight is exposed in book The Structure of Personality by Hall, Bodenhamer, Bolstad and Hamblett. Another major component is orientation— allow the client to be the expert and let them do the work, when they have the ego-strength.

How much is anxiety a problem?

In population statistics in my country (Australia), it is recognised 1 in 4 women and 1 in 5 men do anxiety-ing and they struggle through longer than desired periods of unnecessary suffering. Anxiety-ing as a human strategy is understood as a problem for human functioning, yet there are various solutions, even for self-actualizing. 

What does the DMS-5 have to do with it?

Within the DSM-5, the (Diagnostic Statistical Manual version 5), anxiety is defined as a mental disorder. Yet no-one really doubts the phenomena of sadness and worry. However to call sadness and worry symptoms of mental disorders is exactly the same kind of fraudulent leap we see when multi-ordinal levels are confused.  Under the DMS-5, we can make “definition” of mental disorders in exactly the same fraudulent way, by illegitimately using real phenomena as “proof” of the existence of non-existing things.

Controversial and a big challenge?

You bet and the exciting part is at The Coaching Centre we can ‘enable’ people with authenticity to free themselves from anxiety-ing. In Meta-Coaching we use empirical evidence to allow the client to do the work and they make the change they need to make. It is the client who is the expert when it comes to anxiety-ing, whilst meta-coaching with the meta-representational system can enable clients their resolve.

Where does society go in another direction? Is this part of the problem?

Part of the joy and ease of this fraudulent creating under the DMS-5 is that you can define the non-existing thing any way you like. Who is to say if a mental disorder is the same or different from a brain disorder, the same or different for a Jungian, a Freudian, or a drug dispenser, the same or different from unwanted thoughts or behaviors, if there is no real thing involved? It ought to be the case that those making the claim for a non-existing thing (the authors of the DSM-5) should have to prove its existence but in real life the burden always falls on the client/patient/whistle-blower, and diagnosis/mis-diagnosis is mainly left to the doctor or psychiatrist. 

Definitions in The DSM

Let me show you how easy the definers of non-existing mental disorder have it with the DSM. First they define it one way, as they did in the DSM-4: 

“A mental disorder is a clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual and that is associated with present distress or disability or with a significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability, or an important loss of freedom.”

Then, under pressure by skeptics as to the whether this definition made any sense whatsoever, they redefined non-existing mental disorders this new way in the DSM-5.

“A mental disorder is a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotion regulation, behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. Mental disorders are usually associated with significant distress in social, occupational, or other important activities. An expectable or culturally approved response to a common stressor or loss, such as the death of a loved one, is not a mental disorder. Socially deviant behavior (e.g., political, religious or sexual) and conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are not mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict results from a dysfunction in the individual, as described above.”

Words and Disordering

The very idea that you can radically change the definition of something without anything in the real world changing and with no new increases in knowledge or understanding is remarkable, remarkable until you realize that the thing being defined does not exist. It is completely easy—effortless, really—to change the definition of something that does not exist to suit your current purposes. In fact, there is hardly any better proof of the non-existence of a non-existing thing than that you can define it one way today, another way tomorrow, and a third way on Sunday.

Certainly one could scrutinize the changes and make reasonable comments about the way that language has been employed to say absolutely nothing with the DSM. A mental disorder is a psychological thing, or maybe it isn’t. A mental disorder is a biological thing, or maybe it isn’t. You can rail about your society unless you have a “dysfunction,” at which point your railing is a mental disorder. You can have a conflict with your politicians unless you have a “dysfunction,” at which point you are a mental deviant. One could go on with such observations but making such observations plays into the hands of the creators of non-existing things, who love it if you play their game.  They can slip about with impunity, adding, qualifying, and shifting, while you waste your breath being reasonable and thoughtful. 

The Right Questions

With the DSM-5 the question is not, “What is the best definition of a mental disorder?” The question is not, “Is the DSM5 definition of a mental disorder better than the DSM-IV definition of a mental disorder?” Those are absolutely not the right questions!

It is the client who is the expert when it comes to anxiety-ing, meta-coaching with NLP and the meta-representational system (and the use of empirical questioning) is where the work can be done, thus enabling clients their resolve, now that is very possible. 

Contact The Coaching Centre if you desire to eliminate anxiety from your life

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