~ 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.

Vivid Memory

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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