~ Article written by L. Michael Hall PhD ~
What does a person actually do or experience when he or she self-actualizes? Maslow identified eight things that we could add to our list of prerequisites for the “genius” state. In fact, because some of the following quotations wonderfully describe the genius state, I’ll start with those and then back up to identify Maslow’s eight steps or facets for self-actualizing.
The genius state is a creative state of being totally present. And as this happens, one’s Matrix of frames vanishes from awareness.
Live In The Moment
“The puzzle that I’m now trying to unravel is suggested by the observation that the creative person, in the inspirational phase of the creative furor, loses his past and his future and lives on in the moment. And so he is all there, totally immersed, fascinated and absorbed in the present, in the current situation, in the here-now, with the matter-in-hand.
“This ability to become ‘lost in the present’ seems to be a sine qua non for creativeness of any kind. But also certain prerequisites of creativeness—in whatever realm—somehow have something to do with this ability to become timeless, selfless, outside of space, of society, of history.” (59)
Self-actualization is always described as a loss of self or of ego, or sometimes as a transcendence of self. There is a fusion with the reality being observed (with the matter-in-hand), a oneness where there was a twoness, an integration of some sort of self with the non-self. . . . Little wonder that this shaking experience has so often been considered to be
superhuman, supernatural, so much greater and grander than anything conceivable as human that it could only be attributed to trans-human sources.” “One main characteristic of the peak experience is just this total fascination with the matter-
in-hand, this getting lost in the present, this detachment from time and place. And it seems to me now that much of what we have learned from the study of these peak experiences can be transferred directly to the enriched understanding of the here-now experience, the creative attitude.” (60)
1) Focus and absolute absorption.
“Self-actualization means experiencing fully, vividly, selflessly, with full concentration and total absorption. It means experiencing without the self-consciousness of the adolescent.
At this moment of experiencing, the person is wholly and fully human.” (44) At such moments of absorption something else happens, something that actually facilitates the healing that we usually attribute to therapy. What? We forget our poses, defenses, shyness and simply “go for it.” The insight that Maslow discovered from this is incredible, “Absorption casts out fear.”
2) Choosing growth in small acts.
Another aspect is if we think about life as a process of choices, as choices between progression and regression, between defense and growth, then— “Self-actualization is an ongoing process; it means making each of the many single choices about whether to lie or to be honest, whether to steal or not to steal, and it means to make each of these choices as a growth choice.”
In Neuro-Semantics, we speak about meta-stating ourselves to a place above and beyond any and every experience until we step back from ourselves. It is at that point we have moved to the choice point. Whether we are running a quality control on our frames, an ecology check on the inter-relationships of ourselves holistically, or stepping up to our executive mind to create a pathway for our future, we are at the place of choice.
3) Discovering your own true likes and dislikes.
Self-actualization also involves discovering our inner self and letting that highest self emerge. How does this occur? We do this, in part, as we learn to listen to our own inner voice and not only to the voice of family, culture, tradition, authority, etc. When tasting wine we look not at the label or what others think, but savor the wine on our tongue and look
to “the Supreme Court” inside ourselves to see if we like it or not. “Do I like this?” “Do I dislike this?” “What do I think and feel?” In conclusion, this describes the growth from positing authority and evaluation externally and bringing it inside and owning it for ourselves.
4) Taking responsibility for oneself and one’s life.
First of all the process of actualizing by looking within ourselves for answers implies taking responsibility. This “is in itself a great step toward actualization . . . And each time one takes responsibility, this is an actualizing of the self.”
“We have talked of experiencing without self-awareness, of making the growth choice rather than the fear choice, of listening to the impulse voices, and of being honest and taking responsibility. All these are steps toward self-actualization, and
all of them guarantee better life choices.” (45)
In Meta-State training we begin here by accessing our innate powers for responding to the world, then bringing awareness, acceptance, and ownership to those response-powers. As a result doing this creates the gestalt of responsibility—a step toward self-actualization.
5) Courageously learning to be oneself.
While to listen to our own voice and tastes takes courage. To be honest with ourselves and with others takes courage.
“Making an honest statement involves daring to be different, unpopular, non-conformist. . . . To be courageous rather than afraid is another version of the samething.” (46)
In conclusion, this describes the part of self-actualizing that involves embracing change and challenge.
So the courage to be oneself is the courage to grow, to keep on learning, and to develop. We do this as we acknowledge our uniqueness and look within for what we have to give to the world.
6) Expending effort in an ongoing process.
Self-actualization is not only an end state, it is also the process of actualizing one’s potentialities at any time, in any amount. It may mean going through an arduous and demanding period of preparation in order to realize one’s possibilities. Self-actualization can consist of finger exercises at a piano keyboard. It’s about seeking to be as first-rate as
one can be. So in this, the work and effort of discipline is part of self-actualizing.
7) Setting up conditions that make peak experiences more likely.
Because peak experiences are transient moments of self-actualization, they cannot be bought or guaranteed. What we can do is set up the conditions that make them more likely or eliminate the conditions that prevent them. Hence typically peak experiences are only transient moments of self-actualization. And they are moments that we experience from time to time. The first step in making these peak experiences more likely is learning to recognize them. And once we have done that, then to acknowledge and honor them. The problem is that often they are such “small” things, a glorious sunset, a human touch of compassion, an act of thoughtfulness, a rush of emotion of joy in playing with a dog. And in the adult world of schedules and paychecks, it is so easy to discount these things.
While using the meta-state process of the genius pattern, we learn to identify the internal conditions that make these states more likely to occur and re-occur. We also learn how to step in and out of them at will. After all, it is just a state. And so as with any state, there is a dynamic structure that makes it happen. This is what Neuro-Semantics has contributed to flow—the ability to choose it.
8) Opening oneself up to self-discovery and knowledge.
So as we open ourselves up to ourselves—to our innate powers, to our unique gifts and talents, to our right to be ourselves and to be unique, it takes courage to both identify our typical defenses and to give up these defenses. And yet that courage is the pathway to self-actualization. Therefore it is repression, rejection, judgment, fear, avoidance, etc. that holds us back and that blocks becoming fully all that we can become. Conversely, it is the willingness to risk and to discover our full humanity, however fallible it is, that enables us to step into authenticity, into being more fully an authentic self.
In revisiting these writings from Maslow, I am amazed that it is upon Maslow’s shoulders and the Human Potential Movement that he, Carl Rogers, Rollo May and many, many others initiated that we stand on.
The Genius State
Hence Maslow described what we today call the genius state and he even identified so many of the prerequisites:
Giving up the past
Giving up the future
Recovering an innocence or guileless (the know-nothing state)
Narrowing of consciousness
Loss of ego, self-forgetfulness
Inhibiting force of consciousness
Fear disappears, “Absorption casts out fear.” (64)
Strength and courage emerges. “Becoming more courageous makes it easier to let oneself be attracted by mystery, by the unfamiliar, by the novel, by the ambiguous and contradictory.”
Especially relevant is that the genius state is at the same time so very special and yet so common. Yet we were born for it and naturally experienced it as children when we would get so lost in experiences. And so what seemed to come to natural during childhood later becomes one of the most ecstatic and longed-for experiences in adulthood. Furthermore, as a state of engagement and absorption, the genius state becomes more and more demanding of us as we grow—demanding that we take the courage to let go of other things of importance (time, self, others, etc.) as we are “surprised by the joy” of the fascination that captures our attention and fits with our highest values and intentions.
Peak Experiences And The Flow State
Most noteworthy, Maslow described as the peak experiences of self-actualizers and others later described as the flow state, we can now more precisely work with and predict. Therefore when we take charge of our own mind-body-emotion processes and access states and meta-states and build up the components and variables that make for a genius state, then we can access the state—stepping into it and out of it at will—at choice. So we can also trust that it is our state, and that we can trust ourselves that we won’t lose it or have to wait for it to magically appear.
Finally, this reflects the next step in human development, the ability to protect and re-access a genius state at will. And that, of course, is what Accessing Personal Genius is all about.
Interested in accessing your personal genius? Book your place here
Article Written by Dr.L Michael Hall.
Look at the things that you do today-the things that you do everyday in a regular and systematic way, the things that you can count on yourself to do. Your human programming.
Look at getting up and dressed, having breakfast (or skipping breakfast), brushing your teeth, driving, etc. When you do, you are observing some of your programs. Yes, you call them habits. That’s because you habitually do these things and do them in certain ways, and you can do them without thinking. It is as if you have a “brushing your teeth program” inside you.
Now, what will trigger this human program? Perhaps the time of the day will trigger it, perhaps walking into the bathroom, perhaps looking in the mirror and smiling.
A word about “programming.”
The idea of programming entered into NLP (Neuro- Linguistic Programming) at the same time when computer programming was beginning to reach popular consciousness. The communication theories of that day had been working for a couple of decades in conceptualizing how to program a machine. It could process information and by the 1970s several programming languages had been developed and gigantic room-size computers had been built. It was in that context that the metaphor of “programming” came to be applied to human processing of information, hence the name Neuro-Linguistic Programming. In those days, it had nothing to do with brainwashing, and everything to do with the code for how to install a systematic and stabilized response.
Questions for Habits or Human Programming
Let’s ask a series of questions about your habits, alias programming:
How did you program yourself to behave in this way?
How did you get yourself to do so in such a regular and dependable way?
Were you born with this program?
If you were not, then at what time did you develop it and how did it become so dependable, so regular, so systematic?
These questions explore is a very powerful resource that you have within you-within your neurology and in your mind-body system. As a habit, you don’t have to even think about it. You just do it. It is as if you are on automatic and as if the habit has a life of its own. Think about this with your eating lunch habit, your morning coffee break habit, your looking over a desert menu after dinner habit, your smoking habit, and so on. Somehow you have programmed yourself to automatically do certain things and now you can efficiently do them without a lot of physical or cognitive effort.
When you look at the automatic actions that you engage in- does it bring out your best? If you consider some habits that are now unhealthy and unproductive for you, have you ever tried to change them? Did it work? Or did you revert to the old habit? Maybe you changed your mind about smoking and decided to stop smoking and you did … for a little while, but then the old habit re-emerged and you found yourself doing it again. Habits are powerful that way. They can be programmed in that, they seem hard-wired, part of “who you are,” and your “second nature.”
Yet your own personal human programs or habits are similar to those of a computer, they are functions of a code. Therefore, there’s a code that informs your mind-body system how to operate and how to function, in the face of a particular trigger. The trigger starts a sequence of activities so that somehow you just seem to “know” how to respond, and so you do. You get on a bike and your body just seems to know how to ride even if it has been years, or roller-skates, or a thousand other habitual patterns. They are part and parcel of your programming. You have a habit (human program) of feeling afraid in elevators or even seeing snakes on TV. You have a habit (human program) of biting your nails, of impulsively buying things, of cursing when someone cuts you off in traffic.
Now something this powerful could be powerfully used for the good if only you knew the code, could it not? What if you set up a program for reading regularly, studying, exercising, spending time with your loved ones, etc.?
Now Here’s The Thing About A Habit
The code to any habit is no longer in the front of your mind. If it was, it would not be very deep or systematic and it could be more easily changed. No. The code involves what’s deep within, in the back of your mind, and has been created by your self-reflexive consciousness. That is, as you applied second thoughts and emotions to some first level thinking, you meta-stated the sequence of action with higher level frames, this deeply embeds the habit within you. In terms of persuasion, you now have a deep meta-level program (sequence of thoughts) that influence you systemically so that you do not have to consciously think about it.
So the code is a meta-state or meta-level code. It is made of beliefs, decisions, identities, permissions, understand#ings, etc. that essentially locks the program in so that you are not only free to not think about it, you may not be able to think about it. Several consequences fall out from this. One explains the difficulty of modeling an expert who is unconsciously competent- the program is automatic and outside-of-conscious awareness. Another is that in changing an undesirable habit, so you have to get to the code in the back of the mind since those thoughts are the ones most deeply influencing you.
In terms of self-persuasion, if you want to truly learn to persuade the hardest person of all to persuade ;yourself. You have to be able to climb the layers of your meaning-making to find the program. That’s what we do with the Matrix Model in Neuro-Semantics. And if you want to establish a new healthy habit as a new human program for your effectiveness in a given area, you have to be able to set the required meta-levels so that you lock them in. That’s what we do with the Meta-States Model and we are running the 3-day International recognised Self Leadership program on the 14th-16th October in Orange NSW. Contact us now to reserve your seat!
As a Professional you can know that we frame the coaching skills in terms of two seemingly contradictory values- compassion and challenge. You also know that an ideal coach, an expert coach, is a person who has developed the skill of compassionately challenging. You know that our catch word for this being able to communicate ruthless compassion. That means, believing in people and their potentials as we do, we take responsibility to awaken them, challenge them, and stay with them through thick and thin so that they do not sell themselves short.
There’s numerous articles on the skill of being able to challenge people. There’s a reason for that. There’s a reason for continually coming back to focus on this theme again and again. Why?
Because to coach is to challenge. That’s because people who are clients need to be challenged. Further, on the feedback form that we use to identify and measure your coaching skills, we have “challenge.” We also have “confrontation.” Those are two dimensions of challenge. And there are others. Here are five. Next post- what challenge is not.
1) Challenge as Testing and Questioning.
A small, and yet beginning, place for “challenging” someone is asking someone testing questions. These are closed-ended questions that requires a Yes/No answer. “Do you really want this?” “Are you sure this is truly important for you?” These kinds of questions challenge a person in the sense that they call forth a decision and a commitment. “Will you or will you not?” “Can I depend on you for this?” Actually, there are many, many questions that perform a “challenging” function. Some challenge by getting personal and intimate. Some challenge by asking a person to get real and authentic. In NLP there is a question that challenges people. We call it the relevance challenge. “Jim, I’m not clear about why you are bringing up this subject, how does it relate to the subject of this meeting?”
2) Challenge as in Stretching.
Challenge as stretching means taking on a challenge to what you are doing, experiencing, or achieving. It means stepping up to your next level of development. It means being fully engaged in whatever you are doing, becoming absorbed.
This facet of “challenge” is the very heart of coaching, in contradistinction to therapy, in that it inherently involves inviting people to step out of their comfort zone and to set goals so that they can think more, feel more, be more, say more, do more, have more, and give more. All of this stands against aiming for peace, tranquility, rest, equilibrium, etc. Those are goals that are more fitting for therapy- for healing hurts and traumas and creating a solid base for living. Those ready for coaching are more interested in disequilibrium, rocking the boat, stirring up things, and raising the bar.
When we ask questions about challenge, what are we really asking about?
Stretching, confrontation, or opposition?
I. What are some of the challenges you are experiencing right now?
II. What challenges are you having in your life about your health, finances, emotions, etc.?
What most of us know is that the best moments of life occur in those moments when we stretch our mind, our emotions, our body, our activities, etc. By pushing to our current limits and then beyond, we aim to accomplish something that is inherently difficult, something that is bold and that requires courage. Typically when we do this, we move into the flow zone that is the optimal balance between competence and challenge.
3) Challenge as Disturbing and Upsetting.
In these previous forms, “challenge” as testing, questioning, or stretching all have the potential to disturb and upset. In the sense of disturbing a person’s current status quo or state of mind or state of emotion, anything that can potentially upset or disturb is experienced as “challenging.”
These states could occur by teasing, playing, and joking. These could occur by introducing something very new or different or unexpected. Sometimes a person or a group needs to be disturbed. They are too self-satisfied, too comfortable, too much at rest, and letting both their talents and their opportunities pass by.
4) Challenge as Opposition and Obstacles.
Another way that we use the word “challenge,” is when we mean that we are going to oppose another’s idea or proposal and play devil’s advocate. “Let me challenge you on that idea, I’ll play devil’s advocate to challenge you about the premises that I think you are operating from.” Because opposition and nearly any obstacle upsets and disturbs, they operate as a challenge to one’s resourcefulness and resilience. Can you maintain your focus when a certain opposition arises or does it throw you off-course?
We can also ask about how much of a challenge is any given obstacle? After all, obstacles are challenging. When an obstacle arises, the question then is – what resource do you need in order to handle that challenge? What does that obstacle challenge in you?
5) Challenge as Confrontation.
The term “challenge” is often used in the sense of confrontation. We say, “I’m going to challenge you…” and our intention is to bring up something that is potentially unpleasant. Yet that description is what we mean by the term “confrontation.” We are going to confront (con- with; front- face) in the sense of directly bringing up to someone, present it to his or her face, what might be difficult to face. In Meta-Coaching, we distinguish challenge as stretch from confrontation and use the word “challenge” for the former.
Obviously, when you confront, you are challenging. By identifying something that needs to be addressed, you are exposing it to the person and that could very well invite the person to stretch to a new level.
We also challenge as confrontation when we bring up something that could go bad. “I want to challenge you about the fact that you have not answered by question even though I have asked it four times, are you aware of that?”
Stepping up in life
People who are ready for stepping up to their next level in life enjoy the challenge of Self Leadership, a 3 day internationally recognised program in Orange NSW. Check for our next dates. Are you ready?
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If there is a constant in the field of persuasion, it is searching for the latest persuasion technique. Having read dozens and dozens of books on persuasion in research and preparation for the book I wrote, Inside-Out Persuasion, I came upon that drive again and again. And when I have talked about persuasion in some Introductions and with people individually, persuasion techniques seemed to always come up.
“What can I do to be even more persuasive? Which technique can I use?”
“Is there the one technique that will guarantee winning someone to my point of view?”
Now without doubt, there are many. There are books that focus exclusively on techniques. These are the how to books that skip the whole question of ethics and goes right to how to persuade someone to buy your product or agree with your conclusions. Why do they skip ethics? Simple. It’s too difficult. It sounds too moralistic. There’s no immediate payoff for it, in fact, it may cost you sales.
Not only is there this hunger for fool-proof techniques that will magically get the results you want, but there also seems to be a hunger for the newest and most subtle technique, especially secret techniques. And it would be untrue for me to say that there aren’t any. There are.
Techniques for Persuasion
But that is going about healthy, authentic, and inside-out persuasion the wrong way. In fact, I believe that the most powerful “techniques” for influencing another person’s mind and heart are processes that we can hardly call a “technique” at all. And as a Meta-Coach, you already know them. You can be trained in them. What you may not know is how to use them effectively or how to recognize them as persuasion techniques. We can support you to learn them at The Coaching Centre.
First is the incredible influential technique of attentive and caring listening. If you take the time to be with someone and listen empathically to them with full presence and care, doing that will enable a person to feel really heard, validated, and valued. It will also deeply influence that person. Obviously you are earning the right to be heard. Less obviously, you are influencing what that person focuses on, where he goes in his conversation, the solutions he finds, etc. Now imagine that! Listening persuades. You can persuade by attending to someone so that the person comes to value and care about your attention. It becomes a reward, an interpersonal reward that she seeks out.
Doesn’t attentive listening influence you? How do you not warm up to the person and want to return the favor? Do you not begin to like the person more and feel safe with that person? Are you not more willing to give that person a hearing?
Then there is questioning. On the surface it seems that questioning is about obtaining information and finding out things, yet it is about so much more. By your questions, you direct a person’s attention and invite him to go off in a certain line of thought. By questioning, you raise awarenesses or resources that she may never have thought of. By asking questions, you can draw people out so that they attain a new and larger perspective about something.
To ask a question is to frame a direction for the conversation. Not only that, but by questioning you can also set frames, pull frames apart, and outframe. Pretty powerful things- questions. The Meta-Model questions is described as a “precision model” because by the questions, you enable the person to think and speak more clearly. Think about that. Isn’t that amazing? No wonder questioning is a central persuasion skill and a technique for influencing minds and hearts.
You can see this in mind-lines, that is, the questions that facilitate reframing. In the book Mind-Lines: Lines for Changing Minds, we put together a formula for 26 ways to frame and reframe something, especially complaints, objections, excuses, limiting beliefs, etc. And they are formulated mostly as questions- questions that get a person to think about things from another point of view- another frame.
This is especially true of meta-questions. How much more persuasive do you think you’d be if you regularly asked some meta-questions- those higher level questions that orient a person in a direction that they really want to go? Would you enjoy doing that? Would that enrich your sense of yourself, your identity, and your skills as a coach?
Attentive listening with care and asking carefully designed questions are actually some of the unrecognized and hidden persuaders that are all around us. We swim in this environment without even recognizing the power or influence of these processes. The bottom line is that you do not have to go off and find some esoteric secret technique for persuasion- you have some very powerful tools in your hands already. Here are two of them. There are more.
Want to become more effective with yourself and others, then attend the international recognised Accessing Personal Genius in Orange NSW.
Do you deserve to be here? Do you deserve the things you have, your opportunities, your friends, your place in life, your loved ones? Strange questions. Yet people commonly ask themselves these questions. They wonder about whether they have a right to exist, to live, to love, to act on their goals, etc. These are ontological questions- questions of being. There are more. Who am I? What is my nature? What is life about?
In terms of meaning-making, the answer to all of these questions build up the construct of your self-image and self-esteem. Now “normally,” if you had parents who graduated from Parenting 101 and got certified that they were mature enough and skilled enough to parent, then these questions were answered in a healthy and robust way in how you were parented. That is, as they loved and cared for you, as they nurtured and gratified your needs in an age-appropriate way, you built a healthy mental map about yourself:
“I am loved and valued. I count. I am important. I am respected and have the right to be here, and have the challenge to be my best self.”
You value yourself as a human being because you are a human being. There are no conditions, no “ifs, but, or whens…” You are a human being and that makes you innately significant and important. Consequently, you don’t have to prove anything. You don’t have to meet any conditions to be acceptable, loved, respected, etc. You have already met every condition that’s required- you are human. We call this “self-esteem.”
Self Leadership and External Conditioning
Yet many have some very limiting and unuseful beliefs about self-esteem.
Commonly, we talk about one’s self-esteem being high or low. But either way, that would make it conditional. And if conditional, then we have to ask- What is your self-esteem conditioned upon? Do you have to be so smart, so fast, so strong, so pretty, so rich, or what? “Esteem” speaks about estimating the value of something, rating the worth of something. And if you rate your human worth on anything external like wealth, position, status, job, etc., then it is conditional and then you ask those ontological questions- “Am I good enough yet? Do enough people like me so that I’m okay?”
Carl Rogers urged that we treat each other with unconditional positive regard. No conditions! You are important because you are human. The Jewish, Christian, and Islam faiths begin from the idea that we are all “made in the image and likeness of God.” Again, no conditions. You are born valuable. You don’t have to prove anything, reach any conditions. You are free to become your best self. You are free to express the potentials and possibilities that are clamoring inside.
Self Leadership Unconditional Value
Now for those who did not get to construct this kind of healthy self-image and self-esteem from the beginning, the next question is, “How do you esteem yourself as unconditionally valuable as a human being?” And the answer is?
The answer is that you simply assert it. You declare just as healthy parenting would declare it and then you act that way. Act with dignity, respect, and innate worth. In Neuro-Semantics we have developed a pattern for this as we access three states- acceptance, appreciation, and then awe (unconditional value). We then apply acceptance and appreciation to our doing self and then we apply awe to our being self. This meta-stating process means that we put our being self inside of the frame of “unconditional value” and feel a stat of awe about oneself.
For many, doing that is very weird and strange and uncomfortable. They are not use to thinking this way or feeling this way about themselves. That’s okay. Everything takes some getting used to. This will require repeating the process until it begins to feel familiar and comfortable. If there’s objections in the back of someone’s mind and they are asking themselves, “But is it right?” “Is it okay?” “Won’t I become selfish or self-centered?” These are to be expected. It speaks about the world that they have grown up in -one that did not respect their innate sacredness as a human being. It speaks about the limiting beliefs that their parents operated from. Again, repetition is the key. Keep doing it. Keep repeating the unconditional value assertion. Just keep asserting this new frame until it becomes your frame of mind.
Without centering yourself with the dignity assertion that establishes your unconditional self-esteem, your intention in life will always be to proof yourself. And with that as the purpose in the back of your mind, then whatever you do will have an ulterior motive. Then you will tend to use situations and people to be okay, to be a somebody. Conversely, the healthy alternative is to start from the frame that your worth is a given. Then, having nothing to prove, you are free to express every potential that is within you to express.
This is the foundation for being centered, for taking criticism positively, for treating mistakes as a context for learning, for staying open and defenseless when blackmailed or threaten in some way, and for much more.
And now you know why we start here on Day One of Self Leadership or APG (Accessing Personal Genius). Orange, Central West NSW.
Do you want to learn how to gain self leadership now, contact The Coaching Centre.
Co-authored by Dr.L.Michael Hall and Shawn Dwyer