Wednesday, December 21, 2005

NLP: Systems Level in Logical Levels


I talked about replacing "Spiritual" level with "Systems" level in the Logical Levels in last week's Strategy of Excellence Module of the NLP Practitioner Training.

Some understand it, and some don't.

This "System" stuff is not something easy to be understood. I intended to introduce this concept to the NLP Practitioner Training in 2006. So I had spent hours in discussing "Systemic" in the NLP Foundation Facilitation Program in the past few weeks. (This is a free program to all NLP Practitioner Trainees. If you missed the program this year, join us in 2006) Those who had attended the above program in the past few weeks can understand better this "Systems" Level concept.

This concept seems to be even more difficult for those who get used to linear thinking style (1-dimensional thinking). The concept of the first 5 levels in Logical Levels is quite "linear". For example, your behaviour affects your environment while your capability can affect your behaviours. But the highest level of Spirituality or Systems is not. This concept is more 2-dimensional.

What's in the first 5 levels is "something", like behaviour or a belief. But what's in the highest level of "Systems" is the "relationship" between you and something. It is not the "something" but the "relationship" that affects your Identity and the all those "something" in the lower levels.

The concept of the highest level of "Spiritual" in the original Logical Levels is our sense of something that goes beyond the image of ourselves. That means, your thought of something bigger than you. For easier understanding, it can be something more important than you. This over-simplicity can be misleading, and it misleads so many NLPers.

In the first 5 levels, the upper levels "generate" the levels below them. For example, a Belief of "Money = Freedom" can generate your Capability of "Earning Money". But how can something bigger or more important than yourself generate your perception of yourself (Identity)? For example, can "God' (someone/something bigger or more important than you) generate your Identity of a "Christian"? No. It is your perception of the "Relationship" between you and "God" (e.g. God is your Creator) generates your Identity.

Even more misleading when you think only something bigger or more important than yourself can affect/generate your Identity. You do not need to think that your spouse is more important/bigger than you in order to make you his/her wife/husband. This "Wife/Husband" Identity is based on your perceived relationship with him or her. If you consider that there is a relationship with you, the relationship then affects/generates your Identity. The relationship needs NOT to be bigger/more important than yourself; it still affects and generates your Identity. For example, if someone thinks that his wife is just like a domestic helper, the relationship with her is not "big" or "important", but he still sees himself as her "Master" (Identity).

There is nothing wrong with the original concept of "Spiritual" level as the original concept is "a larger system surrounding yourself = Spiritual". It is the name of the level (i.e. Spiritual) that misleads people. The originator, Robert Dilts is quite "New Age" so his interpretation of "Spiritual" might not match "Non New Ager's interpretation.

This misunderstanding limits the usefulness of this valuable model. Most of the NLPers can only use the model up to the first 5 levels. It is ridiculous to apply the "Spiritual" Level to business or religious organizations. Some NLPers use the term "Mission" instead of "Spiritual" in order to make it more acceptable. But this is again misleading. Mission should already be included in the "Identity" Level since your mission (or the organization's missions) make you (or the organization) who you are.

I use the term "Systems" to replace "Spiritual" because it implies that it is one's perceived relationships with something surrounding you. It can be a family system, organization system, human system or whatever systems.

Though this concept of "Systems" Level is more difficult but this concept is too important for all serious NLP Practitioners. This makes this 6th level more usable and this reflects better the original idea of Logical Levels. It is the relationship between you and something in a bigger system not something bigger that affects you.

We can be stuck in any levels in the Logical Levels. For example, when you stuck in the Capability Level, you are not aware of what capability or habit affecting you. You go a level up to the Belief/Value Level and you can "see" more clearly what's stuck in the Capability Level. For example, you have a belief of "People are Bad" so you get a Capability/Habit of suspecting everybody.

If you are stuck in the "Systems" Level, you can't see the relationships between you and other elements in the bigger system. These relationships still affect you seriously but you only see those elements being in the lowest level of Environment. That's why so many people think that it is the "Environment: controlling them, not they are controlling the Environment. If these elements are really just at the lowest level, you can easily affect them, instead of being the opposite.

But the "Systems" Level is already the highest level, how can we go even up to unstuck ourselves? It is difficult so every human being is stuck in this level in different degree. If one can see through all the relationship, one then becomes the "Buddha". This is one of the concepts of Buddhism. If you can see through more than an average person, you are a smart guy. If you can see through even more, you are a guru with wisdom.

Then how can we gain awareness in this level? I really don't know exactly or else I at least become a guru. (Apparently I am not!) My very limited idea, in NLP terms, is to go "meta" in this level. Those real gurus in many religions practice different forms of mediations or prayers. These can be extreme forms of "Meta" states.

My intention of this article is not to improve the Logical Levels. I just want to reduce some common misunderstanding about this great NLP tool. Logical Levels are too "perfect" to be improved. It is only our perception in this tool needs improvement!