I’ve recently returned from London , where I was doing advanced training in Symbolic Modeling and attending the Clean Conference 2009, a gathering of people from around the world sharing their work with and thoughts about Clean Language. Surprisingly, one of my lessons came not from my classes nor the Conference, but from walking around London.
Being American and used to driving on the right, it was a challenge to manage there, where they drive on the left. Forget trying to drive a car; just crossing the street was difficult! My crowning moment was when fellow trainee Dena Robbins-Deckel (who is from Israel, where they also drive on the right) and I approached a crosswalk. There on the street, painted in large letters, was LOOK LEFT. I stopped, mindfully telling myself, “Okay now. I have to do the opposite of what I instinctively do.” Dena was pausing, staring, concentrating, no doubt going through a similar mental process. So what do we do? We both looked right. And then, at the same moment, we said, “Which way is left?” Our brains were positively scrambled by the effort to change!
Besides giving us a good laugh at ourselves, the incident provided a wonderful demonstration of just how difficult it is to overcome patterns of behavior that repetition has firmly established in our brains, despite cognitive awareness and the intention to do something differently. If you’ve ever found yourself wanting to change your behavior, fully intending to, but finding you just can’t seem to, you know what I mean. And insight into why it might be hard or where your behavior came from in the first place doesn’t help much either.
Something has to change in both mind and body, where old patterns are deeply entrenched. I’ve found Symbolic Modeling is one effective way of doing that, using the language of the subconscious: metaphor. Where most verbal coaching and counseling techniques engage your cognitive faculties, the slightly altered state feel of a Symbolic Modeling session is taping into a different kind of knowing and processing. It bypasses your ‘logical’ knowing and self-limiting beliefs to enable your brain to “do something differently”, bringing about change (if that’s what you want) on an internal level that transcends cognitive awareness and those well-established patterns. Want to learn more about this technique? Check out my website www.miningyourmetaphors.com
As for crossing the streets in London, I gave up trying to retrain myself entirely, and just looked both ways wherever I was!