Saturday, January 14, 2012

Self Modification (Part 3)

The last post ended with:

Or better yet, ask your gut why it thinks what it does, and what sort of changes would be necessary to change its mind.

This is hitting on something huge.

There's an important distinction between acknowledging the information coming from part of you and watching the problem go away automatically as you take it into account, and other cases where you're learning how to silence or deceive that part and then just bark ill conceived orders at it. It should be obvious why one is better than the other in general.

Some want to split their preferences into "unconscious" wants and "conscious" preferences and then pick a side. Just as you shouldn't try to ignore information from different parts, you shouldn't try to ignore (or override) the preferences either. War is bad. I shudder even thinking about what kind of self defeating mayhem might come about someone with powerful tools deciding to go to war with themselves, and I suspect that would turn out bad even you 'win'.

In practice I think the war is lost before it begins when the fat NLPer rationalizes that he likes being fat. The fight never gets started because....well, he's smart enough to anticipate what'll happen if his techniques work, and he doesn't really want to give up food (which is why he didn't just do it in the first place). The magic isn't all in the specific spell that makes things change - you need the deep introspection and wisdom about which specific changes to make. The real magic is in digging into the problem until there's one obvious answer that feels right on every level.

It looks like a lot of peoples problems (both inter and intrapersonal problems) can be described as a war where both sides are entrenched. Neither side is winning, negotiations are not happening, and utility is being burned in the mean time.

A lot of people have figured this out, and they each have their slightly different approaches to dealing with it. The NLP guys use their "six step reframe". Parts therapy is a huge part of what (effective/non bullshit) hypnotherapy is.  Dylan Morgan, John Cleesattel and others use the company metaphor. Anthony Jacquin uses ideomotor responses to "talk to the subconscious", but it's not entirely clear how this carves the partsRoy Hunter uses deep trance, while John Cleesattel prefers light trance. Each of these have their advantages. Deep trance limits the kinds of self defeating objections that come up, so it's great for people that are so far out of whack as to not be able to fix themselves while running. Light trance allows more objections (which is a good thing for more functional people) and is more in the control of the person changing. This basic approach isn't limited to the hypnosis community. Joe Fobes uses provocation to prod his hard to hypnotize clients into coherence. John Holt takes it even further and shows us what it should look like when you're good enough that you don't need to make a ritual out of it. The Internal Family Systems people do the same type of thing. I'm sure there's a bunch more that I'm missing, but it's all the same idea.

So while you can still screw up, I think its generally safer to introspect and find out why you're responding certain ways, and then letting it 'automatically' work out to something better once you understand it. Safer than trying to "avoid self modifying", and safer than trying to pull tricks on oneself. I'd exercise significantly more caution when playing with tricks that can flat out override other 'parts' - the kind of hacks that you'd never expect people to just figure out without studying mind hacking - and flat out avoid the hacks that utilize self deception.

Done right, self modification shouldn't look like strange dark arts, but rather the process of asking yourself what you really want until you start to become more coherent.

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