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Thread: Self-deception, self-delusion, self-denial

  1. #1
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    Default Self-deception, self-delusion, self-denial

    I recently received a question from a group who had downloaded an NLP Conference presentation given by Penny and myself on self-deception, self-delusion, self-denial (download available from

    The group had tried the exercise and found that the last part didn't make sense to them (see exercise in part 1 Self-deception, self-delusion, self-denial also see part 2 Learning how to act from what you know to be true).

    They asked:
    Just a query about the last question in the ddd handout.....

    Four of us got together to listen and explore the exercise. We witnessed two sessions and found that we were all a bit baffled by the last question....
    "How can you learn from whether (gesture to D - desired outcome) happens - or not?".
    The first person who got asked was left blank by this and the second person dropped to a space where neither options seemed particularly relevent - but without discovery of how they learn as such.

    We discussed it a bit and had a sense of two possibilities of the intention in the question. One going to a meta level of understanding and the other pointing toward responsibility. But we didn't arrive at a satisfactory sense of understanding with it or comfort with the wording.

    So, just thought I'd write and ask if you could you throw light on it for us?
    I replied:
    Great to hear that your tried the Self DDD activity. I admire anyone who is prepared to consider their own self-DDD. I hope the download and the exercise had some valuable effect even if the last question didn't make much sense.

    The two key things to realise is (a) self-DDD is by its very nature a slippery subject to get hold of; and (b) by the time you get to this question you should be several levels up the self-reflection chain. This is a meta-meta-meta-level question and it only makes sense in that rarified atmosphere.

    The question acknowledges the fact that in the world of self-DDD you can never be sure that a self-DDD pattern isn't still operating in the background (or will not start operating at some later date). The only reliable way to check is to regularly consult "undeniable evidence" of actual outcomes that manifest in the physical world (and in that I most definitely include sensory-based experiences of interactions with other human beings).

    To make sure that the desired outcome we have set for ourselves and our ability to monitor how we are achieving that outcome (or not) are not themselves subject to self-DDD we need a frame that says: I will learn from whatever happens whether I achieve my desired outcome or not. That way our actual behaviour and the effect it has on the world, ourselves and other people can become a revealer of hidden self-DDD patterns or a confirmation of our progress. This requires us to, as Jim Collins says, "confront the brutal facts" which as you say requires us to take responsibility for our behaviour (regardless of the thousands of justifying explanations that come from asking 'why?').

    I assume you have looked at our two articles on the subject. In part 2 we list '21 ways' to counter the effects of self-DDD and live our lives from what we know to be true. You'll see that the examples at Level 4 (#17-#20) are of a different class to those that come before. This reflects the qualitative difference of operating from this level.

    You ask about our intention for this question, and that's a nice modelling question. Our purpose is to close any loopholes that might let you off the hook of your own "fearless moral inventory" (as they say in the 12 step program of AA). Whether you set the 'right' desired outcome or not, whether you achieve your outcome or not, whether it is easy or difficult, whether there appears to be an endless supply of hidden self-DDD patterns or not, whether things go well or not, whether you are hit by your worst-ever crisis or not, nothing, absolutely nothing, as we say in #20 is a reason to refrain from applying the process to whatever happens.

    If that stance is maintained then, slowly, slowly, the excess baggage of self-DDD processes can be jettisoned to be replaced by a bedrock of knowing that you are genuinely continuing to learn to act from you you know to be true.

    My very best wishes,


  2. #2
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    Default Improved Self-DDD exercise

    Following my comments to the group trying out the Clean Space/Self-DDD exercise, they came back with:
    Thank you so much for your very full and helpful reply. What you say makes total sense and with this rounded out understanding, I found that the question could effectively land in me.

    I still had a stirring to make a small amendment to the last instruction - adding "in the future" so that it would read "Move to a space that knows how you can learn from all this in the future" - just to make the direction more explicit and to open up the space of future possibility. Anyway, we were divided on the merits of that ....

    I'm sorry for not writing to thank you sooner. I wanted to give all my buddies a chance to make any comments but other than the above, it's just to say that we were impressed and appreciative of the detail that you went into.
    To which I replied:
    Thanks for thinking about this so deeply and getting back to me. I take your point about adding "in the future". It would make the direction more obvious. I talked it over with Penny and we revised the exercise (updated on our webs site) and in particular step 6:
    6. Find another space [E] that knows how (in the future) you can continue to learn from whatever happens.

    [At E:]
    * How can you learn about your ability to self-deceive, self-delude and self-deny whether [gesture to D] happens — or not?
    OPTIONAL: Facilitate client (with a few Clean Language questions) to self-model how they can learn from whatever happens.
    So thank you for your feedback.

    Also, your question prompted me to to take another look at the 'Learning to act from what you know to be true' notes. I have added a few bits and re-arranged the order. It's not a proper re-write just a few improvements in the time I had available. However, as a result, Penny and I have renewed our commitment to complete this work and I wanted to thank you for unwittingly prompting that

    Best wishes , James
    Last edited by JamesLawley; 19 June 2009 at 04:10 PM. Reason: Improve introduction

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