doing things we don't want

We Get What We Want

secondary gain“Out there things can happen, and frequently do…”
Dr. Seuss

I’m not one of those who believes we cause outside events to happen with our magical thought waves. If  a meteor falls out of the sky and lands on our heads, we didn’t bring that on ourselves with an errant thought or the law of attraction. Things happen.

The other side of the coin is that we may be responsible for far more than we think. And that brings me to an often misunderstood presupposition of NLP, “The outcome is the true intention.” The NLP presuppositions are a set of beliefs/attitudes/constructs that various folks in NLP-land have found useful to take on.

“The outcome is the true intention” means that we behave (on some level) how we want to behave. What we do is what we mean to do.

Doing Things We Don’t ‘Want’ To

Do you fall in love with people who are unattainable, distant or who are otherwise not suitable for a good relationship? Well, what if part of you really wants to love someone and part of you is afraid of intimacy? What’s the solution? Fall in love with someone who is unattainable, distant or not suitable. That way you get to love but you know it will end and you can avoid the intimacy. That outcome was your intention all along.

Do you get confused, distracted and forgetful when a specific subject comes up? That’s what part of you wants. Do you get angry, get offended by internet comments, treat someone less well that you say you’d like? Do you fall for someone who mistreats you and then you feel righteous indignation? Well, your actions are getting you (or at least part of you), what you want.

We Have Different Motivations At Different Levels

Our conscious and unconscious minds have different motivations and different priorities. In general, the unconscious moves us away from pain and toward pleasure. Our unconscious perceptions about what is painful and what is pleasurable can drive a lot of our behavior.

For instance, if we think about how great it will be to have money when we’re retired, we might be more effective at putting money away. If we think that saving money now, is limiting us from fun in the present, we might not do such a good job. And what if there’s an unconscious belief that we may not live long? That wouldn’t be a good motivation to save!

So, if we don’t save money for retirement, when we say we’re going to, that’s because the outcome (not saving), is the true intention (part of us doesn’t want to save, or doesn’t believe in saving, or thinks it won’t be fun).

A better way of wording it might be… “Our behavior is the result of the dominant motivation at the time of the behavior.” But that’s not as snappy as, “The outcome is the true intention.”

We Wouldn’t Necessarily Consciously Choose These Actions

So, we sometimes do things against our logical, well thought out, smart, conscious intentions. Although we control our behavior, and choose our actions, we don’t always do it at the conscious level.

And that’s why, in a lot of cases, it seems like behavior is caused by an outside force. “He makes me mad.” “I can’t help it, the feeling just comes over me!” “I seem to attract the wrong kind of person.” “I tend to go for the ‘bad boys’.” All those statements put our own actions outside of our control. And with that kind of thinking, we are at the mercy of circumstances.

That kind of behavior is typically the result of unconscious patterns which make our behavior seem outside of our control.

What’s The Solution?

The solution is to get the conscious and unconscious minds aligned. If your uncle said to you, when you were 5, “People in this family don’t live very long”, and you took that on as a belief: that event can be found and reprocessed. You can shift that belief, so that your behavior in the present shifts and aligns with your conscious goals to save money.

Another way to look at it is the concept of secondary gain. Secondary gain is what people get out of the way things are. When therapists don’t solve secondary gain issues, they’re pitting themselves against an unconscious motivation. In other words, if a person smokes to relax, and you give them hypnotic suggestions to stop smoking, there may be a war inside. Whenever they go a break at work, and need a little down time, their unconscious mind may say, “I know how you can relax — have a smoke!”

While, the mind may figure out how to relax otherwise (be eating for example), it’s better and more reliable to go after that secondary gain directly. You suggest that some alternative (taking a deep breath, drinking a glass of water, thinking of an extremely relaxing memory) happens automatically at the times when they used to smoke for relaxation.


About The Author:

Keith Livingston is the main instructor for Hypnosis 101. Keith has been studying hypnosis since he was a boy and doing hypnosis & NLP training since 1997.

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