Well-Formed Outcomes

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What are well-formed outcomes and how they help you overcome your fear

What is hypnotherapy and what can it help with?

What is hypnotherapy and what can it help with?

What is a well-formed outcome?

Going into a restaurant and saying to the waiter “just bring me some food” may work if you’re someone who likes trying new and different things. But if the waiter brings you something you can’t eat, looks horrible or tastes disgusting, what do you do?

You can’t blame the waiter, they did what you asked them to do. You have to give some direction to narrow down what you want.

And when it comes to overcoming fear or changing habits you need to give your neurology useful instructions. And aim it in the right direction for where you want to go.

Having a ‘Well-formed outcome’ aims your neurology in the direction you want to go in.

What is hypnotherapy and what can it help with?

But you know what I mean. So why does a well-formed outcome matter?

We understand what someone means when they say they don’t want to be scared because our conscious mind computes logic and meaning.

When you say or think “I don’t want to be scared”, conscious processing logically assumes you want to feel something other than scared, and presumably something better.

However, the unconscious mind doesn’t compute negations – not, don’t, won’t etc. And because habits are governed by the unconscious you want to make sure it understands what you want.

What is hypnotherapy and what can it help with?

The Amygdala – fight or flight.

And more specifically we’re interested in what happens in a region of the limbic system in the brain called the Amygdala, which governs the fight or flight response. The Amygdala neurologically registers and reacts to sensory information and the emotional state expressed. Because the Amygdala’s job is to protect you, the element it reacts to is “be scared”.

When you spend too much time thinking about what you don’t want, or what you hope won’t happen, your thoughts are also unconsciously processed. And without realising it you’re practising the fear response.

What is hypnotherapy and what can it help with?

What is Neurological learning?

Neurological learning is primed by behavioural or emotional responses being paired with sensory information. Neuro Scientists use the phrase “The neurons that fire together wire together” to describe the process.

For this reason, goals need to be stated in the positive or in other words, not what you don’t want to feel, but what you DO want to feel. If you’re thinking about how you don’t want to feel your neurology is probably linking the unwanted response to the situation.

Is your objective or goal:

• Stated in positive terms? What you DO want to feel.

• Initiated and maintained by you?

• Specific sensory-based description of outcome and the steps needed to get there?

• Ecological? In other words, good for you and the important people in your life.

• More than one way to get the outcome?

• Is the first step specified and achievable?

• Does it increase choice?

What is hypnotherapy and what can it help with?

The outcome you want to achieve

A Well-formed outcome is a term originating in NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) for an outcome you want to achieve, that meets certain well-formedness conditions designed to avoid (1) unintended costs or consequences and (2) resistance to achieving the goal resulting from internal conflicting feelings or thoughts about the outcome.

A well-formed outcome is more than a vague wish or goal. It’s an objective or goal which is integrated with all aspects of one’s life (morals, ethics, relationships, finances, health, body, etc.) and has a process of accomplishment that respects and supports the current desirable circumstances in one’s life.

And is compatible with generating forward-thinking behaviour, or clearly and well enough defined to be free from “muddy thinking”.

By applying the well-formed conditions to a goal or outcome, and adjusting the outcome specifications accordingly in the process, you create a Well-formed outcome.

What is hypnotherapy and what can it help with?

Aiming your unconscious in the right direction

Having a well-formed outcome helps aim your unconscious in the right direction. The effect of aiming your unconscious is demonstrated in many areas of life. When driving or walking, instinctively you look where you want to go and you unconsciously respond.

I observed another example at my son’s athletics club where they were teaching children how to throw accurately. The coach told the children to point with one hand and throw with the other.

The children who pointed at the target were much better at getting closer to it or hitting it. The children that were pointing off target were well off target.

But as the coach went around the children and got them to pay attention to where they were pointing and deliberately point at the target the children throwing became much more accurate.

What is hypnotherapy and what can it help with?

Goals and outcomes

In NLP, a general distinction is made between goals and outcomes. A goal is a fluffy term and is often lacking in the precision and cognitive clarity needed to be acted upon. For example:

• I want to be loved – Loved by whom? How much? How will you recognise that you’re loved?

• I want to be happy – Happiness isn’t a thing it’s an activity. And it’s not clear what the speaker means by the term in their own world, nor what kind of happiness, nor how they expect it to be maintained.

• I don’t want that! – NLP states that the brain cognitively processes in terms of positives not negatives and that cognitively this “goal” is akin to asking for a plane ticket to “not here”. It’s unclear what is wanted instead.

• I don’t want them to do that – not only tends to block thinking what is wanted instead, and maybe vague as to exactly whom and what the subjects are, and what it is that they are perceived as “doing” that’s objectionable.

An imprecise wish is seen as problematic for several reasons:

• Its vagueness may mean it is unattainable in practice (for example people who want to be “rich” or “successful”)

• Its expression in the negative may focus the mind away from generating positive steps to get around it

• One might not know when one actually has it (for example people who want “security” or “to be safe”)

An outcome may be small scale (the purpose of asking a specific question or phrasing) or large scale (the meaning of one’s life). There are some basic conditions that indicate if the outcome is well-formed. If not well-formed it needs further clarification and precision for it to be useful.

What is hypnotherapy and what can it help with?

Well-formedness conditions

A well-formed outcome is one that meets the following basic conditions:

• Be stated in the positive (that is, what you want, rather than what you don’t want).

• Be capable of representation in the sensory systems (tangible rather than theoretical or conceptual: able in principle to be evidenced through the senses when attained. Thus, seen, heard or felt)

• Be possible and achievable.

• You need to have access to all the resources (people, psychophysiological states, time, capital, equipment, or material) required or accessible.

• Have a realistic time frame.

• Be ecological in having consideration for costs and consequences for oneself and others affected.

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