From: Lee Lady
Subject: The NLP Forgiveness Pattern
Summary: A technique to enable a subject to forgive.
Date: Mon, 3 Jan 1994 20:26:45 GMT
Someone asked me to send him the NLP forgiveness pattern. Normally I am
not willing to do this sort of thing because it requires a substantial
chunk of my time. But due to special circumstances, in this case I made
the effort to type it all out. Having done so, I may as well share it
It will perhaps give a better idea about how NLP uses the concept of
submodalities than the more abstract articles I have previously posted.
Is there someone that you would like to forgive for something he once did
to you but somehow you find yourself unable to forgive him?
The Forgiveness Pattern
(c) 1991 Connirae & Steve Andreas
This new pattern was developed by Steve & Connirae
Andreas and participants in the 6 day Andreas Intensive, March 1990. It
is useful for for someone who is angry or resentful (blaming), particularly
if it is long-standing and the person who harmed the subject is out of his
life, or dead, etc.
General Frames. The goal of this pattern is to bring peace and
resolution to the person feeling anger or resentment. Forgiving others
(or yourself) does not mean condoning the behavior that harmed you, or
giving up the values that were violated. An important part of the
pattern is to reaffirm your own values and criteria and use them to
choose ways of coping resourcefully. The resolution and integration that
forgiveness brings will make it easier to take effective action to uphold
your values and standards in the future.
1. Resentment/Anger. Have the subject identify the person and the
incident he is still angry at or resentful toward and with whom he
would like to reach a feeling of forgiveness and resolution. Have him
take a moment to notice how he think of this person and incident now.
(Calibrate to subject's nonverbal responses.)
2. Forgiveness. Have the subject identify an experience of forgiveness
in his past. There are two major choices for this resource
a) ``You once resented someone, but when you think of that person now
it is with a feeling of forgiveness and compassion.''
b) ``Someone harmed you and you forgave them right away because you
recognized that they harmed you accidentally, or that they were doing
the best they could, etc. For instance, a small child hurt you and you
instantly recognized that he couldn't possibly understand the
consequences of what he did.'' (Calibrate to client's nonverbal
3. Contrastive Analysis. Compare the experiences in steps 1 and 2 above
to determine the submodality differences between the two.
4. Test Submodality Differences. One at a time, change the submodality
differences of the resentment/ager experience to make it like
forgiveness. Notice which submodalities are the most powerful ``drivers''
in changing resentment/anger to forgiveness.
5. Ecology Check. ``Does any part of you have any objection to reaching
forgiveness with this person?'' The most common objections are of three
a) Forgiveness would mean condoning the harmful behavior and violating
the subject's values and standards. You can either assure that this
pattern will take care of this objection later or jump ahead to do steps
9 -- 11 before proceeding.
b) Forgiveness would mean something about the subject,
that he's a wimp, etc. Reframe.
c) Forgiveness would eliminate a positive function, usually protection
from a repeat occurence. Separate positive function from forgiveness
and provide specific ways to accomplish this function.
6. Step into Second Position (``Other'' Position).
Have the subject
first observe himself and the person who ``harmed'' him from the outside
(third position) briefly. Then have him step into the other person,
noticing what he learns that is new. ``What additional information do
you get about how this person sees, hears, feels things?'' (This will
be much eaier and more effective after aligning perceptual positions,
if you know that technique.) ``Do you realize that this person (and
yourself) was doing the best he could in this situation, given his
background, limited knowledge or motivation, etc.?'' Take time to be
sure this presupposition is in place. Satisfy all objections --- at
least conditionally --- before proceding to step 7.
7. Transform Resentment/Anger into ForgivenesS
Transform anger into forgiveness by ``mapping across'' all
submodalities, starting with the more powerful ``driver'' submodalities you
identified in step 4. As you do this, be sensitive to any objections or
reluctance and deal with them before proceeding.
8. Test. ``Think of the person you used to feel resentment/anger toward.
How do you feel about him now?'' Calibrate to the nonverbal responses,
comparing with what you observed previously at steps 1 and 2. Usually
the incident of harm will now be in the past
while the person will
often be in the future in a more positive way.
9. Identify Important Values.
``This person that you just forgave did
something that you didn't like, which means they violated your
values/criteria. Pause now to identify those values and confirm that
they are still important to you.''
(If you have any hint that part of the subject's problem lies in
inappropriate or perfectionist standards, pause here to evaluate and
possibly revise standards, as in the guilt and shame patterns.)
10. Plan Specific Responses.
``Given that these values are important to
you, what can you do that will uphold these standards in the future?
Effective action might include preparing yourself for future situations,
educating the person who harmed you, or protecting others who might be
harmed in the future, etc. Decide what you are committed to doing in the
future to uphold your values.''
11. Future-Pace Responses. Have the subject rehearse what he has
decided to do in future situations so that it will occur naturally and
spontaneously in appropriate future contexts.
12. Final Ecology Check. ``Is what we have done satisfactory to all
parts of you? Are there any objections, or are there any details still
unfinished for you?''
13. Timeline Generalization. If the subject has had many experiences of
resentment/anger, it can be very useful have him to take the experience of
knowing how to forgive, float up over his timeline, then drop down
onto the timeline before these other experiences of resentment and
anger occurred. Have him move forward through time to the present,
as his unconscious transforms these experiences. This ``re-sorting''
process can have a dramatic impact on a multitude of past experiences and
also install forgiveness as a ``through time'' ability that becomes part of
the subject's sense of themselves in the present and future.