meta states diagram

What is The Meta-States Model?

The Meta-States Model of Neuro-Semantics which was developed by L. Michael Hall in 1994 for accessing and refining the thoughts in the back of our mind was acknowledged by INLPTA in 1995 as “the most significant contribution to NLP”.

Primary States

Before the creation of the Meta-States model, the majority of NLP focused on our responses to the events and objects in the external world (now recognized as ‘primary states’ or ‘neuro-linguistic states’).

I spoke more in depth about this process in the previous article on the NLP communication model.

neuro-semantic nlp primary states diagram

Meta-States: Transcending Primary States

We don’t always respond to the world and just move on with our lives… sometimes we take a moment to think about our thoughts.  In fact, throughout our lives and and as we grow up this happens quite a lot. Sometimes we have events that we spin around and around in our heads over and over again for years! And many times we even we step back and reflect on our spinning. And even our thoughts about those thoughts.  To the untrained mind the process can get quite entangled and occurs mostly outside of consciousness.

It is for this type of thinking that the meta-states model works its magic.

Meta-States (neuro-semantic states) refer to the thoughts-and-feelings that we have about our previous thoughts-and-feelings.

For example, if you are angry in response to something that happened in the environment i.e. someone cuts you off in traffic – that is a primary state (NLP).

If you are frustrated with yourself for being angry – that is a meta-state (NS). 

meta states diagram

Meta-States are much more commanding over our lives because they govern all of the representations below them down to our primary state.  

Being frustrated about your anger is a completely different experience than being compassionate with yourself about your anger!

And almost every experience has hidden meta-states governing why you think, feel, and respond the way that you do.

Taking NLP to the Next Level

Meta-states are a function of our ability to reflect upon ourselves and our experiences, as opposed to the environment.  We apply one state to another, and so layer state upon state.  We can always think again.

The meta-states model provides us with the tools to model our thoughts about our thoughts adding an entire new dimension to NLP!

Meta-State Applications

As a person interested in personal growth, the meta-states model allows you to separate out your thoughts level by level so that you can access and alter the true leverage points for change. The meta-states model of Neuro-Semantics also allows you to align your personal outcomes with your highest values, intentions, and needs so that you can be more congruent in your self-work and efficiently make changes that stick.

As a coach, this model gives you the ability to use meta-questions to find (and install) these meta-state structures in yourself and your clients. Meta-states allows you to discover the true leverage points for change, and to invite a client to become aware of these structures for checking their quality and evaluating them.  

In a business context, the meta-states model adds another dimension to your ability to build deeper rapport, higher levels of understanding and more authentic methods of influence.


Want to Learn More Neuro-Semantic NLP?

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