Context–The Part We Often Neglect

Alfred Korzybski is credited with the idea that every experience has four component parts: content, structure, process and context. A large part of NLP work focuses on structure and process (“nothing in content worth knowing”).

Reframing often has to do with manipulating context, but otherwise we rarely focus on it. I think it deserves more attention. A recent trivial event in my house illustrates the power context has for enhancing or changing meaning.

It is the dog days of summer in the US, and that means one thing: Broadcast TV is at its lowest point of the year. Mostly dismal reality shows (may be why we take so damned many anti-depressant drugs).

In our house, this is the time to catch up on some TV series that we do not have access to or that we have skipped. Get the DVD collection from the local library, start at the beginning, etc.

Last summer we picked Weeds, which is on Showtime, a channel that we do not have. Fantastic show.

This year, we picked Entourage. We do have HBO, but just never got hooked into the series.  I remember watching one or two episodes, but they were late in the first season. The show did not strike me as funny or interesting. So, not followed.

But with the DVD set, we started with the first episode. Ho, hum, but maybe worth watching one or two more episodes. By the third, we were hooked. Great writing. Interesting, fun likable characters.

Near the end of  Season One, we got to the episodes I had watched a few years ago and dismissed. In the context of knowing more about the characters, the show was hilarious. The difference in my experience was like night and day.

And so it is with all events–particularly painful memories.  Even more so, painful memories that influence the formation of limiting beliefs. What was the context for the person when they were formed? Can you switch the context or invent possible alternatives?

Play the memory again in that different context. What does that do to the belief?

Try it. You might find you like it.


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