Embedded Commands

The sub-conscious mind processes information on many different levels. Where the conscious mind seems to prefer that communications have one distinct meaning, the sub-conscious is not as picky. The sub-conscious is therefore likely to respond to sub-messages and side-messages to the main message being delivered. It is likely to take things literal that weren't intended to be literal, and vice versa.

For the most part, that just makes the sub-conscious an interesting boiling pot of wacky associations. But one thing that is of particular interest for processing purposes is the handling of embedded commands.

Under certain conditions, a person will respond to sub-sections of spoken sentences as commands, and will execute them without realizing it consciously. For one thing, that often happens with the contents of traumatic incidents where the person was overwhelmed and unconscious. Everything got read in as unconscious material and it might all be taken literally and executed as commands. In the case of the traumatic incident, it is because the person is overwhelmed and doesn't have any choice in the matter.

But also when the person is fully conscious and not under any stress will certain parts of the communications go to the sub-conscious and be processed literally without conscious choice. The average human being can only consciously keep track of 7+/-2 pieces of information at the same time. Anything beyond that goes to the sub-conscious.

A process facilitator needs to be aware of this. It is knowledge you can use to help the client with, or at the very least you must be aware of not using it in negative ways.

If I say to somebody:

"I don't think that you are going to die"

I might do so to be encouraging. The person might consciously think so too. However, that sentence contains the embedded command:

" .. you are going to die!"

My intonation when I say it has something to say on how effectively that communication goes in. Also how much we are in rapport with each other. If we are in good rapport, and I put emphasis on the last part of the sentence, well, then I am basically commanding her to go and die. That is of course not a useful thing to do.

You notice of course that this is something a great many parents do a lot. Going around telling their kids that they are going to die, they will fall down, they will get hurt, and so forth. They do it to be helpful, but in reality they are programming their kids to be sick, accident prone, and generally to be effect.

The sub-conscious doesn't care much about negations. If you say "Do NOT fall down and kill yourself!", it really doesn't mean anything different to the sub-conscious than "DO fall down and kill yourself!". Either way, one needs to create a picture of falling down and killing oneself in order to understand what it means. A picture in the mind will attract oneself to that situation, the more so the more emotional intensity one attaches to it. "NOT" is just an abstract idea that the conscious mind thinks makes sense.

Interestingly, these principles of embedded commands can also be used positively. What if I said something like:

"Some people believe that you can feel great quickly"

Consciously the person will think that I am just talking in third person, and that the "you" just refers to people in general. Her sub-conscious will however also pick up the command:

" .. you can feel great quickly"

and particularly if I mark it out when I say it, and we are otherwise in good rapport, it will sink in without any resistance.

The thing is that people are much more likely to sabotage themselves with their conscious minds than with the sub-conscious. If I just told the person directly:

"You will feel great quickly!"

then she would evaluate it consciously, probably decide that there is no rational basis for that statement, and I have no right to say so, and she would reject it.

Remember that it is the person's own considerations that are shaping her reality. If she really believes that she will fell great quickly, well, she will then. If she believes that she can't feel good, well, then she can't.

The thing is that 99% of her considerations are outside her conscious awareness. The sub-conscious is much more a storehouse of what the person REALLY believes. She might consciously say "Of course I want to get well", but sub-consciously she knows that she can't get well yet, because some criterion hasn't been met. So, we always need to involve the sub-conscious in the clearing we do.

A general rule in clearing is that, if the person already knows a reason for something, and the situation is still there, then that isn't it. If she knew what it was, she could just change it, of course. Since she doesn't it is because the answer is hidden in the portion of her mind that she is NOT aware of.

There are several ways of working with the sub-conscious. Typically what we do in clearing is that we take something that is out of awareness and we bring it into the person's awareness. Then she can change it to what she wants it to be. Bringing the matter into consciousness can ensure that the person will maintain the result by herself.

The other way of working is to deal directly with the sub-conscious and not even involve the conscious mind. That can be appropriate where the conscious would not be cooperative if it knew what was going on. The techniques for doing that are somewhat beyond the scope of this manual, but it can be useful to know a few things.

The process facilitator has quite a responsibility when she is in the position of being able to feed stuff into people's subconscious without them noticing. You will always be feeding something to them, no matter how hard you try not to. The thing to do is therefore to be aware of HOW you are influencing the client, and only do it in useful and ethical ways.

Embedded commands of generally positive objectives, or specific session instructions, can be both safe and useful to use. The generally positive commands could be stuff like:

"I wonder how quickly "
"Some people say that "
"I know a technique where you can "
"To is an interesting idea"
"The problem is whether or not one can "

Specific session instructions could be:

"Now you have the opportunity to .."
"Tell me if you can "
"Is there a way you can ?"
"What would happen if ?"
"Look at your future and tell me how ?

You need to be aware of what you are trying to accomplish at the moment, and to what depth you are clearing the issue. A misplaced embedded positive suggestion can act as a band aid that just glazes over the issue we are trying to uncover.

In the beginning of the session the reality we would like to establish is that the client can come up with something really meaningful to handle, and that we will get the most core material on the matter that we can. Embedded suggestions to the effect that she can do that are useful at that time. Suggestions about that she is doing great and there is nothing wrong would not be useful. When we have found and handled some major stuff, then we would like to establish the reality that it stays handled and that it will cause positive changes in the client's future. Any embedded suggestions to that effect will be useful at that time.

Note that "command" and "suggestion" adds up to about the same in a session. You can never really tell the client what to do and be sure that she does it. Besides, even though you are in control of the session, she is in her full right to reject anything you suggest that she should do. Processing is not done at effect, it is done at cause. You might present ideas, suggestions, questions, principles, directions, or whatever to her. If she buys them, and they are useful to her -- good. If she doesn't buy them you need to try something else.

To be a responsible communicator you need to be aware of how your communications affect people, and you need to adjust your actions to accomplish what it is most ethical and desirable to accomplish in the situation. Respect the integrity of each person you deal with.

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