NLP Techniques: Disidentification

Submitted by Craig on Tue, 04/25/2017 - 01:56

The Idea:

Many times circumstances and emotions rule our lives precisely because we think that we are our circumstances and emotions. Outside of NLP, disidentification is a central theme to many spiritual and self-help movements. Eckhart Tolle points to identification with our problems as the source of all human suffering, and he may be right.

We are not our circumstances, nor are we our emotions. We are more than that. We are not our bodies, we are more than that too. The gist of this pattern is to reframe one's thinking, so that we come to know experientially that we have a body, but we are not our body. We have circumstances, but we are not those circumstances. We have problems, but we are not our problems. We have emotions, but we are not our emotions. We have thoughts and experiences, but we are not those thoughts or experiences. At the core, we are the consciousness having all of these things, and while these things can change, our core remains safely untouched.

Separating our core identity from these aspects of experience is powerful. It is the beginning of wisdom and the start of a new life for someone who is completely identified with his or her illness, relationship, job, wealth, or story. It is also very scary when identification with these things is very strong. It can feel like part of their identity is being severed at first, and then the realization comes that what was severed was not their identity at all, but only a figment, or a hallucination. This being said, realize that this pattern will be met with resistance by most Westerners, and Americans in particular. The Western mentality holds a deep fear of separating one's identity from one's thoughts and feelings. At worst, it seems like a kind of death, and at the very least a challenge to separate one's identity from their thoughts, feelings, beliefs and story will make no sense at first.

The Pattern:


1. Test willingness to accept higher core identity

  • Do you accept the notion that you are more than your circumstances, health, wealth and relationships?
  • Do you accept the notion that you are more than your thoughts and feelings?
  • Do you accept the notion that you are more than your roles and duties?
  • Do you accept the notion that you are more than your body?
  • Are you willing to explore these ideas further to get in touch with that higher self?

Note: If they are not willing to go further, stop here. You may ask them to say more about their unwillingness, but do not continue with this pattern until they are ready to play.

2. Use linguistic patterns to start to dis-identify

  • How does it feel to you to say "I have a body, but I am not my body"?
  • How does it feel to you to say "I have a job, but I am not my job"?
  • How does it feel to you to say "I have money, but I am not my money"?
  • How does it feel to you to say "I have a religion, but I am not my religion"?
  • How does it feel to you to say "I have a _______, but I am not my _______"?
  • How could you express this in a way that seems better or more true to you?

3. Induce relaxation to strengthen the dis-identification

  • As you relax into a comfortable and safe state of mind, invite a higher self capable of thinking transcendentally about who you are to become activated.
  • Allow that higher self to step back, and safely and objectively evaluate the differences between your essential core, and other aspects of yourself that are separate from that essential core.

4. While in trance, separate self from circumstances and functions

  • As you fully come to realize those aspects of your former self as being only an extension, a function or a tool of your core self, notice how safe and valuable your core self can remain with or without them.
  • Notice how those extensions are not the same as who you are at the core.
  • Notice how from the higher self you can call upon those extensions, functions or tools as required.

5. Ask the brain to create a higher self

  • Have you gotten in touch with the you that is above and beyond your things, your thoughts, emotions and feelings? Some people call this the watcher, the listener, the observer or the master of what goes on in the body-mind.
  • Ask your brain to create a space for that higher self to be. Have you got it? Good.

6. Strengthen the higher self as a permanent and ongoing entity

  • Would you be willing to allow your higher self to freely observe your thoughts, feelings and attachments into the future?
  • As you contemplate this new kind of mindfulness into the future, are there any parts of it that make you uncomfortable?
  • Take some time to be with the higher mind as you go into the future. Let that integrate into your work life, home life, relationships, etc.

When to Use This Pattern:

Use this pattern with yourself, a loved one or a client whose emotional overreactions to stress, loss or feelings of doom are overwhelming. They may feel like they are dying in the face of changing circumstances, health, wealth or relationships. Using this pattern can help them to explore and come to know for themselves that bad things can happen to them, but their core self will remain safe and secure. This pattern is particularly useful in cases where fanatic behavior is driven by identification with some cause.

Warning: Only do this pattern with their consent! It is not OK to delve into matters of identity against their will. If you try to do so, you will be met with overt or covert resistance, as the ego is fighting for its very existence.


Michael Hall, and others.