Away and towards motivation metaprograms is something taught in the NLP Master Practitioner program in most schools.
One of my NLP Master Practitioner graduates asked me the following question:
If someone is away-motivated, I understand that it is advantageous to know this when it comes to influencing and motivating toward a more positive outcome; is there a context in which, or is it better for people to work on shifting from being away-motivated to being toward-motivated?
It is always important to remember where metaprograms come from. They are based on Noam Chomsky’smodel of using filters of deletion, distortion, generalization in the way we experience and are influenced by the world around us. Metaprograms are patterns in those deletions, distortions and generalizations. Metaprograms give a what I like to call a “preference” based pattern. Meaning it is how prefer to sort a lot of the time, not ALL of the time. In a sense we are all both away as well as toward motivated (even people we may call just away motivated in determining their metaprogram, and not sort for both.) And indeed, metaprograms can be contextual. People may be highly toward motivated when they talk about the future of their children, or a job they would one day would love to have. Even though they are really away motivated where it comes to other subjects, like quitting smoking or leaving a long term relationship.In my experience, once you accurately determined someone’s motivation metaprogram, this seems to be applicable in most contexts for them. This doesn’t mean, that I strictly coach them as toward or just away motivated. The danger indeed is with the away motivation, is that you help your client constantly creating scary images/sounds/feelings with everything they DO NOT want. You risk coaching someone on their problems, instead of their solutions too.
I ask this in relation to the whole “energy flows where attention goes”, mantra. In other words, if someone is focused on what they don’t want to happen and the unconscious mind cannot process a negative, wouldn’t it be the goal to help the client shift to being more toward-motivated?
Yes, correct! I am a firm believer myself in “energy flows where attention goes”, especially paired with action, responsibility, lots of hard work, and setting well formed outcomes it can lead to beautiful things. The unconscious mind can indeed not process negation, and energy could flow in the wrong direction. And again, you could launch a clients focus on the “problem” state. I think common sense is the answer here. If someone is away motivated, you use this knowledge to motivate them towards change. But use it as much as this is required to obtain commitment and a good result. This means, you would spend some time on it, but then move the client to resourceful states. A place where the client can start thinking in terms of solutions, to go from unresource to resourceful, to set goals, to future pace in to a better future etc.Much like all of NLP, I think it is a tango! As a Practitioner, you use NLP as a carefully balanced dance with your client. And you heard me say a lot in class “do what works! Results are what matters. Cook with NLP!”
And turning people from away motivated to toward motivated is actually easier than most people tend to think using NLP. It is not uncommon as you know for people in our trainings to shift from being predominanty away motivated to toward. Without even doing a special pattern or technique on them to achieve that outcome.
I’m basing this on the assumption that our motivations can and do change, and on the presupposition that the resources we need for change are already in us. And I must remember, individuals can also be toward with a little away, away with a little toward, and be equally toward and away.
Yeah, though I think I answered my own question, (yes, it can be beneficial for a client to shift in the appropriate context) your guidance is most assuredly appreciated!