Damon Cart is considered to be a natural talent by some of the best NLP trainers in the world. His approach to guiding and teaching students brings to their awareness that they’ve been doing NLP all of their lives without realizing it and he empowers them with skills and resources to thrive and reach their full potential. Located in Santa Cruz where NLP was founded Damon teaches and coaches clients locally as well as Silicon Valley and throughout the Bay Area. His passion is guiding people through transformation to achieve joy, fulfillment, passion and greater personal and career performance.
In this interview you’ll learn:
- How to Create Your Reality
- How Reality comes through Our 5 Senses and Other Filters
- Why you want 99 Problems and not 100
- How to Find Limiting Beliefs
- Making Health Activities Easier with the Swish Pattern
- How You Can Change How You Process Your Raw Data of Experiences
- Discovering Your Highest Values
- And Much More
Find out more from Damon at:
Click the link below to access the complete transcript.
Logan: Welcome to The Vital Way podcast. My name is Logan Christopher with from Super Man Herbs and LegendaryStrength.com. Today, to me it’s a very exciting episode because we’re talking about a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. Basically, my life is kind of built around this. I use it in every single thing that I do, from health to business to working out, to talking with people in my business, every single area and that is neurolinguistic programming or NLP. A lot of people have heard of this but very few people actually know all that much about it. There seems to be a lot of misconceptions and ideas about it so I’m sure we’ll be talking about this today. Joining me is my good friend, Damon Cart who basically I’ve known for quite a few years. We kind of got brought up in NLP together, doing training and then giving our own trainings, which was a little sort of side business I had going for a while. But at this time, Damon has really been running with that and seeing some pretty good success with it. So welcome to the call, Damon.
Damon: Thank you. Great to be here.
Logan: I guess we should start off before you get in the middle into your stories, what is NLP? How do you describe it? That seems to be a hard question to answer sometimes for many people.
Damon: Yeah, I find myself answering it differently every single time.
Logan: In different ways.
Damon: In fact just before this call started, I was working on my blog and every time I’d define NLP so differently in so many different blogs so I’m just going to kind of run with what I was working on just a second ago.
Logan: Let’s give three definitions perhaps.
Damon: Yes, six step reframing, right? Give three thoughts. It’s an interesting way of you kind of relearn this over and over again. NLP journey in a sense is a journey in bringing your awareness to how you’re creating your reality. We tend to look outside of ourselves as there’s some sort of separate reality that we’re sort of living inside of and we’re just kind of sitting there, waiting for the reality to give us good things or to give us bad things. It’s kind of a helpless feeling.
What NLP does is it has you bring your awareness so that reality is actually coming from you, that awareness of that. The really cool part of it is that it actually has a structure and the more you bring your awareness to that structure and understand it, the more you can change it and in a sense, align and adapt your reality to the life you want to live, creating the life that you desire and becoming the person you really want to be.
Now there are some other pieces to this that you can get quite delusional and that a lot of people in NLP, especially when they get good, can actually do that to themselves. You don’t want to create delusions about what is actually there. This is what we call the map and the territory. So there is a territory out there. There is some sort of reality happening out there which we will never know outside of our own senses, our five senses. Our five sense are filters that take in that reality and we make meaning of that. So the reality that I’m talking about that we can change is how we make meaning of the world around us. That is what NLP is. It’s using how we study anything else in science and applying it to subjective reality.
Logan: Right. You mentioned the map and the territory. That’s such a foundational component of NLP. Could you go into a little more detail about that?
Damon: Sure. The territory would be like what the map represents. The great thing about a map is that for our convenience, we can represent a territory and then fold that map up and put it in our pocket, and get into the territory and kind of know our way around new territory that we’ve never been in before. The convenient thing is we can always pull out that map and take a look at it. Well, that’s a lot of how our reality works. We don’t perceive objective reality. We perceive reality through our senses, through our filters, through our experiences, our conditioning, the meaning we’ve made about our experiences, about other people.
So our map is not going to be the territory. What we’re operating from is our map, not the actual territory. You need to have a map that is at least accurate enough that if there’s a mountain in the territory and you walk right up to it, your map reflects that mountain and you realize okay, now I have to figure out am I going to climb over this thing or am I going to go the other way. But if your map is not accurate then you bump up against this mountain and you can’t go anywhere. You don’t even know what it is that is holding you back because your map is not accurate enough to map that mountain.
So the further you detach from the territory, the more delusional you become. However at the same time, if you become a perfectionist and you’re trying to make the most accurate map possible, well you can spend the rest of your life on trying to recreate the territory but then the map loses its value and its convenience. You can use this map quickly and make decisions quickly. You don’t have to sort of recreate the territory.
So people kind of go in different directions. What you really want is a map that’s accurate, a map that is rich with choice and possibility, and a useful map. It doesn’t need to be 100% accurate because then it wouldn’t be the territory. You just need it to be accurate enough so that you’re not delusional. It’s about accessing all the infinite choices in life and infinite possibilities. The more possibilities that are presented to you, the better choices you’re going to make. So having a very rich map, rich with possibility and choice because the territory is really, as far as we know, infinite and are infinite possibilities.
Logan: I think hopefully people are understanding this metaphor that you might have a different type of map for different purposes, like your topographical map if you’re looking for elevations and really sort of the natural things whereas you might have a GPS or a road map if you’re trying to actually navigate through the roads. Could you go into a little more detail how does this sort of analogy apply to life? You mentioned the words senses and filters and I think most people are familiar with our five senses. That’s how we’re interacting with the world. What are the filters? How are those working to filter information to be the go-between of reality and our internal worlds?
Damon: Okay. Sure. The five senses are our first filters that meet reality. We have what we see, what we hear, what we touch, what we taste, what we smell. People might say well, that’s not a filter; that’s our senses. Well, they’re both because there could be more to reality or to an objective reality, or the territory—those are all really the same thing—there might be more to that than we can actually sense. We only have five senses that can pick that stuff up so in that sense, we consider them filters because we’re probably not getting all of the information that’s out there.
Logan: For example, we can’t see UV light with our eyes.
Logan: We see the visible spectrum so we’re missing a whole component of reality.
Damon: Exactly. And there are sounds that we can’t hear that dogs can hear. There might even be things that are completely outside of what our five senses can pick up altogether that we’re just not even aware of, like almost in a completely different dimension. But I’m not going to go into too much of that because we don’t know what that is. It’s only speculation and that’s where metaphysics comes in. So those are your first filters.
And then language is a filter. Our brains are able to process this complex filter called language and it affects the way that we think. It affects the way that we project our reality onto the world. So words in a sense are filters because when I say apple, an apple doesn’t fly out of my mouth. You have to represent that in your mind and that’s usually what happens. So the word is not the thing but the word sort of creates that reality in your mind. You know what I’m talking about when I say that word. So language is the definite filter.
And then we have a lot of other what we could call filters in NLP, things like submodalities. If the five senses are modalities, the submodalities are the finer structure within that. For example if I make an image in my mind, the submodalities are how bright that image is, how small or big that image is. Is it black and white? Is it colored? All of these things, how we decode these things have meaning. We call that submodality and that’s another filter.
We have filters in the sense of the direction in which we think. We call those meta programs. Do I move towards the things that I want or do I try to move away from the things that I don’t like? That’s another filter. Ultimately, there are three main filters and that’s distortion, deletion and generalization. So after we take in information through our five senses, we then delete some information. There’s so much information coming in on a regular basis we couldn’t possibly take that all into our consciousness and make sense of it so we delete out information. If I’m reading a book, well my eyes are on the words and even though my peripheral vision can pick up other things that are going on, I’m deleting that information because my focus is on the book. We do the same thing when we’re driving. We’re just deleting out information so that we can make decisions quicker and so we can think faster.
Generalization is basically taking what we already know and applying it to things that we don’t know. In that sense, that’s another filter. That’s how we learn. I burned my hand on a stove when I’m a kid and I say to myself okay, all stoves are potentially dangerous; I need to watch out when I’m going near a stove and check out to see if it’s hot or not. That’s a generalization. That’s a very good thing. It can become a bad thing when I’m petrified of stoves and now I have a phobia of stoves and now I’m limited because I can’t cook food. Yeah, so that’s a generalization.
Distortion is whenever I project into the future, when we create things. Creativity comes from distortion. It’s something that doesn’t exist yet. They’re still trying to figure out if we’re the only animals that can do that. There is speculation that certain other advanced mammals like monkeys or dolphins might be able to do this also but probably not nearly as well as we can. We can plan. We can images and things that represent the future or things that don’t exist. And that’s another filter as well.
Logan: Well, we can also do that in the past as well.
Logan: We have our memory and maybe there are a few people but most people do not actually recall things accurately. Like we said with all the senses, you’re only taking in so much information so we can apply those distortions to the past as well.
Damon: Sure. Absolutely.
Logan: Okay, we’ve kind of covered some of the philosophy, if you will, behind this stuff. Let’s bring it a little more down and grounded so people might understand why this line of thinking and what you can do with NLP might be useful. To do that, could you tell a bit of your story? How did you get involved in NLP and what has it done for you?
Logan: I know that’s a big question.
Damon: It is a big question because whenever people ask me that question, it’s like okay, do I go way back or do I go to the more recent?
Logan: Answer it how you feel.
Damon: I’ll try to make it just as fast as I possibly can. I kind of heard of NLP because my father was into self-help, personal development and he never really pushed that on me or anything. It’s just I would hear him listening to like Tony Robbins tapes and Jim Rohn tapes. So the thing, NLP kept surfacing but I really didn’t know what it was. I was in college and I had a professor who taught the philosophy and psychology and it turned out he was well adept at many different types of therapy and his favorite was NLP. He also taught us how to hypnotize each other in class. He taught us a little bit about NLP but he didn’t have enough time to really get into it and really have us use it that well.
Well anyway, jump forward a few years. I was just right off college. 9/11 had just happened. I had a few other incidents that had happened to me that were just kind of curve balls in my life. I fell into a depression and I didn’t have insurance. I was working as a bartender, which I made pretty good money but I didn’t have health insurance. So I called on my professor to help me out. He told me to come in. He said I don’t need your money. I don’t believe in a free service though so when you come here, you need to donate your time or money to charity, which I thought was really cool of him. He said well, come back next week and we’ll get started. Well, I came back in a week and in one session, the depression was gone. I walked out of there, having to ask myself: what just happened?
Logan: Wait. That’s impossible. It takes years and years to fix depression, doesn’t it?
Damon: Exactly. Yeah, it was just like this is unbelievable. I know I was even kind of skeptical of it, thinking tomorrow I’m going to go back to being depressed. There’s just no way this could work. And the next day, no, I was happy. And the day after that and the day after that. It persisted for years. I wanted to study NLP. It was just I had a lot of other things going on but it made me realize what a powerful thing this was.
So I jumped forward about ten years and I’m not living in New Orleans anymore. I’m living in Santa Cruz. I have pretty new insurance business. I have two really young kids, a marriage that’s not going well and a business that’s failing. We’re in the worst economic time since I’ve been alive and I fell into another depression. And surprisingly, being in Santa Cruz where NLP started, there isn’t really NLP except for every summer at NLP University and then NLP Gym, which you and I started. That’s the only thing that’s going on in Santa Cruz. I didn’t know where to turn to for somebody who knows NLP and my professor, I hadn’t been in touch with him. He was retired and so I wasn’t going to hit him up.
So I had health insurance this time so I went to traditional therapy. What I’d like to say about this therapist who I went to, he was kind of an old school psychologist. He know how to get me, using the metaphor. I was sort of subterranean. That’s where the depression is and land would have been like the ground level where I felt stable. I’m not necessarily happy but I feel stable and anything above that is like you’re becoming happier and happier. So I came in underground and he knew how to get me to ground level every time I went to see him. It took about a year where I felt good enough to where I was on ground level most of the time.
As I progressed and started getting even more healthier mentally and physically, too, because I got back into exercise, I had a good general sense of well-being and then I’d go to a therapy session but all he knew was how to get me to ground level. So I would walk in above ground level, feeling good, feeling happy and he would want to start talking about my problems again and bring me down. And I thought okay, I’ve got to stop doing this because I’m actually feeling worse by going to therapy. But I knew that if I didn’t do something that I was going to fall right back into the depression eventually. I needed a really good practice to keep me happy or to keep in just a good general sense of well-being. So I convinced myself that I was going to spend thousands of dollars on a practitioner training at NLP University to fix my business but it was really about my own well-being. Then I walked in the first day and you’re there. I’m like what are you doing there?
Logan: Because we had actually met previously through Toastmasters.
Damon: Right. You were supposed to be in Oregon for a year but I think only six months had passed.
Logan: Yeah, something like that.
Damon: Than you said well, my girlfriend—that was all you had to say. I was like no, I got it. Yeah, and then after that first training, I like to say that I suffered from NLP withdrawal. I wanted to get back into an NLP training because I loved learning and I felt so much better when I used it on myself. It was just the coolest thing in the world to learn this. So I started getting into other NLP practitioner courses and got into hypnosis courses. By the time the whole year had gone around and you and I were deciding to go back to NLP University for Master Practitioner, which by the way you helped talk me into doing because my life at that point was starting to fall apart again and I felt—
Logan: I think I might have used NLP on you.
Damon: I said I got all this stuff going on and I’m on crutches, I got out of surgery and my business is still falling apart, my marriage is even worse and I’m getting kicked out of my house because the landlord is selling the house, just one and on, I don’t think I can do this. And you said Damon, I think all those reasons are exactly why you need to go. And I was like you’re right and that’s why I ended up going to Master Practitioner. That’s where everything really sort of blew wide open for me.
Robert Dilts focuses a lot on belief change and I remember there were days when we’d walk onto campus and got the day started and after a few processes, I’m getting back in my car and I’m going home and I’m like okay, the surroundings look the same. I know I’m in the same town but I am in a different reality now. I’m in a different world now. Something has changed and that’s what kicked off me wanting to teach and wanting to coach people. Because I thought there are other people like me who were trying to figure ourselves out well enough just to live a happy life, and just to accomplish the things that we wanted to accomplish, and have the kind of fulfilling relationships with friends, intimate relationships as well.
There’s a sense of being kind of helpless and sort of being adrift at sea and just sort of enduring the current, enduring the waves of life that come through and knock you around but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can really understand how it is you’re creating your reality, how you’re making meaning of the world around you and adapting that so that you’re not just being knocked around; you’re surfing those waves. I’m living that on a daily basis. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have problems. It doesn’t mean that I don’t get knocked around sometimes. It just means that I can recover really, really fast and find the joy in life that I wasn’t getting before.
Logan: Right. One guy I was learning from runs a pretty remarkable business over in Andover, Michigan. His idea is we all have problems but we can kind of choose the quality of the problems or even choose the problems that we get to work on, which I thought was a good way of looking at it. And then there’s some sort of Zen story about a guy who was going to a guru and said like “I’m trying to get rid of all these problems that I had” and the guru guy said, “You have 100 problems,” which was like a big insult because there’s this idea everyone has 99 problems and the guy was like livid. He was getting all pissed off at another guy. The guru explains that the hundredth problem is that you think you shouldn’t have any problems. I like that story.
Damon: Yeah, that’s very true. To add to that, Stoicism is becoming quite popular in the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial culture which is only about 30 to 35 miles from where we live. There’s an idea there that the problem is the way. The obstacle is the way. The solution is through the problem. That also comes from Milton Ericson as well.
And then another story to kind of add to the story you just told while I was in trance camp a few weeks ago down in San Diego with Steven Gilligan, one of the greatest hypnotherapists alive right now, we did a process where basically I just wanted to bring more fun and adventure in my life and there’s this funny thing that a lot of times we have to keep relearning lessons. I know this comes from within but when you think about adventure and fun, it often seems like something that’s happening outside of ourselves and we have to go and seek it and find it to find that entertainment. Through this process, it just became so clear that the funnest times I’ve ever had was from what I was bringing from within myself and projecting it out there. Because you see people all the time in situations where they should be having fun, like at a party, at a night club or swimming or something like that and they’re not having fun. They’re just kind of checked out.
And I told Steven, I said it’s just an amazing thing that I would keep relearning this lesson and he told me about a story. The founder of aikido, aikido is all about center and balance and you never really attack your opponent. You let them attack you and redirect their center. You throw them off center and basically to the ground. One of the students said to the master, “Master, how is it you never lose your center?” The aikido master said, “It’s not that I don’t lose my center. I lose my center just as much as anyone else. It’s I get it back faster than my opponent.” It’s that response to problems, it’s the response to unfavorable situations rather than reacting to them, which is always a step behind and more rooted in fear. But that response to a problem, that response to a situation, how you respond is all the difference. So it’s not about getting rid of the problem. And the truth is the most successful people will make the most mistakes. They’ll make the most mistakes. The biggest homerun hitters strike out the most. So it’s not about limiting the number of problems. It’s how quickly and how well you respond to that problem that makes all the difference.
Logan: And actually like you can even choose to go after bigger problems. That can be very fulfilling to do.
Logan: Right. So yeah, let’s turn the focus a little bit on health because a lot of people are interested. Definitely, health ought to be important to everyone. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. But how might someone use NLP for health purposes? Once again, I know that’s a broad question but yeah, how would you answer that?
Damon: That’s a great one because we both have a lot of experience with this. Yours is more on a professional level. Mine is less so on a professional level but either way, I think one of the main problems that people don’t understand or they’re not aware of is this idea of separating your mind from your body. That’s purely an illusion. Your mind is not different from your body. It is really the same thing. You can’t know that you even have a body without the mind and without the body, there is no mind.
A healthy mind is going to be much better, more favorable to having a healthy body than not having a healthy mind. So what do I mean by that? Well, if you’re sitting in front of the television all the time, watching mind-numbing programs, that does have an effect on your body. You cannot really exercise and you’re sitting down. You’re not doing anything. And consequently, an unhealthy body tends to go with an unhealthy mind. So the two are so intertwined and NLP is definitely focused more, is a mind-based sort of technology.
Of course, you can apply NLP to the body and one of the best exercises I’ve ever done are processes in NLP which is a very simple, very basic process and I didn’t understand how it really worked for a long time so I was doing it wrong—I think most NLP trainers actually teach it wrong—and that’s the switch pattern. For a long time, I knew exactly what to do. I knew how to track calories. I knew how to manage my macronutrients. I knew what was important as far as the regular nutrients. I knew how to track exercise and how I was burning calories and how many calories I needed to burn, how much calories I needed to eat to I weigh that amount that I wanted to weigh, how much protein I needed to eat to have the muscle that I want. I knew all these things.
The problem was implementing it and keeping it consistent because I would tend to go in waves, kind of like the bodybuilder does where they’d work out really hard, they’d train really hard for the competition. So for me, it wasn’t about not knowing what to do. I had the technical knowledge to maintain my health, have the body that I wanted, the strength that I wanted, the weight that I wanted. All those things, I had studied well enough to know those things and they’re actually pretty simple. But I think a lot of people don’t have the know-how knowledge.
Now you can have the know-how knowledge but not implement it. That’s where the motivation comes in. I think that’s what I struggle with. I would get highly motivated for a few months. I would get my body looking like I wanted, at the weight that I wanted and the strength that I wanted and then I wouldn’t maintain it. That’s where NLP really came in. It’s about modeling how you do your normal everyday habits anyway. I brush my teeth twice a day without even thinking about it and it doesn’t require motivation. I just do it. So it’s like okay, a setback. How do I process that? In my reality, how does that even happen where I feel compelled to brush my teeth? It’s something very, very simple like that.
So I was using modeling how I do things that way where I’m not negotiating whether or not I’m going to do it. It’s not a matter of motivation. I just do it. Taking that and sort of extracting that model and then applying it to health and exercise and really turning the eating habits and the exercising into something that’s pretty much unconscious because I unconsciously know I need to brush my teeth in the morning or that I needed to brush my teeth in the evening.
So I did a lot of that. Also, the switch pattern is you see the ideal image of you, the ideal image of who you want to be and you tune that up. Make it nice and bright and compelling and you switch down the activity that you’re doing, that you feel compelled to do that is keeping you from your goal. So the switch pattern was very effective in basically having me unconsciously moving all the time in the direction of that image of myself, of what I wanted to look like and really primarily focused on my body. I know if I had six-pack abs, I know that my cholesterol is going to be low. I know that my blood pressure is going to be right where it needs to be and so is my blood sugar. So it’s using techniques like that that got me to basically just unconsciously maintain my health so it’s not something I’m thinking about. It’s not something I’d have to conjure the motivation to go and do. It just happens.
Logan: Yeah. I think that’s really important because if people rely on motivation or willpower, both those things fail. They may work sometimes but if you can set things up and you can do this using NLP as well as I’m sure there are other ways you can do it for sure as well, you can, like you said, make the unconscious—that’s your beliefs, your values, all these things—be in alignment so that it really doesn’t take effort. Or even better yet, like these activities can become something you enjoy doing.
So something very important to all of this is the whole topic of beliefs. Beliefs around health, healing and all that are critically important. They’re just so important. So one of the areas of NLP that I really like is this whole idea of belief changing, how you can work with these. So what are some ideas you have on that subject?
Damon: That’s another really big one?
Logan: I know. We’ve only got an hour so I’m sorry.
Damon: Okay. Yeah, limiting beliefs, the thing that is just so I guess pernicious about beliefs or limiting beliefs is that most of the time they’re unconscious. You tend to think that what you believe is not a belief but a fact. Like I hear people say, I can’t lose weight. I do this, I do that and it just doesn’t work. Then I will observe them and they’re going and eating stuff that’s not healthy for them and they’re not exercising. It’s so obvious to me so why is it not obvious to them? Well, they have a belief in their head that what they do to be healthy it’s not going so work. So that informs unconsciously their eating habits and many other habits. So the first part about beliefs and beliefs are running your life. Again, like we were talking about the map versus the territory, well the map is your set of beliefs. Beliefs are these powerful generalizations that really guide your life.
So the one thing to really understand about beliefs, and this is hard for a lot of people to understand, is beliefs aren’t true. If it were true, it would be a fact and you wouldn’t have to believe it. So just getting clear that no matter what you believe is not true. And the other thing that I think is really powerful about beliefs, both in in a good way and a bad way, is that a lot of times beliefs are very close to our identity, like who we think we are and we get very defensive about when we’re challenged on one of our beliefs because of we feel like we ourselves are personally being challenged.
I see this a lot when it comes to health and especially people who struggle with weight. A lot of times consciously they know they need to be healthy, consciously they want to be healthy but they’re bumping up against a belief that is so ingrained in their identity that they’re a big person or that they’re a fat person. A lot of times this comes from childhood. Who knows what’s holding that belief in place but that’s what a good NLP coach can help you with. It’s unpacking that and then using whatever positive intent, what’s driving that belief, you can say intent and formulate a new belief.
Yeah, so really understanding whatever you want in life that you don’t have, whether that’s health, a new car, more money, more happiness, when you think about what you want—and then when you want something, this kind of implies that you don’t have it; otherwise, you wouldn’t want it; because if you have it, doesn’t it mean you want it—but if there’s something that you want, you can pretty much bet that there’s a limiting belief that’s keeping you from it. Then it’s really probably the only thing that stands in the way. So when you think about something you want, ask yourself what stops me and if your answers tend to be sort of like blaming other people and blaming circumstances or blaming anything outside of yourself, well that’s part of the problem right there and that is definitely a limiting belief. You have to turn that inwardly and say okay, well what is it that I’m doing that’s stopping me? How am I stopping myself from getting what I want? And that’s a great way to elicit a limiting belief.
Now changing a limiting belief, there are a lot of ways to do that and it kind of depends on what the limiting belief is and it kind of depends on your style as a NLP-er, what you found works for you. To me, this whole concept model that Steve Andreas created is by far the most powerful because it leaves nothing to chance. Basically, your beliefs are built on your raw data of experience. You’ve had certain experiences and the way you’ve made meaning of these reference experiences is to hold a generalization which is I believe XYZ.
When you start understanding how you’re creating that database of information, then you can change it and you can bring in other experiences in your life that counter that and then reformulate the belief that you want to have based on real information, real experiences that you’ve had. There are other types of belief change but they tend to be more linear than that and not as exact and they don’t always work because if you still have this overwhelming database of information that is telling you your limiting belief is true, sometimes you can throw a process at it and free up some space and open up a possibility. But a lot of times you’re going to slip right back into believing the old belief because you have a stronger database that supports that.
Logan: Well, I think it’s important to note that beliefs very seldom stand alone. They come together in systems so in order to really effect truly lasting change, you need a bit more of a systemic approach in doing it so you can cover a lot of ground. That’s the important thing. I know when I first got into this idea of belief change, I kind of looked at it in the frame of looking at things as black and white. You either have a belief or you don’t. You do a process and beliefs change and everything should be changed after that but beliefs, like you said, you can open up the possibility. It’s not whether you necessarily believe something or not but you can believe it to some degree. You can believe something very firmly versus sort of believes something. So there are all these different shades of grey within this, working with beliefs.
Damon: Absolutely. You might bump up against a limiting belief and try to change it and you might get some change out of it, not realizing like you said that there is even something, a greater generalization that’s holding that belief in place. So you have to really go for that, the strongest generalization that’s limiting you and knock that one out. A lot of times that will tend to knock out all the smaller ones.
Logan: Yeah. This is just one belief that I’ve been kind of working on and showing it to people it seems to be hitting just because beliefs get, for the most part, instilled by our family or our culture. Basically when we’re young and growing up, whatever people say we tend to believe it because it’s coming from authority figures. So there’s this idea that testosterone and growth hormone, other hormones go down with age. I’m not sure that’s necessarily true because I like to look at things from the idea of whether they’re useful or not to believe in. So I can find counter examples of that. I can find people that are 70 and 80 years old that have hormones of a 20-year old without doing testosterone injections. So why don’t I just think and act like them and then that belief is just going to support my body and support me in physically doing the right things, as well as probably unconsciously direct my body in certain ways in order to matching up with that belief.
Damon: Yeah, I think what you’re saying is an excellent point, that beliefs can be cultural and until they’re challenged, they can affect entire societies in the sense that say 50 years ago, people had certain beliefs about age and about what you can do with those ages. Well, we’re constantly challenging that now and those beliefs are constantly changing. We’re living longer and we’re living healthier.
Logan: Yeah, and it’s interesting to think about that. How much of that is due to medicine or sanitation or other things and how much of it is actually just because of the belief. We grow up with people living longer so we see life can be lived longer, and thus we expect that to happen.
Damon: Sure. And then I think they kind of all work together. If you have a belief of it’s possible to live 120 years and be extremely active at the age of 100, it kind of goes with when you believe in something like that, especially if a society believes something like that then you sort of develop technology and science and medicine to support that. But if you don’t believe it then you don’t even attempt to support it with medicine and technology. So it kind of all goes together. If we believe we can live longer healthier lives, well somebody in a lab is going to be working on that because that possibility is out there.
Logan: Right. Well, some people think it’s possible to become immortal so they’re striving after that. Well, we’ll see if it happens, right? Very cool. So tell us a bit more about this self-concept model because lie you, this is something we’ve been working on and both found to be very powerful. Explain the idea of self-concept and why that is important in how it directs a person’s life.
Damon: Sure. I thought you would never ask. I’m still so excited about this model and to me this is what NLP is really all about. I’m very fortunate to be mentored by the man who created it, Steve Andreas. Self-concept is really a generalization. We don’t really know who we are.
Logan: Right. It’s a concept. It’s not an actual thing.
Damon: Exactly. I try to explain this to people and I hope this comes across. I’m going to try and make it quick but as clear and concise as possible. You’ve never experienced yourself so you have to make a generalization about who you are. Now I’ll qualify that. You experience yourself in other people. You experience yourself and experience itself in the meanings you make of experience and the meanings you make of objects. Now experience is really defined by a beginning and an end. You can say oh, that experience was a lot of fun. So what you’re saying is it’s almost like an object, that experience. So there was a beginning to that experience and there was end to that experience.
Well, you’ve never experienced your beginning and if you’re listening to this, you’re still alive so you didn’t experience your end yet. You can say well no, I know I was born, I know I had a beginning. Sure, you know that consciously but do you remember it? No. Your experience of yourself has been unbroken. From your beginning, from your first whatever consciousness you’ve had this sense of being, an unbroken sense of being for your entire life so you don’t really experience yourself. Therefore, you create a generalization about who you are and you couldn’t possibly know. That’s why we make it up and that’s what we also call the ego, the self-image. I don’t usually call it the ego or the self-image because people can make negative connotations about that, especially in California this idea of getting rid of the ego. Well first of all, you can’t get rid of something that doesn’t actually exist. So that’s the first part.
Logan: Or the job is already done so we’re good.
Damon: Exactly. But you are going to have an imagination of who you are. That’s just how it is and it’s not a bad thing. In fact, it can be a very healthy thing. So your self-concept is really a generalization about who you are. Really the very powerful thing about this is it transcends time and space. I went to Australia in February. When I stepped off the plane, even though I was in a different continent and a different part of the planet, I was still me and I still had a general sense of me. How does that happen? Because that generalization is that powerful. It doesn’t matter if I drop myself into another environment. I still have a sense of my self-concept or sense of self.
And also in time, when I think about whenever I was five, I say, “When I was five.” So I’m carrying that generalization through. I’m certainly not the same person I was when I was five so why don’t I say, “When he was five…” We say, “When I was five…” So that’s the time piece. We carry this generalization through time. Not all generalizations carry through time and space. You might believe something in one environment and then you go into another environment and you say okay, well that doesn’t apply here because it’s a different environment. And then in time, we’ve all changed our beliefs over time.
Logan: Used to believe in Santa Claus and most of us probably no longer do as an actual person.
Damon: Well, some grownups do.
Damon: Yes, so your beliefs change over time and if you’re a healthy human being, they should. But you still carry this generalization of self so that carries through and endures. When you start understanding how you construct your self-concept, that’s when your understanding of reality changes radically. It’s both humbling and powerful at the same time. That’s the best way I can explain it. Basically your self-concept is a generalization built on many generalizations, built on smaller generalizations we would call qualities and a quality meaning I’m a kind person, I’m an intelligent person or sometimes I’m a kind person, sometimes I’m an intelligent person or I am not a kind person, I’m not an intelligent person or I’m not a humorous person, I’m not a playful person. So we have all these ways of creating these qualities. Either we have it or we don’t or they’re ambiguous. Sometimes, we have these qualities, sometimes we don’t.
And we sometimes identify with the counter to the quality. I am not a cruel person instead of saying I’m a kind person. I say I’m not a cruel person. And that’s pretty dangerous, when you’re identifying heavily with the negative one. Even though you’re saying I’m not that, you’re still identifying with that negative quality and that can be quite dangerous and create paranoia.
So when you understand, when you start looking at the qualities, who you believe yourself to be—and you can go deeper into that and realize well, those qualities are supported by experiences that you’ve had and when you had these experiences, you said oh, this means that I am this and you categorize that experience as a reference and a support for a particular quality. That’s kind of how this whole model breaks down. What you can do is you can recode experience to create the qualities that you value and you want to live in your life.
So if you do a values elicitation in NLP, which is also a wonderful exercise, you can discover your highest values and mine are passion, freedom and joy. And I look at my life and I say okay, do I embody the quality of joy in my life? If I don’t, I can work on that using this model. Freedom is a little trickier because it’s such a huge generalization that you kind of have to chunk it down and say okay, well free to do what? You have to kind of bring that down to a lower logical level to work on as a quality. But you still can and I’ve been basically working on that or you and I have been working on that for more than a year now. I know from conversations we’ve had, you’ve had some extraordinary shifts and changes and I’ve had some absolutely extraordinary shifts and changes. Even in my worst days, I’d still feel a sense of joy, freedom and passion. It’s quite amazing.
Logan: Yeah. I think it’s important to realize that who we are is malleable. This obviously happens yet people always say that’s just the way I am, not understanding that if you actually want to change that’s kind of an important prerequisite. But if you want to change then there are actual ways of changing, even things that seem extremely deep-rooted in us. Can you give an example or two of some of the powerful changes, like what you were going for and some of the results of what happened with it?
Damon: Sure. I’ll tell you one of the biggest ones. It was the first time I used the model. How this all came about is through Connirae Andreas, Steve Andreas’ wife. I was basically facilitating a workshop with her and we just really hit it off. She’s a wonderful human being, just genuine, authentic and wonderful human being. She went back home to Colorado where she lives and suddenly a few months later, I get an email from Steve Andreas and he says, “Connirae had good things to say about you. I’m curious about you and I’d like to help you out.” Talk about serendipity and the universe smiling down on me. I did something right.
So yeah, I bombarded him with questions to the point where he couldn’t keep up on the emails because he’s a busy guy. Even at 80 years old, he’s still quite active. He said,” I’ll tell you what, go read this book; I think this is going to answer most if not all of your questions.” That was the book Transforming Yourself, which was him laying out the whole self-concept model. So I started reading it and in the book, you choose a quality to work with. Gratitude for me had been an ambiguous quality. Sometimes, I had it and sometimes I didn’t it. I also knew—and those of you who are listening, if you’re not aware and you’re into this law of attraction and the secret and all that, you should know that gratitude is directly linked to wealth and creating wealth in your life. So I felt like if I could really get this gratitude thing down, maybe then I could really solve some financial problems.
So I started working on that and immediately, like I think in 20 minutes, I had this amazing transformation and a lot of tears were shed. That doesn’t always happen. It doesn’t need to happen. You don’t need to have pain. This model will show you that you don’t need to have all those things but sometimes it happens. Sometimes, when you make a major shift you’re going to cry, you’re going to laugh, you’re going to have all these things happen and this was one of those. Once I kind of calmed down and got my feet back on the ground, I emailed Steve describing my experience. He came back and said, “You’ve got it. You obviously understand this model. Keep going.”
I think that’s about that the time I came to you and I said we’ve got to start practicing this. So I started taking all these qualities and say okay, what am I lacking or what do I even want to tune up? What qualities do I feel like I already have and that are certain but I know I can tune them up a bit. From there, I was completely convinced that this was an incredible model. I started using it in my coaching practice and started watching other people have amazing, amazing changes.
There’s a guy. He’s a TV personality and a doctor, Dr. Larry Burchett. He was also in The Bachelor a few years back. He asked me to coach him and I started coaching him. I started using this model with him and I think we did like three sessions then he kind of disappeared for a while. I was like wondering, did he not like the coaching? What was going on? So I texted him just to say hey man, just checking in; how are things going? He just came back and he said I’ve been firing on all cylinders non-stop. He’s like ever since that last coaching session—it’s like everything that I’ve been describing—it just sounds like he’s living his values. That gives you purpose in life. That gives you meaning in life. When you live your values, it’s this idea that you’re looking outside of yourself to find your purpose, to find your calling. That’s part of the problem because all you have to really understand is what do you value? And then when you’re living those values, when your behavior is aligned with those values, self-esteem, meaning, purpose, all those things, they’re not even questioned. They’re not even doubted. You’re just living it.
Logan: Yeah, absolutely. All right, I’ve really kind of look at this model, what really NLP in general, it’s kind of a way to accelerate your own personal resolution, if that’s something you’re into, definitely a way to grow and be good at that. I’ve certainly done many different things but I like NLP because it’s kind of like stepping behind the curtain, understanding really how you’re thinking, how you’re feeling, how that works and then it really can be applied in so many different ways.
We’re coming up on the end of the call. Obviously, we could keep going for hours. We could go into so many more details about this and maybe we’ll do that another time. But for now, where would you like people to go? Where can they find out more about you, maybe your coaching, more about this model, etc.?
Damon: Yeah, wonderful. The website is NLP-Gym.com. One of the reasons why I named it that was to get you to help me.
Logan: I still think it’s a good name.
Damon: I do, too. I love it. And that’s the thing about NLP. It’s not something you just—and a lot of people take this approach where they show up to a course, they learn it, they may try it out once during the practice sessions but then they don’t do it anymore. And NLP is really about practice. It’s about getting in the gym, getting it in the muscle and using it like you would work out.
Logan: Yeah, I think something that’s important to say is a lot of people like me, I certainly hang around in business owner and marketer circles and NLP obviously has some great applications for selling. It seems to me some people have heard of NLP and know like a single language pattern and therefore they think they know NLP, not realizing just all that goes into it and really the true power comes when you begin sort of thinking in the terms once things like the meta model or the self-concept model and like belief change processes are kind of integrated into the way that you think. Once you get to that point, and obviously it takes some work to get there, that’s when things start to open up. At least, that’s what I’ve seen personally.
Damon: That’s been my experience, too. It’s like you’re practicing NLP all the time because you’re living NLP and you’re processing through those filters, which is an amazing way to live for sure. Other ways to find me, I have a YouTube channel and I’m a little crazy and obsessive. I put out a video a day. I don’t know how I’m going to keep that up but I’ve been doing it consistently for three months. I’m putting out information I probably should be charging for but what it does is it drives me to go deeper and find some more information and really self-discovery and putting out just gems of information for people who don’t even have NLP experience. They can use this stuff and jump right in and hopefully they go on their own NLP journeys and discover for themselves. So the videos are very helpful with that.
We also have a Facebook page. If you like and follow the NLP Gym Facebook page, you’re going to get access to the videos and also to the blogs because I post them on Facebook as well. And we do free practices most Saturdays if you’re in the Santa Cruz area. We have people coming as far as from San Francisco to come to some of these practices. That’s kind of like a laboratory. It’s free so it’s not all about my agenda or anyone else’s agenda. We kind of just get in there and we practice. We get our hands dirty, so to speak and have fun with those and just figure out where you can take NLP. I post a lot of those on Meetup.com. It’s all under the same name, NLP Gym.
Then we hold workshops. We just had a great one this past weekend with Doug O’Brien doing sleight of mouth. So I teach workshops and of course, I bring in other trainers as well. My thing is always to bring in the best quality trainers and keeping the prices as low as we can so that it’s accessible to everyone. One of my missions in life is really to share the benefits that I’ve gotten out of NLP, which is just being able to live an extraordinary life and that it’s really all about your mindset, and not about being born into wealth, or being born into luxury, or having all the great opportunities, being surrounded by opulence or whatever. You have that power within yourself to create that life that you want to live. So far for me, NLP has just been the best technology to do that, the fastest and most effective.
Logan: Yeah, absolutely. And I’ll be sure to include links to all the different places Damon mentioned in the show notes so you can find that in the podcast section on Super Man Herbs if you didn’t get the URLs or names of everything and all that. So be sure to check that out. Thank you so much, Damon. I hope people found this interesting. I hope people will take some of these ideas and begin to at least think about them and then try to apply them in our lives. And we’ll go deeper into this stuff because obviously I am right with you there. It’s very powerful and life-impactful.
Damon: Absolutely. Just know that if you’re listening to this and maybe you’re happy but you’re not as happy as you know you could be and you’re not enjoying life as much as you know you could be enjoying it, you’re right.
Logan: Yup. Okay, thanks everyone for listening. If you really like this, please let us know in the reviews on iTunes or on the website and we can certainly cover more on this subject in the future. Or if you have any other suggestions for anything else, happy to hear that, too. Thanks for listening.
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