Leveraging Change: Using Criteria
The car door shut and locked. Her thumb was jammed in the shut door. By the time I managed to get the door unlocked and she freed her hand, her thumb had been crushed. So, what made her ignore the pain and turn her attention to something else? Criteria, that’s what!
It was her daughter who had shut the door. She was immediately concerned her daughter might be upset should she realize how hurt she was. So, she bit back the pain and started telling her little girl that she was OK. She had, what was for her, a powerful reason to ignore the pain. That was her criteria–her reason.
How We Can Use Criteria In Hypnosis/NLP
Criteria is the reason why. When you want to help someone accomplish a goal or break a habit, if you know why they want to reach their goal or stop their habit, you can use that in your sessions. As an example…
If someone smokes to relax, simply suggesting that they stop smoking becomes a problem when they want to relax. In that case, the motivation to relax would come in conflict with the motivation to stop smoking. But that’s the level at which most direct suggestion hypnotists work. They simply try to suggest a problem away, regardless of what conflicting motivations their client has.
Remember, one of the laws of suggestion is that suggestions tend to take hold as long as a more powerful suggestion is not already in place. That’s why it’s difficult to get someone to do something against their moral code in hypnosis. Their moral code acts as a powerful, preexisting suggestion which negates a suggestion to do something immoral.
So, when a smoker already has a powerful suggestion that smoking relaxes them, when their unconscious minds knows it needs to relax, it knows smoking is a way to do that. You’ve got to provide a better way to relax.
But what would happen if you included motivations in your suggestions? What if you were to suggest that when a client normally had a cigarette that they engage in a simple behavior (such as drinking a cool glass of water) and that behavior would relax them even better than a cigarette would have?
What would happen is that both motivations of the client would be in harmony. And that’s why you include critereia in your hypnotic suggestions.
Criteria in NLP
One of the reasons many NLP processes are so effective is because the use the existing criteria of the client. Parts therapy, 6-Step Reframing and Core Transformation are a few examples. In each of those techniques you find out the why, the reason, the criteria–and make sure those criteria are met in whatever new behavior that client wants.