The How-To of Meta-Stating

Bob Bodenhamer, D.Min.
L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.

Once you discover the fantastic realization that we can put mind-body states on top of each other to create a meta-relationship between one thought, feeling, or physiology to another and that doing such creates our frames of mind, then the questions about the art of meta-stating arise.

How to Apply One State to Another State

In the field of Neuro-Semantics people express the layering of states in the following ways:

"Now apply this resource state to this other state."

"How does this resource state transform and enrich this problem state as you bring this state to bear on this other state?"

What are we actually doing when we make these statements? These terms and questions are all seeking to establish a meta-relationship between states. When we first elicit a state of mind, feeling, and body and apply it to another, we are seeking to put it at a meta or higher level to the other. The X resource now sets a frame for the Y target state. X could be joy and delight and fun and Y could be earnest commitment. When we apply one to the other, we create joyful commitment or fun engagement. The X and Y in the following statements give clue to the meta-structures that we’re working with.

Bring it (X) to bear upon the other (Y).

What happens when you bring "joy" to bear upon "earnest commitment?"

Relate this one (X) to the other one (Y).

What happens when you relate "joy" to "earnest commitment?"

When you perceive or feel in terms of courage (X, or another other resourceful state), how does that transform your perceptions and feelings (Y)?

When you perceive or feel "joyful," how does that transform and enrich "earnest commitment?"

With this X resource in mind, now notice Y state or situation.

With "joy" in mind, now notice "earnest commitment." How does joy change your experience of "earnest commitment?"

As you adopt this higher perceptive (X) about Y, notice how you feel.

As you adopt the higher perspective of "joy," notice how you feel about "earnest commitment?"

Now in your mind, rise up to X and let it transform Y.

Now, in your mind, just rise up to "joy" and let it transform "earnest commitment."

Frame that thought or state (Y) with this higher or more powerful resource (X).

Frame your thought of "earnest commitment" with this higher and more powerful resource of "joy." When you do that, what happens to "earnest commitment?"

Embed this problematic feeling (Y) inside of this feeling (X).

Why don’t you just embed "earnest commitment" with the higher level feeling of "joy." Wouldn’t that be much better?

Applying Courage and Faith to Stuttering

In speaking with Jim (a client who stutters), he said that before he called me he was anxious about the call. He was worried that I would be thinking that he should be further along with the fluency then he was. This is typical. People who stutter typically worry about what others think about their speech. Of course, it’s not only people who stutter who think this way. We all do. Stutterers do not have a monopoly on such thinking. We are all in plenteous company with that worry.

When we care too much about what others think, and fail to draw the line between what we are responsible for and who we are responsible to (a foundational Neuro-Semantic pattern), we slide into co-dependent thinking. That’s when we begin to assume responsibility for another. Because the Responsibility To/For distinction is a more advanced thinking pattern, we all miss this distinction at times and so suffer from confusing the two. It is a part of being human. We learn it in childhood in normal cognitive development.

My client told me that in some areas of life he was experiencing much more fluency. When he did stutter, it wasn't as important of a problem to him as it had been previously. He was coming to the place where he was truly giving himself permission to stutter without feeling bad about himself. "It is really not blocking; it is more stumbling." For me this is an example of how a person’s speech improves once we stop identifying ourselves with how we talk.

He said that in some contexts he would work up a lot of anxiety over an upcoming conversation as he did with me. I considered what I could expect from him as a result of the therapy given his fear that he could not (or was not) improving in some contexts where he was still blocking and stuttering.

He explained that in some contexts he was able to reframe this problem, yet in others he was not able to reframe things to adopt a better perspective. I asked him how he was doing it in the successful situations. He said that he would reframe the old fears with the thoughts:

"I give myself permission to be vulnerable."

"I give myself permission to feel who I am and not to think about other people's feelings. I can do this without being selfish."

"I am not going to judge other people by guessing what they may be thinking about me and deprive them of knowing who I am."

The last one was a powerful reframe for him. Having uncovered these resource states in previous sessions, Jim was now finding them most helpful in the present situation. Desiring to build on these resource states and to apply them to the problem at hand about his fear regarding my expectations, I asked him a key question in Neuro-Semantics, a modeling question, "How were you able to apply the above frames of mind to the old fears?" We don't only identify what to do, but even more importantly, how to do it.

He explained how he would create a picture representing the resource state and put it right out in front of him. Then, he would place a visual picture that represented the problem state behind the picture of the resource state. With that setup, he would then bring the picture of the problem state into (and sometimes through) the resource state. From this procedure he could:

1) See or reframe the problem state "through" the eyes of the resource state.

2) "Mesh" the two together resulting to create a new layered reframe.

3) Reduce or nullify the problem state in creating a more positive perceptive.

I thought this strategy was eloquent and effective. If you are familiar with NLP, this describes one form of the Swish Pattern.1 So what happened with the situation between Jim and myself? The picture he had of his anticipatory anxiety that he would not meet my expectations was of the two of us together and he heard himself saying to himself,

"Bob will think I should be further along than I am. Bob has helped others quicker than he has helped me. I am not progressing fast enough."

This was his sound track. Does this sound familiar? Use that and you can work up a good state of anticipatory anxiety. Then once it is embodied in your gut, torso, throat and jaws, you can create a full fledged blocking of speech. When he brought that image forward and meshed it with his resource image, the meaning totally changed. He said, "It is just two guys talking."

What about his speech? He became fluent ... perfectly fluent. At the beginning our session he was having difficulty speaking, stuttering quite a bit but not blocking. At the end of the session, he was speaking in a very fluent way. He will be taking today's learning and he will be practicing it to "install" it much deeper. Because it is one thing to speak fluently with your therapist; it is another to speak fluently with your peers. Now is the time for practicing which he does very well with fantastic results.

In the Training Manual entitled Mastering Blocking and Stuttering: A Handbook for Gaining Fluency, I described the process of how to apply the resource states of courage or faith to the fear of blocking in speech.

1) Identify and access target state for change.

What happens when you apply courage or faith to the fear of blocking and stuttering? If you’re having trouble, then first fully entertain the state of fearing blocking and stuttering. Good. Now, put that thought-emotional state aside for a moment.

2) Identify and access a resourceful state.

Now access a state of courage or of faith and apply the courage or faith to the fear of blocking and stuttering.

3) Identify the structure of the "application."

How do you apply one state to another? Some people apply one thought to another by simply using the words and language. Others prefer to take a visual image of both states and do it visually by moving the resource image of faith or courage to the image of blocking or stuttering. Yet others prefer to do it kinesthetically as they will move the feeling of courage or faith into the location of the feeling of fear. In every one of these instances, we create the meta-state structure of courageous fear or faithful fear.

4) Quality Control the end result.

How does this fit for you? How does it fit for the ecology of your health, relationships, projects, values, identity, etc.?
Does it empower you as a person? Does it enhance your life?
Is it realistic, useful, practical, desirable, etc.?


End Notes:

1. The Swish Pattern directionalizes your brain and teaches it to how to go to a more resourceful awareness. In the Mastering Blocking and Stuttering training manual it is on page 158. You can read about that manual at:


Bob G. Bodenhamer, D.Min. and L. Michael Hall, Ph.D. are the co-developers of Neuro-Semantics. Dr. Bodenhamer has been working and modeling in fluency of speech with and for people who stutter during the last 18 months. Out of that has come several success stories as he has used the Meta-States model to invite them to bring highly resourceful states to their primary state of anxiety or fear. For more about the application of meta-stating to stuttering, see the web site and the e-group.

Neuro-Semantics is about how the meanings in our mind become embodied in our very neurology and so our unconscious default programs for how to think, feel, act, and speak. Neuro-Semantics is also about transforming such meanings to those that are much more life enhancing and empowering for people. See


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©2003 Bob Bodenhamer, D. Min. and L. Michael Hall, Ph.D. All rights reserved.