What is Neuro Semantic coaching?

Neuro-Semantics is a coaching method that works with a model that provides insight into how we individually create meaning. In 1994, L. Michael Hall, Ph.D. developed a meta-state model based on cognitive-behavioral sciences, developmental psychology, neuroscience, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), cognitive linguistics, cybernetics, and systems dynamics sciences.

That is a mouthful, but it shows that the method is an extremely interdisciplinary field. Very special and sometimes unprecedented results are achieved with this still relatively unknown method. That is why an international association has been set up with Neuro Semantic coaches who are now leaders in coaching and training in the field of leadership, management, business, and self-actualization

What makes Neuro-Semantics so effective?

For a long time, it was thought that all your past experiences determine your current way of thinking and behavior. Only when you cope with your past and can give it a place, you can heal from fears, depression, and other mental ailments.

Neuro Semantic therapists and coaches do not deny this but have a different approach. They do believe based on research that the past determines how you think and give meaning. But the models and techniques they use show you that you can already have a change in your thinking and behavior today by becoming aware of how you give meaning.

So instead of the focus on investigating the past, the emphasis is on the fact that we are all creators of meaning. This allows a person to rapidly transform into the person he or she wants to be.

We are meaning makers

We consciously and unconsciously give meaning to ourselves, others, circumstances, and everything we do, see, and experience. Because something is terrible for some, while the same is normal for others, it turns out that there are differences in what something means to us.

Neuro-Semantics make people aware of the meaning-making process so that new meanings can be created and old meanings can be transformed. Giving meaning can be an active process. We have the freedom to give meaning to something if we choose to.

That does not mean that a pen is suddenly no longer a pen. This is about the meaning the pen has for you. Is something with which you can write beautiful poems, something with which you can transfer knowledge, or something with which you can write a hate letter?

How do we give meaning?

The Neuro Semantic model is often compared to the symbolism behind the popular 1999 trilogy “the Matrix”. Keanu Reeves plays Neo who is given a choice between the blue and the red pill.

If he chooses the red pill, his world will never be the same. If he chooses the blue, life will continue as it was. He chooses the red pill and discovers that everything he previously believed in turned out to be no longer true.

The realization that we can influence what something means to us has the same effect on many people like the red pill. Something that we were fully convinced of can suddenly become unsettled. After a coaching session with a neuro-semantic coach, things that we automatically assumed to be true no longer turn out to be so obvious.

That has to do with how we give meaning. Our “meaning filter” is partly formed by our beliefs. For example, someone who believes that all people are essentially selfish gives different meanings than someone who believes that people are altruistic by definition.

The freedom of choosing meaning

Neuro-Semantics helps people to understand that they are merely interpreting the external world and that what they experience, see, hear, and feel is only an interpretation of that external world.

There is a big discrepancy between what is really happening and what we believe is going on.

Mark Twain once said, "I've been through so many horrible things in my life and some have actually happened."

By choosing the freedom of choice to create meaning, most people experience as if a burden has been lifted off their shoulders. They then don't go on living as if they were in a fairy tale but realize that many of the things they found terrible or unbearable need not be seen and experienced that way.

People are, as it were, released from their suffering so that they can fully enjoy life again.

Does nothing have a meaning of its own?

An action, person, or object has no meaning in itself. People give something a name in order to understand what it is together with the image we have with it. In that sense, everything has roughly the same meaning because we attribute it to it. Because when you show someone a chair, we usually all say it's a chair. But when you hear the word chair, most likely everyone sees a different chair in front of them.

Although we could all see the same chair and use the word chair, the meaning of that chair differs from person to person.

One person experiences the chair as something to sit on and the other sees it as useful support when standing. That is where active meaning begins. Namely, is it a safe chair or safe support when standing? Is it a nice chair or not?

Giving that layer of meaning determines how you experience the object and often that has nothing to do with reality.

Meaning and limiting beliefs

We do not or do many things in our life because of the meaning we attribute to something based on our limiting beliefs. If you have had a car accident 3 times in a row within a year, you can start to believe that driving is dangerous.

This belief can even become a belief that no one can change your mind. For you, the fact is that driving is unsafe and you avoid ever having to sit in a car again.

Statistically, this is of course nonsense, but you are no longer open to reason. You give the meaning from your conviction that driving is dangerous and does not want to deviate from it.

There is of course nothing wrong with that, provided you do not have to use a car. If you do like to get from A to B quickly and do not want to be dependent on public transport, this belief works against you. Then it becomes a limiting belief.

The same can happen when it comes to finding true love, your belief about yourself, or your belief about the world. If you have been cheated on a few times in a relationship, you can start to believe that no partner can be trusted. Statistically, this is not correct, but you are convinced of it. Of course, that does not help in finding a new partner.

That's because your behavior is partly based on your beliefs. For example, you will be more reserved when you meet someone new and are less likely to let someone into your heart. Here, too, your beliefs are hindering, because the chance that you will quickly find a new relationship with this behavior is of course many times smaller than if you did not have that belief.

The meaning you give to yourself partly determines your self-esteem.

Self-esteem, different from self-confidence, is the value you give to yourself. This is also an active or passive process of giving meaning. Among other things, Neuro Semantic coaching helps you to rediscover your self-esteem by letting go of limiting beliefs and actively giving positive meanings.

Some people are very effective at giving negative meanings. Especially when it comes to themselves. For example, the meaning that they cannot do anything or that they are worth nothing compared to others. By definition, this kind of limiting belief does not lead to a joyful and happy life. Usually, it does not contribute to better and intimate relationships and in some cases, these kinds of beliefs can even lead to burnout or depression.

Ben Steenstra Ben Steenstra
7 mins read
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