DMN and Outcome Specification

Two effective NLP strategies are the DMN and the Outcome Specification process.  I will review them briefly and then provide a case in which they are applied.

The default mode is a function of the so named “resting” brain. The term may be inappropriate, though, because when parts of the brain stop functioning, other areas become active. These areas are identified as the default mode network or the DMN.

Most people experience times when they are completely absorbed in a task and the time flies.   Then the DMN is shut down. Other times, people are bored and unable to focus on anything because their minds are wandering. Their wandering mind dwells on concerns and replays scenarios, pondering what they could or should have done differently. Then the DMN is active.

The Outcome Specification
Many clients are unclear about what they want; so the nine-question Outcome Specification provides a summary of the client’s goals, as well as his or her dedication to those goals.

Kim Lee is a 65-year old woman who comes to see an NLP Coach because she fears driving her car.

Although she has driven for years with few tickets or accidents, her growing fear interferes with her willingness to go places and do things.

I built rapport with Kim Lee, identified the positive intent of the behavior, which was to feel less anxious, and asked Meta model questions. Then she was ready to work on the presenting issue using the techniques introduced above.

Taming the Default Mode Network

I asked Kim Lee to write the phrase “driving a car” on a blank piece of paper and  to record her thoughts

Her Responses 
I might have an accident.
I might get lost.
I might make a mistake.
I get so anxious when I think about driving.
Driving scares me.
The fear gets in my way.
The more I don’t drive, the more anxious I become.
I find every excuse not to drive.
My grandson’s drive everywhere.
It’s all in my mind.
I don’t know how to break the fear.
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
I find every excuse not to drive.
I get others to do drive as often as possible.
Others will criticize my driving; telling me I should do this, or I drive too slowly.
I am not good with direction.
I don’t read maps well.

After Kim Lee completed the list, I asked her to focus on her breathing, which allowed her mind to calm.

I asked Kim-Lee to re-write the phrase “driving the car” on a second blank piece of paper and record her thoughts. She was surprised to find different thoughts came to mind.

You’ve driven for 40 years and had one minor accident. That is a great record.
What you are saying to yourself – how about a different self-message?
You are scaring yourself.
You are a very cautious and conscientious driver.
Go early and drive in the slow lane- Don’t pressure yourself.
Have confidence in yourself.
You have a GPS and a “Maps” app for your Smart Phone.

Now that Kim Lee had a more positive perspective, I conducted the Outcome Specification process with her. The questions and her responses are listed below.

What do you want?
Kim Lee: I want to drive confidently and calmly by myself or with others in the car.

How will you know when you have reached the goal?
Kim Lee: When I am doing more driving.

Why is your goal relevant and/or irrelevant?
Kim Lee:  The goal is relevant because I don’t want to be dependent on others and sometimes, I want to go places by myself.

What stops you from pursuing the goal wholeheartedly?
Kim Lee:  My fear whenever the topic of my driving comes up.

What personal resources can you use to help achieve this goal?
Kim Lee:  I have driven for years and had only a couple of minor accidents. I am conscientious and careful.

What additional resources will you need to achieve your goal?
Kim Lee: Positive self talk, confidence and practice.

How can the goal affect important people in your life, or what risk is associated with achieving this goal?
Kim Lee: My family would be pleased if I were able to do my part. I could have an accident.

What daily actions will you need to take in order to achieve your goal, and what is the first step?
Kim Lee: Drive short distances to build confidence.
The FIRST STEP: is to change my self talk and manage the fear.

Given everything you have considered to this point, is achieving the goal worth it?
Kim Lee:  It would be. I am just not sure, I can do it.

Given that Kim Lee was still hesitant, I began teaching her strategies such as anchoring and Submodality techniques for managing the fear. We agree to continue working on the goal she wants to reach.