Institute of Neuro-Semantics Europe

The Meta-State Structure of a Belief Part III


Source: taken from L. Michael Hall, Meta-Relfections #52, November 7, 2011,

If beliefs are sentences, then they are linguistic creatures and are not mere made out of sights, sounds, and sensations. And if their structure is not merely comprised of sensory-data, then they are not changed merely by changing sensory-data which includes the code of the sensory data that is typically called sub-modalities. All of this (in parts I and II) have evoked several people to send questions during the past two weeks. Here are two really great questions:

Question: So are you saying that a person cannot use sub-modalities to change beliefs? Can a sub-modality shift or alteration never change a belief?

Answer: Yes and no. “Yes,” sometimes shifting a sub-modality will change a belief, but “No” the sub-modality shift is not what actually causes the change in the belief. If a change happens and all you do is make a picture darker, further away, smaller, etc. (as an example), a picture which you use to stand for some conceptual belief, then what causes the change is the semantics of that cinematic feature shift. Somehow moving a picture away symbolizes dis-confirmation to you of the picture and that picture somehow symbolically represents some limiting concept that you believed.

This means that the belief change requires that you have a picture that stands for and symbolizes some conceptual understanding and second that you find the precise cinematic feature that represents dis-confirming. And years of experience with this suggests that doing so is very rare. Moving a picture further away may mean it does not seem as real or as compelling to you, but seldom will it mean a dis-confirmation of the original idea. So, yes, while it may work, it is indirect and guesswork. It is much easier and quicker, to work directly with the dis-confirmation process itself.

Question: How does your establishment or structure of beliefs that you carefully laid out in the first article apply to emotions and feelings? I’m sure you will agree that there is an interconnection and interaction of the cognitive (mind or thought) and emotion (or feeling). Is there an interplay? I suspect that the strength of feelings or emotions may be associated with strength of beliefs. You relate and associate feelings (or emotions) with cognition, so would you clarify this distinction?

Great questions! If a belief is a confirmed thought, then the confirmation of that thought not only sends “messages” to the human nervous system, but “commands.” This is what Richard Bandler said in Using Your Brain for a Change (1985). It sends commands indicating, “This is what is real, actual, and what is.” Due to this, your body’s nervous systems then sets out to actualize this (i.e., make it real). That’s why you and I feel our beliefs as convictions and manifest them in our emotional states. That’s why we feel sure about our beliefs and as we live with them, and they become increasingly more familiar, they seem unquestionable and “just the way it is.” That also explains why a challenge to our familiar beliefs seems and feels incredible, ridiculous, and even stupid.

At this stage, the belief loses much or all of its cognitive or mental features and it just feels right or normal. So when someone attacks the belief, we sense or feel that they are attacking “reality,” what we “just know is so.” So for most of us, it often creates a strong emotional sense of making us wrong and so we stand up and fight for the belief.

Also what you most importantly believe formulates your values and your value system, so when someone questions those beliefs, or worse, attacks them, you will have a strong emotional reaction against those questions or attack. Similarly, beliefs about yourself, your identity, your reputation, your loved ones, etc. will active a strong emotional state of defense and protection. For most people, before you have a moment to remember that the belief is just a set of ideas, you will feel existentially threatened!

Beliefs generate emotions— and oftentimes, very strong emotions. The emotions you and I feel are expressions of our beliefs. And the more we access a state of being sure, confident, knowing, etc., the quicker we could create a new belief on very little evidence. And that can undermine the quality and even usefulness of the beliefs that we end up creating for ourselves. After all, as Robert Dilts (1990) has noted, “a belief does not have to be true to be believed.”

So check out your beliefs. Quality control them for accuracy, effectiveness, efficiency, usefulness, empowerment, enhancement, legacy, etc. You can strongly feel that a belief is true and right while all along it is not true or right or useful or helpful at all. Confirm any thought and eventually you will create a belief in or about something. The secret is confirmation and there’s dozens and dozens of ways and bases upon which people confirm things which leads to beliefs.