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Sleight of Mouth Patterns (SOMPS)

Loosening the map of belief using language patterns.

By Ed Redard, M.D.

So what are these wonderful things we call SOMPs? SOMPs are a delightful and elegant way to loosen the boundaries that individuals have built up around their "problems".

What do I mean by that? Frequently Iíll have a person come to me with a statement such as, "I canít lose weight because I donít have willpower." This is a dramatic statement because it  gives you an idea about the structure of their map of weight loss. On their reality map, the city of Weight Loss has a boundary, or wall, which keeps out willpower. It also presupposes that if willpower were able to penetrate the city walls of Weight Loss, then losing weight would be possible.

This is the map of their belief. Is their belief "true"? They certainly seem to be behaving as though it were true. And what is a belief anyway? A belief is a feeling of CERTAINTY about something, that you KNOW where the line between problem and non-problem is, and it is exactly that feeling of certainty is what gives us such conviction about our beliefs.

And so in service to the client (with ecology in mind of course), the first step in moving to a more resourceful belief is to shake the feeling of certainty they have about the old one. This is where the meta-model is useful and allows us, through the process of questioning, to discovery the quality and type of boundaries that are present. By the way, have you ever noticed that when you are meta-questioning the client about their problem, it sometimes just disappears or lessens? Or have you ever meta-questioned a client until they get to a juicy point that is near the core of their belief and all you get from them is a blank stare (I like to call this the "null point")? What is happening at that instant is that the boundaries between problem and non-problem have opened and a new map of a belief was considered or redrawn. This is the basis of personal change.

So, you may be asking, what does this have to do with SOMPs? SOMPs are a fun and useful way to loosen the frame around a belief. It is NOT intended to be a way to change a belief in itself, however, that can frequently happen. As you deliver your SOMPs and the client goes off on their Transderivational Search (TDS) or experiences a state change as demonstrated by a change in skin color, breathing pattern, or other aspects of physiology, you will know that the boundaries are at least being examined. This is a great place start a generative change process.

Before we get on to SOMPS, one more pleasing way of defining and loosening boundaries is to use the questions derived from Cartesian Logic. There are four questions to consider and they take the client through all the possible outcomes of their present belief. The questions are as follows:

Cartesian Questions

Cartesian Questions are as follows:

  1. What would happen if you did?
  2. What would happen if you didnít?
  3. What wouldnít happen if you did?
  4. What wouldnít happen if you didnít?


Client: I canít lose weight because I donít have willpower.

Possible Cartesian Questions to ask the client::

  1. What would happen if you lost weight without willpower?
  2. What would happen if you remain the same weight even with willpower?
  3. What would happen if you lost weight with willpower?
  4. What would happen if you remain the same weight without willpower?
  5. What wouldnít happen if you lost weight without willpower?
  6. What wouldnít happen if you remain the same weight even with willpower?

These questions kind of trance you out just reading them, don't they? The purpose of these question are not only to notice the answers the client gives you, it is also to begin to loosen up their model of the world as they begin to examine the limits of the boundaries around their beliefs.

Now On To:

    Sleight of Mouth Patterns

I. What other meaning could the equation have?
2. A # B, A = C, and that's D
What will happen to them if they continue to think this way?

I. Why are they saying this?
2. What is the secondary gain?
3. What are they trying to get?

Chunk Down
I. What specifically?
2. What are examples of this?
3. What are parts of this?

Chunk Up
I. For what purpose?
2. What's important about this?
3. Exaggerate.

Counter Example
1. Invert the belief
2. Make into a universal statement or question.
3. Was there ever a time when A # B?
4. A causes B, not B causes not A.

Another Outcome
What is another outcome you could shift to?

What story will relate to their belief?
Tell a metaphor or story about the solution.

Apply to Self
Don't think about it; just use the word back on itself.

Hierarchy of Criteria (Values)
1. What are higher criteria (values)? .
2. Apply current criterion (value) to current sentence.

Change Frame Size
1. Something (larger or smaller) they haven't noticed.
2. Different frame, same behavior
3. Chunk up to Universal Quantifier

Meta Frame
How is it possible they could believe that?

Model of the World
1. Switch Referential Index
2. Is this true in everyone's Model of the World?

Reality Strategy
1. How do they represent that belief?
2. How do they/you know if it's not true?
3. Apply current criterion (value) to current sentence.

I hope you enjoy using these as much as I do. I wonder if you are not already more proficient in using SOMPs that you know you are? Nevertheless, I donít know what gets you results as fast as practicing does. So remember, as long as youíre going to practice, HAVE FUN!

Until next time!

Ed Redard, M.D.

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