Complex Equivalencies

Adapted from NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP) Principles

A = ∞ –> A = B

Overarching Principle: As a matter of necessity, we simplify in order to communicate with time and effectiveness. Think about relating a particular scenario/story. How much longer would it take if you included everything you felt with every sense at all times? What about if you included every thought that every person in the story was thinking? What if you went into detail regarding each and every noun specifically (i.e., ‘safety)?

Complex Equivalencies are the ways in which we abridge (shorten) our stories for time’s sake, yet they can also get us into some trouble. The tools below help us to, in a directed fashion, flesh out the parts of people’s stories that may have a lot to tell us!

Tips – ask who, what, where, when or how. Pronouns are KEY here. They typically indicate a Complex Equivalency is happening.

Category I – Deletion and Nominalization

Deletion – Leaving off specific information or referents

a. Simple – “I was afraid” → afraid of whom / what specifically?
b. Comparative Deletion – “We need to get better” → Compared to whom or what? On what scale? Where a 1 is ____, and a 10 is _____?
c. Lack of Referent – “No One Likes Me” → Who doesn’t like you? or “Strong People could do this” → Who is strong enough to do this?
d. Unspecified Verbs [the road to faux/foe] – “He Rejected me” → What does ‘rejection’ look like?

Nominalization – Transforming specific actions into abstract/universal processes while making them concrete

a. “I wish I had some recognition” →What would it look like to be recognized?
b. “I’m in a lot of pain” →What does that feel like? Where do you feel it?
c. “I need some help here” →What would helping you entail?
d. “You need to get your priorities straight?” →how do you decide? What is important?

Category II – Limits of the Speaker’s Model

Universal Quantifiers – abstracting a single person/idea/situation into a universal truth

-No one is nice to me → Who specifically? [also, what does ‘nice’ mean?
-Everyone is mean → Who specifically?
-You’re always so bossy → When, specifically?
-I will never do this! → Never is a long time, is there one situation in which you might do this?

False Necessity – Either/or, alien brain-control, or ‘magic pill’ thinking.

– I can’t do this without help → What would that help look like?
– I have to do my homework →Who is making you? How?
– I should do this or that →What would happen if you didn’t?

Category III – Ill Formedness

Cause and Effect – False understandings of the relation between stimuli

– You piss me off → What did you see me do or say?
– I’m sad because you’re late → What about my lateness affects your feelings?

Mind Reading – Projecting our thoughts into/onto others

– You hate me → What suggests that s/he hates you?
– He has no idea what he’s doing → How do you know?
– Everyone is judging me! → How do you know?

Lost Performative – abstracting our own moral codes

This is not the right thing to do here → according to whom? What/Who decides ‘right’?