Internal Politics and the Congruency of Decisions

img congruency of decision and adpatationI originally wrote this article that was published in Rapport Magazine in 2011, as a way of cross fertilising NLP insights with those of the Enneagram and Gurdjieff teachings. At that time the UK was embarking on a general election.

This month, people in the UK will be voting on whether to remain or leave the European Union, and the USA citizens are in the grip of a presidential election, choosing between Hilary Clinton, Bernie Saunders and Donald Trump.

The ideas that I considered back in 2011 are still relevant today, not just in how we vote, but also in the variety of ways we may choose to live our lives.
With the removal of an editors word limitation, I have revised it for publication on this blog.

Grahame Morgan-Watson June 2016


Over the next few weeks, people in the UK and USA will be asked to make a decision that could change our politics for years to come.

The rights and wrongs of our voting system will be vigorously argued by all sides in order to win favour. Our vote is one of many, and there will be winners and losers. The losers will condemn whilst the winners reassure, and the not-bothered can curse both houses. As with the last election, unexpected ramifications will generate a degree of buyer’s remorse. Broken pledges from the hustings, will leave some politicians and pundits embarrassed and cynical.

Some outcomes seem more in our control; what food to eat, car we buy, TV show to watch, or exercise to take up. In relationships, such decisions are shared. When the food tastes bad, the car breaks down or we injure ourselves, guilt can turn to blame as we attempt to shift responsibility.

Awareness of the interdependent impact of our decisions is vital for creating a well formed outcome. We call this Sensory Acuity and Ecology.

It is akin to the Social Adaptation Instinct: an intelligence that recognises the benefits from adapting to our environment and working together. Bonding with people and sharing tasks, increases the opportunities for procreation and self preservation. Individuals get to specialise in a function that supports the rest of the group.

Mums nurture the kids, whilst Dads bring home the bacon and Grandma prepares supper. The gender roles are slowly adapting, but the principles of delegated responsibility remains the hallmark of a healthy society or organisation. Somebody is always working to maintain basic services to keep us warm, nourished and connected to the rest of the world.

As with the external impact decisions, we check in to see if all aspects of our own being are congruent with the desired outcome. The Six Step Reframing process could be seen as a way of gaining the vote of internal parts with a vested interest in behaviours we wish to change. Given what we know from Meta-Programmes and Language and Behaviour (LAB) Profiling1, our attempts in covering all contexts for a congruent behaviour, remain an approximation.

Committing to a purchase and then changing our minds is an area we all encounter.

As teachers or coaches, we receive a booking from someone wishing to attend a workshop or a time slot for a coaching session, but they cancel at the last minute, or we have to chase payment.

We book space in a magazine to advertise our event. Time passes, the invoice arrives and we find that we do not have the money. Maybe the ad didn’t bring the results we expected? Or the car breaks down so the money is required elsewhere?
I suspect this will be a more frequent in this age of austerity. We cannot ignore the impact of reality, or Harold Macmillan’s oft quoted retort “Events, my dear boy, events!”.

In my experience, reality does have a way of kicking expectations in to touch. It is how we respond that can be a measure of our congruence. If there is one useful lesson I can share from my entrepreneurial business experiences in two previous recessions, it is to contact your suppliers to communicate pending difficulties for paying the bill, before they contact you. My experience is that most suppliers are more understanding and cooperative than we would expect when we take a more proactive role to contact them with the problem. The same is true for any situation where we feel threatened by an unknown future event. Dealing with what we can now, often avoids the problem we fear for the future, and it is the fear that undermines our sense of well being, more than the issue I have found.

Congruence could manifest with aligning to the original commitment by paying the bill before the results are known, and whilst the money is at hand. If the money is not at hand, that may be a good opportunity to re-evaluate the congruency of your commitment!

A Model of Congruency

“Man has not one permanent and unchangeable ‘I’ or Ego. He is always different, one moment he is one, another moment he is another…The illusion of unity or oneness is created in man by the sensation of one physical body, by his name, and by a number of mechanical habits”

This is a quote for a 1937 lecture(2) by P. D. Ouspensky presented teachings of Mr G I Gurdjieff (3) (c1877–1949)

Neuroscience findings from Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) seem to support this concept. Science writer Rita Carter4, describes how our sense of being conscious, relates to a frequency of neural activity reaching a certain level. However, the active neurons are not always the same ones for us to experience consciousness. Ms. Carter likens neurons to zombie-like-passengers, robotic humanoids charged with relaying a good or bad verdict on one piece of information.

A further assertion of how we are not always attending to the world from the same set of memories was revealed from research  in 2011 by Gabriel Radvansky. A Notre Dame Psychology professor, Radvansky asserts that “Entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an ‘event boundary’ in the mind, which separates episodes of activity and files them away,” he explains “Recalling the decision or activity that was made in a different room is difficult because it has been compartmentalized.”
Mr George Ivanovich Gurdjieff makes a similar analogy: Man is likened to a horse and carriage whose variety of passengers, govern the direction and speed, as there is no Master to drive the vehicle. With no Master at the helm, Gurdjieff tells us these different parts of our inner functions are distorted, and not doing what they are supposed to be doing. Gurdjieff’s analogy becomes a household where the parlour maid is driving the car, the chauffeur preparing the meal, and the butler is washing dishes.

When we consider this insight with respect to Robert Dilts’ Logical Levels(5), an NLP pyramid model adapted from Bateson’s work on understanding differences by moving to another ‘level’ of comparison, it has a significant impact on how we see ourselves and our spiritual nature.

The Dilt’s Logical Levels model, represents the affect of our environmental factors on our behaviours, which in turn imacts our sense of capabilities, in turn affecting our belief and values, which at the peak, reflects on who we take ourselves to be.

An inverted pyramid is often added to represent spirituality (fig 1).

The influences is both ways. The apex represents a single Identity exerting a downward influence on our Beliefs and Values: motivations for “why we think what we think and do what we do” including “changing his or her thoughts or actions”. This influences Capabilities and Skills, which affects Behaviour and the Environment as experienced by our five senses. The five senses communicate directly with our instinctual nature, and the model reflects how the flow of influence is also upwards, thus impacting on identity.

logical levels 1

fig 1

In most NLP circles, whilst this model is considered useful, there is a general view that flow is less hierarchical, and that the different ‘levels’ exert influence in a more network manner. However, it can be a useful model to get some sense of where blockages, stuck states or potential shifts can be exerted.

The ancient Sanskrit Indian teachings expressed in the Bhagavad Gita(6), warns of perils from becoming enthralled in the blind-sense-mind indulgences of the instinctual centre. The authentic practices of Yoga and Meditation express the work required to evolve to a higher conscious expression of Self.

A deeper realisation is that our sense of self is more influenced by context than we care to acknowledge.

We only have to contemplate the behavioural manifestations of NLP Meta-programmes: in one context I am avoiding something, another attaining. There are things I must do alone, and others I desire the cooperation of other people.  Any interference in our pattern can bring up a multitude of resistance. Our reactivity becomes the measure of how identified we may be with particular meta-programmes in a given context.

img of multiple logical levels

Fig 2 Multiple Logical Levels

Fig 2.

When we apply this concept to the Dilt’s Logical Levels and consider the teaching of Gurdjieff and findings of Radvansky and concepts from Rita Carter, the model becomes more like a series of interconnected cones with many apexes representing lots of “I”s.  When one “I” commits in one context (fig 2).

The other “I”s are asleep and unaware, thus uncommitted. The sleep acts as a buffer to lessen the shock we would otherwise experience if we were aware of our inconsistencies.
Much of our neurotic, habitual behaviour is instinctual and normally out of awareness. It is also the seat of some of our most dramatic experiences of incongruence. Out thought patterns may engage in justifying the manifestations of the instinctual drive. Our hearts may harden to the consequences, but the root cause is our lack of an indivisible “I”.

Awakening to a higher Self

Taking an aim to awaken to such a consciousness requires courage, patience and objective self observation(7). We begin to see the insurgencies of rebelling “I”s with compassion and non-judgemental awareness. We develop a magnetic centre – a gravitational pull of a lone steward, passionate to a cause. Our inner politician sets up his or her stall to herald a higher ideal by staying awake to reality, grateful for whoever or whatever shows up. Our powers of influence and persuasion are focused inwards.

Regular meditation supports the quietening of the zombie-like noises, bringing more neurons into alignment with the stated aim. But like any regular gathering, we notice the reluctance of some parts to get involved. We begin to see our habitual distractions, which can be utilised for staying awake.
So as you contemplate your voting preference or consider buying that new car, take a moment to notice what you are expecting? What is the part that regrets, reacts or blames? How can you be more in the moment?  Presence is never habit and reality is always in the eternal now. We cannot rewrite history, nor second guess the future.

We may not like the current economic conditions or the house we live in, but we can stay true to our higher ideals with compassion for our fellow humans. We can be courageous, innovative and challenging, and still be kind, considerate and open to new ideas.

Our ability to adapt without reactivity or attachment may be the only measure of authentic congruency.


1. Words That Change Minds. By Shelle Rose Charvet
2. The Psychology of Mans Possible Evolution . PD Ouspensky. Random House
3. In Search of The Miraculous. The Teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff by P D Ouspensky
4. Consciousness. By Rita Carter 2002
5. Encyclopaedia of Systemic Neuro-Linguistic Programming by Robert Dilts & Judith DeLozier
6. The Bhagavad Gita, commentary by Paramahansa Yogananda, published by SRF
7. Self Observation. By Red Hawk (Dr. Robert Moore)
8. Gabriel Radvansky