Neurologic Levels

In the mid fifties, Gregory Bateson, anthropologist - social scientist - linguist and much more, developed the idea that natural hierarchies occur in our processes of thinking, learning and communication. In the late 80s, Robert B. Dilts, author and Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) Master and Master Trainer, applied Bateson's concepts to the development of what he termed 'Neuro-Logical Levels’.

The NLP Neurologic Levels hierarchy consists of six levels, usually stacked in a pyramid. These levels are Spirituality, Identity, Beliefs and Values, Capabilities, Behaviors, and Environment. 

The following are some personal theories and graphics after playing with the levels and making some discoveries along the way.

Person Heart Pyramid

Here is the traditional pyramid. Here are some things to question. Why would Environment be the largest and bottom-most layer? This makes sense to a degree, as it is a foundation. But it is an earthly one. And why is the Vision level the smallest, albeit on top? The entire success of solution-focused coaching depends on the Vision level. It seems kinda insignificant up there.

The foremost thing to understand about this pyramid is alignment. If all levels align then all aspects and parts of a person are aligned as well. And the following quote by Saint Germain in Unveiled Mysteries by Godfré Ray King is absolutely true.

"When you thus use all the constructive processes — it is impossible for your plan — not — to come into your visible world."

‘Use all the constructive processes’ means you have clarity on all the levels, integrating them in a balanced way. Good to know, right? 



Pyramid Aligned w Arrow

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Another important thing to know is this: Any level at which change or improvement is made causes an impact upon all the levels beneath it. This is represented by this pyramid with an arrow. For example, if a change or improvement is made at the level of one’s Vision, then all six levels are impacted. 

But a change at one level does not necessarily impact any levels above that level. Say a change is made at the Values level. Then only that and the Capabilities, Behavior, and Environment levels below it are congruently and consistently impacted. This pyramid with the smaller and lower arrow represents this.

Pyramid Aligned w Arrow Half



Let’s play with alignment. Here is a misaligned pyramid. Let’s say this pyramid represents a person whose vision is small and unfocused, whose identity is unclear, whose values and beliefs actually conflict with each other. They are probably inconsistent in ability and all over the place with regard to their behavior. Luckily, they live at home still and that’s about the only stable thing in his, her, or their life. Not much is happening for this person in this world that is noteworthy. This person might be represented by this misaligned pyramid. This Vision is light. When it falls it will make a small bump sound, if anyone notices. You get it with alignment, right? On to Being versus Doing. 


Pyramid Misaligned

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Most of us have heard these words from the French philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

 “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” 

This boils down to would you rather identify with your physical body or your eternal spirit? Do you want to wear a meat suit or embody being a powerful, energetic aspect of Something-Larger-Than-Life? That might be God, Spirit, Creator, Law of the One, Cause of Being, Love, or whatever you might want to call it. How does one connect with what might be larger than life? In other words, do you want to be a Human Doing or a Human Being?

A Human Doing lives mostly in the bottom three levels of a pyramid. This person functions by responding to these questions: What-to-do, How-to-do-it, Where-will-it-happen, and When-will-it-happen. This is the world of Outer Activity.

A Human Being lives mostly in the top three levels. This person functions by giving thought to these: Why-am-I-doing this, Who-will-I-become, Who-else-is-impacted, and With-Whom-or-What-will-I-connect. This is the world of Inner Power. 

Each person tends to find her, his, or their place of comfort in a doing-being balance. And a mindful person will practice awareness as to where he, she, or they are in any given moment in time.

If one believes we must have a pyramid, which might be debatable, what would it look like if the pyramid was flipped? Perhaps like this. 

Inverted Pyramid Aligned

The environment is kinda insignificant now; as in, “home is where you make it” or “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with” or “you create your own reality.” And so on. 

And Vision is impressive. Have you ever noticed if you can’t see something in your mind’s eye it does not happen to or for you? You might experiment with that. It is useful to know if a future event will unfold for you. Or not.

Inverted Pyramid w Arrow

And what might this inverted, aligned pyramid be like when a change is made? A change in Vision leaves a wider arrow of impact to cover even more of the levels beneath it. Think about that: a changed Vision ripples into every area of life. 

A change in Values has more impact downward as shown in the half-arrow pyramid.

Inverted Pyramid w Arrow Half

Consider the below inverted pyramid, misaligned. Hmm. Not much more information is gained here from the misaligned pyramid from the way-above. It just seems like the fall in this one hurts more. Have you ever had your vision squashed? This pyramid might show how that feels. Like when Vision hits the ground, it might feel like an earthquake. And look what else it takes down with it.

Inverted Pyramid Misaligned w Person

One of the things an effective coach does is ask questions that cover all layers of these neurologic levels. Most positive changework occurs in the upper levels. 

Aligned pyramids, inverted and not, are contagious. This means not only can levels align within a person, but others are impacted by a person’s alignment. One may intuitively sense if a person’s pyramid is aligned; it feels good. And if a person’s pyramid is off-kilter or tumbling one might find one’s self wanting to help that person or distancing one’s self from that person. Unless they are a match for one, which is why or when discernment might be healthy.


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© Kris Kramer Coach 2019