Formulating Positively & ‘The Pink Elephant’ [Explained]
Positive formulation & ‘De Roze Olifant’, what is the meaning of that? Simple: have you ever met a taxi driver who asks: “What do you want to get rid of?” Instead of “Where do you want to go?” A little later at the airport you always get your plane ticket when you tell them where you are going! It doesn’t make sense to mention another destination. Let’s learn how to counteract this ‘Pink Elephant’ effect. Read along…
Positive phrasing… In many cases it goes without saying
We get what we focus on in life. If you focus on avoiding the lines along the highway, your body will automatically direct you to the lines along the road.
The more the mother says to the child, “Be careful not to fall …”
Our central nervous system is not ‘compatible’ with the word ‘not’ and cannot hold and process negations, or negatively worded sentences.
If we want to formulate something in the negative, we use the word “not”, for example. This word exists only in language and “not” In the sounds, feelings, images, tastes and smells of our internal images.
So when I say don’t think about a pink elephant now, what happens?
See the highlighted image of the Dutch Railways: this is another good alternative to “Don’t forget to check out”, which you often hear and read around public transport.
Cure is better than prevention.
Formulating positively in practice
When you instruct someone not to think about a bad memory, he cannot think about it until he has first thought about it. His subconscious generates an internal image, after which he knows that he does not want to think about it and can put a cross through it.
If you focus on the edges of the road in the car, you will go for it. You go where you look. So, for example, focus on the reasons why things are going well, because then you will also see that positivity.
Replace the following from your vocabulary: “Don’t get me wrong.”
With: ‘Understand me correctly!’
So we can make our communication a lot more effective now that we know the unwanted effect of negatively worded sentences. From now on, let’s give each other positively worded messages by focusing on what we do want to achieve or communicate instead of what we don’t want.
So a teacher would do well to replace the statement “Don’t forget to do your homework” with the statement, “Remember to do your homework”.
Do your very best not to drop it!
It is better not to use a parent: “Do not eat sweets.” But: “We’ll be drinking tea in a minute, so keep your sweets with the tea for another 5 minutes.”
So always remember to use positive formulations during your daily communication and especially when working with coaching clients.
Questions that help formulate positively
- What do you want?
- What’s the opposite of that?
- Where do you want to go?
- What are you gonna do?
- What would you like instead?
- What do you want to achieve and what steps are you going to take?
- What does that yield?
If you don’t think about x, you won’t get the idea of doing x. You are simply busy with the other things that your focus is on.
The ‘Pink Elephant effect’ is more important than you think …
Positive formulation is more important than you think … You can use it continuously in your life for more happiness and to get more and more and more of what you want! Read the article about the law of attraction and everything will be clear!
Don’t focus on not losing, focus on winning.
Don’t focus on what you don’t want, but focus on what you do want. In other words, don’t focus on what you want to avoid, but on what you want to achieve.
Don’t be pushed by your problems; be led by your dreams.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Should you never formulate negatively?
Of course you can also formulate negatively if you can better convey your message. In fact, negative formulation is sometimes really necessary to make something clear. Make sure that you immediately tell the positively formulated variant of your message afterwards.
It is also important that when you formulate your message negatively (‘Don’t lie down now …’), you are not in a hypnotic feeling (rapport). Otherwise, the negative will be done (“Don’t lie down now … Effortless and completely natural … Very good …”).
The opposite is also true: negative phrasing is very useful if you want to give indirect (subliminal) messages . You use reverse psychology to put an embedded message in the negative formulation. However, this only works if there is also hypnotic rapport with the other person. Without that hypnotic connection (rapport), the hidden messages to the subconscious will not come through.
You also learn to formulate positively during an NLP (Practitioner) Training . Good luck applying this theory … for good or evil!