- Thoughts for inspired living

April 7, 2008

What If

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:37 am

There is an out of print book called The Philosophy of “As if” by Hans Vaihinger written in 1911 that is probably the world’s first introduction to thinking outside the box. In short, Vaihinger encouraged you to postulate an idea that needed no empirical evidence to back it up. That way, your thinking wasn’t bound by the rules of evidence and you could create concepts that didn’t need to be defended.

NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) uses the “As if” frame as a way to get you to tap resources deeper than show up on the surface. Let’s pretend that we have a frustrated worker who states, “I don’t know anyone who could do this job to my boss’s satisfaction.” Rather than get into the validity of the statement with all the supporting data, a person using the “As if” frame may respond, “But if they could, how do you think they might go about it?” They present the implied position that there is a possible way and are asking you to muster internal resources to explore a new angle of approach.

“What if” is the twin sister of “As if.” There is the great question from the book A Whack On The Side Of The Head
by Roger von Oech that asks: “What if your knees bent in the other direction, what would chairs look like?” It certainly gets the gears going.

Here’s my “What if” question to ponder:

“What if you really weren’t the thoughts in your head, what would life be like?”

Consider the question and see what comes up for you. It may be the springboard to a strategy that you’ve never considered because of the sticky nature of conditioned thoughts. It’s a bypass of the conscious filters to reach the part of you where all the potential answers lie. Another version of the question is:

“What if you aren’t who you think you are, what could you accomplish?”

An application of this is in the book Trance-Formations by Bandler
and Grinder and is cited on the Wikipedia site It states:

NLP practitioner: “The question isn’t why do you drink. The real question is, what would you do if you didn’t? (p.164)”.

The lady, an alcoholic, contacted the speaker some time later saying I think that is the most beautiful question in the world, later admitting she had in fact been intending suicide beforehand due to her alcoholism but instead now had not been able to stop thinking about this question.

So, I’ll pose the question to you one more time.

“What if you really weren’t the thoughts in your head, what would life be like?”

Take that question to your quiet place today and see “what if” anything you come up with.

All the best,



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