Transcript: Cracking The Code 02: How We Sort Emotions. 15 Dec 2006

Thom wrote his book "Cracking The Code" on the air: This was the second week, covering how we sort emotions.

Cracking The Code 02: How We Sort Emotions. 15 Dec 2006

Cracking the COde


see hear feel

For the first time that I know of, I mean, I might be wrong on this, but I don't think so, an author putting part of the writing process of a new book on the air - that's me. I have 19 books in print right now on five continents and 16 languages, I think and I'm finishing up a new book which will not be out until the fall of 2007. It will be in bookstores in the fall of 2007, but I have to have it finished and to the publisher by February. And so we're doing this actually on the air, doing this book on the air in part, and finishing it up on the air. The title of the book is, "Cracking the Code: The Art and Science of Political Persuasion" You can't find it anywhere yet; it's not online, it's not on Amazon, anything like that. It's going to be next year's book.

But every week we're going to be, in the last hour of our Friday segments, we're going to be working out a chapter or a lesson I'll be sharing with you about this book and this week it's how we make decisions and how to influence people's decisions. So let's just, you know, get into this stuff and go through it and in the, right after the first break, I'm going to invite folks to call and I'm just going to pick one call and invite a person to share with us the experience of, I'll walk you through the process of, how to change an emotional state around a memory and then, you know, tell you how in the next segment, in the third segment, at the bottom of the hour, how that all applies to politics.

So, here's the, this is stuff that political consultants and real high level marketers know, that they understand, and a lot of people in psychology as well, by the way. And I think it's really important that we all understand this: number one, so we can be alert to it and for it, and number two, so that we can become more competent at communicating. And this is one of my goals in this book "Cracking the Code", is to raise all of us to the level of unconsciously competent communicators, that is, just effortlessly competent communicators.

So, first of all, how do we sort emotions? Last week what we talked about was submodalities. Just to give you a real quick recap; last week I pointed out that, we talked about modalities; the primary modalities. The primary modalities are visual, auditory and kinesthetic, or feeling. The primary ways that people experience the world: through their sight, through their hearing and through their feelings or sensations and most people have these as primary filters.

People who are primarily visual will say things like, "Yeah, I see what you're talking about. Hey, it's great seeing you." They'll even say as they're hanging up the phone, "I'll see you later" even though they're talking to you.

People who are primarily auditory will say things like "I like the sound of that, I understand what you're talking about". People who are primarily kinesthetic - and they will say "I'll talk to you later" when they hang up the phone.

People who are primarily kinesthetic, who code most of their stuff in their feelings, who experience the world through their feelings, they tend to say things like "I get that. I have a good handle on that, I've got a good sense of that; that feels good to me". And they'll say, "Catch you later," when they're hanging up the phone, "let's stay in touch".

So, number one, as we talked about last week, if you want to communicate with a person, if you know their primary filter, you want to try and step into their world. You use their language. But let's drill a level deeper than that. Each one of these modalities has a set of submodalities. That is, subsets - little pieces.

For example in visual there's a picture can be color or black and white, it can be high contrast / low contrast, it can be in our imagination, a memory picture, it can be near us, it can be far away from us, I mean there's all these different variations.

Auditory submodalities - do you hear it behind you, do you hear it in front of you, where is it located in space? Things like that.

Kinesthetic submodalities have to do with where we feel feelings, how we feel them. "He felt that like a hot poker to the leg" or, you know, something like that. "He felt punched in the gut". "Her heart raced". Right, these are kinesthetic subsets, right, kinesthetic descriptions.

Now, the reason that this is useful to know is because the way that we sort information is fundamentally an irrational system. We think that we are rational beings. We think that we understand how the world works and how things are going and that we have some sort of a rational process involved in sorting information, in understanding and storing and keeping information, but actually it's fundamentally irrational. And the reason why is because the rational part of our brain, the left hemisphere of our brain, the part that is logical and, you know, can organize information, can do quadratic equations, that part of our brain is not the part of our brain that is primarily involved in sensing in the world. It's also not the part of the brain that is primarily involved in storing or stashing information.

So what happens is, we have experiences throughout the day; we see things, we hear things, we feel things. We have to figure out a way to make sense and to store and to save those experiences as memories. Throughout the course of the day we write them down on this little one day scratch pad called the thalamus, excuse me, called the hippocampus, by and large. This is, you know, I'm on generalizing wildly here, but it's useful, I think, for the purposes of this conversation.

And then at night as we dream we process that information and that's why our dreams seem irrational. We're trying to figure out, 'OK, what happened today that I need to store and what do I need to throw away and we attach emotional tags to things and then we store information by emotion. The filing system in our brains, in our minds, in our psyches and really arguably even in our bodies, because it's all one thing in my mind, the filing system, you know how there are these kind of like, Pentaflex makes these folders, if you're familiar with filing systems you get these folders, colored folders, you know, blue, yellow, orange, what not, and then inside those you can put the manila file folders. Well, it would be like the big folders would be like the emotions. OK, here's the folder for happiness, here's a folder for love, here's a folder for, you know, pleasure of some type and they're really subtle. I mean, there's thousands of variations of emotion for which we don't even have words; the larger folders. And then the smaller folders within those are made up of the individual experiences and the way that those larger folders are defined is by this set of submodalities: where and how memories exist. How we organize our memories.

So, the goal here, once you understand this process, and I'm going to illustrate it to you, particularly those, I'll illustrate it for those of you who are visual, I'll give you an auditory example for those of you who are auditory, and you will get it if you're kinesthetic.

When after the next break I take a caller and I invite you if you are interested. What I'm going to do, the process that I'm going to do, is that I'm going to ask somebody who calls in to, and I'm taking a chance here hoping that somebody is willing to do this, if not, I don't know, maybe we'll grab David. And ask that person to remember a time - not tell us any of the details, you get to keep your secrets here, that proves how powerful this is - to remember a time in the recent past that was, you know, moderately negative in emotion and then I'm going to show that person how to wipe the negativity out of that emotion, the negative emotion, away from that, and change the emotion associated with that memory. And then we'll take a positive memory and amplify it, make it even more positive.

In other words, this is all going to be useful and productive stuff. And then after I've shown you how that's done and how that works, after I've given you the story of how that works- how we can actually have access to the filing system of our minds, how we can actually access the filing system of our minds, then in the next segment I'm going to tell you how Newt Gingrich organized this for the Republican Party in 1994 and it is still echoing, for the auditories among us, it is still visible for the visuals among us, it still hanging around for the kinesthetics among us, even today, so we get into that.

So, you know, if you'd like to be our guinea pig for this and it'll actually be a lot of fun; you'll find it very pleasant, give us a call on (866)-440-8466 and we'll pick up a caller right after the break, we'll do this example in the next segment and then at the bottom of the hour after the example I'll share with your, show you, tell you, give you a sense of how the Republicans have used it and we'll talk about how we can use it in political communication both interpersonal and institutional.


Lauren and Andrew, our call screener and board op in New York City at Air America Radio, were mentioning to me a few minutes ago, you know, "we're still trying to figure out am I primarily auditory, visual, or kinesthetic? Is there a test some place?" Yes, there is. The one book that I've written about this topic, this whole area of psychology, I wrote it in the context of Attention Deficit Disorder because I've written several books on that topic and it's called "Healing ADD". If you go to and just scroll down, you'll see a whole bunch of covers, you know, all the covers of my books that are in print and for sale right now out there, and if you click on "Healing ADD", it will take you to a web site that we built for that book, and there's three chapter excerpts, and the first chapter excerpt is called "How We Experience The World Differently". And if you click on that you will find a test that you can take; ten questions that you can answer and score yourself and figure out if you're primarily visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. So.

[ In the following exchange Barbara sometimes had difficulty hearing what Thom said. I've omitted the resultant repetition, combining sentences where necessary, and also the exchange establishing how Thom and Barbara know each other - ed.]

That said, we have a bunch of folks who are volunteering here and I'm just going to arbitrarily click on one and I've clicked on Barbara in Los Angeles. Hey Barbara.

[Barbara] Hi, Thom.

[Thom] We don't know each other, do we?

[Barbara] Yes we do.

[Thom] What I'd like you to do is remember something in the recent past, the last week or so that was a moderately unpleasant experience. The example that I would give is like somebody flipping you off in traffic or a surly waiter.

[Barbara] Yeah, I got one.

[Thom] You got one, OK, great. Now, I want you to describe to me the submodalities associated with it. In other words, when you remember that experience, and you see the picture of that, do you see the picture in color or black and white?

[Barbara] Color.

[Thom] OK. Describe in space where it is: in front of you, behind you, you know, where is it? … Is it like 5 feet in front of you, is it 20 feet behind you, is it 6 feet off to your left? …

[Barbara] In front of me.

[Thom] It's in front of you. And how far away?

[Barbara] I would say 10, 5 feet.

[Thom] 5 feet. OK. Is there sound associated with it?

[Barbara] Yeah, there's sound.

[Thom] OK. And is it a movie or is it a still picture?

[Barbara] It's a movie picture.

[Thom] OK, great. So, what I'd like you to do, Barbara, is first of all push that picture, so we figured out some of the submodalities associated with it, right?

[Barbara] Yeah.

[Thom] What I'd like you to do is push that picture about twice as far away from you. Push it like 10, 15, 20ft. away from you first of all.

[Barbara] OK. I've done it.

[Thom] OK, and now turn it black and white.

[Barbara] OK. But that's hard. That's hard, to turn it into black and white.

[Thom] Oh, interesting. OK, well you can leave it color if you want. Maybe your brain doesn't want it black and white yet.

[Barbara] No, my brain doesn't want black and white.

[Thom] OK, well that's cool. Leave it as color. I want you to scroll all the way to the end of the movie and freeze frame it…

[Barbara] Freeze frame it, OK.

[Thom] And now, in just a second I'm going to make a whoosh sound and I'm going to ask you to play it backwards and you know how you play a movie backwards, everybody moves like in the old Charlie Chaplin movies and everybody talks backwards like Donald Duck, you know, [Thom does a Donald Duck impression] And I want you to right now play it backwards all the way back to the beginning with everybody going, everything going backwards - whoosh. Like that.

[Barbara] Yep. Yep, I did.

[Thom] OK, all the way to the beginning. Now freeze frame it at the beginning and do you see yourself in the picture or do you see it as if you were there?

[Barbara] I see myself in the picture.

[Thom] OK, great. What I'd like you to do is I'd like you to paint rainbows across that picture now and put donkey ears on everybody in the picture except yourself…

[Barbara] OK.

[Thom] Now, how do you feel about the experience right now?

[Barbara] Laughter. What I did is I went back to the beginning and said, "OK, this didn't happen".

[Thom] Ah ha! So, you're laughing now. A few minutes ago I'm guessing you weren't laughing about this experience.

[Barbara] No, I wasn't.

[Thom] OK, number one, you're laughing now, and number two, what you just told me is that you, your sounstoryd about the experiences has changed. Has it? … The story that you tell yourself about what happened there.

[Barbara] Yeah.

[Thom] Typically what happens is stories change from "Oh gee, I was a victim" to, "Oh, that happened but I learned from it". That kind of a transition was it something like that?

[Barbara] No, it was "OK, that happened, let's just accept it and deal with it, that's it," instead of being so anxious about it.

[Thom] OK, so you have transformed a memory by simply shifting the filing system that your brain uses for it .

[Barbara] Oh. OK.

[Thom] Isn't that cool? Now here, just real quickly, push it 50 feet away, paint it on glass, like in sepia stones, and with a stone in your mind, throw it and shatter it.

[Barbara] OK, thank you Thom, say hello to Louise.

[Thom] You're welcome… Thanks, Barbara, for calling. We'll be right back and I'll describe what happened and why this is relevant in Newt Gingrich in just a minute.


Here's what happened. We changed, with Barbara, we changed the sorting system and that changed the reality, because the reality is really what we perceive - it's not what's so. So, to take this to the next step, here's how Newt Gingrich has used this. He came up with this thing, it's called contrasting words, you can Google this, and just Google in a Newt Gingrich word search, actually, I forget the title of it [1996 GOPAC memo - ed.] , but he said, "Often we search hard for words to define our opponents. Sometimes we are hesitant to use contrast." Notice the first sentence was kinesthetic. The second sentence is visual. "Remember that creating a difference helps you." 'Remember' is primarily auditory. "These are powerful words that can create a clear" - visual - "and easily understood" - auditory - "contrast. " So Newt even in writing this is writing this to an entire audience. "Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party. "

So now, Newt says use these, and he actually has a video about this, he teaches this to Republican politicians and has them memorize this list. These are the words, whenever you're going to use the word democrat or democratic or your opponent's name, try to figure out a way to put one of these words before that:

"decay, failure (fail) collapse(ing) deeper, crisis, urgent(cy), destructive, destroy, sick, pathetic, lie, liberal, they/them, unionized bureaucracy, "compassion" is not enough, betray, consequences, limit(s), shallow, traitors, sensationalists, endanger, coercion, hypocrisy, radical, threaten, devour, waste, corruption, incompetent, permissive attitude, destructive, impose, self-serving, greed, ideological, insecure, anti-issue, anti-flag, anti-family, anti-child, anti-jobs; pessimistic, excuses, intolerant, stagnation, welfare, corrupt, selfish, insensitive, status quo, mandate(s) taxes, spend (ing) shame, disgrace, punish (poor...) bizarre, cynicism, cheat, steal, abuse of power, machine, bosses, obsolete, criminal rights, red tape, and patronage."

Now, all of these words are words that, I'm assuming Frank Lunz probably played a role in this, that Newt had figured out, cause people to bring up pictures or bring up feelings that are negative and if you can then attach that to your opponent, so when you invoke the name of your political opponent, this is what Newt is suggesting, invoking the name of your political opponent causes people to bring up a picture of them, right? And then you bring up one of these words and it brings up an emotion or it changes some way the way that that picture is held. Now he said, on the other hand, there are optimistic, positive, what he calls 'governing' words. He says, "Use the list below to help define your campaign and your vision of public service. These words can help give extra power to your message. In addition, these words help develop the positive side of the contrast you should create with your opponent," Isn't this interesting. He says, "your vision of public service. There's that visual. "These words can give extra power." "These words" - auditory - "can give extra power" - kinesthetic- "to your message.". "In addition, these words help develop the positive side of the contrast" - kinesthetic, visual - "you should create with your opponent giving your community something to vote for!"

And here's the words you should use whenever you are describing - this is what Newt says - you know, yourself, your positions, or in Newt's case, the Republican Party:

"share, change, opportunity, legacy, challenge, control, truth, moral, courage, reform, prosperity, crusade, movement, children, family, debate, compete, actively, we, us, our, candidly, humane, pristine, provide, liberty, commitment, principle, unique, duty, precious, promise, caring, tough, listen, learn, help, lead, vision, success, empowerment, citizen, activist, mobilize, conflict, light, dream, freedom, peace, rights, pioneer, pride, building, preserve, pro-flag, pro-child, pro-environment, pro-reform, pro-workfare, eliminate good time in prison, strength, choice, choose, fair, protect, confident, incentive, hard-work, initiative, common sense and passionate." "

One of the things that you want to avoid is doing what John Kerry did in so many of his conversations during the 2004 election and that is using fifteen or sixteen words, particularly words that are polysyllabic you know, multiple syllables, and largely abstractions to describe something that you can describe in three or four words that are really simple. "Well, we need to carefully consider the long-term strategic consequences of any bilateral", excuse me, "of any unilateral participation in a conflict in that part of the world." That's not a verbatim quote, you know, I'm imagining a for example, but you know what I'm talking about, when instead he could have said something like, "We shouldn't just invade another country. We should bring our Allies with us and get the consensus of the world, or get the world to agree."

Because the simpler words are more effective at creating the pictures. There's not as much processing necessary. This whole process of the processing is also, here's another example, and this is probably one of the most important examples.

Consider how George Bush used the coming together moment of 9/11 and turned it into an 'us versus them' campaign. I mean, this was a radical transformation. If you remember back to 9/11 and you remember the days immediately following, the one or two days right after 9/11, the twelfth and the thirteenth of September 2001: there were pictures in the paper of candlelight vigils and Teheran, Iran, in Jordan, all across Africa, all across Asia, in China, all across Europe, in South America, Central America, all over the world. People were saying, the headline in 'Le Monde' the French newspaper, the famously, you know, "What, Americans? Huh!" French newspaper, the headline, "We're all Americans now" and George Bush could have used that powerful iconic image that was burned into the minds of people all over the world of the planes flying into the towers, he could have used that, and associated with it, I mean the initial association obviously was the emotion of horror, then came the emotion of community, because that's our instinct as human beings is to form community.

We could have created worldwide community around that but instead he and his advisers very carefully, very methodically, very strategically, in my opinion, instead created the emotion of 'us versus them', of hatred and fear, of anger, because those are the emotions that George W. Bush is most comfortable with and those are the emotions that can be used most easily to manipulate people. That's the survival level. That's the limbic brain. Instead, it could have been a healing moment, like JFK after the Cuban missile crisis, or Abraham Lincoln after the Civil War. At the end of the Civil War Abraham Lincoln saying, "Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained… Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God..." He said, "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan."


Song: "Voters Turned the Congress Blue".

See, how this is submodality shift for you, moving from one color to another. And now, a couple of questions have come up, folks in the chat room, one person, MerrySuu says, "Does Barbara need an anchor for that change, that emotional change in that memory?" No, once the story has changed - and that's the key - once the story line to a memory has changed, then the memory actually is residing in a different physical part of the brain and it has found a new home. And it's found a new home that the entire brain thinks is more useful. Basically what I was doing, and then the second question is, is there an order to those submodality shifts that you're doing, you know, should I push it farther away, should I make it black and white, should I put it off to the side, should I run the movie backwards, should I put donkey ears, I mean there are literally thousands of things that you can do to the submodalities sets; it's limited only by your imagination.

And there is no particular order or sequence. I was using the big ones; whether it's color or black and white, where the location is, whether it's a movie or not, running movies backwards, they're the, the big ones are the easiest to use and they have the most rapid response. But even subtle ones like changing the contrast; making something slightly fuzzy, graying it out a little bit, seeing it through fog, things like that. All of those will change a picture, or changing the sound; making the sound stereo, putting the sound behind you, putting the picture in front of you. There is just no limit to what you can do.

The point is, that as you are changing the submodalities - keep in mind, different parts of the brain literally, physically, I mean you can actually see these changes on steady state EEG scans - as different, as you access different parts of the brain by moving the memory around, different parts of the brain have different resources; they have different ways of dealing with things. And so, you know, if you want to heal a negative memory, then by doing this what happens is, you know, somewhere along the line that memory in Barbara's mind passed through a part of her brain where there was a resource, some skill or experience that said, "I know how to fix this, I know how to change how you think about this". And it just did it. And you know that it did it when the story changes and that's what she said at the very end. So that answers those two questions.

Now how did George W. Bush change the story of "we have been hit by a couple crazies, by a small group of crazy people", because that was the initial story; this was not a Pearl Harbor, this was not a nation with whom we were at war. This was a small band. It turned out there were fewer than 5000 people in Al Qaeda at the time. We'd been hit by a small group of crazies, criminals. And a few of them, you know, pulled this thing off with box cutters. It was weird, it was an anomaly and the whole world is horrified by them and has turned against them and we can now use the police services of the world to hunt them down like they did with the Bader Meinhof gang in Germany or like they did with the Red Brigades in Italy when they killed Aldo Moro, the former prime minister - stuck him in a trunk and he died - everybody turned against them, everybody had turned against Al Qaeda.

How did suddenly Al Qaeda get flipped around? Well, Bush used language that evoked emotions and then attached that language to 9/11 over and over and over again. Here, for example, this is just a little clip from his speech at the Republican National Convention. Here he is talking to his people and this just, you know, random clips in the order that they were said, just pulled out, you know, impact words pulled out of his RNC speech. This is his acceptance speech at the RNC:

" Be afraid, September the 11th, we saw a tragedy arrive on a quiet morning, the evil terrorists, danger, doom, killers, be afraid, the world will drift toward tragedy, may God bless you, evil God, Iraq, darkness, the continuing danger of terrorism, be afraid, we have fought the terrorists across the earth, evil, we are staying on the offensive, striking terrorists abroad, and nothing will hold us back, and we will prevail, be afraid, God bless America, nuclear weapons, Iraq was a gathering threat, And Al Qaeda was largely unchallenged as it planned attacks, free Afghanistan, terror, Pakistan, terrorists, Saudi Arabia, Libya, weapons programs, Saddam Hussein, terror, weapons of mass destruction, almighty God, dictator, Pakistan, terrorists, Afghanistan and Iraq, fight terrorists, various terrorist enemies we are facing in Iraq, we are defeating the terrorists, doing battle in Afghanistan and Iraq, the resurrection, Saddam Hussein's secret police, sadistic punishment, mass graves, radical ideology of hate, kill the innocent, tyranny and terror."

There you go. That's one minute ten seconds of a compression of Bush's speech before the RNC and you get it that this kind of language is all very evocative. He's pulling up pictures in our in minds and he's establishing a place for those pictures and anchoring them to that experience of 9/11, tragically. So what could have been a healing moment for the United States and the world and actually was in the first few days, and if you think back to the first couple days after 9/11 it was this healing moment actually. It's like "Wow, we've all been wounded; we are a community, we the world, even, has been turned into this bizarre excuse to spy on people, to do away with habeas corpus, to strip out human rights, to torture people, for extraordinary rendition, to take American citizens like Jose Padilla and break them. It's, you know, so you can see the power of this.

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