What is the persuasion role of self persuasion?

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What is the persuasion role of self persuasion?

January 4, 2009 Persuasion 5

This week, I’ll share with you a few items in order to answer the question, ‘What is the persuasion role of self-persuasion?’ First, I wish to point out that I end my live persuasion training program by telling my groups that the one thing you must believe in order to be persuasive is simply this: “I can do this.”

This statement is about self persuasion, about what you tell yourself is true before you set out to do a thing. Subjectively, things are true because you say they are. So what do you want to say to yourself? What do you want to be true? What truth empowers you to use your resources and be persuasive, effective, capable?Contrast this with “This is hard,” or “I can’t remember all this,” or some other truth that is naught but a fiction until you make it real by persuading yourself of it. It just seems obvious to me, and necessary for you, to understand that the most important person to persuade is always yourself. To use self persuasion effectively, I’m cognizant that there is a remedial side to it, and a generative side. Let me explain.

Remedial is about dealing with old stuff, old conditioned ideas about what is so. Interestingly, our minds are organized in such a way that whatever you believe is true, you will find evidence and support for it. That doesn’t make those ideas true, but if you think they are or feel they are, you’ll act as if they are and look for proof.

Today I spoke with a friend at length about dealing with fear and anxiety. This friend is recovering from a major life-changing surgery. This friend has had enough of playing out old conditioning. I shared with my friend my useful assumption that we never escape from our childhood conditioning, nor should we, nor should we want to. That conditioning is what got us from there to here. It worked, it helped us survive, and no matter how screwy it seems in this moment of life, at a previous moment, it somehow made perfect sense. Instead of dissociating from that old conditioning, I prefer to be informed by it, to be reminded by it of what is true for me now.

How about you? Your comments are welcome. I’ll continue this in my next post. For now, I’m off to Macworld. Back to you in a couple of days…

Be well,

be well,


5 Responses

  1. J.D. Meier says:

    So true.

    It’s like the Pygmalian effect – you get what you expect … and we’re our best limiters or enablers. We can box ourselves or unleash ourselves.

    A related idea I like is to test your can’ts. If you think you can’t, prove it. I use it when I haven’t tried something in a long time and the last thing I remember is messing it up. I pretend I’m starting from scratch, but with lessons learned, and I try to prove that I can’t … and usually, surprise myself.

    The toughest ones to change are the habits or beliefs we burned in (basal ganglia, muscle memory … and emotional links) … but I find awareness can go a long way. I just have to do a state change and link it. The mistake I used to make was trying to rely on intellect instead of baking into emotion/body.

  2. Anette says:

    Dear Rick,
    I found a say from Ghandi, it said : be the change you want to see in the world.
    I found it verry inspriring so I tried. Surprisingly, the look people take at you changes with the idea you make of yourself… because everything changes as you change. What I find hard is to work on the bad habits you keep from childhood times… You are right when you say that when you believe in something you see proofs of it (wether they are true or faked by your mind) its because you are focused. There is this test that shows a basket game and the viewer is asket to count how many times the ball changes hands, if you are focused you do not see the man disguised into monkey dancing moonwalk between players ! Beeing focused can help, but from time to time it is useful to step back and take a look at the larger picture !

  3. Dave says:

    Hallo Rick

    Interesting blog

    Self persuasion seems to be a tricky subject. You have to be careful what you persuade yourself to do. Some recommendations are simply bunkum. For example, NLP has recently been identified as one of a top 10 most discredited interventions according to some very reliable research:


    Persuading yourself to use NLP seems to be a serious error. Lots of people seem to have fallen for that pseudoscience.

    But persuading yourself to use well supported methods seems to be a good idea. Prioritizing what has been well founded in theory, well passed tests, is useful. Not only is it easier to persuade yourself, but you get a hefty placebo/confidence effect on top of a realistic finding.


    • Dave
      I like the distinction about self persuasion vs self delusion, well done!

      I got NLP training from B&G themselves back in the late 70s. For me, it’s apparent that it is a model, not a science. That means it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny but you can use it to get results (because of the impact on yourself and how you pay attention, organize your responses and so on.)

      Long time readers of my blog know I’m not a fan of magical thinking and magic elixirs. But I LOVE useful models. And in my persuasion model, self persuasion is a foundational element. If you’re not persuaded, you’ll pass along your own doubts to those you seek to persuade. Once you have persuaded yourself, you engage a whole host of elements that lead to matching deed to word, including motivation, eliminating cognitive dissonance, and so on.

      Thanks for your insight, please comment again!
      best wishes

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