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Description of the Decision Maker® Technology

Description of the
Decision Maker® Belief Process

Steps of the
Decision Maker®Belief Process

Description of the Decision Maker®
Stimulus and Sense Processes

Decision Maker®Change Perspective Process

Decision Maker® ProcessChanged Environment

Decision Maker®
Expectation Process

Decision Maker® Sense Process

Decision Maker®
Stimulus Process



Based on material in
Re-Create Your Life:
Transforming Yourself and Your World

John Stuart Mills, a 19th century philosopher, observed that "No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible until a great change takes place in their mode of thought."

Why? What is there about our "mode[s] of thought" that keep us stuck? How could a new "mode of thought" open up possibilities for significant and worthwhile improvements?

In this short excerpt from my book, Re-Create Your Life: Transforming Yourself and Your World, I will describe the Decision Maker® Belief Process, which is one way to assist people to achieve the new "mode[s] of thought" that Mills called for.

This abbreviated description of the Decision Maker® Belief Process is, of necessity, vastly oversimplified and in many cases raises as many questions as it answers. It does, however, clearly state the principles of the DMBP and how and why it facilitates us to eliminate the beliefs that determine our patterns of behavior and emotions.

Beliefs Limit Possibilities
Eliminating Beliefs Creates New Possibilities
Description of the DM Process
The Difference Between the DM Process and Cognitive Therapies
A Brief Analysis of the DM Process


Beliefs Limit Possibilities

What do we mean when we say we believe something? ... That it's true. A belief is nothing more or less than a statement about reality that we think is "the truth".

Each of our beliefs (which usually are unconscious, but not always) serves as a box that limits and determines the behavior that is possible for us.

As an illustrations of how our beliefs determine our behavior, assume we believed that The way to succeed in life is not to make mistakes, that being caught making mistakes would keep us from becoming successful. Although this belief does not necessitate any specific behavior, can you see that it would limit our behavior to that which is consistent with that belief, for example,

  • not taking any chances at all;
  • going "by the book" or doing exactly what we did yesterday;
  • usually asking our boss what to do, so if something goes wrong it will be possible to blame our boss;
  • being more concerned with assigning blame for a mistake that in getting to and correcting its source; or
  • being very defensive when a mistake is pointed out and not acknowledging it?

Is it also clear that behavior that is inconsistent with that belief--such as, being open to and welcoming correction, taking risks, challenging the prevailing wisdom about anything, expressing (or even having) your own opinions--would be inhibited and highly unlikely to occur?

Much of the the time we can deal successfully with life by utilizing the behavior that is consistent with our beliefs. For example, in many areas of life it is possible to be successful and experience well-being even if we "go by the book" and never take chances.

From time to time, however, the behavior that is required to solve a problem or get what we want from life literally does not exist in the box in which we are operating. For example, consider a business executive who believed that making mistakes would be inimical to her success. If she suddenly was facing a period of significant change, where most of what used to be effective wasn't effective anymore, the behavior available to her that was consistent with her belief (namely, tried and true, conservative, acceptable behavior) might not be sufficient to manage her organization successfully.

If she did not recognize that she had a belief that was limiting her, however, all that would be left for her would be to keep trying harder and harder to find a solution using behavior that was consistent with her beliefs, that is, inside the box--even though none of such behavior would lead to a solution.

During a research study with incarcerated felons, several subjects reported the following behavior pattern: They hung out with people who used guns, were part of a gang, and got into trouble. During several Decision Maker® sessions the subjects discovered the beliefs they had that determined who they "hung" with and why it was almost impossible to stop that behavior: I'm not important. I'm alone in the world. What makes me important and safe is to be popular with others. The way to be popular is to hang out with the popular crowd and do what they're doing. In their neighborhoods, the popular crowd carried guns, were part of gangs, and got into trouble. Can you see that given these beliefs, their behavior was virtually inevitable?

Eliminating Beliefs Creates New Possibilities

How can we take desirable and appropriate action if it lies outside the box that determines our possible behavior? Obviously we can't. In fact, the only way to be able to exhibit this necessary behavior consistently over time is to eliminate the existing beliefs that inhibit the behavior.

The elimination of a belief creates new possibilities for action that literally didn't exist prior to the elimination of the belief. The new possibilities that are created by disappearing a belief are not merely different or better ways of doing what was possible before; they literally are possibilities for entirely different behavior that is not possible until the old belief is eliminated.

To summarize what we have seen thus far: Given any specific belief, certain behavior is consistent and capable of implementation; other behavior is inconsistent and virtually impossible to exhibit (or at least to sustain for long without considerable, unrelenting effort). If that is the case, the obvious question is: How can long-held beliefs be eliminated?

Description of the DM Process

That question leads us to an examination of the Decision Maker®Process, which facilitates people to do precisely that.

The DM Process, which usually takes from one to two hours to complete, begins with the client describing an undesirable pattern of behavior or emotions that he has been trying unsuccessfully to change. Emotional patterns could include fear, hostility, shyness, anxiety, depression, or worrying about what people think of us. Behavioral patterns could include phobias, relationships that never seem to work, violence, procrastination, unwillingness to confront people, an inability to express our feelings, sexual dysfunction, or anti-social behavior.

One client presented the following undesirable pattern: "I can do enough to get by, but I don't apply myself completely to one thing. I always feel as though I haven't done enough, both at home and at work. Wherever I am, I should be someplace else, doing something else. I never do a good enough job. Sometimes I'm satisfied with what I do, but I never have a sense of a real completion. Never any rest."

I responded by pointing out that people frequently explain their behavior by pointing to a cause other than themselves, such as, their spouse, their boss, the economy, or some other "circumstances." I requested that the client "play a game," that he pretend that the source of our behavior and feelings is our beliefs, not anything in reality. Many clients already agree that their beliefs determine their behavior, but agreement with the theory of the "game" is not required for the DM Process to be effective. One must, however, be willing to play the game for the duration of the Process.

Given that assumption, I asked the client what he believed, at the moment, that logically could account for the current, undesirable pattern that he just had just presented to me. This step is not the same as asking the client "why" he acts as he does. Most people either will say they have no idea why they do what they do, or they will come up with a multitude of reasons. A client's "story," interpretations, and analysis are not at all relevant in the DM Process. What this step in the DM Process is designed to elicit is one or more things that the client currently believes (that he probably was not conscious of before the Process began) that logically would manifest as his undesirable pattern.

A belief that this client discovered is I'm not good enough. Can you see that this belief would explain why he never had a sense of doing a good job, of really being satisfied with whatever he did? In other words, the pattern would be the result of the belief, and it would be virtually impossible to permanently change the pattern as long as the belief existed. (There were several other beliefs and all of them had to be eliminated before the pattern disappeared totally.)

Once the belief is identified, the client is asked to look for the circumstances or events that led him to form the belief. Fundamental beliefs about oneself -- for example, self-esteem-type beliefs -- and about life usually are formed before the age of six based on interactions with our parents and other primary caretakers, if any. Beliefs in other areas of life, such as, work and society, are formed at the time those areas of life are confronted.

Although the client sometimes can identify the relevant early events rather quickly, more often than not he spends a half hour or so recalling various events from his childhood. At some point he identifies a pattern of events that led him to form the belief in question. My experience with over 1,000 clients indicates that beliefs rarely are formed based on only one or two events. Usually a great many similar events are required.

When I asked this particular client the source of his belief, he described a childhood in which his mother was always telling him what to do and what not to do. Nothing he ever did was good enough for her. He never received any praise and was criticized a lot. He wasn't allowed to do most of the things he wanted to do and that his friends were doing.

The next step is to have the client see that his current belief was, in fact, a reasonable interpretation of his childhood circumstances and that most children probably would have reached a similar conclusion, given their experience and knowledge at that time in their life. Our beliefs are almost always a reasonable explanation for the events we observe.

The client then is asked to make up some additional interpretations of, or explanations for, the same earlier circumstances, that he hadn't thought of at the time. In other words, the client as a child observed his mother doing and saying various things over a long period of time. He explained or interpreted what he saw with the belief I'm not good enough. What the client is being asked to do in the session is make up additional explanations for or interpretations of his mother's behavior.

To continue the illustration we've been using, other reasonable interpretations could include:

  • My mother thought I wasn't good enough, but she was wrong.
  • I wasn't good enough as a child, but I might be when I grow up.
  • I wasn't good enough by my mother's standards, but I might be by the standards of others.
  • My mother is a very critical person and would act that way with everyone, whether they were good enough or not.
  • My mother's behavior with me had nothing to do with whether I was good enough or not; it was a function of my mother's beliefs from her childhood.
  • My mother's behavior with me had nothing to do with whether I was good enough or not; it was a function of my mother's parenting style.

Can you see that each of these statements could explain or interpret his mother's behavior just as well as the conclusion he reached as a child?

Next the client is asked if it is real for him that, when he formed the belief as a child, it seemed as if he could see in the world that I'm not good enough. Because it feels as if we "discovered" or "viewed" our beliefs in the world, the answer is always, yes. Then the client is asked: "Is it clear, right now, that you never saw the belief in the world?" He realized that he never did see that I'm not good enough. All he really saw was his mother's statements and behaviors. I'm not good enough was only one interpretation of what he actually did see. This step facilitates the client to literally "disappear" his existing belief, because it enables him to see that the belief is not the truth about himself and the world, but merely a truth.

When we recreate an old belief, that is, create it in the present as only one of several alternative interpretations rather than as the truth, and when we realize that we never saw the belief in the world, it ceases to exist as the truth and becomes a truth -- whereupon it ceases to exist as a belief. It literally disappears.

When the belief disappears, there is usually an observable change in clients' bodies and demeanor. They look (and usually report that they feel) lighter and relieved of a heavy burden.

At this point I facilitate clients to discover that they are not the sum total of their beliefs, along with the behavior and feelings that accompany their beliefs -- they are the creator of those beliefs.

I assist them to discover that there had to be an "interpreter" before there could be an "interpretation"; a belief creator before there could be a belief. In other words, who you really are is not your beliefs; you are that which generated the beliefs. You are not your decisions; you are the "decision maker" -- which is why I have named the Process the Decision Maker® .

The final part of the Process is asking the client if he usually experiences that there has been "something missing" in his experience of life, even on those occasions in life that he would have considered to be successes. The answer is usually, yes. I then ask if he experiences anything missing "right now, as the decision maker." The answer is almost always, no. When I ask what the experience is, right now, the answer virtually every client gives is: calm, serene, peaceful, infinite possibilities, no limitations, whole, complete, alive, powerful, and nothing missing.

Although this clear experience of infinite possibilities and nothing missing that clients report during DM sessions goes away following the session, clients report it becomes increasingly real and becomes experienced as a part of one's life following several DM sessions. They start to view their life as, what the Buddhists call, a "silent witness." They "have" upsets; they are not upset. They "have" pain; they are not in pain. They observe barriers in their lives; they are not stopped. In other words, they do not experience themselves as the story of their lives; they experience themselves as the creator of their lives.

The Difference Between the DM Process and Cognitive Therapies

Cognitive therapies," as I understand them, have two major elements: (1) changing beliefs by challenging the validity of the evidence that the client gives to support them and (2) getting the client to agree to act consistently with an alternative belief to test its possible validity.

Regarding point one, in the DM Process the current belief is not given up because one comes to see that it's wrong, because it's not true, because it's illogical, because it doesn't make sense, and/or because it's self defeating. In other words, one does not get "talked out" of the existing belief. The DM Process actually validates people for forming the belief earlier in life by assisting them to realize that most people probably would have made a similar decision under similar circumstances. It insures that people realize that their belief actually is one valid interpretation of their earlier circumstances.

Moreover, the "evidence" that you offer for a belief usually is not the real reason you believe it. The evidence offered usually consists of recent observations that appear to substantiate the belief. The real source of your beliefs, however, is interpretations of circumstances earlier in life. Fundamental beliefs about yourself and life usually are formed before the age of six. After a belief has been formed, however, you act consistently with it -- thereby producing "current evidence" for the already-existing belief. In other words, life becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because the evidence you present to validate your beliefs usually is a consequence of the beliefs, not their source, challenging the validity of that evidence is not the most effective way to eliminate them.

Regarding the second element of cognitive-behavioral therapy, because the current belief is totally eliminated when you do the DM Process, you have no need to try to act differently when you go back "into life." Your behavior changes naturally and effortlessly once the belief is gone.

Another distinction between the DM Process and many cognitive approaches is that the latter frequently are a tool for the subject, whereas the former is a tool for the facilitator. In other words, the cognitive approaches assist clients to think more rationally, in order to act more rationally, in the face of such strong emotions as anger, depression, and hostility. The DM Process, on the other hand, is used by the facilitator to assist clients to eliminate the beliefs that produce such emotions. When these emotions stop after the beliefs that give rise to them are eliminated, there no longer is a need for a tool to deal with them more effectively.

A Brief Analysis of the Decision Maker® Process

As a result of doing the DM Process we discover that the events and circumstances of our lives, as such, have virtually no effect later in life on our behavior, our attitudes, and our emotions. Our interpretation of what happens, on the other hand, has a massive effect: The beliefs that we create virtually dictate the possibilities for our behavior, attitudes, and emotions. Therefore, by changing our interpretation of what happened, we can radically change the effect of past events on our future life.

To sum up what occurs for us when we use the DM Process to change behavior and beliefs: We "recreate" the belief that is responsible for the current, undesirable behavioral or emotional pattern, thereby experiencing that the belief is nothing more than one arbitrary, but valid, interpretation of what actually was seen earlier in life. When it is clear that we never saw the belief in the world, the belief becomes transformed into just one of many arbitrary interpretations, at which point it literally disappears as "the truth."

I want to stress that the essence of the Decision Maker® Process is not merely understanding that our belief is an interpretation and having it disappear. The essence and real value of the Process is creating ourselves as the creator of our beliefs and -- because our beliefs determine our behavior, emotions, and perceptions of reality -- as the creator of our lives.

The DM Process ultimately is more spiritual than psychotherapeutic. By spiritual I mean a sense of ourselves as beyond or distinct from who we normally think we are, namely, our body, our beliefs, and the behavior and feelings that stem from our beliefs. The DM Process appears to be a cognitive gateway to an altered state of consciousness in which we create and then experience ourselves as alright just the way we are, as whole and complete, as calm and serene, with unlimited possibilities and no restrictions outside of ourselves, and with nothing missing.


Since I created the Decision Maker
® Process in 1985, my associates and I have had DM sessions with at least a thousand clients. I also have worked with over ten thousand employees at more than thirty organizations to assist the organizations to change their cultures and the employees to change their beliefs about their jobs.

The research study with incarcerated felons in 1994 was the first time I used the DM Process with a control group and pre- and post-testing. The results provided statistical significance to the anecdotal evidence I had obtained from the thousand or so clients. As Dr. Lee Sechrest, Professor of Psychology at the University of Arizona and my collaborator on the study, concluded after examining the statistical results of the tests: "The simplest, and we think fairly compelling conclusion, is that the intervention resulted in generally favorable changes in self-concept in the Experimental group and that without intervention, self-concepts would likely have deteriorated during confinement....

"All in all, this little experiment has to be regarded as a fairly remarkable success. Certainly it justifies efforts to carry out further testing to determine whether the changes observed can be dependably produced. If they can, the DM Process could have definite promise in helping young male offenders mend their ways."

The book from which the above material is condensed describes the Decision Maker
® Process in detail. Re-create Your Life explains what the Decision Maker® Process is, how it works, how it is different from psychotherapy, its spiritual implications, and how its principles can be applied to business and societal change, parenting, athletic competition, and health. It also makes clear how the DM Process could be used both in prevention and the treatment of people exhibiting drug and alcohol addiction, eating disorders, and criminal behavior. The book provides a number of case histories involving clients who have successfully eliminated a number of dysfunctional patterns. It was published by Andrews and McMeel in May, 1997.

Most people to whom I've spoken about the DM Process, psychologists or nonprofessionals, who have tried to change their own beliefs in therapy or on their own, have said it is impossible to totally eliminate beliefs at all, much less in a short time. One noted psychologist went so far as to tell me flatly: "Anyone who claims to be able to totally eliminate a belief quickly is a fraud." Given the experience of most therapists and others who have tried to disappear beliefs and failed, that is a reasonable conclusion. But let's play "Possibilities." Couldn't the evidence just as easily be interpreted as meaning that using the interventions commonly used, beliefs can't be totally disappeared? Or, thus far no one has been able to totally eliminate beliefs? Or, it is impossible to eliminate beliefs without having the subject realize that he never "saw" the belief, which most interventions don't do? Etc. Has anyone actually "seen" in the world that beliefs can't be quickly and totally eliminated? Or is that belief merely one valid interpretation of the events that people have seen?

copyright 1985-1996 Morty Lefkoe