Description of the Decision Maker® Technology
Very often a client's behavior or emotional state is the direct result of his/her expectations. The Decision Maker® Expectation Process (DMEP) is very effective in changing negative expectations to positive ones.
For example, Lois, one of my clients, expected life to be difficult and to not get what she wanted. That expectation, along with several beliefs, led her to resist setting goals and to give up as soon as she experienced any difficulty. She just drifted through life, without any real purpose. In addition to affecting her behavior, Lois' expectation also was partly responsible for her anxiety and mild depression.
Here's how I used the DMEP with Lois.
We started with the presenting problem: a difficulty in setting goals and sticking to them, and a pervasive sense of anxiety and despair. The beliefs that contributed to the existence of this pattern were identified and eliminated with the DM Belief Process before I used the DMEP with Lois.
I started by asking Lois, "What do you expect from life? What do you expect that you will be able to achieve?"
She replied, as I indicated above, "I expect life to be difficult and I won't get what I want."
ML: "What happened early in your life that might have led you to this expectation?"
Lois: "My parents said no to almost anything I asked them. What I wanted to wear, spending time with friends, sleep-overs, where I wanted to go, what I wanted to buy. Everything. With my parents it was always a struggle. I'd have to fight for everything I got. They'd always say to me: 'Life is hard. What makes you think you can have whatever you want?'"
ML: "Can you see that your expectation made sense given the hundreds of experiences you had that were similar to what you just described. Can you see that almost anyone would have formed a similar expectation-given those exact circumstances? Can you see that your expectations are a function of those specific events?"
Lois: "Yes, I can see that."
ML: "If the events of your childhood had been very different, if, for example, your parents had allowed you to do most of the things you wanted that weren't dangerous, had allowed you to participate in decisions that affected you, had supported you in getting what you wanted, and had told you that when you grew up you could have almost anything you wanted in life if you really were committed, would you have formed the same expectation?
Lois: "Of course not. If I had had those parents, I'd have expected something totally different."
ML: "Notice that your current expectations of life, which feel to you as if they are real, as if they are being caused by life itself, would be totally different if you had had a different childhood?"
Lois: "That's true. I had never looked at it that way before."
ML: "Well, let's take a look at the differences between your circumstances as a child and today. [I usually ask clients to identify the differences on their own. When they can't, I ask questions that point them out, as indicated below.] As a child you were totally dependent on your parents to get what you wanted. Is that true today?"
Lois: "No, I live by myself and rarely see my parents."
ML: "Did you have any skills to earn money on your own as a child?"
Lois: "No, I didn't."
ML: "Do you have the ability to earn the money you need to buy the things you want today?"
Lois: "Yes, I earn a fairly good living."
ML: "What about your freedom to do what you want? Can you see that as a child you were dependent on your parents' permission to get what you want and today you aren't dependent on anyone else?"
Lois: "Yes, that's true."
ML: "So, Lois, is it real to you that today your circumstances are very different in a number of respects from your childhood?"
Lois: "I can see that."
ML: "Here's my last question. Don't tell me what you want, what you wish for, or how you'd like it to be. Just tell me what any reasonable person would expect given your circumstances today. You live on your own. You aren't dependent on your parents. You are much better at dealing with people than you were as a child. You earn a good living. There is no one to tell you what you have to do or can't do. If you can't get what you want from one person, you can go to another. Given those circumstances, what would you expect about getting what you want in life?"
Lois: "Given those circumstances I'd be able to get what I wanted if I really tried."
ML: "Look inside. What do you feel, not think? What do you expect, right now?"
Lois: "That I can have what I want."
In this five minute dialogue, Lois realized that the meaning she had given her childhood experiences with her parents was not the truth about what she could expect from life, but a truth based on the specific environment in which she lived. That freed her to look at today's circumstances and form new expectations based on them. In my experience the shift in expectations is permanent.
In other words, we (unconsciously) assume that the meaning we attribute to our childhood experiences should be attributed to life in general, at all times, under all conditions. When we realize that the meaning is not wrong, but was appropriate only for the specific situations that led to it-and that if there had been different events in our lives we would have formed a different meaning (expectation), the expectation literally disappears. Then we can create a new, positive expectation based on today's circumstances.
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© 1985-2000 Morty Lefkoe