Symbolic Re-Nominalization

(Milking The Symbolic Illusory Cow For All It's Worth)

by Lynn Timpany ©2009 NLP Trainer


Symbolic re-nominalization is a process that has arisen out of many years of being fascinated by the many ways humans use nominalized language to disempower and limit themselves.  By nominalized language, I mean the use of a noun type words for an aspect of experience, which is in reality a verb or process.  A simpler description for a client might be, talking about something, which is not a thing, as if it were a thing, or the attribution of "thing-hood".  This illusion leads nicely onto the human thinking that everyone else has this thing that they don't have!  And they can't seem to 'get' that thing, or even identify how to get it! 


By de-nominalizing a concept like confidence, or self worth, the client can realize that these 'things' are actually processes that can only be done in the now moment, and that the client can learn to do the processes easily, if they identify in small steps what the process actually is.


We know that powerful strategies will work to
create results, whether the content is helpful
or unhelpful. Symbolic renominalization is the
process of reversing the above and actually
creating a powerful symbolic nominalization to
replace the problematic one.  This 'fills the space'
that the problem inhabited with another illusion,
one that creates a powerful positive state and
assists the client to stay on track with their goal. 

I think of this as milking the symbolic illusory cow
for all it's worth!


1.  Denominalize the problem.

Having identified a problem nominalization clarify, what is the process in the now moment which has been given "thinghood".    

I call this "ingit".  Ask questions that have a lot of “ings” in them.  


For example:

Client says "I don't have enough motivation."


Ingit by asking questions that have a lot of ings and that retrieve sensory based and being/doing/having information in present time. Some examples might be:


"What are you doing that you haven't been doing now when you are motivating yourself?"

"What are you saying to yourself differently when you are motivating yourself?"

"What are you imagining when you are motivating yourself?"

"What are you seeing when you are being motivating?"

"How are you feeling when you are doing motivating?"

"What are you attending to (focus of attention) when you are motivating yourself?"


Remember that the questions don't have to be correct English.


2. Check that the process identified fits the original problem nominalization.


"So when you do these processes in any now moment you are motivating yourself?"


3. Call for a new nominalization.


            "So when you are doing that, what do you have?"

            "So when you are being motivating like that, what have you got?"


A typical answer to our motivation example might be something like "Then I've got real determination to succeed."


4. In a light-hearted fun way, ask questions that move the new empowering nominalization toward 'thing hood'.

These are questions that you would ask if you wanted someone to describe an object, or noun.  This results in the development of a symbol to represent the desirable process.  Generally you can calibrate a very significant amplification of the positive state associated with the outcome. For example:


"Whereabouts?"  (Client will generally be a bit confused by this and say something meaningful like… "What?")

            "When you have that determination, whereabouts do you have it?"     
            "What colour is it?"

            "How big is it?"

            "What shape is it?"


5. Future Pace.

Once there is good strong resourceful state present future pace both the process and the symbolic nominalisation.


"And as you notice how great that feels go right ahead and think of a time in the future where you really notice how awesome it is to have that (symbolic nominalization) with you…. and how easily you can begin to (present time sensory specific process)."