Affirms as emotional reframes – latest thoughts

I am just back from the Transformational Leadership Council meeting in Puerto Rico (  This is a great group of top people in the personal and organisational change fields, who meet to learn together, share their latest and greatest and generally hang out in a relaxed and informal environment.  Membership is strictly by invitation only, and I was staggered at being elected to membership in 2006.  It’s been really fascinating to join with people like Jack Canfield, Stephen MR Covey, John Gray (Mars/Venus), Lynne Twist (Pachamama Alliance), Howard Martin (HeartMath) and many others, as a colleague and friend. 

One conversation at this meeting was particularly interesting from an SF point of view.  I had just made  a presentation on music, learning and the brain.  One of the other members mused that perhaps one had to move from ‘reptilian’ emotions like anger, fear and shame, towards more ‘limbic’ emotions like disappointment, concern and responsibility to make progress.  It struck me that it would be very difficult to affirm people for the former, but quite Ok to affirm them for the latter.  Perhaps this is a way to think about the process of using affirms in SF practice?  If someone can be sensibly affirmed for something, it’s constructive.  If they can’t, find another and better way to express it, by thinking in terms of just what _can_ be affirmed.


2 responses

  1. Hi Mark,
    I think you’re on to something very interesting here.


    1. Thanks! Perhaps this fits in some way with micro-analysis. How do affirms/compliments work in microanalytic terms? This might also be connecting with the ‘failed grounding’ dialogues you mentioned in Malmo.

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