The Foreground-Background process


The Foreground-Background process


The Foreground-Background process involves noticing what is in the “foreground” and “background” of perception with respect to a problem situation and a resource experience.

As you think about a current problem/issue, what are you focusing on? If the issue involves another person, in your mind you may well have a big, bright, close-up (in your face) picture of him or her. And if you were to replay his or her voice in your mind, you may hear it loud and clear with a specific tone that results in feeling angry, dismissed or violated. All of this is in the foreground of your thoughts/mental images. Other things, including resources, are present in the background that you choose not to see, hear or feel as clearly or at all. What do you think would happen if you put less focus on what is in the foreground and more focus on what is in the background? Perhaps the problem would not seem so big or the person so overbearing and as a result you would be more resourceful.

This is the idea behind the foreground-background technique from NLP, which can be used in a variety of situations – to be more resourceful/comfortable when addressing a perceived problem, in the presence of authority figures, when receiving criticism, when in a situation that may generate anxiety, when feeling lost or disoriented or when responding to a need to eat, smoke or gamble in excess. Often in these types of situations, we have difficulty because we are focusing on a small subset of our experience – the part that is not working at the exclusion of other information or resources. That is, the problem is big and bright or loud and threatening in the foreground of our mental pictures/sounds and other resources and possibilities are in the background, not immediately accessible to us. The foreground – background technique is a simple process that assists us to be aware of what is in the background and give it more or all of our attention and hence be more resourceful or be conscious of other choices. As with any change technique, you must be prepared to respond differently. If there is secondary gain or beliefs that restrict you in some way, these need to be addressed first.




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