Why People Are Afraid of Self-Work by Van K. Tharp, Ph.D.

In addition to being president of the Van Tharp Institute, I consider myself to be a trading coach, and an NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) modeler. However, I’m different from most NLP modelers. Most of them are NLP trainers and the teach NLP workshops. Plus, they do lots of different small-scale modeling projects. In contrast, I teach trading related workshops and I’ve spent the last 30 plus years modeling one thing, success in trading/investing.

Richard Bandler, one of the co-founders of NLP, first conducted modeling by mimicking the micro strategies of certain people. As a result, NLP was able to learn some of the therapeutic strategies used by people like Fritz Perls, Virginia Satir, Gregory Bateson, and Milton Erickson. These strategies then became part of the NLP Metamodel and the Milton Model of NLP.

In the field of NLP, there used to be a belief that if one person could do something, then anyone else could do that same thing. Spud Webb who, at 5 feet 7 inches, won the NBA slam dunk contest was used as an example of this.

Richard Bandler modeled spelling bee winners. He found that they always were able to picture the word and they could picture it so well that they could probably spell it backwards as easily as they could spell it forward. And, once you learned that strategy, you would also become an excellent speller. But these are micro strategies. They don’t apply to something bigger like trading success or becoming a conscious leader.

In contrast to this sort of modeling work, I’ve spent most of my career modeling something that basically requires an entire identity change to adapt: Becoming a good trader. You are no longer a doctor or an engineer. Instead, you become a trader. And such identity changes require lots of different models and lots of psychological work.

VTI Modeling Projects

During the last 30 years, for example, I have modeled the following:

  1. The trading process, known collectively as The Top Tasks of Trading. (Presented in Peak Performance 101 and the Peak Performance Home Study course).
  2. Developing a system that fits you. This model can be studied in person at our How to Develop Winning Trading Systems that Fit You workshop, or by engaging in the home study course by the same name.
  3. Tharp Think, which consists of 108 beliefs of good traders.
  4. How to develop position sizing strategies to meet your objectives (given in the Definitive Guide to Position Sizing and our e-courses on the subject).
  5. How to determine market type and understand that it’s easy to develop a system that fits one particular market type, and insane to expect that system to work in all market types. This is also given in our How to Develop Winning Trading Systems that Fit You workshop. This is a study that is still underway.
  6. The infinite wealth model for wealth. This is a new game/set of rules for playing the wealth game. It makes it possible for anyone to become wealthy just by changing the rules of the game and how they think. This is given in our Infinite Wealth Workshop.
  7. What’s important about a trading business plan. This is given in our Blueprint for Trading Success workshop.
  8. How to raise your consciousness to a level of at least acceptance, where it’s possible to be happy for no reason and successfully adopt all of the trading models of VTI.
  9. Understanding how the map is never the territory and how you create your reality through:
    1. Translating energy into sensory experience (1st distortion)
    2. Language and beliefs (2nd distortion)
    3. Dimensions of meaning (3rd distortion)
    4. Nominalizations (turning verbs into nouns).
    5. And your reality and convincer strategies.

This model is generally covered in our Systems Thinking workshop.

And there is one other model that we are working on: How to overcome whatever psychological blocks one might have to getting through the Super Trader program. I typically screen people for willingness to work on themselves and for their level of commitment to get through the program, but we are not always successful in doing that. Some people sign up for the program and then don’t do anything towards graduation except perhaps attend some of the workshops.

Thus, my current project is 1) to find all of the different sorts of blocks that are happening when someone is not progressing in the Super Trader Program and then, 2) developing a program to get people through those blocks. This will probably come out as another volume in the Peak Performance Home Study Course that will be added in a 2019 or thereabouts. It will be entitled: Introduction to Peak Performance: Roadblocks to Success.

Four Roadblocks to Self-Work

So far, I have discovered four major reasons why some individuals have trouble completing the work.

I just spent two weeks driving across the United States with one of my best friends, Bruce Du Ve. Bruce is an alternative health healer who lives in Ireland and he has pretty good success rates at healing people that the medical profession has given up on or made worse through prescription drugs. His success, of course, depends upon how motivated they are to follow his program. Bruce is also a good modeler and one thing that modelers discover is what most people believe about what they model is usually all wrong. So, what the public believes about health is quite different from what Bruce teaches. And what the public believes about investing success is quite different from what we teach.

While the topic of Peak Performance Health is way beyond the scope of this article right now, Bruce believes that a naturally healthy person will be a spiritual person who is happy for no reason; has highly attuned senses; and who continually senses the presence of God. As you gain weight and accumulate a lot of fat, you set the body up for all kinds of diseases. You also start to clog/fog up the brain which helps you develop all sorts of psychological issues. Furthermore, you become unhappy for many reasons because your brain no longer functions as it should. So, this would apply to almost anyone in the world today. Some people are very unhealthy and will have many more psychological issues than even a “normal” person today. With a healthy body they’d have none of these issues. The remedy for this is not psychological work first, but peak performance health.

The second reason that people don’t want to work on themselves is they don’t have a strong enough motivation to do so. The journey to examine yourself is one of the hardest journeys you will ever undertake. We have met the enemy and he is us. The enemy is your sense of self. It’s really an illusion and made up of thousands of internal parts, each call themselves “I.” This model is described in detail in our Peak Performance 202 Workshop.

Your sense of self has a strong sense of self-preservation and it will do anything it can to keep you from looking too deep. For example, if you’ve ever tried to do the 365 lessons in A Course in Miracles (which helps you unmask the ego), you will start to see this resistance.

To undertake this sort of journey of self-discovery, you need a huge motivation to propel yourself forward. I call this having a big enough why? For example, right now I’m undergoing Bruce Du Ve’s health program. Following this diet protocol is one of the hardest things that I have ever done. The only reason I can get through it is that I have the desire to have the consciousness of a Siddha Yoga and at the same time be able to function in the world. Thus, my ultimate purpose in life is to achieve a very high level of consciousness and to be able to function in the world and help others do the same. I believe peak performance heath (achieved through the diet I’m on) is a critical part of attaining that. So, I see that “Big Why” as a compelling reason not to cheat whenever I get the urge.

As another example of this is those who complete Super Trader 1, they usually find their purpose and are clear enough on that purpose that it becomes the driving force in their lives. For example, one person who completed ST1 last year said “I never do anything now unless it’s aligned with my purpose.”

The third reason that people get blocked is there is too much secondary gain to stay where you are. This means too many reasons not to change. In the case of my diet, all of the following might be called secondary gain.

  1. I’ve reached what I’ve always considered my ideal weight. I’m at that now and have reached a plateau. But I still have lots of body fat to get rid of, so I need to go way below what I always considered my desired weight. That’s very hard.
  2. I feel lousy as my body is cleaning itself out. This feeling comes from toxins and heavy metals that have been stored in the fat being released into the bloodstream as the fat goes away.
  3. I lack energy. This is part of the toxicity.
  4. And I am also tempted by the foods I used to eat, but only when I see/smell them. If I you were to keep me away from them, I wouldn’t even think about cheating.

All of these four things are secondary gains. In this case, however, my “Big Why” is enough to overcome all of that. But it isn’t easy.

The final reason people get blocked is because there are secrets that they want to protect. A secret is something that you fear to reveal because doing so might be dangerous, fearful, shameful, embarrassing or cause you harm in some way.

For example, no one wants to reveal the password to their bank account. The reason is simple. It’s two beliefs. The first belief is that you believe the world is a dangerous place. You have to protect yourself or someone will steal your bank account. And that’s probably a useful belief in the context of today’s society. But it’s not a useful belief if you want to become spiritually evolved.

There is also another belief that says if someone took all of your money from your bank account that you couldn’t get it all back very quickly. And this might be useful for someone at a low level of consciousness. It’s not a useful belief for someone at a high level of consciousness who can manifest whatever they want in life.

Now, I didn’t bring this up to argue about reality or levels of consciousness. Some of you might totally disagree with me. All I’m saying is that if your consciousness gets high enough, you don’t need to have these sorts of limiting beliefs.

There are many different secrets that people have. They usually take the form of “It’s dangerous if I reveal/uncover that.” Every secret is held in place by non-useful beliefs. And when those are gone, you wonder why it was ever a secret. For example:

  • I can’t uncover that about myself. It would be embarrassing or it might cost me money or put in me in danger of being arrested.
  • I might even die (or die of embarrassment) if that is uncovered.
  • If you open yourself up, you die.
  • When people reveal their secrets, others will use it against them.
  • And if I talk about my dreams, I’ll jinx them.
  • Or if I even share my thoughts, I might be punished.

These sorts of beliefs are the beliefs that keep secrets in place. And the protection mechanism behind secrets can reveal itself as a lack of motivation.

My purpose in writing this article was to give you a little behind the scenes look at what I’m working on these days. I could easily write several book chapters on each of these topics. As I said, perhaps in the next couple of years these will be part of a new introductory volume to the peak performance course.

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