Modal operators - a Meta Model Generalization

Modal operators – a Meta Model Generalization

The term “Modal operators” might sound weird. This refers to your mode of operating. They are words like must, should, can’t, have to, mustn’t, can, will and indicate possibility or necessity. There is a big difference between doing something because you feel you have to and because you want to.

Necessity

We often feel we have to do particular things and have no choice. Words such as should, must, have to, need. Operators of necessity can create stressful states┬áthat are self-imposed and can be disenabling. We seldom really question whether we have to do certain activities or feel a certain way. We don’t examine the real consequences of not doing things. This is probably more obvious when you hear other people use these words in a context you wouldn’t.

For example:

  • “I have to tidy the house”
  • “I should be home for my kids”
  • “I need to get this finished by the weekend”

Recovery Questions

The Meta Model response seeks to uncover consequences

  • “What would happen if you didn’t?”
  • “What would happen if you did?”
  • “What is the worst thing that could happen?”
  • “What would be the consequences?”

States of necessity drive us to complete deadlines. For example, we might stay up all night to finish an assignment. This Meta model pattern can be useful, focus all our resources and help us get important goals. Many find it motivating. There is big difference between “I’d like to make an extra $5,000 this month” and “I have to make an extra $5,000 this month”.

They can also produce stress. Necessity thinking diverts us from other more important outcomes by creating a kind of tunnel vision. Many people use states of necessity for the most trivial and life energy sucking things. “I have to vacuum twice a day.” “I can’t let anyone see me in last year’s earrings.” “I have to be right.”

Impossibility

We often talk about things as though they are not possible to achieve or do. Our unconscious accepts these as limitations. These are words such as can’t, it’s impossible.

Examples

  • I can’t find a new partner.
  • “I can’t just stay in bed for the day”
  • It’s impossible to talk to her.
  • I can’t get up that early to exercise.

Recovery questions

The Meta Model response seeks to uncover the limitation

  • What stops you?
  • What would happen if you did?
  • What would happen if you could?
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