Book Summaries

Dragon Slaying by L. Michael Hall

Dragon Slaying is a book about handling big bad states known as Dragon States that can sabotage our effectiveness, health and happiness. We can learn to control these states rather than remain victims of them.

Check out Dragon Slaying: Dragons Into Princes at Amazon

We can manage states by

  • Choosing what to represent and how we code these representations.
  • What meanings we give our representations
  • The words that we use and how we talk to ourselves (tone, volume)
  • By our physiology – posture and breathing etc
  • By noticing how we achieve resourceful and unresourceful states.
  • Monitoring the intensity and variability of our states

Our states are determined not only what we think, but by the structure of our thinking, the kinds of representations and the way we represent things. Our consciousness interacts with the outside world and culture. We change and are changed by it. In response, we develop different sorting styles or Meta programs to organize and make sense of information and data.

Additionally, we can think about ourselves. This self-reflexivity can be a powerful ally or a tormentor. Our ability to map out a future can drive our behavior for better or worse.

For primary states (real threats out there), we can use NLP Anchoring to create links. Sensory-based representations mostly drive our primary states.

Meta States

Meta states are different. Things get so complex and layered we do not know what we feel. We can’t manage states like self-esteem and confidence in the same way we deal with fear or anger.

Dragon States

A dragon state is a Meta state that involves using psychic energy against ourselves. They aren’t feelings, so much as judgments or negative evaluations. They are self-sabotaging.

Here are some common “dragons”

  • The cold calling dragon
  • The fear of being imperfect dragon
  • The do not deserve to accumulate wealth dragon.
  • Feel like I am intruding dragon.
  • Addiction to being loved dragon.
  • Beating myself up dragon
  • I have to be right dragon
  • Control freak dragon
  • Emotionally disconnected dragon

Dragon Slaying made easy

We can deal with dragon states by

  1. State or pattern interrupts. Sometimes the state is intense and loops around without an exit.
  2. Not feeding and reinforcing them
  3. Re languaging
    • Can’t have Meta states without symbols and language
    • The Meta model is the best dragon slaying tool – words can create a neuro semantic reality inside our nervous system
    • The more abstract and evaluative the words, the more opportunities for miscommunication
  4. Meta stating process to develop new strategies
  5. Learning to appreciate the informational value of emotion
    • Fearing our anger doesn’t make it go away, it just makes us blind to it.
  6. Trying on some new meanings, find out if there are any objections?
    • Our meanings can restrict states we have access to i.e. forgiveness.

Self-contempt and self-esteem Dragon

Many of us indulge in disgust, discounting and disrespect with the idea that it will make us a better person. Our self-concept represents many facets and is just a map.

Many of us believe that our worth is conditional, that we have to earn the right to give ourselves positive messages. Do we believe babies have no innate value? Yet we judge ourselves differently. We usually do not see others, only their obnoxious behaviors. We need to value ourselves apart from our actions.

Many of us confuse other esteem with self-esteem. We go through life seeking approval and validation. We can use our experiences with significant others to define ourselves


Confidence on the other hand is conditional and relates to our abilities and skills. It is just as well I have no confidence in my ability to do brain surgery at this time.

The Whiny Victim Dragon

We cannot live vigorously or fully if we avoid danger and risks. Bounce back power is easy when you know nothing can question your dignity and worth. No event or evaluation will define you. You are not your behaviors or labels.

A pessimistic explanatory style in response to some bad thing can keep you a prisoner of this dragon.

Having a direction or purpose provides a powerful organizing principle. Who do you want to become? What experiences do you want to have? What achievements you want to accomplish? What are your compelling values and visions?

Acting from a larger perspective allows us to know what’s going on and where we are in the process.

Reactivity and Defensiveness Dragon

This is the result of representing something as threatening or overwhelming. Stress is the amount of energy you expend coping with life. The most useful tool for dealing with defensiveness therefore is NLP Reframing

You can choose to respond to something proactively with a sense of choice and personal power, by:

  • Noticing the gap between stimulus and response – and stepping back
  • Truly recognizing that you are generating your own states, the other is not causing them.
  • Focusing on the things you can do
  • Using proactive language, like “I” statements rather than blaming, accusing “you” statements. Ditch the excuses.
  • Having strong compelling outcomes
  • Taking care of things while they are still small and manageable

Criticism and Insult

Very few people can make good use of criticism. Criticisms hurt because they make you aware of your shortcomings.

  1. Internal sense of distance
  2. Discern the line between responsibility to and responsibility for.
  3. Meta State of high self-esteem
  4. Optimistic explanatory style
  5. The inside reality of language – words and meanings that provoke

Dismiss criticism only after you have purged it of everything useful.

Magnanimity (try saying that before breakfast)

This is the ability to transcend frustration, and find gentle reasonableness and bighearted thoughts.

When things don’t go the way we want, we need to step back and edit the big picture, changing submodalities such as association dissociation. We can adjust our expectations to make them realistic, being sure to distinguish between desires and demands.

Accepting what is is a big part of magnanimity. Non-acceptance leads to intolerance. This doesn’t mean you have to like or want it or not take steps to change it.

Things not going the way we want. Accepting frees us to focus on solutions, but more importantly helps us develop better maps.

We tolerate our intolerance too much.


A useful strategy to achieve forgiveness is to rage against the hurt, but respect and feel compassion for the person. Hurtful behaviors violate everyone.

The hurt does not rob you of your dignity. You do not have to tolerate the behavior, but your can make a decision to let go of the hurt.

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