NLP Loops: Closed Loops, Open Loops and Loops within Loops

In this article you’ll learn how to tell stories and apply metaphors using the concept of loops. By effectively using loops you’ll be able to better tell satisfying stories, create feelings of anticipation and deliver powerful messages within the story. 

A loop in NLP terms is a story or metaphor with a beginning and an end. The beginning of the story opens the loop. The conclusion of the story closes the loop. The opening of the loop, the beginning of the story, creates a sense of anticipation. When the story ends the loop is closed and that anticipation is fulfilled. Think of it like a presentation that starts by asking a question, then after describing the research and study or the question, the presentation closes with a direct answer to the original question. 

Maybe you’ve seen a movie that left you feeling the ending really worked. It closed the loop perfectly.

One Hundred Years of Solitude

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One of the most satisfying experiences I’ve had that’s an example of a closed loop was when I first read the novel One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (https://amzn.to/38mJFxz). It is one of those long enthralling stories that ends with such a beautiful conclusion I ponder for a moment never reading another book again. – David Barron (aka Dantalion Jones)

The Closed Loop

Thus, a closed loop represents a complete story from beginning to end. An example of a closing a loop is when a newscaster says “after this commercial break we’ll tell you how to protect yourself from the upcoming heatwave”. Then, after the commercial they will have the story about protecting yourself through a heat wave. And that way the loop is opened by creating a question and then closed by answering the question. The closing of the loop is prolonged to keep you interested. When you hear a Youtuber say “Stay all the way to the end to hear the shocking details” they are intentionally creating an open loop. 

Example of opening and closing a loop is an article titled “The 5 Things You Can Do To Increase Your Income” and follow it with 5 points. 

As a teacher when you regularly close open loops you create a feeling of completeness.  Another example of a closed loop is The 10 Step Method to Mastering Hypnosis by Jeffrey Stephens  https://amzn.to/2UBOqio . This course gives, from start to finish all one needs to do hypnosis. Closed loops create the feeling of satisfaction, of “I’ve learned it all”.  

The Opened Loop

A story or metaphor with open loops is created by not completely answering questions that were asked. The result is it creates a subtle dissatisfaction, as if something was missed. This can be very useful if you are up selling a product or service.

One internet marketer did this by saying “Here are the four things you can change in your daily communication to be more persuasive”. He would then mention only two of them and proceed off into another tangent. The result was it made you feel like you had missed something and made you more interested in his products and services. 

Closing A Loop vs. Leaving An Open Loop

Closing a loop and leaving a loop open each have their benefits. They can each be used strategically. If you want your reader, student or listener a satisfied feeling of complete, or a feeling as if you have all the answers, consider closing all the loops you open. That means if you pose a question at the beginning of an article or story, have it answered by the conclusion.  

If you want your reader, student or listener to feel curious, self motivated and wanting more, it’s a good idea to pepper your work with unanswered questions and open loops. 

Loops Within Loops Within Loops (Story Within A Story…)

If you want to get creative with Loops consider putting loops within loops. This is better understood as writing a story within a story and it can be as complex and detailed as you like. This is a tool that is used in therapeutic metaphors and covert hypnosis. The structure looks like this:

Open Story A → Open Story B → Story C ← Close Story B ← Close Story A

The most important part of this story with a story (loop with loops) is the central story. This is usually the most difficult to remember because it is wrapped in so many layers of stories (loops). As a result it is held mostly at a subconscious level. Therefore it would be the central part of this long story with the most subconscious impact. In therapeutic storytelling it would have the most direct advice “live without fear”, “you are always safe”, “face down the monsters you fear most”, for example. 

Loops within loops can be used in speeches and sermons. I once witnessed the entertainer Derren Brown stop in the middle of a performance. He told the audience to close their eye (they did). He then said “You will all remember enjoying this event. Some of you won’t remember any details of what happened. When you leave the theater all that happened will be erased from your memory”. He then returned to his performance as if nothing had happened. After his performance several audience members said they didn’t remember any details of the show!

Conclusion

Using loops in story telling and lectures make the process more fun as a presenter. Loops within your stories and presentations also makes what you doing more interesting for you audience. There is some practice needed but the results are well worth it.

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