hoffman-process

What Is The Hoffman Process? The Hoffman Process In A Nutshell

The Hoffman Process was developed by American psychotherapist Bob Hoffman in 1967. The Hoffman Process is a tool used to help individuals identify negative behaviors and moods developed unconsciously during childhood. Hoffman recognized that during childhood, we imitate our parents to win their love and receive attention. Specifically, we embody aspects of their moods, attitudes, belief systems, spoken expressions, and even gestures. But if we grow up feeling unloved by our parents, we may later develop behaviors and moods that hinder our ability to show affection toward others.

Understanding the Hoffman Process

To counter this situation, Hoffman believed love was the answer.

He began creating the Hoffman Process by asking clients to write emotionally charged accounts of their lives from birth to puberty.

He then looked at the negative emotional traits exhibited by both parents, who had subconsciously adopted the same negative traits from their own parents.

This notion of intergenerational pain, or negative love, is fundamental to the Hoffman Process.

While parents are certainly guilty of transferring negative love to their children, they are not to be blamed because they were once children themselves and in the same situation.

This rather deep level of understanding encourages Hoffman Process participants to forgive their parents and have compassion for their shortcomings. 

The Hoffman Process is typically taught during a multiday personal growth retreat, with more condensed programs offered online.

Participants are given a safe environment to confront and experience their childhood pain using guided visualizations, journaling, and expressive work such as drawing.

Ultimately, the process helps each individual discover, isolate, and resolve negative conditioning and rediscover their self-confidence and self-esteem.

The four aspects of self in the Hoffman process

The four aspects of self, which Hoffman called The Quadrinity, is a framework for understanding human behavior. 

Each aspect is interrelated and forms part of a complex interactive system, helping participants identify and then disconnect with negative patterns of behavior on the emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual levels.

By the end of the Hoffman Process, responding to situations with habitual ways of operating are replaced with conscious and reasoned choice.

The four aspects are:

Physical self

Describing the body, including the brain, which houses the mental aspects of the self.

The physical self is connected with the mind via neurological and biochemical feedback and is the carrier of genetic information.

Importantly, the physical self also manifests physical symptoms of unresolved mental conflict and exhibits behavioral expressions of the mind. 

Emotional self

Which contains feelings expressed through the physical body.

Hoffman noted the emotional self is where negative behaviors and moods first appear.

A negative emotional self is defined as childish with no sense of time or space and the tendency to regress quickly.

Ultimately, the goal is to replace negative patterns such as rigidity and shame with positive characteristics such as spontaneity and joy. 

Intellectual self

Hoffman believed the intellectual self was a logical and problem-solving thought-processor determining our world views, values, and beliefs.

Like the emotional self, the intellectual self also houses negative thought patterns.

Negative aspects of the intellectual self tend are compulsive and include a tendency to be critical, judgemental, defensive, and argumentative.

Positive traits, on the other hand, include a tendency to be rational, understanding, knowledgeable, creative, and logical. 

Spiritual self

Or the non-programmed and non-mediated aspect of the self that is positive, pure, and willing to embody one’s authentic nature.

The spiritual self operates in harmony with the universe and is intuitive, intentional, courageous, compassionate, peaceful, and grounded. 

Hoffman Process and Regret Minimization Framework

As we saw, the Hoffman Process is a phycological tool to reconcile your current self with your past self.

What if you want to reconcile your current self with your future self?

People like Jeff Bezos, at critical turns of their lives, as to whether to start a business (which in his case would become Amazon) by leaving a linear career path (he had a successful career in Wall Street), leverage a so-called regret minimization framework.

regret-minimization-framework
A regret minimization framework is a business heuristic that enables you to make a decision, by projecting yourself in the future, at an old age, and visualize whether the regrets of missing an opportunity would hunt you down, vs. having taken the opportunity and failed. In short, if taking action and failing feels much better than regretting it, in the long run, that is when you’re ready to go!

That is based on five simple steps:

As the story goes, based on a “60 Minutes” interview from 1997, Jeff Bezos explained:

I want to have lived my life in such a way that when I’m 80 years old I’ve minimized the number of regrets that I have.”

And Jeff Bezos further explained:

“I don’t go in for Carpe Diem, I go in for regret minimization framework!”

That is the mental process he used to make a final call on whether to start what would later become Amazon.

And you know what I knew that when I was 80 I was not going to regret having tried this. I was not going to regret having wanted trying to participate in this thing called the Internet. That I thought was going to be a really big deal.

I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that. But I knew the one thing I might regret is not ever having tried and I knew that that would hunted me every day. And so when I thought about it that way, it was an incredibly easy decision. And I think that’s a very good. It’s if you can project yourself out to age 80 and think what will I think.

At that time it gets you away from some of the daily pieces of confusion. I left this Wall Street firm in the middle of the year when you do that you walk away from your annual bonus. And that’s the kind of thing then the short-term can confuse you, but if you think about the long-term then you can really make good life decisions that you won’t regret later.

Key takeaways

  • The Hoffman Process is a tool used to help individuals identify negative behaviors and moods developed unconsciously during childhood. It was developed by American psychotherapist Bob Hoffman in 1967.
  • Central to the Hoffman Process is the notion of intergenerational pain. Participants are encouraged to forgive their parents for not meeting their needs during childhood as the parents themselves likely experienced the same thing when they were children.
  • The Hoffman Process considers there to be four interrelated aspects of self: the physical self, emotional self, intellectual self, and spiritual self. Each aspect identifies areas where the individual can replace negative and habitual thought patterns with reasoned and thoughtful choices. 

Connected Business Concepts

First-Principles Thinking

first-principles-thinking
First-principles thinking – sometimes called reasoning from first principles – is used to reverse-engineer complex problems and encourage creativity. It involves breaking down problems into basic elements and reassembling them from the ground up. Elon Musk is among the strongest proponents of this way of thinking.

Ladder Of Inference

ladder-of-inference
The ladder of inference is a conscious or subconscious thinking process where an individual moves from a fact to a decision or action. The ladder of inference was created by academic Chris Argyris to illustrate how people form and then use mental models to make decisions.

Six Thinking Hats Model

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The Six Thinking Hats model was created by psychologist Edward de Bono in 1986, who noted that personality type was a key driver of how people approached problem-solving. For example, optimists view situations differently from pessimists. Analytical individuals may generate ideas that a more emotional person would not, and vice versa.

Second-Order Thinking

second-order-thinking
Second-order thinking is a means of assessing the implications of our decisions by considering future consequences. Second-order thinking is a mental model that considers all future possibilities. It encourages individuals to think outside of the box so that they can prepare for every and eventuality. It also discourages the tendency for individuals to default to the most obvious choice.

Lateral Thinking

lateral-thinking
Lateral thinking is a business strategy that involves approaching a problem from a different direction. The strategy attempts to remove traditionally formulaic and routine approaches to problem-solving by advocating creative thinking, therefore finding unconventional ways to solve a known problem. This sort of non-linear approach to problem-solving, can at times, create a big impact.

Moonshot Thinking

moonshot-thinking
Moonshot thinking is an approach to innovation, and it can be applied to business or any other discipline where you target at least 10X goals. That shifts the mindset, and it empowers a team of people to look for unconventional solutions, thus starting from first principles, by leveraging on fast-paced experimentation.

Biases

biases
The concept of cognitive biases was introduced and popularized by the work of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman in 1972. Biases are seen as systematic errors and flaws that make humans deviate from the standards of rationality, thus making us inept at making good decisions under uncertainty.

Bounded Rationality

bounded-rationality
Bounded rationality is a concept attributed to Herbert Simon, an economist and political scientist interested in decision-making and how we make decisions in the real world. In fact, he believed that rather than optimizing (which was the mainstream view in the past decades) humans follow what he called satisficing.

Dunning-Kruger Effect

dunning-kruger-effect
The Dunning-Kruger effect describes a cognitive bias where people with low ability in a task overestimate their ability to perform that task well. Consumers or businesses that do not possess the requisite knowledge make bad decisions. What’s more, knowledge gaps prevent the person or business from seeing their mistakes.

Occam’s Razor

occams-razor
Occam’s Razor states that one should not increase (beyond reason) the number of entities required to explain anything. All things being equal, the simplest solution is often the best one. The principle is attributed to 14th-century English theologian William of Ockham.

Mandela Effect

mandela-effect
The Mandela effect is a phenomenon where a large group of people remembers an event differently from how it occurred. The Mandela effect was first described in relation to Fiona Broome, who believed that former South African President Nelson Mandela died in prison during the 1980s. While Mandela was released from prison in 1990 and died 23 years later, Broome remembered news coverage of his death in prison and even a speech from his widow. Of course, neither event occurred in reality. But Broome was later to discover that she was not the only one with the same recollection of events.

Crowding-Out Effect

crowding-out-effect
The crowding-out effect occurs when public sector spending reduces spending in the private sector.

Bandwagon Effect

bandwagon-effect
The bandwagon effect tells us that the more a belief or idea has been adopted by more people within a group, the more the individual adoption of that idea might increase within the same group. This is the psychological effect that leads to herd mentality. What is marketing can be associated with social proof.

Read Next: BiasesBounded RationalityMandela EffectDunning-Kruger EffectLindy EffectCrowding Out EffectBandwagon Effect.

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