In previous articles I’ve spoken about mental rehearsal and visualisation and I’m continuing the theme of a winning mindset with several articles in which I will explain what in NLP are called “NLP Presuppositions” or what others call “Beliefs of Excellence” (1) or the “Mindset for Success” (2).
Many people find learning these:
• really improves their self understanding,
• enables them to relate to others in a better way and,
• makes them better at communicating.
I will explain these beliefs in simple terms and how you can use them to change your life. I will also demonstrate their use with practical examples and examples of the benefits using these beliefs will bring to you. You can also contact me to answer any questions you may have as well as sharing your successes.
So first a short explanation about beliefs generally;
Beliefs guide everything we do, our decisions, people and things we like and don’t like. Whatever we believe shapes how we respond to situations & people we meet. Beliefs aren’t true, but they feel like they are and can be more accurately described as our best current thinking. Examples of beliefs are: people are generally good, that it’s hard to get a new job at the moment and I’m sure you can think of many more.
We act as if they are true; we pay attention to what affirms them and delete what doesn’t so they become self-fulfilling. Eg if I believe I’m a good driver I will notice things that confirm that, if, on the other hand I believe that I’m not a good driver then I will notice the opposite, lose my confidence and stop driving.
We can examine our beliefs and choose to change them; they also change over time, either naturally, or as a result of life events. For example people used to believe that the world was flat and now we know it isn’t! I’m sure you can also think of things you used to believe and now you don’t.
Today I’m going to discuss the first 2 Beliefs of Excellence which I like to think of together; as they are closely linked. They are:
The “map” is not the “territory” and
People respond to their map of the world / perception of reality
1. The “map” is not the “territory”
We all filter the world through our senses, and what we recall is determined by our beliefs, values, past experiences and the words we use. Put another way, our perceptions of reality could never be reality itself. If reality is the “territory”, we internalise it to make our “map”. The map is different to reality and in making it we each highlight features that are important to us and ignore others, so everyone’s “map” is different. The best map of London can never be London; it will always just be a map, a representation.
How many times have you seen a film with friends, and when you discuss it later it seems that you all saw different films because you recall different things? This is a great example of everyone having a different map.
There’s no right or wrong, it’s just that we all have a different perspective based on our individual perceptions. It’s like we’re all wearing sunglasses and everyone’s glasses are different.
2. People respond to their map of the world / perception of reality
It follows therefore that we will each respond to our map of the world ie the particular sunglasses we are wearing. As everyone’s map is different we will all respond differently to a given situation. Sometimes our maps work for us, at other times or in other contexts they don’t. If your map / perception of reality says that “life is a struggle” you’ll probably be a great barrister, however the same perception may not work as well in your personal life.
As Atticus Finch said in To Kill a Mockingbird “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” To me this is a great explanation of this belief.
Navigating a different map
As an example I know of 2 people who have recently been made redundant. The first has a map which is optimistic and she believes that for every door which closes another one opens. She views this as a new start and believes that she will an even better job. The second person has a negative map and often says “why do things always happen to me.” She believes that this is a disaster and it will be really difficult for her to find another job.
Both these people responded differently to the same event based on their perception. Neither perception is necessarily accurate, but the person believes that it is, and this perception will potentially have an influence on their future prospects.
Once you can accept these two beliefs you will find that you become more aware of your own perceptions and what is missing in your map. You will also find it easier to understand the map of people you’re communicating with, therefore improving your communication skills.
So how can you integrate these beliefs into your life? Here are some exercises you can use.
a) If you’re in a situation where someone’s reaction or behaviour surprises, irritates or puzzles you ask yourself “what must be going on is his/her world for them to behave or act in this way?”
b) In a situation which you want to improve ask yourself “how well does my map work for me and what could I do to improve it?” and “What am I filtering out of my map which would make it better?”
For example really listen to others, ask questions and explore differences. Ask yourself what it would be like to walk in their skin.
c) To improve your understanding of others’ maps and respect for their opinions pick someone you know well and spend a few days really “walking in their skin,” find out what is important to them and what is going on in their world and see how your relationship improves.
Once you’ve mastered this move on to someone who you know less well or have a difficult relationship with.
These are just a few ways you could integrate these beliefs into your life and I’m sure you can think of others. Please contact me with your successes and if you have any questions.
Until next time.
References (1) Sue Knight – NLP at Work, (2) Jeremy Lazarus – Successful NLP