If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.
An Introduction to NLP
Neuro-Linguistic Programming – or NLP, is the study of language and behavior patterns learned through experience. To put simply, it claims that you can affect the behaviors of people (and yourself) through language. NLP is very controversial in the scientific community and is often discredited. However, despite this fact many people have still adopted the ideals of NLP, including self-development God, Tony Robbins.
Your Map of Reality
The Map of Reality is the core concept of Neural-Linguistic Programming and is an important concept to self-development in general. Your map of reality is the map you create in your mind to make sense of the world. The important part is that this is your map; it is not the actually world, it is simply your interpretation of the world. This interpretation can be wrong, it might not lead you to your goals and it might actually be extremely detrimental to you.
When we create this map we tend to generalize things and distort information. Just like a regular map – All water is blue, all land is green. This can be very useful for example, “don’t touch hot things, they hurt”. This is a useful generalization however, more times than not generalizations hurt us. For example, if your partner cheats on you and now you think everyone will cheat on you, this is obviously not how the world works – Yet people think this way. Again, realize that your current reality does not reflect the actual reality.
The other thing we do is distort information. We basically make generalizations about events that aren’t true. For example, you call someone and they don’t call back. You can generalize that as that person hates you, or doesn’t like you. When in reality they just forgot to call you back, or maybe they’re just busy. Again, your map of reality does not equal the actual reality.
How to Change Your Map of Reality
So we know what our map of reality is and how our current map of reality may not reflect the actual world. But how do we know? Most importantly, how do we change it?
As reasons explained previously it is very important to expand your map to become happy. You need to view the world from different perspectives. This will require you to have an open-mind and sympathize with other people’s feelings and opinions. Try to figure out what their map of reality is instead of outright disagreeing with people, or lashing out at them – Or to put simply just try to figure out their perspectives and see which one you think pertains closer to the real world. It will win you more friends and you will get to see the world from a different view – And who knows, maybe you will learn something.
Where Our Reality Comes From
When you are born, you have no map. You don’t know what the world is so you take in other people’s map of realities and we are very naïve little babies. Since we have no map of our own as soon as someone tells us something we instantly think its reality. As we grow older we become less naïve because we now have a map of our own – We have our own perspectives. We then compare our map to other people’s maps to see if we should accept their reality or not. But this map we have is based on things we just accepted without questioning when we were young.
What most people do is this. They take their current map of reality (which could literally be anything) and assume it’s the same as the actual world. This is a dangerous thing to do. If a person disagrees – or rather has a different map than you. What will end up happening is instead of understanding you will simply think that he’s crazy and you won’t even consider changing your map of reality to match his, because you think your reality is how the world works. It’s not.
The Dangers of an Incorrect Reality
With an incorrect map it can really limit you – especially if you assume it’s how the world works. Humans are born with only two fears; the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. All other fears are learned. So which fear have you falsely accepted into your reality? The fear of spiders? The fear of heights? The fear of failure? Success? How much of your map is wrong? What assumptions are you making that are dead wrong? The only way to really know is to question it. Question what you currently know, assume and interpret. Begin to drop these old beliefs and habits that are hurting you and adopt new ideas and habits from other people’s realities.
Most importantly, look at how you quickly assume stuff. Whenever you assume something question it and see if that assumption makes any logical sense. For example, if you call someone and they don’t return your call your mind starts getting self-conscious going:
“What did I do to him?”
“This guys being a jerk!”
Whatever it is, just take a step back and go; “Wait a minute. I’m assuming thing”. Remember how your map generalizes? The key is to just realize this and think of other things that could’ve happened – Especially if you think they’re unlikely. Maybe he’s busy, maybe he just forgot, maybe he just doesn’t want to talk.
This might seem almost obvious to some people but for a truly self-conscious person, the first thing he/she will go to is the negative. Why? Because what kind of map do you think a person would have if he/she is self-conscious? Their map is some varying degree of “I’m no good”. So as soon as something happens to prove this map this self-conscious person will go “AH HAH!” I knew I was no good. Even while ignoring the more likely scenario that this person not calling you back had absolutely nothing to do with you.
So basically what you need to do is first of all ask yourself does this thought help me? If not is there another reality I am not considering. In this case yes there was. Sometimes your negative assumptions are useful. Consider our previous example, you touch a hot stove and you scream! If the thought “Don’t touch hot things they hurt” pops in your mind you can quickly realize that this is a negative – But a useful thought. This thought is true in every single case, all things which are hot, hurt – So don’t touch them. In contrast if the thought “Don’t touch stoves – All stoves are hot” pops up – Again, does it help? Is it true always? You should realize how irrational this thought is.
So basically the lesson here is be more conscious of your thoughts and recognize which of your thoughts help you or hurt you. Is what you are currently thinking a true reflection of reality? I like to look at it like this. There a Golden Map to success. This Golden Map is invisible and nobody has this map. But helping each other out and comparing our maps to each other we can slowly take apart our own maps and slowly make it resemble this Golden Map of reality – How the world truly works. Nobody knows how the world truly works but by accepting other people’s ideas, dropping our own false ideas we slowly improve our map to better fit the map of the world. And that’s what self-improvement is all about.
Have a great day!
This is a quick 5 minute video on what NLP really is and gives a quick high level view of NLP. If you are interested in the subject I think you will benefit from the video below.