Understand the mind first, lose the mind later
Do you wonder how your mind works? Where do your thoughts and feelings come from, those irrational thoughts which you drive yourself crazy with. Those happy thoughts, as you imagine into the future. Those thoughts of frustration when recalling an incident from the past, memories of days gone by, anxiety about the days to come.
What would it look, feel, sound like to really be able to understand how these thoughts and feelings occur, how we as human beings create them? Would you like to live a life free of these thoughts and feelings? To be present to each moment rather than in a world of internal self-talk?
How can we be fully present, in the moment, when we live in today’s world of busyness and constant distraction? Not so easy perhaps for those of us who aren’t able to spend our days meditating on a mountain!
How would you like to be able to understand how we as human beings make meaning, how we attach meaning to words, to language, and how we delete, distort and generalise reality, memories and continuously project into the future? How we create and actualise, making real the not real…
‘NLP is the child of developmental psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy, and human potential movement. If we follow the path of NLP in a very dedicated way, we end up in eastern philosophy.
If you’re in personal development, one day you’re going to find yourself confronted with the truth of what the self actually is.
Once you’ve explored it enough, you will truly see that the construct nature of what we take ourselves to be, which we call in NLP “personality”, isn’t satisfactory. Inside every single one of us, we know that our personality isn’t true; it’s just a legacy from our parents and institutions.’ Joseph Scott
NLP (Neuro linguistic programming) in a nutshell! NLP is truly a model for self-realisation, for understanding the mind, how it runs, how we allow it to run us! NLP points to how we map our sense of reality, how we make meaning of language, how we live in the past and future and how the past and future are not real, simply a construct of our mind. It provides tools to refine and transform the experience of our reality. Provides opportunity to understand how we run ourselves by bringing the unconscious to our conscious awareness, enriching our relationship not only to self but the relationships with those around us and our overall experience of life.
Programming language in mind really talks to the meaning we attach to words. We therefore experience the world through this language and the meaning we have made of it. As human beings we are meaning makers. This meaning is then programmed by us, and becomes coded/habituated. It is important then to know we were gifted much of these meanings in childhood usually by our parents. To know this is then to know that we don’t have to hold on to this when we are no longer children.
Would you still wear a coat that you were given when you were 5 years old? No. So why are you still holding onto what you were told then if it no longer serves you?
Through this coding we learn how to attach labels to feelings. So how do you experience excitement arising in the body? And then how do you experience anxiety? How do you know to call it excitement, anxiety? Because you were gifted this. And actually do you experience these feelings in your body in the same way, butterflies in the stomach perhaps when excited? Butterflies in the stomach when anxious? So how do we know to call the feeling arising in our body ‘anxiety’ in that moment? Could it not be excitement? To understand that we are in control of the labels we are attaching we now have the opportunity to reframe these in mind. Emotions are simply energy-in-motion. How we label them is how we experience them. Therefore we have the choice to label these in a way which serve us or further on from this to not label them at all, simply to experience this energy-in-motion without needing to make any meaning at all.
The NLP Communication Model
This model really is the heart of NLP. It offers, how as human beings when we are in the face of an external event we take it in as we see it, not how it actually is. There is nothing wrong with the world outside of us. How we view this through our representational system is what is wrong. We don’t see reality as it is, we see reality as we are.
The NLP communication model therefore talks to how an external event takes place, as human beings we only actually take into our conscious mind a very small amount of the billion bits of sensory information available. So from this we take in what we choose to in that moment and then process this through our filters, the filters of our beliefs, values, conditioning. Through our meta-programs (of which there are 60 and as human beings we have 5 to 7 of these which drive our ‘personality’). Then we delete, distort and generalise what we have taken in of the external event. We will preference what we take in based on what we prioritise, what’s important to us, and we will delete the bits that aren’t ‘important’, distort these based on how we see these through our representational system and generalise.
A generalisation for example: ‘all rich people are happy’ and ‘I always attract the wrong types of people’. To know this you would have to have asked every rich person if they are happy and never have attracted anyone right in your life! The importance of how we use language is because when we speak these words, over and over they do become coded and we unconsciously end up believing these to be true and hugely limit ourselves.
Then we make a movie in mind based on these filters, on our own internal representational system which in turn determines our state of mind. This then impacts our physiology. The quality of your state, flavoured with your language is then the quality of your experience. The event will then be externalised by you from your internalised version.
So imagine two people witnessing the same event. Each one will take the event in through this process and their versions of it become two separate events.
Making sh*t up
Have you ever had a conversation with someone recalling an event which lead to a debate over what ‘actually’ happened? The reason you were unable to agree is because you have both made up your own versions of the event based on your own filters. This can be likened to a game of chinese whispers, which starts off as a set of words spoken by one person and by the time this has been passed from person to person ends up with the final one having a distorted version of what was originally whispered. This is how as human beings we spend our lives making sh*t up, because situations haven’t actually happened the way we think they have. They have happened in the way we have internalised them. Many people are not aware of this and therefore go through their lives making stuff up and believing it is real, that they are right and others are wrong, consumed in their own version of ‘reality’ and not understanding why people don’t see things in the same way they themselves do. It is not the situation that is the problem, it is the meaning people bring to the situation that is the problem. Whatever you construct in mind about a situation or a person is simply your experience of it, of them and not the truth. You bothering yourself with these constructs is actually holding you back from your full potential as you make meaning of situations and create often unresourceful states for yourself.
That person, that situation, which you bother yourself with is in fact your developmental edge. There is a real opportunity to learn from this but much of the time people will distance themselves from these people, avoiding the uncomfortable instead of leaning in and accepting the gifts of further developing themselves in the face of this uncomfortability.
Past and future
So the sooner we can see that the past and future are not real, that they are simply constructs of our mind, the less time we will spend there. How can the past be real when we cannot actually take in all that is going on in that moment and what we do take from this is then based on our filters. The future has not happened so any thoughts about this are again made up, projections constructed in mind.
So can you see that the past and future are therefore an illusion, that the past and future are not real? All that we are doing by spending our time in the past and future is missing out on this moment, not fully engaging all of our senses in the moment and therefore missing out on the now. The potential of you is now, where none of the constructs of past and future exist. To be fully present in the now is to choose your full potential. There is nothing else but this moment. Your power is not in the future outcome, it is all here for you if you choose, anything else is an illusion you are creating in mind.
You are not your thoughts. Trying to figure out who you are, trying to find yourself, this is the problem as there is nothing to find, there is nothing wrong with you, there is nothing to do. Thinking that there is something to do is the problem. People who ask, ‘how do I become more present?’ The answer is that you are presence, so the question to ask is what are you doing to not be this? What is holding you in the construction of your illusionary world? Witness the thoughts but know that they are not you. Let them pass rather than engaging them and making-up meaning.
The map is not the territory
The map is not the territory. This phrase was coined by Alfred Korzybski and it metaphorically talks to the difference between belief and reality. ‘The perception of the world is being generated by our brain and can be considered as a ‘map’ of reality written in neural patterns. Reality exists outside our mind but we can construct models of this ‘territory’ based on what we glimpse through our senses’.
So the territory is being in reality, this moment, the now. The moment we are not in the present we have left reality (the territory) and are in the map. The bigger the gap between the map and the territory the further away we are from reality, the more we are in our heads in the past/future.
People who say they suffer with anxiety are living in the future, future pacing, for ‘anxiety’ is to be in fear of what hasn’t happened but what you are imagining will happen.The more emotion a person is experiencing the bigger the gap between the map and territory, the reality and the construct. The future is all made up and most of the time what we fear does not actualise.
When we are not present this is when we react. Reacting is re-acting something from the past, a habit being re-acted. How amazing might it be to respond instead. Responding is what happens when we are present.
Finding the freedom
So would you like to be free of this made up mind? If so my invitation to you is to allow yourself to become more and more aware of how you do you and know it’s not you, it’s how you choose to be doing you. By creating an identity, through your made up thoughts and feelings, taking this as a static viewpoint of you in that moment in time and holding on to that, you will never be free. Whatever you did/learnt, yesterday, 20 years ago, is not you now, now is you, now is where your potential is so don’t miss out.
By becoming subjective to your objective, so observing rather than being invested and engaging in your thoughts and feelings and knowing you are not your ‘personality’ you will free yourself. Through awareness it is possible so trust in the unfolding and give yourself permission to know that this is a process. Development is a beautiful process which can be challenging and confronting so allow it to be without judgement on yourself. You will then no longer be a prisoner to your past and project horror movies into the future, worrying about the outcome. The outcome that was having you will no longer do so as you choose not to preference it. Stay in the now and the outcome will take care of itself.