“The map is not the territory.” It’s my favorite and most used presupposition of Neuro Linguistic Programming. When I learned about this concept on my very first day of my NLP Practitioner Certification Training, it literally changed how I see the world and everything in it.
Before NLP, I had a lot of rules about how life was meant to work. You might have read about this in my post on universal qualifiers in tip #3. What this meant was that I was expecting everyone to live life the way I saw it. It was my rules about manners (open the door for the lady) or my rules about service (serve main courses at the same time) or my rules about how much ice there was in an iced-tea or how people pronounced particular words.
I remember when I first moved to Asia I was stunned when my twenty-something year-old staff didn’t know how to change a light bulb. I just thought they were lying to me because they were lazy. So many rules!
After that first day of NLP training, the light bulb in my head got changed. I began to see that everyone grew up in different ways with different rules from their own cultures, their parents, their school, church, etc. Everyone had different experiences along the way and everyone’s brain learned something different from each of those experiences. You and I could attend the same meeting in the same room at the same time with the same people and “hear” something and “see” something completely different – all because of how our “maps” are organized in our minds.
I began being curious about other people’s maps instead of judging them. I began noticing how my behavior towards other people became more flexible and open as that little presupposition kept churning over and over in my mind. The map is not the territory.
With this and the other presuppositions of NLP, I changed my world around in a dramatic way. What used to be days filled with anger and resentment have been replaced with peace, inner calm and acceptance. Needless to say, I have a lot more friends and much better relationships.
Speaking of relationships, next week, I’m going to talk about boundaries and how I tossed 3 people out of my life this past year.