Blueprint to Beast Toolbox: Volume One- “The Map is Not the Territory”

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This is the first installment in a series I will be releasing highlighting some of the “tools” that you can use to better navigate your world, and create the life that you desire. These toolbox components are each based on one of the “presuppositions” of NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming). The accepted presuppositions have been identified, added to, and evolved for decades by those who have contributed to the discipline. Each represents a core idea or belief about life, others, and reality. Understanding them will give you an excellent set of tools for eliminating much of the negative, socially created clutter that has seeped into your brain, and provide excellent strategies for more effective living.

I’ve handpicked several for inclusion in Blueprint to Beast, many of which I will cover in this series. The idea for these posts was born out of my perception of a need for a clear and actionable presentation of these teachings. It is a simple task to google a list of some of the more accepted presuppositions, but I have found that most do little more than regurgitate the work of Richard Bandler and John Grinder of decades ago, loosely explaining the idea behind the presupposition, and leaving the reader “hanging” quite a bit in terms of how to apply the information to their own life. While Blueprint to Beast will cover each of these ideas in much greater detail, this series of posts will provide an excellent foundation on which to build a comprehensive and useful understanding of these critical ideas.

I begin this series with one of the original two (and arguably most important) of the presuppositions,

“The Map is Not the Territory”

mapisnot1

My above “whiteboard” illustration depicts how we, as humans, receive information, and how that data influences our behavior. It is a bit simplified for our purposes here, but the most important puzzle pieces are present.

Data enters our brains via our five senses at a rate of millions of pieces per second. The most intelligent of human beings are only capable of processing roughly seven bits of data at any one time in their conscious mind. Because of this, the majority of the information that we receive is either deleted, distorted, or generalized by our unconscious, and filtered away from our big screen. This is of course an essential process, as I mentioned, we simply cannot consciously handle the volume of data that we are constantly bombarded with, nor would we want to. The reason why this is so relevant is that it is our (subconscious) perceptual filters which create for us our “internal map”; our representation of the events or data which we are receiving.

How we represent the information internally has a significant impact on our state (a concept that will be covered in depth in a future installment), and ultimately is responsible for our behavior. Since our actions are responsible for the results that we create, it is simple to understand that our results in any experience are linked directly to our representation of the situation. It is therefore important that we understand this process, and learn how to eliminate those patterns of belief that cause us to represent things in an unproductive manner or one that places us in an unresourceful state.

“The Map is Not the Territory” refers to the idea that a map is merely a representation of a geographical area, not the actual piece of the earth. If you can imagine trying to travel from one part of the country to the other using a map that is drawn incorrectly, or describes a different country altogether, you can see how this idea can be extremely limiting.

Your perceptual filters, which are largely created by your beliefs (a central theme in Blueprint to Beast, and one that I’ve recently highlighted in several articles) create the “map” that you then use to navigate the situation that you are in. Now your map can lead you right to whatever outcome it is that you want, or it can send you one thousand miles off course; the only thing that you can do to direct this is understand the beliefs that influence your unconscious filter system.

Let’s say you’re driving to work and another driver speeds ahead of you and cuts you off:

  • Are they an asshole, with no regard for their fellow man?
  • Did they do it to purposely disrespect you?
  • Are they late for an important meeting that they are terribly stressed about?
  • Do they have horrible diarrhea pains and find themselves rushing to make it to a bathroom?

Which is it?

Obviously how you represent the situation will effect how you respond to the situation.

  • Do you speed up alongside of them, give them the finger, and stew over it the rest of your ride to work, possibly even being short with a co-worker or a loved one on the phone as a result?
  • Do you shrug it off, choosing to represent it as one of the latter options and wishing them a speedy and safe trip to the bathroom to unload the Taco Bell meal that created the situation?

What emotional state you find yourself in (best summed up as your “mood”) when the event takes place will also influence your perception of the event, but that is a subject for a future post.

How about you’re out and about with some friends and see a beautiful girl sitting at the bar with a girlfriend:

  • Is she “out of your league”?
  • Is she clearly a lesbian, and therefore not interested in you, because of the sex of her acquaintance?
  • Is she waiting for a short-fused boyfriend who will surely pummel you if he sees you talking to her?
  • Is she an attractive girl who you are interested in meeting and discovering more about?

Clearly in both examples, you can understand how your representation of the data that you are receiving will have a significant impact on the actions that you take (or don’t take), and ultimately influence the outcome that is produced.

 

This is not intended as a blanket advocation of something as simple as “thinking positive” or anything like that, the same logic can be applied in other contexts:

You find yourself in need of cash late at night in a strange area:

  • Are you fine to go to an ATM in a parking lot because “nothing bad will happen to you”?
  • Is there zero risk of anything taking place because it seems like a “nice part of town”?

 

What matters is that you understand that your perception of the data that you receive is distorted by your “filters” without a need for your conscious effort. This occurs all day, every day. Once you grasp this vital concept, you can analyze the beliefs that influence and create your filters, and determine whether they are serving you or holding you back (Blueprint to Beast will show you how to do exactly that).

Now let’s make it a bit more complicated…

mapisnot

The above diagram illustrates how two people who are experiencing the same event each represent the information internally. The representations that they produce create their behavior in response. This is why differing internal representations are the source of arguments, fights, debates, and all human conflict.

We’re all living in the same world, we simply experience it and represent it differently.

This is why five people witnessing the same event will provide five different accounts of what took place after the fact. Each is recalling his or her own representation of what took place, not what actually took place.

If you’ve ever received a bit of good news only to have someone close to you “rain on your parade” after you enthusiastically report to them, you’ve experienced this in action. The other person can take the very piece of information that you are so excited and positive about and represent it as a negative, horrible thing internally.

Look at the creation vs. evolution people; each view things like dinosaur bones as hard “evidence” to support their respective positions on the origins of the universe.

Where you see an act of terror, someone else sees heroism.

Where you see heroism, someone else sees stupidity, greed, malice, you name it.

In order to establish all-important rapport (a subject discussed at length in Blueprint, and in a later book of its own), it is critical to understand how the other person or people are experiencing the world, and representing the data presented to them.

For you to maximize your effectiveness at persuading, influencing, befriending, supporting, or even just communicating well with others, you must learn to consider how they are currently representing the situation at hand, and how their beliefs influence their “map”.

Once you can identify their beliefs about a subject, you can “crack their code”, and understand how they experience the world in order to most effectively communicate with them.

Learning these skills develops what I call your “emotional intelligence”. An increase in your emotional IQ will serve you well in more effectively navigating the world, and traveling closer to the outcomes that you wish to produce in your life. Look for more installments in this series to post soon.

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